It’s been directly one month since I looked at The Skywalker Saga last, giving a rundown of what is set to be within the game and a few of my ideas. I held hope that perhaps this month, we would see something about the game. After all, Star Wars Day would have been the perfect opportunity to do so.
While we didn’t get any gameplay, or even any trailers, we did get to see the key art of the game, with a slip up from the official Star Wars Youtube channel revealing what seems to be the official date of the game. Such a date does fit, what with recent releases for LEGO and Star Wars games. I assume EA are aware of this release, and have no plans to release anything that might cause conflict with TT Games’ effort.
So while there’s no new information to be found (except more confirmation of how much TT are putting into this), I felt it might be worthwhile getting a few more of my thoughts and ideas about the game and how it will play out for all to see. I’ve got a good idea of how I’d want the exploration to be handled, so I’ll start there.
We already know we have a galaxy to explore, but how we explore it is the largest question about this new experience that is yet to be answered. With twenty or more planets featured as explorable locations in this open world, there are a lot of planets to fit within this galactic map. If you want to be accurate to how star systems look, each will need its own star.
However, because each system will only feature one planet, it would be silly to do something on the scale of something like Elite Dangerous in regards to building that galactic map. Or would it? After all, you have hyperspace functionality, and unlike Elite it wouldn’t have to be to scale. You could easily hop between systems in seconds by aiming to the correct star and punching it with just a single button.
By giving such a free scope to exploration, it gives room to hide secrets outside of the known systems. Imagine if, while exploring Tatooine, you heard of an abandoned ruin of a cruiser in a system that doesn’t have any planets within it? While most of the systems you can aim at would have a planet or two within them, some would appear empty. Should you explore them, you might just find such ruins or a space station of some type.
This also fits with a place such as Alderaan. After all, the system has to exist on the map to be able to head there, even if it does get destroyed. Same with Ilum (or Starkiller Base, as it becomes in The Force Awakens). But you’ll be going to such places via cutscene, right? Well, that might indeed be the case, but by opening out freeroam to be a larger part of the game, TT Games has the opportunity to do something, and I feel they might.
See, if you have the ability to make story scenes in the open world, they should be done. Take Return of the Jedi, for example. The time to attack has come, and the Rebellion is off to Endor. Having loaded up on the stolen Imperial Shuttle, the player would take it out of the hangar, aim for the Endor system (having first highlighted that as being where you want to go on the map), then activate the hyperdrive.
After a few seconds, there you are in the Endor system, with the second Death Star orbiting the Sanctuary Moon and several Star Destroyers within sight. Rather than jumping to a cutscene, however, the dialogue would happen as you fly toward the moon. Once the dialogue has finished, a marker would appear guiding you toward the landing zone.
Upon nearing the moon, control would be taken away for a few seconds as it transitioned the ship down through the atmosphere of the planet – much as it does with Starlink – before returning control back to the player so they could even out and set down at the landing zone. The freeroam of the planet can then begin.
The freeroam of individual worlds is an interesting one, as certain worlds have a lot more known features than others, though I feel this particular point won’t matter as much. As long as the general idea of the terrain is present in connecting those known features, adding in a few new features that make sense for the location, it will work.
Coruscant will be the most interesting of these explorable worlds, as even with reducing the scale of the planet, there is just too much city to allow for on-foot connections. Out of all the planets, this will be the one where transport traversal is the most important. But that doesn’t mean the city will be lacking in any sort of depth.
During The Phantom Menace’s story, once you’ve landed on Tatooine and entered Anakin into the Boonta Eve Podrace, that race will be handled in freeroam, rather than be one of the levels. After completing it, a variety of races would open up on the various worlds, which links back to Coruscant and giving depth to that planet. With such depth, despite not being explorable on foot, there’d still be various challenges and collectibles hidden around.
These races would have some of the typical humour in them with how they start, with a small race introduction scene happening before it begins. Returning to Return of the Jedi and Endor, the race on this planet would involve speeder bikes, and Stormtroopers boasting how they have the fastest bike.
Such races and other events play just one part in giving a greater sense of interactivity with the worlds, as well as a greater sense of exploration. We already know of various missions we can take part in, such as guiding a Gonk Droid to safety, and these add another layer to that interactivity and exploration. The more there is to see and do within these worlds, the greater reason there is for being.
But these challenges and missions have to be worthwhile. They need to be interesting. Races provide that interest, as do the missions that allow the LEGO humour to shine (or by giving seemingly unimportant characters some interesting stories). For bounty hunter missions, I’m picturing them being a galaxy-spanning side quest where you’d accept a bounty and head off to that location to hunt them down and bring them in.
To go with those missions, I’m thinking there’d also be others that are unique to that world. These would just be simple challenges, such as finding rare materials on Jakku, or mini boss type challenges, such as defeating Wampas on Hoth. Again, things that encourage exploration and interaction with the world.
With the revamp to the entire formula, I think we can count on ships and ground vehicles seeing a similar improvement. With the camera in closer to be behind the vehicle, the analogue sticks play a greater role in controlling the vehicle (though shoulder buttons will be used for throttle control). Travelling in them will also provide a different experience, with multiple seats within them.
For smaller ships such as an X-Wing, this involves a pilot and an astromech droid. The pilot would control the ship and primary weapons, with the astromech providing power boosts and controlling additional weaponry. For those ships that have two seats, another character would replace the astromech.
For a solo experience, that single player would be able to swap between the two seats, with the AI filling in for whichever position the player wasn’t controlling while in battle. If the player wanted to stay in the secondary seat, they could still direct the AI on where to go by setting a waypoint to that place. In space, the AI would even put the ship to hyperspace if a waypoint to a different system was set.
There is a lot that could be done with a reinvention of the formula, while still staying true to the franchise’s roots. While we still have yet to see any gameplay, particularly of the levels, I could see certain things being done with them. A return of features present in The Clone Wars, such as multiple scenarios playing out at the same time and a real-time strategy element to the levels making a return for large battles.
There’d be less collectibles within the levels, but a True Jedi status for obtaining a certain amount of studs per level wouldn’t disappear. While I can’t say for sure until we see the gameplay of levels in action, it does seem that traditional levels as they’ve been since the start of the franchise are disappearing.
As stated above, they will utilise different ways of play – such as the real-time strategy elements, or else put focus on areas not represented in the open world. Once the first level of The Phantom Menace – traversing the underwater passages of Naboo to get to Theed – has finished, you’ll rescue the Queen and her entourage in freeroam, heading inside the palace, which starts the second level.
That second level would place you at first within the hangar, where you’d rescue sets of pilots, then you would board the transport and set off for space. Out in space a cutscene would play where Obi-Wan puts Jar Jar into the droid maintenance room, where he then breaks the lifts for the droids. Back in control, you’d use the droids to solve the puzzle to get the lifts repaired, then use them to get onto the ship, which you would need to traverse and repair before getting to the final part that ends the level.
Such a level would give a different perspective on looking at the world, with all the levels offering something different from the norm. I can see there being one level per film that utilises the real-time strategy elements in some form, one that uses the two scenarios at once sections, and one vehicle level that shows off the combat options available with this revamped formula.
That is all the ideas I will give for now. It offers a talking point for ideas and new ways of looking at the game, while avoiding being nothing but a rundown of how I expect each film to play out in detail. The next time I offer thoughts about The Skywalker Saga will be when we have some solid gameplay videos to look at. With those, we’ll understand exactly how this game will play and just what is going into it.
I expect such to come in June, around the time E3 would have been depending on Microsoft’s plans for its June reveals are. After all, it was revealed at Microsoft’s conference last year, so it makes sense for more to be shown at Microsoft’s next showing.
Do you like these ideas I have presented? Do have ways to expand on what I have given, or do you have some of your own that you feel would work better? Why not give a comment and your thoughts.