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May 24 2013

EA and Star Wars: A New Hope?

d8c40d4d26257ff3b094f218609a4c5fThe question on the mind of every Star Wars video game fan is what’s going to happen to the Star Wars franchise since the closing of LucasArts and the acquisition of the license to Star Wars games by Electronic Arts. Given EA’s back-to-back “Worst Company in America” awards, matched with their highly controversial takeovers and other management practices, the initial reaction was panic. EA has had some issues with ruining what makes their games good by trying to market them to a bigger audience, and it goes without saying that Star Wars fans have felt that disturbance in the Force before. But all hope is not lost. Despite The Old Republic failing to meet the hype and expectations laid before them, keep in mind that EA and Bioware were the ones behind the original Knights of the Old Republic, a game that ranks high on many all-time best games lists, and if you know anything about this author, you already know how much it’s revered. So EA, here are some suggestions for what to do with the franchise, and what you should avoid doing.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

Develop shooters through DICE

DiceBetween EA’s two big shooter franchises, Medal of Honor and Battlefield, Battlefield is the one that has better withstood the effect of time, and has been met with more critical acclaim. If you exclude the free-to-play titles of Heroes and Play4Free, all of Battlefield’s titles have averaged a score of 80 or above on Metacritic, even the less popular modern combat variations such as 2142 and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. The Battlefield series is so widely praised because of its large-scale maps, intuitive vehicle combat, and intense squad-based warfare. Huge, expansive maps? Addictive vehicle gameplay? Class-based warfare? Sounds like the perfect system for the heavily desired Battlefront 3. And an excellent shooter series that knows how to handle squad-based combat could open the doors for a possible Republic Commando sequel. Perhaps Imperial Commando?

Don’t Stick to Sequels, Do Some New IP

1313“Wait, Scott, don’t you of all people want to see a KOTOR 3??” I do and I don’t, but we’ll get into that later, and EA won’t keep the Star Wars gamer fanbase happy by just cranking out sequels to games that everyone and their nerfherding mother are demanding on the message boards. Battlefront 3! X-Wing reboot! Empire At War set during Clone Wars! While these are great ideas, obviously EA is trying to bring in the new generation of gamers who didn’t get to experience these games, and they need new IP to draw them in. 1313 was a good start, as an Uncharted-style fast-paced adventure game set in the underworld of Coruscant would’ve been fucking incredible. Maybe something in between episodes III and IV, as there was a lot of time during the rise of the Empire that hasn’t been covered yet. I’d also want to see some Han Solo origins story told, if that’s not too much to ask, your Worshipfulness.

Bring together Obsidian and Bioware for a new RPG

The reason we’re not going to get a KOTOR 3 is the same reason we’re never going to get Warcraft 4: the introduction of an MMO has made it impossible to go back to the old formula. In the MMO world, it’s unclear how much time has passed in the game world, and there are so many different storylines going on at once, that it’s impossible to pick one and go for it, and it’s also as difficult to try and carry something over from KOTOR 2 given all the story that’s been told in The Old Republic. The old Republic era is history, and now the old Republic series of games should be put to rest as well. An RPG that takes place during the original film trilogy that takes place in a different part of the galaxy is the way to go. The style that made the KOTOR series popular in the beginning can still be carried over, but with new characters, stories, timelines, and locations. Obsidian and Bioware have an impressive collected arsenal of RPG’s: Both KOTOR’s, the Mass Effect series, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout: New Vegas, Dragon Age, among others. A new RPG that could explore moral grey areas, in the way Watch Dogs is doing, would be stellar. In fact, it would be…interstellar.

WHAT SHOULD NOT BE DONE

Another Star Wars MMO

galaxiesReally though, EA is already 0-for-1 on Star Wars MMO’s, with The Old Republic now being forced to wear the “free-to-play” cone of shame. Star Ware MMOs in general have typically ended up with what I like to call the “Alderaan outcome.” Galaxies started out strong, in the same way that The Old Republic did, but a bunch of unwelcome combat and character creation changes along with a series of unimpressive expansions resulted in the servers eventually being shut down. How the game survived all the way until December of 2011 is a mystery to me. Another release is Clone Wars Adventures, a free-to-play Clone Wars-era online game focused on mini-games, that received surprisingly positive reviews. It’s developed by Sony Online Entertainment, who were responsible for Galaxies. I’m in the process of downloading it, so maybe I’ll be wrong, but a free-to-play mini-game MMO that looks like its commercials belong on CartoonNetwork is no sound business model. That’s no jab at CN by the way, I’m slowly turning into an Adventure Time addict.

Typical EA Shenanigans

ea-logoLet’s run through the list of former grievances that EA should avoid while creating new Star Wars games:

  • Another ending fiasco i.e. Mass Effect 3.
  • Buying out smaller development companies to reduce competition.
  • Requiring an internet connection to play offline games, i.e. SimCity.
  • Copy a different game and put Star Wars on it, i.e. what Dante’s Inferno did to God of War.
  • Close promising studios such as Pandemic.

Until the first Star Wars game by EA is released, we won’t be able to judge their decision-making. Will they bring balance to the Force, or destroy it? We’ll just have to wait and see. These author’s views and suggestions do not represent the views of the entirety of the staff on this site. All compliments, concerns, and criticisms should be directed to the comments below.

1 comment

  1. D'Arcy Briggs

    I’m pretty shocked that they chose to stop work on 1313, even though it looked like it would be an amazing game.
    And I’m with you about no more MMOs!

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