The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Book Announced

StarWars.com

Take a closer look at the journey to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order with a new art book that reveals the design process behind the highly-anticipated video game.

The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, hitting bookshelves this fall, will be published by Dark Horse Books, in collaboration with Lucasfilm, Respawn Entertainment, and Electronic Arts.

With detailed concept art of all-new characters, like our hero Cal Kestis, and locales both familiar and new, the book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the video game, including intimate artists’ commentary. Learn more about Cal’s perilous journey across the galaxy as he battles foes and learns the ways of the Force on his quest to rebuild the Jedi Order.

The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order goes on sale November 19, 2019, and is available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Things from Another World, and at your local comic shop.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

https://www.starwars.com/news/the-art-of-star-wars-jedi-fallen-order-book-announced

SWCC 2019: 5 Things We Learned from the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Panel

StarWars.com

Respawn Entertainment is here at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, and the company has brought something very exciting with them: the story reveal trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. This is the developer behind Titanfall, the massively acclaimed Titanfall 2, and mega-hit battle royale Apex Legends, and this fall they’re bringing players the first all-story, single-player-only Star Wars game since 2010’s The Force Unleashed II. Saturday’s Celebration panel in Chicago featured a discussion between host David Collins, game director Stig Asmussen (God of War III), Respawn CEO Vince Zampella (Call of Duty), narrative lead Aaron Contreras (BioShock Infinite), producer Kasumi Shishido, and the Lucasfilm Story Group’s Steve Blank.

Here’s what we know about Fallen Order so far.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

1. Fallen Order is a single-player experience, full stop. Players won’t find any multiplayer component in this narrative-focused Star Wars game. “Star Wars is part of my DNA. It helped form who I am,” Respawn’s Vince Zampella said. “This is a Jedi fantasy story game: no multiplayer.” At that moment, the entire arena erupted with applause. Fans of classic titles like Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and The Force Unleashed have been hungering for a story-centric Jedi action game for roughly a decade, and Fallen Order aims to deliver on the promise of Lucasfilm’s story tradition as well as Respawn’s penchant for phenomenal gameplay.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

2. Lucasfilm and Respawn spent at least a year nailing down Fallen Order’s world, story, premise, and characters. While director Stig Asmussen and Zampella assembled a crack team of industry vets, producer Kasumi Shishido worked closely with Steve Blank and the rest of the Story Group at Lucasfilm to ensure Fallen Order would align with the established canon. During the panel, Respawn showed off concept art while describing the game’s “slow and steady” pre-production timeline. The project went through a number of iterations while art and narrative found a story worth telling.

Like the best of the films, Jedi: Fallen Order will introduce players to a host of new planets and characters that feel authentic to the rest of the Star Wars universe. “I can tell you that I’m super confident that we’re onto something,” Asmussen said.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

3. Fallen Order is all about visceral, one-on-one combat. “They wanted to put a lightsaber in the player’s hand,” Blank said. To that end, Respawn’s designers, engineers, and animators went through a similarly iterative process, developing a combat loop that would empower players with evolving lightsaber abilities and Force powers. But as a Jedi on the run in the wake of Order 66, it was important to achieve a balance: “thoughtful combat” that’s easy to pick up but still allows for a sense of depth. Respawn wants players who spend a lot of time with the game to feel a sense of mastery — of their saber technique and the Force. “It’s not a button-masher,” said Asmussen.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

4. Actor Cameron Monaghan plays former Padawan Cal Kestis. Cameron Monaghan of Gotham and Shameless fame portrays Fallen Order protagonist Cal Kestis, a Jedi pupil on the run from the Emperor’s relentless Inquisitors. Kestis works for an organization called the Scrapper Guild, salvaging the wreckage of fallen capital ships in the aftermath of the Clone Wars. Monaghan grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS, replaying his favorite Darth Vader scenes until the analog tape started to wear out and grew fuzzy.

“If I told that kid he was gonna swing a lightsaber one day, I think his brain would’ve exploded,” Monaghan joked. During the casting process, Monaghan’s audition clip was placed in a folder marked “Other,” meaning he was unlikely to land the role. But when game director Stig Asmussen saw the video, he knew they’d found their Jedi hero.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

5. While the game tells a fresh, original story full of new characters, it also ties into the larger world of Star Wars storytelling. One of Fallen Order’s headlining baddies is the Jedi hunter known as the Second Sister, one of the Emperor’s Sith Inquisitors. She was created by writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli for their acclaimed run on Marvel’s Darth Vader, and appeared for the first time in issue #19. Another Soule-Camuncoli creation, the red-eyed purge troopers, will also play a prominent role in the game as elite stormtroopers specially trained to fight Jedi — making them all too eager for the day they finally come face to face with one of the dwindling Order’s last.

Some of the game’s all-new creations include Seer, played by MadTV alum and voice actress Debra Wilson, and a droid named BD-1, whom narrative lead Aaron Contreras based on his own beloved dog. BD-1’s voice has been devised and performed by none other than legendary Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt.

“[Fallen Order] is an absolute labor of love,” said Story Group’s Steve Blank.

“We’re putting our heart and soul into this game,” producer Kasumi Shishido added, “so we really can’t wait to show you more.”

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order launches November 15, 2019, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Check out more screenshots from the trailer below!

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order screenshot.

Visit StarWars.com’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago hub for all the latest Celebration news.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Site tags: #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019, #SWCCPanel

SWCC 2019: 5 Things We Learned from the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Panel

SWCC 2019: Star Wars Pinball is Coming to Nintendo Switch – Exclusive

StarWars.com

Later this year, Nintendo Switch players will feel the Force — and the flippers.

StarWars.com is thrilled to announce that Star Wars Pinball is heading to Nintendo Switch, both on the eShop as a digital download for Pinball FX3 and as a physical retail release on cartridge. The game will come packed with its previously released collection of 19 digital pinball tables, including those based on the prequel, classic, and sequel trilogies, Rogue One, Solo, and the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The Switch edition is also getting all-new modes: the community-based Galactic Struggle, which allows players to contribute points to the light or dark side; a new Career mode, in which fans choose the side of the Jedi or Sith as they work their way up the ranks; and a Force Training mode for pinball Padawans. It also comes with features that take advantage of the Switch’s unique hardware, notably HD Rumble and vertical screen orientation — meaning if you’re playing on the Switch console itself, you can turn the device on its side for a taller screen. Moreover, the game’s release will be a historic one, as it will be the first Star Wars game ever released on Nintendo’s latest console. StarWars.com caught up with Chris Baker, Zen Studios’ creative director, to discuss Star Wars Pinball’s move to Switch, why vertical play might be Switch players’ new preference, and continuing the tradition of Star Wars on Nintendo platforms.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

StarWars.com: Fans have been asking for this for a long time! How does it feel to finally get to tell them that Star Wars Pinball is coming to Switch?

Chris Baker: You aren’t kidding! Ever since we announced that Pinball FX3 would be available for Switch in late 2017, “When is Star Wars coming?” has perhaps been our most frequently asked question. And the answer…this September! But the thing is, Star Wars Pinball is so big and special, we just had to do more for it.

Not only are there 19 total tables that touch every corner of the Star Wars galaxy, but we’ve also got several special Star Wars-themed modes that you’ll only find in this Switch release. And those of you who like having your own physical copies of games will be happy to know that we’re not only available digitally on the eShop, but also at retail, which is a first for Star Wars Pinball, and only for Switch.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

StarWars.com: As a Star Wars Pinball fan, I’m especially excited about some of the Switch-specific features, namely HD Rumble and vertical screen orientation. From a developer perspective, what do those add to the gameplay experience?

Chris Baker: As anyone who has ever played Pinball FX3 will tell you, pinball titles from Zen work amazingly well vertically. I personally like to switch things up between horizontal and vertical modes, but for a lot of people, once they try vertical, they just can’t go back. It gets even better if you have a peripheral like Fangamer’s FlipGrip that makes playing vertically much more ergonomically pleasing. Ultimately, it just feels more realistic to play vertically, as pinball itself is a much “taller” game than it is a “wide” one. When you throw in HD Rumble to literally shake things up at key moments, it really does feel like you’re holding your own personal mini-pinball table.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

StarWars.com: What can you tell us about the new modes for this Switch edition?

Chris Baker: Star Wars Pinball has quite a history and a well-known set of features across several platforms. For the Switch, however, we still wanted to add something special to make it stand out more.

One of the simpler additions is the Cantina Jukebox, where you select your favorite music to listen to while navigating the menus. It was a bit of a popular request, both in-house and from our players. It’s Star Wars music — how could it not be, right?

A bit more ambitious is the Career mode, where you can explore all the tables across a range of short, bite-sized challenges. Given the Switch’s portability, sometimes you might just not want to commit to the intense concentration necessary for playing a full table, and that’s where the Career mode’s shorter gameplay sessions come into play.

Here, you can complete five operations, each with a set number of missions of increasing difficulty such as beating the three target scores in the more familiar five-minute, one ball, and survive modes — and we are working on even more new modes that we can talk about in the future. Occasionally you can also hop into the cockpit of an X-wing or TIE fighter and complete a mission on a given table’s mini-playfield. You can even take on Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel.

Collecting Holocron Shards in these missions also lets you unlock certain Force Powers and Talents, granting various bonuses and helping you earn higher scores later on. As the missions will get gradually more and more challenging, you will definitely need them.

If you manage to collect all the Holocron Shards, the Great Holocron will be yours, granting an additional level to each of your accumulated Force Powers and Talents!

StarWars.com: Star Wars has a big legacy on Nintendo platforms. What does it mean to the team to now be a part of that legacy?

Chris Baker: Star Wars really does feel at home on Nintendo platforms, doesn’t it? When I was a kid, I played through both NES games and all of the Super Star Wars titles on Super NES. And then, of course, came Shadows of the Empire, which was a powerhouse for Nintendo 64 — just like Rogue Leader was for GameCube! So, as someone who was there for all of that, as both a fan of Star Wars and gaming, I can honestly say it’s nothing less than an honor to be associated with this great line of Star Wars games on Nintendo platforms.

The fact that physical copies will be available only for Switch somehow makes it feel even more “real.” I, for one, can’t wait to see my name show up on the leaderboards — and promptly blown apart like Alderaan once all the real gaming pros start playing. With enough practice — enough Jedi training, if you will — that can literally be anyone reading these words right now.

Attending Star Wars Celebration Chicago? Be sure to visit the Zen Studios booth (#5215), where you can play Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch!

Check out more screenshots of Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch below.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Star Wars Pinball on Nintendo Switch screenshot.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019

SWCC 2019: Star Wars Pinball is Coming to Nintendo Switch – Exclusive

STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER  TEASER IMAGE REVEALED

StarWars.com

A badly damaged lightsaber hilt sits atop ancient symbols from a bygone age, emanating a faint blue glow reminiscent of the power the elegant weapon once held.

In the first image below to be released from the forthcoming action-adventure game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, we get our first glimpse at the galaxy in the aftermath of Order 66.

A teaser image from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

The game, set to be released later this year, will follow a Padawan trying to survive as the Empire rises following the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and the defeat of the Jedi Order.

And get ready for more imagery and details from the new game at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this week, which you can watch in person or streaming live! In a special panel on Saturday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m. CDT, EA and Respawn will pull back the curtain on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER  TEASER IMAGE REVEALED

Star Wars Battlefront II Brings Players New “Capital Supremacy” Mode

StarWars.com

During last summer’s EA Play media briefing, DICE’s Dennis Brannvall took the stage to tease a brand new multiplayer mode for Star War Battlefront II. “We’ll be delivering a large-scale multiplayer sandbox experience focused around capturing command posts and attacking and taking out capital ships,” shared the game’s franchise design director.

Brannvall immediately followed the announcement with news he and his team would also be responding to fans’ overwhelming requests for Clone Wars content by adding heroes, villains, and planets from that “iconic Star Wars conflict.” As Battlefront II players are well aware, DICE began making good on that promise last fall, bringing General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, new clone troopers, and the planet Geonosis to the game. More recently, the Clone Wars updates continued with Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker joining Battlefront II‘s villain and hero rosters, respectively.

General Grievous versus Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Battlefront II.

As it turns out, the new mode announced at EA Play not only serves as a natural complement to the last several months of Clone Wars updates and additions, but a climactic celebration on that fan-pleasing path. “So we’ve been in the Clone Wars for quite a while now, and we’re really viewing this mode as the culmination of this part of the live service for Battlefront II. It’s also the biggest battle we ever see in the film, and we wanted to see if we can recapture that excitement in our game,” shares Brannvall in a recent interview with StarWars.com.

Officially dubbed “Capital Supremacy,” the large-scale mode will double-down on delivering that Clone Wars fantasy over two unique phases. The first will see two teams of 20, plus 12 AI soldiers on each side, vie for control of five separate command posts spread across Geonosis’ sprawling surface; once a team has taken a majority of those posts, they can then progress to the second phase, which tasks them with boarding the opposition’s capital ship before trying to take it out by setting timed explosive charges.

Whether siding with the Separatists to bring down the Republic Attack Cruiser or helping the Galactic Republic turn the Dreadnought to dust, this second phase — according to Lucasfilm games team Senior Producer Orion Kellogg — plays a significant role in fueling that Clone Wars fantasy. “When you board the ship at the end of each ground map, you have the exciting opportunity to add reinforcements to your cause. The clone troopers are going to be getting out of the LAAT gunship and the droids have cleared space for their HMP gunship to take off and head into the atmosphere, so you’ll see all that. Being able to get into a ship and head up into the atmosphere and board…it’s a real nostalgic thrill appropriate for the Clone Wars fantasy.”

While the intense exchanges of blaster fire and clashing lightsabers might keep you from sightseeing during the mode’s epic boarding sequence, Kellogg urges fans to take a second to spy the ships’ impressive interiors. “We’ve worked with assets from the show [Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series], our creative director, Hez Chorba, and, of course, all of the DICE art team to bring the Venator and Dreadnought interior to life in a way we’re really excited about. We’ve even gotten down to the way we’re painting vehicles to make sure these all come from the same point in the Star Wars timeline. Everywhere you look should feel like an authentic Clone Wars fantasy.”

Building on Kellogg’s enthusiasm for the mode’s presentation, Brannvall promises the core gameplay — particularly in selling that massive-scale, Clone Wars-era vibe — will sport the same attention to detail. “We really wanted to make it feel large-scale, epic, and very Star Wars. It’s some of the largest Star Wars experiences we’ve ever built. It’s more spread out and we’ve added AI to both sides. So not only is it a 40-player mode, but we’re actually adding even more playable boots-on-the-ground with AI soldiers joining in.”

The addition of computer-controlled infantry is completely new to Battlefront II, but a key element in supporting Capital Supremacy’s immersive scale. “It’s the first time we’re doing it with soldiers running around. We’ve had it before in starfighter modes, and that’s been quite successful for us in not only providing a larger scale experience in the field, but it’s also really fun for players. Even if you get defeated by an enemy player, you might have taken out quite a few AI before you got shut down; so it really empowers the player and makes them feel very heroic,” continues Brannvall.

On top of having extra bad guys to blast, players can look forward to a more free-form, objective-filled experience when they hit Capital Supremacy’s battlefront. “It delivers a bit more freedom when it comes to what you want to do, a bit more choice in terms of where you need to go to be effective. If you manage to get a hold of a Republic walker or a Separatist tank, where do you want to go with it? It’s not an attack/advance scenario like our Galactic Assault maps, where one team is always playing on the defense. There are more objectives on the screen for you to worry about; there’s the command posts you’re fighting over with 40 people, plus AI that are trying to catch you. There’s lot of things to defend or run towards in order to take it back, so we’ll keep you moving a lot more,” explains Branvall.

The command posts — which longtime Battlefront fans might remember from the original 2005 game and its sequel’s Conquest modes — play a particularly integral role in defining Capital Supremacy’s tactical gameplay, says Kellogg. “The command posts really make the battlefront. They put the battlefront in the player’s hands, so they can look around and get a quick sense of where they need to be. And with all the great heroes, villains, vehicles, and clone troopers at your disposal, you get to be tactical in an instant. The command posts really help make this an empowering mode.”

Commando droids in Star Wars Battlefront II.

Of course, while attempting to take these coveted spots, you’ll also need to stay a step ahead of the mode’s two new reinforcements, the Galactic Republic’s dual-wielding ARC troopers and the Separatists’ vibrosword-swinging droid commandos. “Those two characters are spicing things up quite a bit because they are reinforcements rather than heroes and villains. We can have many more of them running around at the same time, so you’ll see a lot of those flanking you, and trying to carve you up with their sword or their pistols.”

Upon being reminded how “deadly and fast-moving” the droid commandos are, Kellogg jumps in with some Capitol Supremacy strategies for existing players. “The first thing I’d say is don’t sleep on the boarding sequence. It’s definitely important to prevent the other team from loading up a whole ship, because the more points they gain there, the better chance they’re going to have taking down your capital ship. I’d also say don’t give up. If you’re able to reject an attack on your capital ship, you’re going to have a chance to come back to the ground and get back up to their capital ship. There’s a bit of a tug of war, so even when it seems dark, you’ve got an opportunity to turn it around and win.”

While Kellogg hopes to give seasoned fans a leg up with his advice, he also encourages less skilled players or complete newcomers to join the fight. “You don’t always have to be on top of the leader boards or capturing a command post to have an incredible time in this mode. There are many ways to contribute to your team’s success. When you are in the Venator or in the Dreadnought, you’re going to assist your team by taking down the opponent. But on the ground, when you’re boarding the ship, just getting into the ship — and bringing additional reinforcements with you — is going to give your team a better chance of survival when they levy their attack.”

Whether you’re a longtime Battlefront II fan craving fresh content or a Clone Wars geek getting into the game for the first time, Capitol Supremacy has something for Star Wars enthusiasts of all stripes.

Capital Supremacy is now available as a free update for players who purchased the base Star Wars Battlefront II game.

A full-time freelance writer born in Lizzie Borden’s hometown, Matt Cabral has covered film, television, and video games for over a decade. You can follow him on Twitter @gamegoat or find him in the basement of an abandoned building hoarding all the canned goods, med-kits, and shotgun shells.

Star Wars Battlefront II Brings Players New “Capital Supremacy” Mode

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance

StarWars.com

In Replaying the Classics, StarWars.com revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

The third and final sequel to 1993’s Star Wars: X-Wing, Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance is an important piece of video-game history. Perhaps the most underrated entry in the fondly remembered series, it plays like a modern spaceflight simulator with a healthy dose of retro-3D charm. It features an original Legends-era story, with gorgeous action-heavy cutscenes, an authentic soundtrack cherry-picked from the best of John Williams’s classic scores, and top-notch voice-over performances. In terms of visual production values, the X-Wing series has never looked better.

If X-Wing and TIE Fighter let players see the galaxy from the viewpoint of the rebels and the Empire, then Alliance tells the story of everyone else — the civilians just trying to get by and, in some cases, those who thrive among the criminal underworld. But it also ties in directly with story elements established in both X-Wing and TIE Fighter, like the traitorous Admiral Zaarin and a number of warships first seen in those earlier installments.

A view of the Death Star in Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance.

Developed by Lawrence Holland’s Totally Games, X-Wing Alliance follows the story of the Azzameen family during the period between the Battle of Hoth and the destruction of the second Death Star. The Azzameens run a sizable shipping operation (Twin Suns Transport Services) using a pair of twin Corellian YT-model freighters, the Sabra and the Selu, which fans will recognize as more or less identical to the famed Millennium Falcon. Though Ace Azzameen’s family favors the Rebellion, the last thing they want is to get caught up in the Galactic Civil War. But sometimes, as heroes like Jyn Erso and the First Order defector Finn have discovered, war doesn’t give us a choice.

Eventually, players earn access to a number of familiar Alliance starfighters: X-wings, A-wings, Y-wings, B-wings, Z-95s. Despite the game’s age — Alliance was first released in 1999, when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace reignited interest in Star Wars gaming — its flight controls feel as intuitive and fluid as ever. With something like a standard PlayStation or Xbox controller, and little to no configuration, players can use a combination of gamepad buttons, analog thumbsticks, and simple keyboard commands (e.g., “Shift-D” initiates an automated docking sequence) to make their way across the galaxy. You’ll take on no end of TIE fighters, help steal the shuttle Tydirium, and play a key role in the victory at Endor.

A view of space in Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance.

In their original staff review, IGN critics praised X-Wing Alliance for its graphical fidelity, well-crafted narrative, and stellar sound design. PC Gamer UK called it “a superb, demanding reworking of the films and the original X-Wing.” Game Revolution said, “The Force is strong with this one.”

Looking back at it now, this game seems to be a definitive Star Wars entry within a somewhat niche genre (the space-combat sim). But the X-Wing series found an adoring audience, and is still regarded as one of the all-time greats. Alliance, in particular, is a vital and beautifully rendered example of where Star Wars games have been — one that just might become your next big favorite.

Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance is available on GOG.com and Steam.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: TIE Fighter

StarWars.com

In Replaying the Classics, StarWars.com revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

In Star Wars Rebels, one of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s pet projects is the development and manufacture of specialized “TIE defenders” on the planet Lothal. What some fans may not know is that these starfighters, outfitted with hyperdrives and shielding tech, unlike most TIEs, first appeared in a computer game almost 25 years ago: 1994’s Star Wars: TIE Fighter.

A direct sequel to X-Wing — the first of several Star Wars titles developed by Marin County, California’s Totally Games — TIE Fighter isn’t an easy or simple game, by any means. Because it’s a spaceflight simulator, it does fall somewhere on the more hardcore end of the spectrum. This is definitely not Rogue Squadron. Often considered one of the greatest video games of all time, and certainly among the finest games to bear the Star Wars license, it’s one I wish I’d played years ago.

Having come out a year after The Last Command, the final book in Timothy Zahn’s Legends-era Thrawn trilogy, TIE Fighter’s story does an exceptional job of exploring the inner workings of the Empire during the classic Star Wars films. In the aftermath of the Battle of Hoth, you take on the role of a rank-and-file TIE pilot; much of the game follows the day-to-day, often mundane tasks of such a recruit.

A TIE fighter follows a shuttle in Star Wars: TIE Fighter.

While individual tasks may sound straightforward, TIE Fighter’s inherent complexity keeps you immersed and engaged. The game boasts an incredible breadth of detail, with a rich ballet of systems to manage constantly, making good use of the keyboard for players who want to get the full “space sim” experience. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the starfighter’s limited energy reserves, which can be diverted at will to reinforce certain areas of your shielding, add damage output to your weapons systems, or power up your ion engines for a boost of speed.

Every engagement has a strategic element to it; this isn’t just an arcade shooter set in outer space. You’ll want to lead targets naturalistically, anticipating enemy movements and even weapon behavior. And space feels vast and empty for great stretches at a time, making the game’s true setting not any specific Star Wars locale, but rather the cockpit of your trusty TIE fighter. Flying, above all else, feels smooth and intuitive, and it’s that first-person flight-sim foundation that holds the whole experience together.

As you progress through TIE Fighter’s story — rooting out rebel scum and quelling an internal plot to betray and overthrow the Emperor — you’ll unlock more and more of the Empire’s fantastic starfighters to fly into battle, from the TIE bomber to the experimental TIE/D defender.

Don’t wait for years to enlist in the Imperial Navy, like I did. Install this bona-fide classic and see if you’ve truly got what it takes to be the ace pilot the Empire needs in these dark times.

Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition is available on GOG.com and Steam.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: TIE Fighter

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

StarWars.com

In Replaying the Classics, StarWars.com revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

Released six months after Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, LucasArts’ Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is the ultimate Legends-era Episode II prequel. With Temuera Morrison and Leeanna Walsman reprising their roles as Jango Fett and Zam Wesell from the film, the game also costars Clancy Brown (Savage Opress) as the ruthless Mandalorian Montross and Corey Burton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Count Dooku. Originally launched exclusively for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube, the game was given the royal treatment in November 2015, when it was included as part of a special Star Wars Battlefront bundle for PlayStation 4.

In terms of narrative and presentation, Bounty Hunter delivers the goods. It’s got high-quality cinematics rendered by the special-effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic; it’s got original music by Jeremy Soule, who later composed the original score for Knights of the Old Republic (2003); and it tells a story that adds color and depth to some of Jango Fett’s best dialogue in Episode II.

Darth Sidious speaks with Count Dooku in the game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

At the outset, Dooku (“Tyranus”) is still a Sith in training under Darth Sidious. The seedy galactic underworld, meanwhile, is slipping into chaos under the influence of factions like the Bando Gora, a Force-worshipping death cult led by Komari Vosa, a former disciple of Dooku’s. Two tasks are laid out before Sidious’s new apprentice: eliminate the threat of the Bando Gora, and find a suitable host for the Grand Army of the Republic, which of course the Sith intend to use for their own nefarious purposes.

The Count of Serenno puts a bounty out on Vosa: five million Republic credits. Whoever manages to kill Dooku’s former Padawan will become the template for the Republic’s clone army. (To further flesh out this epic prequel story, LucasArts’ Haden Blackman also wrote a tie-in comic, Jango Fett: Open Seasons, that explored Fett’s relationship to Montross, his longtime rival among the Mandalorian people.)

From a gameplay perspective, Bounty Hunter’s built on a classic, tried-and-true formula rarely seen in more modern action titles. Jango’s primary weapons are his dual blaster pistols, which can be rapid-fired as quickly as you can press the gamepad’s square button. The twist is that you can lock on to targets, making survival less about precision aiming and more about agility. With Jango’s jetpack, which requires a slight cooldown after being used for a certain length of time, you can essentially fly over enemies’ heads as you rain down blasterfire on them from above; crouching and strafing also let you keep the upper hand in a straight fight on the ground.

Darth Sidious in the game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

The game includes several exciting boss fights against characters central to Fett’s backstory, as well as an optional bounties system that allows you to scan, identify, and hunt down wanted individuals hiding out in the galaxy’s underbelly. Progressing through the story also unlocks fun bonus content like comic-book pages, Fett-related Star Wars Trading Card Game scans, over a hundred works of concept art, and a few minutes’ worth of humorous outtakes from the game’s voice-over sessions, which have been animated to various degrees by ILM.

Uprezzed to 1080p high definition and featuring additions like PSN Trophies support, the PS4 port of Bounty Hunter is the definitive version of an already stellar game. Many fans remember it as probably the best Clones-era tie-in game — alongside Pandemic’s Battlefront predecessor, The Clone Wars (2002) — and I’m pleased to report that it’s aged phenomenally. With the game’s fast, fluid framerate, intuitive control scheme, and smooth third-person camera, it’s effortless to slip into the armor and feel like a simple man tryin’ to make his way in the universe. And well worth your time.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is available on PlayStation 4.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D

StarWars.com

In Replaying the Classics, StarWars.com revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

Rogue Squadron has a lot in common with Episode I: Racer — it’s one of the best Star Wars titles of the Nintendo 64 era, it’s still easy to pick up and play, and age hasn’t dulled its magic in the slightest.

Here’s a game — an aerial shoot-’em-up inspired by the Rogue Squadron comic books of the mid-‘90s — that was uniquely suited to the N64’s single-thumbstick gamepad in its day. Plug your favorite controller or joystick into your PC now, and flying into battle still feels both effortless and intuitive; just choose a configuration that prioritizes precision aiming. One analog stick is all it takes to steer your X-wing (or other starfighter) in all three dimensions, so you’ll be shooting down TIEs in no time.

Blasting TIEs on Tatooine in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.

In the aftermath of their victory at Yavin, the rebels find themselves on the run from a vengeful Empire in this Legends-era story. Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles have established Rogue Squadron, made up of the Alliance’s very best star pilots. Playing as Skywalker, you’ll lead the Rebellion on 16 story-driven missions across the galaxy, recruiting Imperial defectors like Crix Madine to your cause, scrambling for resources, and — following a late-game time jump to the New Republic era — saving Mon Calamari from a trio of planet-killing World Devastators. (For more context, read Dark Empire, written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy.)

Most of your favorite starfighters are available for you to take into battle, keeping in mind that the game launched in 1998, before even The Phantom Menace had made it to theaters. You’ll start off in Luke’s T-65 X-wing, then gradually earn access to fan favorites like the A-wing, Y-wing, Naboo N-1 starfighter, Millennium Falcon, and a Legends version of the V-wing airspeeder, seen mainly in Dark Empire and this game. Each vessel has its own set of unique abilities and attributes, introducing more fun and variety into engagements as you make your way through the story.

V-wing attacks a World Devastator in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.

Things start off on familiar ground with a brief return to Tatooine’s Mos Eisley, which has been overrun by Imperial Viper droids. But there are also plenty of worlds never before shown on-screen, as well as planets, such as Corellia and Mon Cala.

Rogue Squadron is a beautiful, thrilling game. It’s visually reminiscent of Shadows of the Empire, and a perfect complement to the experience of that earlier N64 cartridge. Like Episode I: Racer, Rogue Squadron takes one essential aspect of Star Wars and turns it into a faithful and inviting simulation — in this case, aerial combat. It’s one any fan is sure to love, for the exciting dogfights and for the flying-ace story.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D is available on Steam and GOG.com.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D

Sith Story: How Count Dooku Came to Star Wars Battlefront II

StarWars.com

“I’ve been looking forward to this.”

So said Count Dooku prior to his next clash with Anakin and Obi-Wan in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, but that statement also applies to our own feelings about the Sith Lord’s Star Wars Battlefront II debut. Count Dooku is the latest prequel/Star Wars: The Clone Wars character to arrive in the popular game, and is available beginning today. StarWars.com spoke with Lucasfilm’s Michael Dailey, assistant producer, about bringing the Separatist leader into Battlefront II. Here are his greatest insights.

Count Dooku in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The iconic villain battles Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

On capturing Dooku’s essence as seen in other media:

“We partner with the DICE animation team and point them in the direction that we think would make sense for developing the character. From there they do a lot of research, looking at examples from the movies and The Clone Wars. In this case I think, The Clone Wars was the bigger influence. They went and looked at the way that he fights and brought in elements of that into the way he was was animated — the way he does his attacks and does special abilities. A lot of times designing a specific ability, we’ll go right to a clip from The Clone Wars and say, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if he did something like this?’ From there we may tweak things slightly to better fit our gameplay needs for the hero, in the end the most important thing is that he’s both fun to play and feels authentic to both the universe and the character themselves.”

On developing a gameplay identity for Dooku in Battlefront II:

“One of the most important things to nail down first is: What should the fantasy around this particular character be when you play as them in Star Wars Battlefront II? One of the more skilled lightsaber wielders in the galaxy, Count Dooku is a precise duelist with a more refined technique than most, so that’s the approach we took with him. All of his abilities and the core way he plays focus around his ability here. For us, that was the key thing we focused in on when we were designing all his abilities.”

On differentiating the villain from other Sith:

“While we focused in on his ability as a lightsaber duelist, we do see Dooku both in the films and The Clone Wars using Force lightning. Although we didn’t want to lean too heavily into the Force lightning, because he might start feeling too similar to the Emperor, he is the only character that has the ability to utilize both his lightsaber and this particular Force power, adding an extra facet to his in-game character.”

Count Dooku in Star Wars Battlefront II.

The Sith Lord as he appears in Star Wars Battlefront II.

On how players should strategize when playing as Dooku:

“Where Dooku excels is in one-on-one fights. In particular, I imagine he’s going to be very popular in Heroes vs. Villains [mode]. But I think it’s important to know where his weaknesses are, too. Since he is so focused on one-on-one, you definitely, when you’re playing as Dooku, you want to be sure you’re not getting surrounded by a lot of enemies. So be aware of your surroundings, make sure that if there are a lot of enemies around you, you’re using your dodges to move in and out. Most of our Heroes in the game have two dodges, and there’s a cool down before you can dodge again. But Dooku actually has three dodges, which makes him a little better suited to keep away from enemy attacks.”

On why Dooku may be the best of all lightsaber wielders in the game:

“Dooku’s skill with a lightsaber is well known. In the game this is reflected in a few different ways, but what really stands out his ability to take the defensive role in a fight. Dooku is able to perform more consecutive dodges than other heroes, and blocks incoming lightsaber attacks more effectively than any other lightsaber wielder in the game, as blocking drains less stamina.”

Corey Burton recording as Count Dooku for Star Wars Battlefront II.

Corey Burton (in a lighter moment) while recording lines for Count Dooku Star Wars Battlefront II.

On their secret weapon in bringing Dooku to life:

“One thing that really goes a long way and really brings an awesome touch to Dooku is that Corey Burton, who voiced Dooku in The Clone Wars, is back. He’s just fantastic as that character and has a lot of great banter in the game. It’s a fun way, before The Clone Wars comes back, to get a little bit more of those characters and those versions of those characters interacting with each other.”

On why Dooku was an essential addition to Battlefront II:

“When you look at the Clone Wars, you kind of highlight the key figures in the war on both sides. When it comes to the heroes, Obi-Wan and Anakin are key there. If you look at the villains, Dooku is such a key part of both Episode II and II and The Clone Wars series as a whole. As the leader of the Separatists master of General Grievous, and the apprentice of Darth Sidious himself, it was an easy choice to bring Count Dooku to Battlefront. From a gameplay perspective, he counters the recent light side addition of Obi-Wan as a defense-oriented saber-user and, from a fantasy perspective, gives players the opportunity to recreate his iconic showdown with Master Yoda.”

Count Dooku in Star Wars: Attack of the Clone.

Dooku, as played by legendary actor Christopher Lee, in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

On the reception of the recent prequel invasion of Battlefront II:

“The reaction has been tremendous. We’re really happy to have been able to deliver fun and engaging prequel content that the fans are pleased with. It was definitely something they asked for a lot and were vocal about, and it’s been really awesome to be able to deliver on that. Obi-Wan and Grievous went great, Dooku is here, and we’re very excited for Anakin.”

Look for Anakin Skywalker and more content to arrive soon in Star Wars Battlefront II!

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Sith Story: How Count Dooku Came to Star Wars Battlefront II