KOTOR is dead, long live Knights of the High Republic

As rumours of a new KOTOR game arise once more, we feel a game set during The High Republic era would be more exciting

Knights of the High Republic game

It’s been a few weeks since Disney announced the revival of LucasArts in the form of Lucasfilm Games, and rumours abound regarding what new Star Wars games are to come. EA has confirmed they’re still making new Star Wars games, and we know a Ubisoft Massive open-world game is in the works too.

Even this week, new KOTOR rumours have surfaced, suggesting that something to do with Knights of the Old Republic is being developed by a studio outside of EA. This same report mentions a few more possible projects in the work, including a bounty hunter game.

It’s still a bit vague, and while this news has us feeling like we’re on the cusp of a new golden age of Star Wars, I believe the dream of a true KOTOR 3 is dead. Hope is not lost though, and some kind of KOTOR-style RPG does seem likely. It’s a massively popular genre, and a genre that currently isn’t being served by the recent crop of Star Wars games. We’ve got multiplayer games like Battlefront II, action-adventure games like Jedi: Fallen Order, and dogfighting space games like Squadrons, but still no RPG games.

So, let’s indulge ourselves in a bit of wanton speculation of our own: Knights of the High Republic, anyone?

High Republic concept art showing Jedi mounted units at war

The High Republic

Originally teased as ‘Project Luminous’ in 2019, The High Republic is a new era launched by Disney and Lucasfilm set roughly 200 years before the events of the prequel trilogy. It was officially unveiled with its proper name in February 2020, and will mainly feature comics and novels. The Acolyte TV show that’s currently being made for Disney+ will also be set during this time period, though right at the end.

The High Republic era is meant to represent a time when the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order were at their height, and as such it doesn’t feature a major galactic war or any Sith. It’s a time of exploration, expansion, and about a government in the prime of its power, in which the only real threat is from a band of galactic ‘space Vikings’ (official terminology) called the Nihil.

This is a time for exploring the Jedi at their ideological prime

It’s not all smooth sailing. There’s a major crisis, but it takes the form of a natural disaster (in space). This is Lucasfilm presenting the Star Wars universe through a more contemporary lens, with governments adapting to social and economic upheaval rather than trying to survive a state of total war.

This is also a time for exploring the Jedi during their ideological prime. They’re not trying to confront the evils of the Sith, they’ve not been co-opted into being military leaders in a major conflict. They get to be as they believe themselves to be: peacekeepers, wandering knights helping those in need and protecting the weak from those who would prey on them. Sounds like perfect RPG fodder to me.

The High Republic concept art with aliens wielding laser weapons

A New Order

The revival of LucasArts in the form of Lucasfilm Games makes all this all the more tantalising. All gaming projects are now coming under this new brand, and as mentioned above there are a lot of rumours of potential projects in the works.

the surge of new Disney+ shows betrays what eras the company may want to explore

With the floodgates groaning open we should see a wave of new projects. I’d personally love to see an Empire at War sequel, but you can look at what LucasArts is doing for a clue as to what it may or may not go for in terms of a pitch.

Outside of gaming, we’ve recently had the final season of The Clone Wars, which featured some amazing episodes. The Mandalorian is also proving to be a big hit for entirely different reasons, and the recent surge of new Disney+ shows betrays what eras, topics, and stories the company may want to explore more of.

And of course, there’s the aforementioned High Republic. There’s currently no games associated with this new brand, so the moment feels ripe. I also honestly like how easily ‘Knights of the High Republic’ rolls off the tongue, although KOTHR isn’t quite as catchy.

KOTOR 2 player character defending against soldiers with a lightsaber

Fall of the old republic

Despite these rumours of a new KOTOR game, I don’t actually think we’ll get Knights of the Old Republic back. Dealing with legacy series comes with a lot of emotional baggage that a prospective developer/publisher may not want to deal with.

EA’s revival of the Battlefront brand is an example here, offering mixed results both commercially and critically across the two recent entries. What fans want is a good RPG set in the Star Wars universe, not necessarily the Old Republic era itself.

the Old Republic exists in a grey zone of Star Wars canon

There is also the question of canonicity. At the time of writing, the KOTOR games and even the Old Republic itself exist in the grey zone of Star Wars canon. The ‘Old Republic’ is still acknowledged as an era, still, which ends around 800 years before the start of the High Republic. There is a final climatic Jedi-Sith war that’s canon, at which point the Old Republic reorganises into the Galactic Republic of the films, and the Sith are (supposedly) defeated. KOTOR 1 and 2 take place over 3,000 years before the events of the films, with EA’s The Old Republic MMO a few hundred years after KOTOR 2.

Three millennia provides something of a safety barrier, as I doubt events from that far before the prime canon material will be of special interest. This doesn’t change the fact that the games are still officially non-canon. When Disney bought Star Wars and everything it came with, it was all swept into the ‘legacy’ brand until acknowledged otherwise.

KOTOR 2 player character in conversation with a droid and a mercenary

The best KOTOR has received so far is that the popular villain-turned-hero Revan, from the original BioWare game, was made canon in 2020 via the official Rise of Skywalker sourcebook. That’s it. Part of the rumours from early 2020 concerned bringing some of the KOTOR material into the official canon, and that could still happen, but it won’t be in the way we expect or assume.

It’s time to put our dreams of a KOTOR 3 to rest. I find it unlikely that, in the light of Disney’s push towards the High Republic, they’ll be interested in green-lighting a project from an era so vague and in the ancient past of Star Wars history. We need to let it go. But what we don’t need to do is give up hope for a BioWare-style Star Wars RPG.

I feel there’s enough interest in the concept and rumours circulating that we will see something official, probably soon, and if it’s going to be anything, let it be Knights of the High Republic. The legends of Revan and the Jedi Exile were excellent for their time, but we don’t need them just to have a new, epic journey set in a galaxy far, far away.

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