Spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and Solo: A Star Wars Story are in this article. You've been warned!
You may not have heard of it, but Dathomir is one of the most interesting planets in the Star Wars universe. It's the birthplace of two of the franchise's most popular characters; the home planet of the Rancors, and now, a newly-confirmed location in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Dathomir was revealed during a Fallen Order event that took place earlier this week, confirming speculation springing from the appearance of a red planet in an earlier teaser video. Oddly, EA didn't talk much about it during the actual event, preferring instead to talk about Zeffo and Kashyyk. But its presence will mean a lot to hardcore Star Wars fans.
To understand why, here's a quick bit of history. Dathomir has its roots in the old Expanded Universe (now referred to as "Legends") novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, where it was introduced as a fringe planet that Han Solo wins in a Sabaac game. Desperate to stop Leia from marrying a powerful prince, Solo kidnaps her and takes her to Dathomir, where the two contend with Force Witches called Nightsisters and an Imperial warlord. Suffice it to say, the book where Dathomir was introduced wasn't very good, but it still managed to become one of the Expanded Universe's key tentpoles.
Dathomir and the Nightsisters proved popular enough to be brought into Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, where it was the setting for multiple arcs featuring the assassin Assajj Ventress, taciturn prequel villain Darth Maul, and Maul's brother, who is named "Savage Opress" (seriously, look it up). Because of its appearances in those shows, Dathomir officially became canon in the Disney version of the Star Wars universe. That made its appearance in Fallen Order not just possible, but probable. There was no way Respawn was gonna be able to resist including the Nightsisters, who are capable of raising armies of zombies, among other tricks. They're the perfect video game villain.
Sadly, I caught only a very brief glimpse of the Nightsisters in my own journey to Dathomir, and Respawn didn't provide many details on what it's like to fight them (I'm guessing the zombies are involved). I did, however, fight several Nightbrothers, the vicious Zabrak tribe that once included Maul. And as Respawn warned during their presentation, they were quite hard.
"[Dathomir] gave us an opportunity to go darker in a story about Jedi," producer Blair Brown told me at the event. "Opening it up early in the game gave us an opportunity to mess with people a little bit. It let us test out the harder stuff a bit, and people could bounce off it if they wanted. But if you're really mastering the combat system, there are good power-ups to get there."
Generally speaking, the Nightbrother encounters resemble those of the Stormtroopers on Zeffo. Melee Nightbrothers wield powerful clubs, while ranged Nightbrothers fire energy crossbows from high positions. Unlike with Stormtroopers, simply reflecting an energy bolt isn't enough to taken them out, so you have to work a little harder to oust the ranged attackers. Similarly, the melee attackers have powerful attacks that can take out most of your life bar in one hit.
The planet itself is a grim, red desert that reminds me a lot of Star Trek's Vulcan. It's not the most pleasant locale, but it does occupy a pretty significant place in Star Wars lore. And it opens the way for another big cameo, this one from the prequel trilogy.
Will Cal Duel Darth Maul?
As I mentioned above, Darth Maul has big roots in in Dathomir. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he was revealed to have survived getting chopped in half by Obi-Wan. He subsequently makes a surprise appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where he is revealed to be the leader of the Crimson Dawn criminal syndicate. He finally meets his end in Star Wars: Rebels, but Fallen Order appears to take place before then, so there's plenty of room for Cal to meet Maul.
There is already precedent for cameos in Fallen Order. Saw Gerrera, the resistance fighter portrayed by Forrest Whitaker in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was confirmed for Fallen Order during E3. Respawn has also revealed that roughly 50 percent of the planets will be established from previous lore.
One more thing to consider: Darth Maul is shown to have a unique lightsaber in Star Wars: Rebels, one that some eagle-eyed fans have observed is made from the remains of an Inquisitor's lightsaber. The Inquisitors, of course, are a big part of Fallen Order, with Cal dueling the Second Sister and Ninth Sister at various points. Does Maul get his new weapon from one of them?
It's all conjecture at this point, but it does provide fun food for thought for Star Wars lore nerds. What I like most is how Fallen Order seems to tie deeply into the new canon, much in the way that classic Lucasarts games like Jedi Knight and TIE Fighter tied into the old one. In that sense, it feels like EA is finally doing justice to the Star Wars license after five years of disappointment.
We're less than a month out from Jedi: Fallen Order, so we'll know soon enough whether or not Darth Maul makes an appearance. In the meantime, you should whet your appetite with a look at the duel with the Ninth Sister, and find out why Fallen Order won't include fast travel. It'll be out November 15.
Disclosure: Travel and lodging for this event was covered by EA