Star Wars Games Don’t Always Need To Include Jedi

Star Wars Games Don’t Always Need To Include Jedi
Luke from The Last Jedi (Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Disney)
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Star Wars is a large universe with thousands of characters, planets, ships, and aliens. And yet, again and again, most Star Wars games seem to focus on or include one part of the franchise. The Jedi. Those wild space monks with lightsabers and force powers. I love a good Jedi game as much as any other Star Wars fan, but I’m also ready to play new games that don’t include these people and their laser swords.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a good game. I liked it a lot. I don’t even enjoy Soulsborne games all that much, but I still had a blast playing it. I like Cal and his ragtag group of friends. I also love the lightsaber customisation and force powers. All great stuff.

But after watching the final episode of The Mandalorian recently, I was wanting to play something more like that and less like Fallen Order. And my options in 2020 are limited, especially if we are looking at games released in the last few years. I could go back and play that Bounty Hunter game, it was re-released on PS4. But it’s sad and frustrating that I have to go so far back in time to find a singleplayer, story-driven, action game starring a non-Jedi. It feels like we should have a lot more of these games!

Now, to be fair to Star Wars, there are games starring non-Jedi characters. I already mentioned Bounty Hunter, but there is also Republic Commando, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, Shadows Of The Empire on N64, and a handful of strategy games and racing games. But all of these games are old and some haven’t aged very well. ( Looking at you Shadows Of The Empire...)

Shadows Of The Empire - N64

Even when games seem to be focused on non-Jedi action or characters, folks with lightsabers still show up and do magical jumps around the place. Like Battlefront 2. I like the game a lot. Even more these days after months and months of smart updates and new content. The idea of being a grunt in the Star Wars universe and fighting in huge battles from the films is a cool idea and a popular one. They keep making these Battlefront games for a reason, after all. However, every one of these games also includes dozens of Jedi and Sith characters who run around wrecking large groups of random soldiers and troopers. Personally, that’s not what I want from Battlefront. I got so many options, old and new, to live out the life of a badass Jedi. Why make soldiers less valuable and interesting by shoving in a bunch of space wizards?

Before folks explain it to me on Twitter or in the comments, I know the real answer to this question. It’s the same reason Jedi always get their own games or always appear in games. The Jedi are a big part of the movies, the movies are what most people care about and what a large portion of Star Wars fans know best. Oh, and lightsabers are cool. And like, I get that. I really do. I own a few toy lightsabers, I still make the noises when I swoosh them around and I love watching lightsaber duels from the movies on YouTube.

Yet I can’t shake the feeling that Star Wars games could be more interesting than they currently are by simply expanding beyond Jedi stories and adventures. Hell, if you want to make a game filled with lightsabers and force powers, go make a game starring a Sith character. That Darth Maul game seemed interesting.

What I would love is a game that doesn’t even feature a single lightsaber. A game set in the underworld of Star Wars. Doctor Aphra seems like a great fit for a Star Wars take on Uncharted or Tomb Raider. Or go down a totally different path and make a Telltale-style adventure game starring a smuggler. While I’m just spitballing and dreaming, I think a new Republic Commando game could be a huge hit. Imagine Rainbow Six Siege, but with Clone Commandos. Maybe include a multiplayer mode where one side is Clones and the other side is Droids. I’d play that! And I think a lot of other folks would too.

To be clear, I don’t want a complete and permanent end to Jedi games. I mean, I still want a Fallen Order sequel at some point. But considering how many of them we already have and how recently it feels like we either get games with Jedi or no Star Wars games at all, I can’t help but dream of a future where we get not only a new Fallen Order, but a game about a funny droid assassin and a ageing bounty hunter or weird smuggler.

IG-11 from The Mandalorian tv show (Screenshot: Disney/Lucasfilm)

A long time ago, in a galaxy not owned by Disney, it felt like we got more varied and interesting Star Wars games. But with EA basically being the only company allowed to make major Star Wars games, we get far fewer games than before and all of them feature Jedi. Maybe one day, EA won’t have the near-exclusive right to make Star Wars games and maybe then I’ll finally get a new game that feels like The Mandalorian.

Until then I guess I’ll just replay Republic Commando again.

Also, if someone at EA, Disney or Lucasfilm is reading this right now, please don’t approve a new Star Wars game that stars a bounty hunter or ragtag group and then cancel it a few years later, again.

Comments

  • I already mentioned Bounty Hunter, but there is also Republic Commando, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, Shadows Of The Empire on N64, and a handful of strategy games and racing games. But all of these games are old and some haven’t aged very well
    Even if they haven’t aged well their writing generally has.

    I’d also like to see more games exploring other characters in the universe. A space combat game series from all 4 major combatants (Empire, Rebellion, First Order and Resistance) is high on my list of wants. Would also love to see 1313 or some form of it get a release as Bounty Hunter while not great, is still a good story and exploration of a character we don’t get to see much.

  • The Force, and therefore force users – be they Jedi, Sith, Nightsisters, Knights of Ren, whatever – is kind of central to the whole Star Wars schtick. Take it away and you have a fairly generic setting – evil Empire, Rebels who want to be the next evil Empire, criminal underworld. Sound familiar?

    The Mandalorian fits because we know the central character (and his super cool armour), and that give us the link to the SWU. If his name was Joel Smith and he was a bounty hunter from Bumfluff IV the story would still work. It would just lack a bit of familiar colour.

    As a dev, locking yourself into the existing lore and tech of the SWU when you don’t have to would be a two edged sword. Sure, you don’t have to design ships, races, religions, worlds, but at the same time you don’t get to design ships, races, religions, worlds. Plus you risk triggering nerd rage if you don’t imagine something the same way the fanbois do.

    Why use someone else’s world when you could create your own?

    • It’s a fairly generic setting but it’s also uniquely Star Wars and has a lot of lore baked in. I do like to build my own worlds but there are moments with Star Wars* where it’s like ‘if only I could drag the camera this way’ I’d see something super interesting. Galaxies is a good example. It was a terrible game on so many levels but without Jedi everyone had to just do things in Star Wars which was sort of awesome. It wouldn’t be the same without Star Wars and even with the other problems aside it was worse with Jedi.
      Unique settings are great but if you’re going to make a Star Wars game there’s just as much non-Jedi stuff as Jedi. Especially in a post-Jedi Purge game where the Jedi story always plays out roughly the same. Half the reason KotOR stands out so much is because it was a Jedi game where weren’t a secret apprentice that should have been important but wasn’t.

      *And about a million other settings.

    • Go back to the 70’s and tell me it’s a ‘generic setting’, the lore and universe has been developed for decades. Force users are not central to Star Wars, in the same way wizards are not central to Fantasy. As has been mentioned in the article, there are already plenty of works outside of them, and an endless font of possibility to create more.

      Don’t have design anything? Are you kidding? We’re talking about an entire galaxy here, we’ve seen but a glimpse of a fraction of what is there. Risk triggering nerd rage? Nobody cares about that because anything that exists will do so to some degree.

      You have entirely the wrong perspective on this.

      • Risk triggering nerd rage? Nobody cares about that because anything that exists will do so to some degree.

        Yes. My comment appear to have done just that.

        Apologies. I didn’t mean to kick your dog.

    • a little bit confused here, where do we know the Mandalorian from ?

      We know 2 people of his entire order and neither of them in significant depth.

  • Mass Effect was as close as a Star Wars with no lightsaber got. Still had Force users per se, but it’s clear why pre-licensed BioWare did what they did.
    I’m sure that the X-Wing books have been referenced many times for inspiration. I can only dream of a Wraith Squadron game

    • Not sure where you pull this justification from, i mean yeah there’s bio’s that have telekenetic abilities but they don’t really “tap into the essence of life and know the will of their power”

  • Uuuh did they just forget SWTOR exists?
    That let you play as a soldier, bounty hunter, imperial agent, smuggler.
    It wasn’t all laser swords and space wizards

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