In two words: Cautious Optimism
Star Wars games have a rather varied history when it comes to quality – Going all the way back to the Atari 2600 there have been examples of enjoyable experiences, or games that call into question just how much drugs the developers were taking during the creation of the game. Until recently, Star Wars had never really been solely under one dev team – Going back to the early 2000s, you had BioWare creating the Knights of the Old Republic series, Travellers’ Tales working on the Lego Star Wars franchise and Pandemic Studios working on the original Battlefront games. Whilst all of these games were published under LucasArts, no developer was directly tied to their publisher. With Pandemic frequently working with THQ and Travellers’ Tales working under a large list of publishers ranging from Activision to Disney.
So, with all that said, the Star Wars franchise has come under the wing of EA when it comes to game development – With their subsidiary developers DICE and Respawn currently handling the creation of all Star Wars games, it’s safe to say that EA does have a consistent creative control over the future of Star Wars in the gaming world. The question being, is that really so bad?
Well if recent evidence is to suggest anything, I’d say no. Whilst a number of Star Wars titles in development during the franchises tenure at EA have been cancelled – most notably the ‘open world Star Wars game’ being handled by Visceral and the 3rd entry into BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic – we have received two Battlefront games so far, and whilst they certainly aren’t the greatest Star Wars games of all time, they’re a far cry from being the worst. EA’s first Battlefront game may have been divisive over its inclusion of only 1 era, it’s lack of game modes and its atrocious voice acting for beloved characters, it captured the look and feel of a Star Wars movie like no other game before it. In addition, the gunplay was smooth and satisfying and the maps we did receive were well designed and fun to play on.
Only 2 years later and we got the follow-up Battlefront 2. Listening to the complaints from the first game, DICE added content based on the prequels, and sequels, as well as the original trilogy, as well as adding a single player campaign to satisfy those demanding for more offline content. Despite being burdened with a troubling launch revolving around microtransactions and loot crates, Battlefront 2 has since recovered a large, loyal fanbase. It has seen a multitude of free updates and new content, ranging from the inclusion of various aspects of both The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars story, to adding new prequel heroes such as Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, and most recently Anakin Skywalker. It’s clear to see that Battlefront 2 is a love letter to the fans of the series, with voice actors from the Clone Wars TV returning to reprise their roles in the game whilst poking fun at some of the ‘memes’ spawned from the franchise, such as Anakin’s iconic “I hate sand” speech appearing in the game.
With more updates for Battlefront 2 on the horizon, and Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order set to hit stores towards the end of 2019, the future of Star Wars games is looking strong under EA, although with the track record of EA cancelling games, and dissolving their developers, there’s still every chance it could all fall apart at the seams. However, given how much of a money-maker the Star Wars IP is, I highly doubt EA would pull too many risky decisions, especially with how vocal and passionate the Star Wars fanbase are – The fans will always be there to keep EA and DICE in check, and as discussed, with just how much fan service Battlefront 2 is aiming to provide, Star Wars seems to be in safe hands.
If EA give us Star Wars 1313 that’d probably go a long way in helping people to fully support them. Just a suggestion…