Just a few days after Disney unveiled the reformed Lucasfilm Games, and just one day after the announcement of a new Indiana Jones title, Lucasfilm Games announced that Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment will be developing a new, open-world Star Wars game.
“The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” says Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in a release announcing the game and partnership. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.”
Massive Entertainment, best known for The Division franchise, will be heading up the development of the project using their in-house Snowdrop engine, but no further details are known at this time. EA’s exclusive publishing contract with Disney for Star Wars games still doesn’t expire until 2023, so fans shouldn’t expect to see this game for another two years minimum.
Given Massive Entertainment’s track record of developing two loot-driven, grind-fest multiplayer games, there’s valid reason for Star Wars fans to be apprehensive. However, the game’s Creative Director, Julian Gerighty, is hinting they’re moving away from that style of game for their foray into the Star Wars universe.
“For me, personally, this will be a departure from the world of The Division, and both I and the team at Massive are very excited to start crafting this new experience,” said Gerighty in a release. “We truly look forward to creating something totally different from what we have done in the past, while upping the bar for the industry.”
Gerighty’s words might alleviate the concerns of some Star Wars gamers, but I’m still not all that enthused by this news. Leaving EA behind for Ubisoft is not much of a step up or difference, like leaving a job at Gamestop to go work for E.B. Games. Ubisoft may not have angered gamers as much as EA has, but the fact remains that Ubisoft largely makes one-type of game and rarely deviates from the established gameplay loop of open-world, quasi-RPG action-adventure games with loot.
Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Far Cry, and even The Division are all successful games in their own right, but each subsequent game in these franchises have been criticized for doing little to differentiate itself from previous releases. Each iteration ends up feeling like a new coat of paint slapped on the same build, with maybe one or two new, but ultimately insignificant, features introduced.
So having Ubisoft step into the Star Wars franchise, with their stale gameplay formula and seemingly never-ending loop of inconsequential content schedule firmly in place for just about all of their games, doesn’t make me all that excited. Instead, I’m bracing myself for yet another open-world action-adventure game with Assassin’s Creed-esque combat and a skill tree that emphasizes player experimentation but ends up making little difference to the overall gameplay.
Star Wars should embody a pioneering spirit, one that introduces new means of storytelling, new technology behind the scenes, and groundbreaking new characters. Yet with Star Wars games, it seems like Disney (and now Lucasfilm Games) would rather play it safe, handing the reins over to developers who are reliable, even if they’re reliably mediocre.
I’ve been wrong before, though; I was very wary of Star Wars: Squadrons and I ended up absolutely loving that game. But ask yourself — when was the last time a Ubisoft title really blew you away, felt fresh, or introduced something new to the gaming industry?
We’ll have to wait and see how this new Star Wars title progresses, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
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