What are Dark Troopers? The new Mandalorian villains explained

Dark Troopers The Mandalorian
(Image credit: Disney)

The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4 introduced the Dark Troopers back into Star Wars canon. Their brief appearance has since spiralled out into the scary-looking droids becoming an instrument of destruction for Moff Gideon to wield. 

But what are Dark Troopers? And why are they so important to the Empire's plans? To make sure everyone's on the same page before they (inevitably) show up again, here's a quick explainer on the Dark Troopers: where they come from, why they matter, and how they've affected The Mandalorian season 2.

In Chapter 12, Moff Gideon was looking at a row of black-clad armoured suits being kept in storage. They certainly fits with the Empire’s colour scheme, but are also dangerous killing machines. And they have a storied, if obscure, history.

The Mandalorian Dark Troopers

(Image credit: Disney)

They can be traced back to, incredibly, the 1995 Star Wars (and now non-canon) game Dark Forces, which saw the Empire attempting to create a legion of highly-skilled droid soldiers in the Dark Trooper project. 

They're highly dangerous, and some of the builds even have Beskar-beating, Force-wielding exoskeletons to be wielded by humans. In short, even one of the Dark Troopers could probably take Mando one-on-one. Think Stormtroopers but actually good at shooting and able to crush people at will and you're on the right track.

From there, the designs also influenced the Shadow Troopers in the Force Unleashed and Battlefront series – but this is the first time we’ve seen them in live-action.

Their next appearance came in Chapter 14 aka "The Tragedy." The droids even helped cause the tragedy in question. 

Gideon deployed them on Tython to snatch up Grogu and bring The Child back to the Imperial Cruiser. In effect, they seemed like the Star Wars equivalent to Iron Man suits: nimble, strong, and potentially packing some serious firepower. We haven't even see what they can do in a one-on-one fight yet and, still, they've made their presence felt. Gideon may catch the headlines, but these Dark Troopers will have plenty more to say before the season is out.

Find out when the next episode drops with The Mandalorian season 2 release schedule.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.