EA is still making Star Wars games, but the company will no longer be the only mega-publisher with the keys to the Millennium Falcon. We learned this week that Ubisoft now has an open world Star Wars game in development, and it's being led by Division studio Massive Entertainment. Managing this multi-corporation future for Star Wars games is the resurrected Lucasfilm Games label.
Star Wars games have been alright for the past several years, but EA hasn't exactly knocked it out of the park. As new Star Wars movies passed through theaters, the videogame pickings felt shockingly slim. Each game that did release was pretty good, but it hardly felt like we'd returned to the excitement of the 2000s, the age of Knights of the Old Republic, The original Battlefronts, The Force Unleashed (it was fine!), and Jedi Knight 2, among others.
It's a little premature to guess that another golden age is on the way now that Lucasfilm is bringing in more developers, but for now, PC Gamer's Star Wars fans are excited to have something more concrete to look forward to than 'whatever EA is doing next.' And the detail that Massive and Division 2 director Julian Gerighty are behind an upcoming Star Wars game has us imagining some interesting possibilities. The game isn't necessarily just going to be 'The Division but Star Wars,' but we can still make some educated guesses about the direction Massive might take—or, at least, the direction we want it to take. Here's what we're expecting and hoping for.
Are we excited that Massive is making a Star Wars game?
Tim Clark, Brand Director: I love this. It's one of those announcements that just seems such a good fit that your brain immediately spins up with ideas. I played a lot of The Division, and only less of its sequel because by that point my Destiny 2 addiction had spiraled so irrevocably out of control. But if we're to assume that this new Star Wars game will be some sort of shared-world looter shooter, then the license feels like an incredibly good fit. What I think the continued love for KOTOR tells us is that Star Wars fans want to live in this universe, not just blow through a quick campaign like Fallen Order, and although live service loot games have a bit of a bad rap right now—largely I think because they're so hard to get right—Massive is one of very few studios with the experience to pull it off.
Chris Livingston, Staff Writer: I got into The Division 2 for a while this year, and while it seems like a weird fit for Star Wars, I'm still interested to see what they do with it. I love the detail in The Division 2—walking down any given street is always a feast for the eyes, even if that feast is mountains of trash from a collapsed society. I didn't really care for most of the main missions—they're way too long for my tastes, and I was playing solo. But I loved the side activities, the exploration, the base-building stuff, and the street skirmishes. I feel like I'd be pretty happy shooting my way through some alien city filled with stormtroopers and helping rebels out with sidequests. If that's what you do in this game.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I'm into it. The Division has traditionally kept to narrow city streets and tight quarters. I wonder if that trend will continue with Star Wars or if Ubisoft Massive will go properly, well, massive.
James Davenport, Editor: I think a Star Wars flavored game about collecting different colors of Stormtrooper armor would be great. Warp the shape a bit, make the eye slots bigger, maybe even smaller. Half of my interest in Star Wars is purely visual, anchored to cool space people in cool space outfits. Give me a gun, put me behind cover, and let me dress nice. Do what The Division could never do and get me invested in my little guy beyond what kinda numbers they're packing. The Division 2 is gorgeous and feels great in the hands, but it's a truly shit fiction wrapped in faded jeans and tactical vests with 100 pockets. Nothing about it is cool. Star Wars, as much as I get peeved about repackaged nostalgia, is at least nice to look at and listen to.
What traditional 'Ubisoft open world game' elements seem like a good fit? What don't?
Chris: I'm not a huge fan of leveled enemies in some cases—I'm fine when there's heavies and when reaching new leveled zones results in meeting more powerful enemies, but I recall in Assassin's Creed Origins wandering into a high level zone and encountering a hyena that was like 30 levels higher than me and thus indestructible, whereas a hyena in a level-appropriate zone was just a hyena. It would just feel weird if one standard-issue stormtrooper was cannon fodder but another, because he was standing on the other side of a dotted line on the map, was god-like. Hyenas are hyenas, and stormtroopers should be stormtroopers.
Ubisoft's maps can get a bit exhausting with the shotgun blasts of icons, though it varies from game to game. As long as they're not too overstuffed with unrewarding activities, I'm excited to see how they create the (hopefully) many different planets we'll be visiting.
Ubisoft's Star Wars game is about to make great use of this guy's whole deal. pic.twitter.com/kDF0ZZ6ZjxJanuary 13, 2021
Morgan: Same here, Chris. You'll never convince me that pumping 87 headshots into a single enemy is fun. Don't do that, new Star Wars game.
Tim: Some of the verticality of Ubi's sprawling open worlds would be nice. Buildings and subway systems aside, The Division always felt pretty flat to me. Whether I'm a budding Jedi or veteran Bounty Hunter, I want to be zipping around. Actually, does Star Wars suit a cover-based combat system? For your basic rebels-on-imperials action it probably fits great, but perhaps less so with the fantasy of using The Force.
Morgan: Yeah, adding The Force and lightsabers to a game with blasters and grenades is kind of an odd fit, right? Jedi are supposed to be overpowered against wimpy blasters. That's what makes lightsabers fun in a singleplayer game like Jedi: Fallen Order, but also why it's frustrating to get force-choked by Darth Vader in Battlefront.
Where in the Star Wars universe should it be set?
Tim: When we talked about this earlier, Morgan, you mentioned that The Division games don't have the biggest maps—though they are very detailed. I wonder what kind of scope we'll eventually see here in terms of destinations. The temptation with Star Wars is to always have a greatest hits tour of fan favourite destinations, which would line up with the Destiny approach of having multiple planets. But equally, I think The Mandalorian has shown that, even though it does hop around locations, there's a lot of benefit from really digging into the detail of a couple of places.
Morgan: True. If Massive is making "Destiny, but Star Wars" then it'd benefit from choosing a few cool planets and sticking with them. Star Wars already feels like a fairly small galaxy (how many important events can happen on Tatooine?) so it'd be appropriate.
Chris: Was there a time period with absolutely no Jedi? No Force? I feel like I've got Jedi burnout. We get it, you can deflect lasers with your lightsaber, congrats. I liked The Mandolarian but I wish they'd wrapped up the Baby Yoda biz in the first season and moved on to something else, rather than doubling down on it. Also, can we deep six the sand planets already? There's a whole galaxy out there, surely some Star Wars stories can involve not going to a desert planet.
Morgan: Star Wars has a habit of showing us gigantic cities that we never actually spend time in. Maybe the studio that faithfully recreated the streets of New York City and Washington, DC is best equipped to give us a close-up look at a Star Wars megacity.