Say what you will about how Star Wars has been handled by Electronic Arts and Disney, but it's still gotta be hard for most fans to not be drawn in by a well-executed fight between TIE Fighter and X-Wing. Today, EA and Lucasfilm released a new animated short for Star Wars: Squadrons, and while it's not representative of gameplay or essential to the story, it's a neat action sequence all the same.
The short, "Hunted," is a post-Battle of Endor prequel to Squadrons following TIE Interceptor pilot Varko Grey after the destruction of an Imperial outpost. Grey, a pilot who will appear in Squadrons, finds himself separated from the rest of the Empire's Titan squad and pursued by a determined X-Wing.
Directed by EA's Neel Upadhye, it's probably one of the longest, most intimate looks at a one-on-one fighter battle ever depicted in official Star Wars media. "Hunted" brings some serious talent to bear: EA Motive, developers of Squadrons, worked with both Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic's John Knoll on the short.
Knoll is a visual effects legend who has worked on Star Wars films for years (he also co-created Photoshop, wouldn't you know). Recently, he served as an effects supervisor for The Mandalorian, which saw Star Wars embracing Epic's Unreal Engine as a filmmaking tool. An official StarWars.com article on "Hunted" quotes Knoll on why he got on board with the short:
"I really admired cinematics from older Star Wars games. I think they're wonderful stories[...] It was kind of irresistible to have been offered to work on a standalone short. I felt like we had to do it."
With the entire existence of Squadrons seemingly motivated by nostalgia for the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, it's not that surprising to hear other Star Wars creators wanted in on the action for similar reasons. Still, an ILM and Lucasfilm-produced short film is an impressive bit of marketing for something EA's cautiously releasing as a $39.99 title.
We'll find out for ourselves soon whether Squadrons can live up to the big, grand picture fans have in their heads for a proper return of Star Wars fighter sims. Squadrons launches on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on October 2, and thanks to a day-one patch, it'll support flight sticks and throttle controls on all platforms.