The Skywalker Saga is over, but the show must go on. There will be more Star Wars movies, shows, games, books, comics, and merchandise. That's what Lucasfilm did under Lucas, and it's what the studio will continue to do under Disney. Now that it's moving away from Skywalkers, Solos, Palpatines, and Death Stars, what's next for Star Wars?
Making Star Wars is one of the bigger Star Wars blogs around, with a strong track record of rumors and leaks surrounding the franchise. The outlet is reporting that the next step in the Star Wars universe is going to be pretty big, covering every medium. Earlier last year at Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm Publishing revealed Project Luminous, an initiative involving respective Star Wars licensees Del Rey, IDW Publishing, and Marvel Comics. Details are scant, but five writers—Cavan Scott, Claudia Gray, Charles Soule, Daniel José Older, and Justina Ireland—were invited to Skywalker Ranch to sit with the Lucasfilm Story Group and establish the groundwork for a large narrative.
"We were all approached last year by Mike Siglain, a Lucasfilm publishing exec, fantastic editor and truly wonderful person, about collaborating on a project," said Charles Soule, writer of Star Wars: Lando, Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin, Star Wars: Darth Vader, and Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren for Marvel Comics. "He conceived of the project’s scope (huge) and worked tirelessly inside and outside Lucasfilm to make it happen. We needed a story, to flesh the thing out beyond just project parameters. The Lucasfilm Story Group was up there with us, as well as other LF execs, and everyone was focused on the goal of making the best Star Wars adventure we could."
While many assumed that Project Luminous would be a single story told and expanded through books and comics, Making Star Wars says it's much larger. Instead, the project is the next era of Star Wars. The new film saga will be taking place 400 years before the events of the Skywalker Saga, during a time reportedly called "The High Republic" era. There will be a series of films—not just a trilogy—tied into this era, and Project Luminous will be a part of this overall story. It's a new era in the Star Wars timeline, mostly untouched, even by the old Extended Universe canon; establishing a unique time period full of standalone stories that can interconnect as needed, similar to Disney's rather successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Why does this matter for the gaming community? Well Making Star Wars references another sourced report from the Huttcast that says Project Luminous will kick off with a video game in 2021. There are no further details, but I speculated that this title is the one currently in development at EA Motive in Montreal, Canada. In an interview with GamesIndustry, EA Motive studio head Patrick Klaus called one of the two titles it was working on "a very unique Star Wars experience". What's more unique than establishing the foundation for the new Star Wars?
So what kind of game should we expect here? Well, there are a few different EA Motive teams at the moment, so it's hard to tell who's working on what. My guess is that Motive creative director Ian Frazier is working on the next Star Wars project. Frazier joined EA Motive in October 2017, following his time as lead designer for Mass Effect: Andromeda. He also worked as lead designer on Infinity Blade: Dungeons and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and was a gameplay designer on Titan Quest. Frazier is working as creative director on an unnamed project according to his LinkedIn, and his Twitter has him listed as "currently hard at work on [redacted]". (Frazier also has a number of Star Wars-related tweets on his timeline, but that's neither here nor there.)
A title like this needs to establish the scope of the era. Books and comics are great for lore, but games sit closer to film in being able to establish a visual aesthetic and scope. One of the strengths of Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are the moments where you can really feel the might and majesty of the universe. You feel the threat of an AT-AT when you have to climb one on Kashyyyk, the massive size of a Republic Cruiser as you slide down it, or the looming shadow of the Zeffo temple on Bogano.
The Making Star Wars reports also references the exploration of the unknown regions of the Star Wars galaxy, beyond the planets we've seen before in the films, comics, books, or television shows. That means new planets to establish. Imagine reading a novel taking place on a planet that you've already seen in the game? If done well, that association will already come with a strong emotion other creators can build upon—I hate all of the dangerous wildlife on Dathomir, for example. New races, ships, and conflicts; the game has the benefit of being the first salvo in this era, a full year before the first film's planned release on December 16, 2022. Assuming EA Motive is making the game, it has the unique opportunity to kick off the visual look and feel of a new era before the films, something that's never been done before.
Given Frazier's pedigree, I could also see this new project being more of an RPG than its action-oriented counterparts. What could be grander than a proper Mass Effect, without filing off all the Star Wars serial numbers? We may never get another Knights of the Old Republic, but an action-RPG that's also the travelogue for an entirely new part of the universe is a great idea.
I'd hope for a single-player game, not unlike Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I'd be fine with some online hooks, like Gears 5 or Death Stranding have, but the main event needs to be a journey that the player can take alone. This needs to be the window into Star Wars' future, not a vector for real-money transactions. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order built a ton of goodwill for Electronic Arts by avoiding things like loot boxes and microtransactions. I think the publisher should be prepared to build on that goodwill, or at least alternate between projects like Fallen Order and multiplayer-focused experiences like Battlefront 2.
Star Wars, at last, has a chance to break free. I love Star Wars, from the uneven films to the weird Expanded Universe, but I think it needs to move beyond what's already there. We don't need to see Tatooine or Coruscant again. Jedi and lightsabers are distinctly Star Wars, but I want to learn about other types of heroes across that vast galaxy. Lucasfilm has the opportunity to repeat one of its past successes, like getting a talented team of writers together to craft the excellent, 19-part New Jedi Order book series in 1999, but on a much grander scale. Assuming they've picked the right creative teams, Project Luminous and the reported High Republic era represent a bright horizon for the franchise. Reflecting our modern times, the best place for that to start is probably the most profitable medium, video games.