Here’s a shockingly disappointing observation: In Star Wars’ 40+ years on this earth as a flat-out massive franchise, there has *yet* to be a good Star Wars game with *good* Lightsaber combat.
“Woah there Pad-wan”! You may say. “Those Jedi Knight, Academy, and Outcast games were pretty good there!”. They were. But the Lightsaber combat was, for lack of a better word…lacking. You would flail wildly, they would flail wildly, and while exciting, a good Lightsaber duel it did not make. It was also over a decade ago.
There are other contenders, all also very old. The tragically underrated port of Jedi Power Battles for the Dreamcast featured an interesting ‘instant’ block mechanic you could use to deflect blaster lasers *and* to parry Lightsaber attacks, creating a unique and interesting system when engaged in one-on-one combat.
Another game in memory to give Lightsaber duels their…due was Revenge of The Sith, featuring combos, blocking, and a versus mode that was quite a bit of fun, alas these mechanics were a promising element of a very disappointing and ultimately forgotten game.
And since? Nothing. Battlefront 2 features Jedi, but their duels are anything but engaging, tactical, or in-depth. They are appetizers to the main course of infinity style combat – despite being plastered all over the marketing materials.
Thus the question becomes WTF or What The Force!? 40 years, and the best we have is No More Heroes?! That is, frankly, unacceptable. Even Visceral’s cancelled Star Wars game had zilch to do with literally the coolest weapon in cinema history.
So, lets fix it. Presented for your approval, 3 games EA should
totally rip-off pay homage too, in service of a real, proper, Jedi-featuring, Lightsaber-focused, Star Wars game.
1. Star Wars ‘For Honor’
Are you ‘Star Wars Kid’? The guy joyfully flailing around in his basement, obsessed with the lore, nuance, and milieu of the Jedi Order? You get obsessed with how Jedi build their Lightsaber, and fantasize about the tactics of a Darth Vader vs. Darth Maul vs. Mace Windu duel to the death?
If so, perhaps a Star Wars game in the flavor of ‘For Honor’ is up your alley. For the uninformed, Ubisoft’s For Honor is a deep melee combat game that’s so complex I’m just going to copy-and-paste the explanation of its mechanics from Wikipedia:
“Players enter a dueling mode with them wherein players aim at their opponent with their weapon. Players then can choose how to place and position their weapons from three directions (from above, the right, and the left) when they are attacking their enemies. By observing on-screen hints and the movements of their opponents, which reflect their respective attack position, players can notice the weakest part of their enemies and attacks these parts.”
For a certain kind of Star Wars fan – myself included, the notion of taking those elements and transporting them to the Star Wars universe is so intoxicating you shouldn’t be allowed to drive after thinking about it.
A For Honor-style Star Wars game would offer abundant depth and nuance, while offering the same kind of ‘cross-era’ appeal the current Battlefield series does.
Not only that, the ability to add new characters, weapons, and customization items for the player character, would allow the game to be monetized and supported in perpetuity to the delight of the fans and the groan of their wallets.
That said, the game could do with some streamlining and balancing – as For Honor can be very, very complex and may only appeal to a niche audience, which is a no-no when you’re dealing with arguably the hottest property in cinema history.
2. Star Wars ‘Nidhogg’
Say what you will about the Phantom Menace, but in a vacuum, the Lighstsaber battle between Darth Maul, Obi Won, and Qui Gon Jinn was fast, furious, featured a break-neck pace, and was exciting as just about anything else in the franchise.
If there’s a single game that typifies that experience and is literally crying out for adaptation, it’d be Nidhogg, a fast-paced fencing game that sees characters desperately trying to escape from one another while slashing at each other with swords to do so.
The mechanics for good Saber duels are already here: One hit kills. The ability to throw your weapon. Reincarnation. The fact you turn to dust upon death. If there was a single game on this list millions of voices would cry out to see adapted to the Star Wars universe, this one would be the easiest and most accessible.
Toss in the Super Star Wars graphics engine, and man, the force would be with this game for sure.
Make it happen, EA.
3. Star Wars ‘Dark Souls’
If you’re a betting man, woman, child, or android – place your money on a game like this already being in the works. A massive, single-player Star Wars Jedi game featuring Dark Souls-ian branching paths, upgrades, tough enemies, and thoughtful combat (but not as nuts as For Honor).
With games like Nioh, The Surge, Lords of The Fallen, BloodBorne, and three Dark Souls games, it’s safe to say the Dark Souls genre has legs, and is certainly open to interpretation. The Surge already exists as a sci-fi proof of concept, and Nioh brought the goods sword-wise, so it would be relatively easy to jazz the whole thing up for the Star Wars universe.
Picture it. You are Obi Won Kenobi, stranded on an ancient planet of mystery and wonder, only to discover a long-believed dead Sith Lord has created his own sub-section of the empire. Storm Troopers, AT-ATs, and worse – other Sith.
It is up to you to explore this mystical world, unlocking its secrets while saving the world – and the universe, from the clutches of the dark side.
The key to all of this, of course, is making you feel like a true Jedi. Force powers, mind tricks, and maybe even the ability to select your ‘side’ – force choke (to knock out enemies) or force trick (to distract them while you sneak past), that sort of thing.
Most importantly is making sure the combat feels good; making your primary enemies in the game challenging and worth opponents, and making sure the bosses require a hefty dose of rolling, dodging, parrying, and striking.
If done right, you could have a Star Wars game on our hands the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Massive. Authentic. Fun.
When was the last time a Star Wars game was in the cultural zeitgeist? It’s been too long. It shouldn’t be *that* hard to make a quality Jedi-focused adventure, but for whatever reason, we haven’t, and that’s a shame.
Say what you will about EA. They’re greedy. They’re evil. But they’re also not stupid. It’s safe to assume they’re working on *something*. The question is what. The answer is, hopefully, something akin to what I’ve outlined above.
Because if it’s not, and it’s just another Battlefront game, well…May the force be with them, because gamers might not be.