Sunday, June 12, 2016

Opinion: Breaking Down the 'EA Star Wars: A Look Ahead' Video


By: Dominic Jones

Earlier today EA held their annual press conference in advance of the E3 video game convention which takes place this week in Los Angeles.  During the conference a video previewing the upcoming Star Wars content was shown to fans in attendance and those watching the live stream.  While there weren't any major reveals like we were hoping for, we did get some quick looks and exciting teases at what's to come from the games.  If you haven't seen the video yet, be sure to check it out here first.  I'll be breaking down what we learned from the video about the future of Star Wars gaming below,

Star Wars Battlefront
There are still three more expansion packs from the first installment in the rebooted franchise to be release, with the Bespin expansion coming early next month, the Death Star expansion coming in the fall, and a still to be revealed expansion coming in early 2017.  On top of that there is a sequel in the works that will be released later in 2017.  During the video, there is lots of talk from the teams at DICE (who designed the first game) and Motive (who are working with DICE on the sequel) about bringing fans into the Star Wars galaxy like never before as well as bringing new characters, planets, and eras into the game.  No word on adding story, but EA GM Jade Raymond did mention that they had listened to what fans wanted when developing the sequel.  Hopefully that's a good sign.  Now, on to what they actually featured in the video.

Well hello, what have we got here?
We got a quick look at the Bespin expansion of the game, including Lando (who will be a playable hero in the expansion) and a couple of new locations.  There's no denying Battlefront is a beautiful game, let's just hope they have the content to back it up.

We also got a very quick look at some early work being done on the Death Star expansion.  It looks as if fans will be able to play the famous trench run from A New Hope, which is pretty exciting.  I'm still holding out hope that they will be able to work some content from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, hitting theaters this December, into the Death Star expansion.  If not main characters, then perhaps some of the new stormtrooper designs?  I'm not optimistic, but I can dream right?

Then there's this quick shot that appears to be either from the final expansion or the sequel.  It appears that the Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk (seen in The Empire Strikes Back and The Clone Wars) will be a playable character in a future Battlefront release.

Respawn Entertainment
No actual footage from Respawn's recently announced Star Wars game was shown, however we did see two actors dressed in motion capture suits fighting with lightsabers.  Raymond did mention during the presentation that this was set in a "different" Star Wars era and that the games was a third person action adventure.  Given that--as we'll discuss momentarily--Visceral's game appears to be set in the Original Trilogy era, it sounds as though Respawn's game will find itself in the sequel or prequel era (my money is on sequel era, given EA's history with Battlefront).

Untitled Visceral Star Wars Game
This is where things get a bit more exciting.  While no title or details about the game were revealed we did get a look at some concept art and hear from the game's creative lead Amy Henning, who is apparently working with the Lucasfilm Story Group on creating the story for this upcoming game.  I was also pleased to see that Doug Chiang worked on this game too.  Chiang worked on the prequels and The Force Awakens as a concept artist, and is someone I am very glad is helping shape Star Wars going forward.  Now, onto what we saw,

The game appears to be set in the Original Trilogy era, or not too long before it, based on the ship designs and the Imperial logos seen in the footage above.  It also appears to take place, in part at least, on Tatooine (the presence of the twin suns in the background of the concept art suggests that it is Tatooine and not, say, Jakku).  Speaking of the concept art, those appear to be Imperial agents in the foreground.  The helmets they are wearing resemble that worn by Agent Kallus on Star Wars Rebels, which suggests to me that we might be seeing Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) Agents in the game.

The character seen in the footage appears to be the hero of the game.  There were reports last year that Visceral's game would center around Han Solo (which would make sense given that Phil Lord and Chris Miller's Han Solo Anthology film is also slated for a 2018 release), however this seems unlikely now.  Granted, this could be a placeholder character used in this preview to hide a later reveal about Han Solo.  However, given the Imperial presence on Tatooine, I would guess that this game takes place after Han, Luke, Chewie, Obi-Wan, and the droids blast their way out of Mos Eisley.  We don't get the sense in A New Hope that the Empire pays much attention to Tatooine before Leia drops Threepio and Artoo off with the Death Star plans.  After an embarrassment like that, it would make sense for the Empire to tighten its grip on the planet to ensure they aren't seen as weak by the locals.

Finally, we also got a quick look at one of the developers computer screens that showed an early rendering of a TIE fighter in another environment in the game.  The location doesn't scream Tatooine to me (I actually get a bit of a Naboo vibe from it), but it's too early to tell for sure.

Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes were both also featured in the video, however there wasn't enough new content from them to merit in depth analysis.  Both games are already available and their presence in the video appeared to just show off what we already knew they could do.

There certainly was some interesting stuff shown off by EA when it comes to Star Wars, however they lacked the mind-blowing announcement or trailer that E3 is known for.  With Star Wars Battlefront already on the market and no new games coming out this year, EA is in a weird place with what they can actually show us.  In some way it feels like EA is stuck in 2013 when it comes to Star Wars.  There is lots of talk about an exciting future but they never showed anything of substance.  There's always a chance that they're saving the really cool announcement for Star Wars Celebration next month in London, but typically E3 has been the place where big Star Wars gaming announcements are made and Celebration is for more niche reveals.

You can follow me on Twitter: @DominicJ25  

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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