Amid rumors that Disney is mulling over EA's future at the helm of its Star Wars portfolio, we've curated a list of developers that deserve a crack at the world's biggest franchise.
On paper, it’s a no-brainer. Coming hot off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red is already hard at work on Cyberpunk 2077, a futuristic title that will seemingly outstrip Geralt’s final adventure in both scale and scope. And isn’t that exciting?
But imagine CD Projekt Red, arguably Poland’s greatest gaming export, was placed in control of a licensed Star Wars title – what would that look like? A story-driven RPG set on the Outer Rim, we imagine, but with 2077 expected sometime before 2020, a CDPR-backed Star Wars experience is really one for the back-burner.
Hear me out.
As the developer behind Rocket League, an online sensation that took the world by storm in 2015, Psyonix knows a thing or two about bone-rattling racers. And that’s before we even consider the studio’s history on Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, to which Rocket League is considered a spiritual successor.
Now take this legacy and fuse it with the podracing underworld introduced in The Phantom Menace. The result? A licensed Star Wars game that packs all of the edge-of-your-seat intensity that propelled Rocket League to dizzying new heights three years ago.
It’d naturally be a huge endeavour for Psyonix, but their experience on Rocket League, a game which expanded at such a breathless rate that the Internet struggled to keep up, would surely serve them in good stead. Besides, the mere thought of screeching and wailing over the sun-kissed plains of Tatooine – or Malastare, or Theron, or any other Star Wars planet that takes your fancy – is exciting in and of itself.
Now that’s podracing!
Undoubtedly the crown jewel of Sony’s first-party studios, Naughty Dog is a pretty easy choice when it comes to any single-player experience. Ever since graduating from Crash Bandicoot and the dormant Jak and Daxter series, Naughty Dog has served up one PlayStation gem after another, while The Last of Us is living proof that the studio is equipped to handle more mature and at times graphic content.
That’s not to say that a Naughty Dog-backed Star Wars title has to tread the same path as Joel and Ellie, but give us a galactic adventure with all the ND hallmarks – electric chemistry, cracking dialogue and deeply compelling characters – and we’ll be more than content.
After two candidates that specialize in third-person adventures, it’s only fitting that we reserve a spot on our list for Machines Games, whose Wolfenstein games have dragged first-person shooters to new heights, beginning with The New Order in 2014.
Couple this with The New Colossus, a balls-to-the-walls sequel replete with fascinating characters and water-tight controls, and it becomes clear that Machine Games has built an impressive record within the industry’s most popular sub-genre.
A third Wolfenstein is likely on the cards, but if Machines Games punched that golden ticket and journeyed into Lucasfilm’s far-away galaxy, the end result would surely be a character-driven adventure that welcomed its players into the dark underbelly of Star Wars – like, say, the harsh reality of life on Corellia, or any number of the mercenaries and bounty hunters connected to Jabba the Hutt.
What you have here is the possibility for a more adult-oriented spinoff, and though it may strain credulity due to the exorbitant costs associated with licensed games, we remain hopeful that a Machine Games-developed Star Wars title will one day – one day – become a reality.
This is another long shot, but we’ll be damned if Square Enix (and Naoki Yoshida!) didn’t defy the odds and course-correct Final Fantasy XIV at a time when many believed the wildly ambitious MMORPG was doomed.
So if one was to take that pool of talent and point them in the direction of Star Wars, we imagine the end result would be a rich, sprawling universe for SW enthusiasts to explore for months – nay, years.
And then there's always SWTOR. BioWare Austin’s impressive Star Wars: The Old Republic is perhaps one of the greatest examples of an MMORPG that has stood the test of time – up there with World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.
And, frankly, it's about time we got the next evolution of KOTOR.