12-on-12 dogfights in space are coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic in December.

My favorite Star Wars games are the ones that put you in the cockpit of a starfighter and throw you into the void of space to do battle against the forces of good and/or evil, depending on your perspective. I liked Knights of the Old Republic and Dark Forces was okay, but give me X-Wing or TIE Fighter any day.

The addition of “free flight dogfighting” to EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, then, is kind of exciting, and the new trailer is pretty hot. My hope is that it’s a solid addition to the game and that it gets the attention from the developers that it deserves; a 12-on-12 dogfight sim could be a game unto itself, after all.

The apparent absence of a cockpit view is disappointing but not entirely surprising, but my real complaint – and it’s not even a complaint so much as a mildly irritated observation – is that even though The Old Republic takes place 3500 years prior to Star Wars, the Empire and the Republic are still rocking X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Slightly changed, sure, but you can’t tell me the heritage isn’t obvious.

Maybe there’s some canon explanation for the multi-millennial lack of progress that I’m not aware of, and apologies to all offended if that’s the case. But humanity went from rickety, barely-airworthy deathtraps to jet fighters in 30 years, so you’d think that a star-spanning empire could cook up something a little more innovative than a TIE Advanced in 3000.

Anyway, temporal hangups aside, I do like the trailer and I hope the gameplay lives up to it. The Galactic Starfighter expansion will be rolled out to players in three stages: Subscriber early access begins on December 3, Preferred early access opens on January 14, 2014 and full-on free-to-play access will start on February 4. All the details are at swtor.com.

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