Last week there was a great, wonderful disturbance in the Force when Lucasfilm Games, Sony, and Aspyr surprise-announced the long-awaited Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake. After nearly two decades clamoring for a continuation of the franchise, diehard Star Wars fans and RPG stans alike are finally getting a proper remake to one of the most beloved Star Wars games ever made.
Aspyr isn’t slapping an HD coat of paint on KOTOR and calling it a day — they’re completely rebuilding the game for modern gamers. This means Aspyr has the opportunity to right the (few) wrongs of the preceding game, but they also need to avoid needlessly making changes to what is already accepted as a working formula. With that massive responsibility in mind, here are a few things I hope Aspyr does for the forthcoming remake.
Don’t Make Any Story Changes — Especially for the Sake of Canonization
Knights of the Old Republic‘s story is what makes it such a legendary game, so I am pretty sure I speak for all fans here when I politely request that Aspyr leave the story well and good alone. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if subtle changes were made here or there to ensure KOTOR can be reinstated into the new canon.
If that’s the case, Aspyr and Lucasfilm should do their absolute best to make the changes as small as possible and only do so when completely necessary to avoid canonical conflict. With this story being set 3,800 years before any existing narratives, I can’t imagine there are any glaring canonical obstacles for the writing team to face should they decide to remake the game’s canon. Even if that is the case, I’d rather KOTOR avoid any clashes with canon at all and simply exist on its own.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I truly love that Disney and the Lucasfilm Story Group are so intent on making sure each Star Wars story is somehow connected to the greater Star Wars narrative. It’s what pushes me to read more books and comics and watch every new show. If The High Republic has taught us anything, though, it’s that you can tell incredible, canonical Star Wars stories that further the overall narrative of Star Wars without needing to be directly connected to any other moment in canon, such as the Skywalker Saga.
I think KOTOR would be best to go that route, remaining a standalone adventure that still progresses the overall narrative and lore surrounding the never-ending battle between light and dark.
Completely Overhaul the Combat
This is going to anger the most diehard KOTOR fans I’m aware of that. The plain and simple fact, however, is that the original game’s combat systems are inaccessible and, frankly, boring.
For those of us who aren’t diehard RPG enthusiasts, the original KOTOR’s combat was more of a barrier than an enticing reason to play. As one of these uninitiated players, I barely felt like I was ever participating in the combat and instead like a spectator shouting out attack commands that I wasn’t really sure were working.
For Aspyr to really make this game thrive, they need to completely change KOTOR’s approach to combat. If the recent Resident Evil remakes taught us anything, it’s that revolutionizing a classic game’s gameplay mechanics isn’t as heretical as it might seem, and can actually result in a more accessible, satisfying experience for a new generation of gamers.
That doesn’t mean this remake needs to be a hack and slash button masher like The Force Unleashed or a first-person/third-person shooter hybrid like Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast. The combat system simply needs to move away from the almost turn-based, point-and-click nature of the original for a more engaging, active system that gives the player more immediate ownership of their actions — which would be more fun and immersive for all players, RPG lovers and casuals alike.
Establish KOTOR’s Unique Identity, unlike Jedi: Fallen Order
When Jedi: Fallen Order first came out, I was quick to highlight that the game only seemed great because we were so disappointed by the previous two Star Wars releases from EA, Battlefront and Battlefront II. Realistically, though, I think Jedi: Fallen Order is a slightly above average amalgamation of more successful games that never really establishes its own identity because it just merely mimics other games’ mechanics.
If Aspyr’s KOTOR remake is going to live up to the quality of its predecessor, it’s going to have to establish its own identity. It’s not enough to simply be a decent RPG set in a galaxy far, far away and expect fans to lose their minds. This game needs to bring a distinct, fresh approach to the typical science-fiction RPG experience if it wants to be remembered as fondly as the original.
I understand the challenge of making the old feel fresh and exciting through a ground-up remake. But just look at Resident Evil 2 or 3 — both games stay faithful to their source material but managed to deliver fresh survival-horror experiences that perfectly balance the action-heavy gameplay of modern Resident Evil titles with the classic haunting atmosphere and frights of the originals.
Yes, Aspyr has a long hill to climb and it would certainly be easier to follow Jedi: Fallen Order’s lead and simply copy the mechanics of other games. KOTOR is a certified classic, though, and it deserves a remake that aims to reinvigorate the RPG genre the way the original did, not just mimic the success of others.
Enlist Top-Tier Voice Talent
Though the KOTOR remake is being published by Lucasfilm Games, there are some who are worried about Aspyr taking over the development of the game as opposed to original developers BioWare due to the studio’s lack of pedigree. I too feel a bit trepidatious about Aspyr’s aptitude for this project, just not how you might think — I am worried that Aspyr won’t have the funds or the pedigree to hire the necessary top-tier voice talent needed to make a project like this really thrive.
Star Wars games have to retain a certain level of cinematic quality to appease long-time fans — especially in today’s gaming landscape where even Call of Duty: Warzone manages to muster up legitimate theatricality in its cinematics. The number one way to rob a game of its cinematic feel? Skimp on voice talent.
Good voice acting can make or break a game, be its saving grace or its downfall. That goes double for story-driven games. Look at the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War, The Last of Us Part II, and even Jedi: Fallen Order: each game boasts a stacked roster of voice-over stars and even a few Hollywood actors. Aspyr doesn’t need to land a flashy name for marketing purposes (like that one time Call of Duty inked a deal with Kevin Spacey, that aged well), but they should prioritize good voice talent if they want to keep the theatricality of their game at the level required for a successful Star Wars experience.
Aspyr is off to a good start, though, with Aspyr Lead Producer Ryan Treadwell confirming legendary voice actress Jennifer Hale will reprise her role as Jedi Knight Bastila Shan. Hopefully, Aspyr keeps that level of quality of up for all the whole cast — and that they bring back even more familiar voices.
Add Customizable Space Ships Complete With Flight Mechanics and Combat Scenarios
Okay, so I saved the least-likely idea for last because Star Wars: Squadrons really has me feening for new Star Wars spaceflight experiences. C’mon though — wouldn’t adding an extra layer of customization and another combat mechanic really allow the remake to truly feel new and unique?
Sure, I doubt we can realistically expect anything as robust as Squadron’s flight mechanics and would probably end up with something closer to what was seen in The Old Republic or Battlefront 2. That doesn’t mean we can’t dream, though!
Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without incredible dogfights and space battles, and the majority of Star Wars ships are iconic in their own right — so why not give players a chance to create their own while they write their unique Old Republic adventure? At the very least, the extra level of customization would give the player a deeper sense of immersion and agency, which is never a bad thing in an RPG.
So what do you want to see in the KOTOR Remake? Do you think it should be re-canonized or should it remain in Legends? Am I expecting too much? Actually, don’t answer that last one, I know I am. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
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