Why Star Wars Games Seem More Interested In Mandalorian Era Than Sequel Trilogy
One of the more surprising announcements from the latest Nintendo Direct was Star Wars: Hunters. We were all tuning in for Zelda news (with varying degrees of satisfaction) and expected a bunch of ports, but a free-to-play Star Wars arena shooter was a true surprise. Yet that’s exactly what Star Wars: Hunters promises with its very brief teaser and press release. To be exact, the copy I have says “Build a team from a cast of unique and all-new Star Wars characters – from daring bounty hunters to heroes of the Rebellion and Imperial stormtroopers.”
Wait… “Rebels and Empire? Why not Resistance and First Order!?” That’s the question probably no one is asking. But it’s an interesting one nonetheless. Disney spent a lot of money to buy Star Wars and put out a whole new trilogy that’s (sort of ) removed from the battle between plucky rebels and Darth Vader’s almighty armies. Much ado was made about having Rey and Kylo Ren be the new faces of the brand. Yet when it comes to video games, Star Wars seems stuck in the past.
Star Wars: Hunters declares itself to be “Set between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” That 30-year period between the Empire’s fall and Rey’s awakening is pretty popular lately. It serves as the setting for another recent Star Wars game, Squadrons. Star Wars Battlefront II set much of its story there, although the multiplayer offers some Resistance vs. First Order action. So what gives? Well, it could be the massive success of a certain Star Wars story set in that era. The Baby Yoda show– I mean The Mandalorian.
Mandalorian has achieved something that’s long felt impossible: it pleases every Star Wars fan. Its place in the timeline is a huge contributor to this. Since it’s only been a few years after the destruction of the second Death Star, it makes sense to see iconic characters like Stormtroopers and Luke Skywalker show up. But as it exists in the mostly uncharted years between two trilogies, it has a lot of narrative leeway. The writers have shown that they can pick and choose various elements of the movies or even animated shows. Or they can put it all aside to explore new concepts. That spirit of wonder, where you don’t know what will happen next, is what entertains lore-heads and newcomers alike.
It makes sense, then, that this raw potential would appeal to game designers too. If you’re making a Star Wars game, you want to play around with X-Wings and lightsabers. Publishers want to see that stuff, too, as having iconic music and Darth Vader in your trailer is a pre-order magnet. The time period of Mandalorian suits gaming just like it suits TV, letting developers bank on the security of nostalgia while also giving freedom to create their own characters and stories.
Meanwhile, the general appeal and blank canvas that Mandalorian present are exactly what the Sequel Trilogy lacks. This is coming from a big Kylo Ren fan and someone who wanted to see Finn become a Jedi. It’s not an opinion to say that two of the three sequel movies are very divisive. And yes, much of the hate can be attributed to those Star wars fans. But from a business standpoint, this makes investing the sequel tricky. A publisher could put out a game about the Resistance and watch as a huge chunk of the fanbase ignores it. Or it could throw in a Baby Yoda cosmetic and watch the cash roll in.
On the more creative side of things, there just isn’t much territory to cover in the sequels. Rey was living a lonely life before the movies start, and Finn was canonically a janitor who sees his first taste of battle in The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi picks up right after the events of The Force Awakens, leaving no stone unturned for a new story to cover. Rise of Skywalker’s ending leaves Palpatine and the Sith super duper defeated. Bringing him back again would be the bad decision to end all bad decisions.
So what does that leave us with? Perhaps Poe Dameron could have a Rogue Squadron game set before Force Awakens or before Rise of Skywalker. That Rise of Skywalker period could also work for an action-adventure game starring the three heroes. Something set after the trilogy could still work, like maybe a story about Rey establishing a new Jedi Order to face a brand new threat. Of those three, Poe Squadron has the most promise. Lucasfilm probably wants to use movies to tell what happens after the trilogy. The in-between Last Jedi and Rise period already has some comics devoted to it, so any game would have to work around them.
A new Rogue Squadron starring Poe Dameron does sound cool. Yet, when given the option to make a Star Wars spaceship game, the people behind Star Wars: Squadrons chose the Mandalorian era. They even put themed cosmetics in based around Mando’s ship and – you guessed it – Baby Yoda.
Without having a developer break contract to give the inside story, we’ll never really know why Star Wars games tend to avoid the Sequel Trilogy. And who knows, maybe that “groundbreaking” Ubisoft game will be set during the sequels. Star Wars: Hunters could also give some spotlight to Captain Phasma or Zorii Bliss. However, it seems unlikely given the direction of other games and the Star Wars brand as a whole. It’s all about Mando these days, and the games of a galaxy far, far away have a lot to gain from going all-in on Grogu.
Next: Fire Emblem Three Houses: The Battle Of Philosophies: Which Position Was Most Justified?
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Sergio is the Lead News Editor for TheGamer. But usually he asks people to call him “Serg” because he wants to sound cool like the guy from System of a Down. He began as a convention reporter for FLiP Magazine and Albany Radio’s The Shaw Report to get free badges to Comic-Con. Eventually he realized he liked talking to game developers and discovering weird new indie games. Now he brings that love of weird games to TheGamer, where he tries to talk about them in clickable ways so you grow to love them too. When he’s not stressing over how to do that, he’s a DM, Cleric of Bahamut, cosplay boyfriend, and occasional actor.
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