The recent history of Star Wars video games has been a story of dramatic highs and lows since Electronic Arts acquired the rights to produce all of the franchise’s games. The return of the once-beloved Battlefront franchise was marred by shaky launches defined by bad microtransaction practices and a lack of content, but the community has praised EA and DICE’s commitment to fixing the issues in the second installment.
The most recent addition in Jedi Fallen Order was an exceptional high point, earning widespread praise from fans and critics, exceeding financial goals, and spawning a new series for EA and Respawn Entertainment.
But Star Wars’s history in video games is rich and diverse, and its titles spread across the entire history of the saga, from years before and after the movies to in between. If you’re looking to experience the saga’s history through the medium of video games, here’s a guide to follow.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I & II (The Old Republic era)
The journey begins thousands of years before the events of the Skywalker saga with an action-RPG franchise set in the time of the Old Republic. In the first game, you play a Republic soldier who survives an epic space battle only to discover their true power that’s been hidden away. In the second game, you play a survivor of the war that takes place just before the first game, chasing answers to questions that have haunted you since the war “ended.”
The games’ mechanics are based directly on the D20 system popular in Dungeons & Dragons. Every combat action or skill check is determined by a virtual dice roll, with your character’s abilities and traits and skill points determining bonuses.
Both games have been widely praised for their deep storytelling through dialogue and exploration, as well as the beloved collection of companions you pick up throughout both games. The plot twist delivered in the middle of the first game is one of the best ever in any RPG, and the second game’s focus on the grey side of the Force, rather than light and dark, is a fresh take on the mythical energy that binds the galaxy together.
Lego Star Wars (The Prequel Trilogy)
The very first Lego Star Wars game, released in 2005, was also the first Lego video game to be made by the developer Traveller’s Tales. However, the original Lego Star Wars didn’t tell the story of the original trilogy, but rather the prequel trilogy. Unbeknownst to the developers, they ended up creating a foundation for a renaissance of Lego video games that would see success over the next 15 years.
Lego Star Wars’s emphasis on exploration, collection, and puzzle-solving was a hit with Star Wars fans of all ages. The injection of humor into the game was a bright refresh for the lackluster narrative of the prequel films, and the central game hub that was Dexter’s Diner felt as alive as the Mos Eisley cantina.
The success of that game led to other Lego Star Wars titles for the original and the sequel trilogies, with an adaptation of the entire Skywalker Saga due to release some time in 2020. Traveller’s Tales has also developed Lego games for Lord of the Rings, Batman, Indiana Jones, and other major franchises.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order (Between the Prequels and the Originals)
The latest Star Wars video game, Jedi Fallen Order by Respawn Entertainment, is arguably one of the best Star Wars games ever made. The combat, which serves as the game’s primary focus, takes inspiration from games like Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but makes it way more forgiving without sacrificing the amount of challenge or satisfaction.
Jedi Fallen Order adds other ingredients such as Metroidvania’s exploration and ability advancement, and Uncharted’s cinematic exploration, creating a recipe for Star Wars success. Telling a story of a Jedi padawan who survived Order 66 only to be thrust back into a fight to save the future of the Jedi Order, Fallen Order’s journey takes the player to numerous planets while weaving an excellent story between film trilogies.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (The Original Trilogy)
A launch title for the Nintendo Gamecube back in 2001, Rogue Leader throws players into the fantastical space battles synonymous with the original films such as the Battle over Yavin (where the first Death Star is destroyed) and the Battle over Endor IV (where the second Death Star is destroyed).
Rogue Leader is a beautiful game that encompasses all of the things that people love about the original trilogy: excellent sound design, a sweeping score, stunning visuals, and enticing action. It is one of the most well-reviewed Star Wars games ever made, receiving a consensus 9 out of 10 from various gaming media outlets.
There are plenty of other Star Wars games that do an excellent job of telling the saga’s story. Both Republic Commando and the campaign of the original Battlefront II shed light on the events of the Clone Wars and beyond from the perspective of the clones themselves.
The Force Unleashed, like Jedi Fallen Order, tells a great story during the early days of the Empire before A New Hope, with famed Star Wars voice actor Sam Witwer lending his voice as the main character. The Jedi Knight trilogy is a fascinating look at the early days of the New Republic after Return of the Jedi, despite it no longer being considered canon by Disney’s standards.
With the exception of Lego The Force Awakens, there haven’t been any games that explore the new sequel trilogy.
While the future of Star Wars video games is unknown, with EA’s license set to expire in 2023, the past is littered with great games stretching across the entire chronology of the beloved franchise.