The extensive Star Wars mythology has been explored in so many ways via so many forms of media. So it follows that many games have been made to immerse gamers in the galaxy far, far away. From shooting stormtroopers in the Battlefront series to commanding fleets of Star Destroyers in Empire at War to being the apprentice of Darth Vader in The Force Unleashed, we have seen many games capture that sense of being in the films that have made such an impact on pop culture.
But none of those games understood the franchise in the way that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic did. Even though it was set 4,000 years before the films, the role-playing game let players create a protagonist all their own and gave them a unique Star Wars adventure just like the films. The Ebon Hawk was their Millenium Falcon, Bastila Shan was their Obi-Wan Kenobi, HK-47 was their (much more bloodthirsty) C-3PO, they had a whole host of Force powers at their disposal, and they could explore planets new to the series alongside classic ones like Tatooine and Kashyyk. They even got to fight their own Darth Vader in the form of Darth Malak and destroy their own Death Star in the form of the Star Forge. All while meeting a diverse set of characters and making important decisions that could drastically affect the galaxy.
And since the game’s launch in 2003, we’ve yet to have a game truly replicate this kind of experience. We had a sequel, but it was a shorter, somewhat disappointing game. We had Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it’s an MMO, and a drastically different experience despite many nods to the original entry. It’s way past time to get a new KOTOR game that’s true to what made BioWare’s first entry so great. And not only that, there are so many ways in which we can go back to what made Knights of the Old Republic special and do it even better this time around. Here’s what a new Knights of the Old Republic could offer in 2016.
New Technology Can Make for an Even More Authentic Experience
Remember when the recent Star Wars Battlefront launched and the graphics were amazing, better than any Star Wars game before it? We’ve seen now that EA’s Star Wars lineup can capture incredible visuals that look just like the film. Imagine if the Ebon Hawk looked more real or if the Force powers felt even more impactful. Adding the visuals and audio quality seen in Battlefront to an RPG like Knights of the Old Republic could be a great thing.
And it’s not just in terms of pretty graphics that the experience could be improved. There could be far larger areas to explore, far more NPCs to interact with and many more decisions to be made. We can have much bigger games than Knights of the Old Republic now, so seeing a sequel step up with top tier tech would make even a KOTOR remake feel fresh.
Easier to Improve on the Faults of the First Game
Let’s face it, while the writing and the decision making in the game are fantastic, as BioWare games typically are, some of the gameplay really doesn’t hold up. The weird battle system is incredibly outdated, the menus feel really clunky, and BioWare’s dialog wheel of today is a marked improvement over KOTOR‘s. But the games BioWare releases nowadays tend to have much better gameplay, showing how much they’ve grown since its release. Even though the first Mass Effect was sometimes annoying to play, Mass Effect 2 was much better as a shooter. It’s more likely that the combat will be closer to what was seen in Dragon Age: Inquisition, which may be largely a button masher, but it’s much smoother to play than Knights of the Old Republic.
It’s easier to improve on these faults now because of how different RPGs are these days. While many may have issues with the new BioWare, particularly after the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3 and some of the decisions made developing The Old Republic, it can’t be denied that the combat and item systems of their modern games are superior to those from the early 2000s. Combining the great writing of Knights of the Old Republic with the better gameplay of modern titles would only be a good thing.
Let New Fans Experience the Magic
Every time a new Star Wars trilogy launches, there’s a huge influx of new fans as many hop on board the phenomenon. Even with the faults of the prequels, the brand blew up. And Star Wars: The Force Awakens just launched, to be followed up with not only by two sequels, but several other Anthology films — basically a new Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future. This new generation of Star Wars fans really deserves to be treated to a new generation of Star Wars games on the quality level of KOTOR.
EA has been pretty on top of this, with not only Battlefront but multiple new titles coming from the publisher’s best development teams. But there’s a big hole in EA’s announced plans, with no epic RPGs on the schedule, certainly not one to match the scope and scale of KOTOR. EA needs to get BioWare on board with this ASAP before the surge of new Star Wars excitement dies down.
We Now Have a New Canon
One of the most interesting changes brought on by The Force Awakens: an updated canon. While a few things from KOTOR have since been canonized, the events of the game are no longer considered canon in-universe. You can choose to reject that in your own headcanon, but that’s where their place in Star Wars history is at right now — though a new KOTOR could change that. Wouldn’t it be great if Revan was reintroduced to the officially updated mythology of Star Wars? And even those who don’t think canon is important can recognize that a new official history of the entire universe is the perfect opportunity for developers to reboot and start afresh.
And the game doesn’t even have to be set in the same period as the first Knights of the Old Republic. An RPG with similar quality writing could be just as ideal. It probably shouldn’t be set in the same era as the films either way, as one of the joys of the original game was how much creative freedom the time period gave them by ignoring any of the Empire.
Will It Happen?
Well, let’s peek at EA’s A Look Ahead trailer from E3 2016.
Other than some slightly interesting footage here and there, the trailer is extremely vague, and basically says nothing other than “Hey guys, we have people employed, we’ll totally give you good games, just trust us.” But notice when BioWare representatives start speaking. Maybe I’m seeing what I want to see, but when James Ohlen of BioWare states that “Beyond the Old Republic, there are so many stories that we still want to tell,” that does get me thinking that there could be a reboot of the original game or an entirely new BioWare Star Wars RPG.
Though EA has a sketchy record when it comes to revisiting old series, one thing we can be sure about is that they won’t pass up on the opportunity to milk the cash cow that is Star Wars for all it’s worth. And if we get a new Knights of the Old Republic, that could be a fantastic game, so long as they follow some of the guidelines here.