A major disturbance in the Force was felt last week. Disney announced the formation of LucasFilm Games, a new label designed to look after a new generation of Star Wars titles, including an open world adventure from Ubisoft Massive – the studio behind The Division and The Division 2.
There's no news on where or when in the gigantic Star Wars timeline this intriguing game will be set, so we thought we'd give the studio some helpful suggestions, based on Ubisoft's approach to open world design and a few areas of the galaxy that have been under-explored. Fortunately, no Bothans died to bring you this information… okay, maybe a few Bothans.
The occupation of Coruscant
In Star Wars mythology, wars raged between the Sith and the Jedi for hundreds of years before the events of The Phantom Menace, and according to The Clone Wars animated series, these culminated in a bloody and brutal occupation of Coruscant by Sith forces. This scenario would make an amazing Watch Dogs-style open world thriller, with the player taking on the role of a Jedi knight working with resistance fighters to retake the Republic's capital, block by block, either through street battles or sabotage.
Coruscant is, of course, one gigantic, highly advanced metropolis, so we'd get a visually astonishing urban setting in the style of Cyberpunk 2077 – but with lightsabers, Sith lords, and death stick dealers. Ubisoft could also include a cheeky nod to canceled LucasArts game Star Wars 1313, by including the eponymous underworld location Level 1313 as an explorable location. Best of all, the lead antagonist could be Darth Bane, the historic Sith warrior who instigated the Rule of Two after the defeat of the Sith Empire, thereby laying the foundations of the Skywalker saga. Sprawling cities, challenging antagonists, and high-tech espionage? This is rich Ubisoft territory.
The High Republic
Revealed last February, the High Republic is a new era in the Star Wars universe, based 200 years before The Phantom Menace, when the Galactic Republic and Jedi Order are at their height, and the Outer Rim territories are only just being charted. It's an interesting era of exploration and discovery, and LucasFilm has stated it has no plans to produce movies or TV shows in this period, instead concentrating on novels and comic books, so an open world video game would have an amazing opportunity to flesh out the visual feel of this fascinating epoch.
The first we've seen of this new era is the novel Light of the Jedi, which introduces a space station named Starlight Beacon, located in the Outer Rim and crewed by Jedi. It's intended to protect travellers exploring uncharted space – and it would make the perfect hub area for a The Division-style co-op RPG, in which players could manage the discovery of new planets, deal with alien threats, and help grow the Republic's reach. Players could earn XP by carrying out missions on familiar planets such as Sullust and Crait, while battling the era's canonical foes, including the Nihil, a tribe of ruthless marauders. As in The Division, XP could then be used to build new facilities in the Starlight Beacon unlocking new weapons and equipment. The idea of teaming up with friends to run a Jedi outpost on the edge of the known galaxy is pretty enticing, and offers loads of scope to expand the look and feel of this totally fresh setting.
Alderaan, pre-A New Hope
The Ezio era of Assassin's Creed games brilliantly combined the fictitious Assassins vs Templars narrative within beautiful reconstructions of Florence, Venice, and Rome, revelling in the cultural richness of the cities and their famous inhabitants. For a similar experience in a Star Wars game, the perfect setting would be Alderaan, just before the events of A New Hope. A planet renowned for its refined architecture, art, culture, and wine, it's effectively the Renaissance Italy of the Star Wars universe, and therefore an amazing place to explore.
It's also where the Rebel Alliance had its secretive origins, and it would be fun to play as one of the instigators of the Rebellion secretly plotting with Bail Organa to start an uprising. Better yet, Alderaan was the home world of several interesting Star Wars characters, such as the traitorous Nash Windrider from Claudia Gray's excellent Lost Stars novel, and The Mandalorian's Cara Dune – they could certainly crop up as you got deeper into the story.
Tatooine, post Return of the Jedi
Okay, so Ubisoft must be considering Tatooine as a possible location for it's adventure – it is the emotional core of the Star Wars universe, after all. Sure, it's basically a giant desert, but as the publisher demonstrated with Assassin's Creed Origins, its designers are pretty good at wringing diverse locations out of sparse raw materials – and we do have plenty of legendary set-piece environments, from Mos Eisley, to Jabba's palace and the Pod Racing arenas. As The Mandalorian has shown, this is also a fascinating era: the Empire has fallen, so there's a general sense of bubbling anarchy, while unemployed Stormtroopers stalk the streets falling in with vengeance-obsessed imperial warlords.
It's the perfect setting for a Far Cry-style adventure, with a lone character just trying to survive amid the chaos, maybe looking to scrape enough galactic credits to hire a ship and get off this rock. It's easy to picture a Ubisoft game set on Tatooine, isn't it? Venturing out into the Dune Sea would have a distinct Far Cry 2 vibe, with warring mercenary factions, Tuscan Raiders, and plenty of unfriendly wildlife to negotiate, as well as a real-time weather and daylight system to throw freezing nights and howling sand storms at unwary players. Honestly, getting the chance to just wander about a detailed reproduction of this fabled planet, hanging out at Tosche Station, dropping thermal detonators down the sarlacc pit, or just starting fights in the cantina would be an absolute dream.
Rise of the First Order
Over the years, several Star Wars games, including the Old Republic, Force Unleashed, and Dark Forces 2 titles, have allowed players to turn to the dark side, and Ubisoft has always encouraged a little… moral leeway in its adventures. Where better to explore this, and fill out some Star Wars backstory, than in the dawn of the First Order, in the years between Return of the Jedi and Force Unleashed. Players could take on the role of a young warrior, press-ganged into the Order's stormtrooper army and carrying out destructive missions from the Starkiller Base.
Through a series of epic battles, you could decide to rebel like Fin and Jannah, sabotaging missions on the fly, or just go with it and help seed the new empire. Ubisoft's art team would do an amazing job of replicating memorable final trilogy landmarks, such as Gambling mecca Canto Bight, Ren's homeworld Jakku, and delightful Sith holiday planet, Exegol – plus, we'd get to see the origin of underexplored characters General Hux and Captain Phasma. Admittedly, however, the big draw will be getting to wear one of the sexy red gloss uniforms of the Sith stormtroopers. Thanks Ubisoft, we take a size XL.
With new 007: James Bond, Avatar, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars games on the near horizon, are we about to enter a Golden Age for Licensed Games?