No other film universe translates to the video game format better than Star Wars. The iconic space fantasy series has it all: deep, unexplored lore and major moments from the films to serve as settings, along with intriguing single-biome planets, larger-than-life heroes and villains, space battles and land battles and underwater escapes from bigger and bigger fish, more robots and aliens to count, blasters and lightsabers and literal space magic — the list goes on. Whether a first-person shooter, role-playing game, or dating sim (why isn’t that a thing yet?), you can make a Star Wars game out of just about any genre. Which is why, after last week’s Star Wars Celebration, I think it’s a damn shame we’re getting more TV series than video games since Disney took over the franchise in 2012.
Historically, Star Wars games have been stellar. I’d argue that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic features the best narrative of all of Star Wars, including The Empire Strikes Back, and one of the best in gaming, period. The recent Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga put together a massive, humorous package for fans of all ages to play and enshrined itself as the greatest Lego game. The original Star Wars Battlefront II remains one of the best multiplayer experiences. I’m also still waiting for a sequel to the critically acclaimed but too short Star Wars: Republic Commando because I never learned what happened to Sev. Further back in time, the TIE Fighter, Rogue Squadron, Dark Forces, and Force Unleashed games filled a void left by George Lucas’ tight grip on the property. They were often great, and in 2023, we’re getting surprisingly few.
Look, I know most of the recent Star Wars shows have been well received. Andor stands out with its gritty, mature take on the Empire’s reign. The Mandalorian falls into fan-service territory sometimes, but it lands its hits more often than a stormtrooper. However, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi are as forgettable as the Knights of Ren outside of a few grand moments.
We’ve got many more series on the horizon: Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, The Acolyte, and Lando, and Disney likely has a few more in early stages of development. They’re not all going to be good, and by the time they’ve concluded, I think many of us will feel Star Wars fatigue the same way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has worn us down, if you aren’t experiencing it already. But if you like TV series, Star Wars has got you covered like Han Solo in carbonite.
If you’re more of a gamer, however, things look about as dry as Tatooine, despite there being so much untapped potential. We have Star Wars Jedi: Survivor later this month, and I cannot wait. Its predecessor, Fallen Order, epitomized why I think Star Wars makes for better games than the TV series and the (recent) movies. You played as an interesting, if a little too lanky, main character set during one of the more mature eras, paired with one of the cutest droid companions in Star Wars history. It also has tight lightsaber combat and great Metroidvania-esque exploration of multiple worlds. Fallen Order concludes with (spoiler alert) one of the most epic confrontations against Darth Vader, too. If Star Wars Jedi: Survivor turns out half as good, I’d still take it over every series released on Disney+.
But other than that, we won’t see another quality Star Wars game for quite a while. Quantic Dream’s Star Wars Eclipse has no release date. The remake of Knights of the Old Republic changed developer in mid-development. And then there are a few untitled games from Electronic Arts and Ubisoft – that’s about it, outside of forgettable mobile games. In fact, I was surprised we didn’t see more from these titles during Star Wars Celebration.
It’s not like we’ve gotten an abundance of great games since Disney’s acquisition, either. The DICE reimaginings of Star Wars Battlefront I and II played well but came with their own controversies: The first lacked depth and the second soured many with its ridiculous microtransactions. Star Wars: Squadrons captured the feel of starfighter combat, though it was ultimately a short and shallow experience with decent multiplayer. The less said about the bevy of canceled titles, the better.
That said, the video game medium is still fresh for Star Wars. I want to see new characters, new experiences, new worlds, and new ways to play, rather than the same characters making cameos in TV series after TV series, trying to keep up with a dozen shows until I can’t stomach seeing another CGI’d Luke Skywalker. More Taris swoop races, pazaak, and droids like HK-47, or a new RPG or two entirely. An RTS, a city builder, a roguelite akin to Returnal or Hades — there’s so much untapped potential — instead of another set of films. At this point, I’d even take a dating sim. Let me play Star Wars rather than watch it happen because, despite starting out as films decades ago, this is a universe that has evolved to feel best with a controller in hand.