There’s a game sitting underneath all Battlefront II’s loot boxes and wonky progression systems that’s pretty good, but it’s tough not to sympathize with the folks who pine for the LucasArts era of Star Wars games. Not every one of those titles was a classic, but there was enough variety and originality to make for a unique set of adventures in the Star Wars universe, ranging from Doom-like shooter Dark Forces to Wing Commander-inspired space sims like X-Wing and TIE Fighter.
Hungry for more adventures in a galaxy far, far away? Check out the best Star Wars games on PC.
Double Damage - the developers behind space western Rebel Galaxy - are currently developing a game that takes some inspiration from Wing Commander’s Privateer spinoff, and in 2016 they built a Star Wars space sim prototype and pitched it to EA. That pitch ended up going nowhere, but studio co-founder Travis Baldree has released footage of the prototype on his YouTube channel.
It looks fabulous, with fully open space battles featuring all sorts of Rebel and Imperial craft duking it out for galactic supremacy. Bits of UI and design come straight from Rebel Galaxy, and it’s safe to assume there’s also some shared DNA with their upcoming original space sim. The game looks a bit arcadey in the footage here (a bit more Rogue Squadron than X-Wing), but would’ve had full power management systems and all that good stuff.
Baldree tells Kotaku that the prototype was put together in about 2-3 weeks. “It was a long-shot,” he says, “and we had near-nil hopes that it would be seriously considered, but we probably did it to please ourselves rather than out of any hope that it would get greenlit.”
He adds, “EA was very gracious in listening, but it never came to anything, and we moved on.” EA have partnered with indie studios for their EA Originals program with Fe and A Way Out, but it seems they’re not interested in doing so with the Star Wars license - or their contract with Disney would prevent them from that kind of partnership, or they didn’t feel right about this particular pitch.
The chances of us ever seeing an old school Star Wars space sim again are distressingly low, but at least we have this opportunity to sit back and dream of what might have been. There was a cancelled 'freemium' game called Star Wars: Attack Squadrons back in 2013 too, which at least made it to the playable development stage before being killed off, running a full beta in early 2014 before being cancelled. Here's some gameplay from that: