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Respawn’s most exciting upcoming project isn’t Star Wars

EA has confirmed that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Apex Legends developer Respawn Entertainment is working on three brand-new Star Wars games: A Fallen Order sequel, a first-person shooter, and a strategy game being co-developed with Bit Reactor. These announcements are great news for Star Wars fans, but it’s not the project that excites me the most at Respawn.

While Star Wars is sure to rake in some easy money for EA, Respawn has always been at its best when tackling original ideas. A mysterious project not involving Star Wars or Apex Legends is in the works at Respawn and has the potential to tap into the kinetic gameplay and engaging worldbuilding that make Respawn games so fantastic.

Doing what works

Since 2019, the two main pillars for Respawn Entertainment have been clear. The first is Apex Legends. Set in the universe of Titanfall despite not using the series’ name, it was one of the first battle royales able to truly compete with PUBG and Fortnite. It retains millions of players to this day, so Respawn needs to use a lot of resources to support it.

We know this strain has negatively impacted some of the developer’s projects in the past, so while Apex Legends is a great game, its impact could be felt in terms of Respawn’s lack of new titles over the past couple of years.

A Jedi force pushes a sotrmtrooper in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

And if you aren’t working on Apex Legends at Respawn Entertainment, you’re most likely working on Star Wars now. November 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a hit for EA following a string of controversial mobile games and the much-maligned Star Wars Battlefront 2.

As Respawn has a proven track record in making a good Star Wars game and Disney seems intent on licensing out its IP to more and more developers, it’s no surprise that EA and Lucasfilm want the studio to keep making Star Wars games. And it’s not just a Jedi Fallen Order sequel, but also a shooter that will play to the rest of Respawn’s strengths as well.

EA and Respawn seem to be placing the safest bets for the studio’s future. This isn’t a practice limited to Respawn in the video game industry, either. AAA studios are starting to focus more and more on the franchises that they know work. Before the recent announcement that it was being acquired by Microsoft, we saw Activision double down on Call of Duty, removing the autonomy of studios like Toys for Bob even after it made outstanding games like Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. After struggling with the new IP Anthem, we saw EA subsidiary BioWare return to safer bets in the form of new Dragon Age and Mass Effect entries.

Why do this? There are a couple of reasons. First off, creating a brand-new franchise from scratch is very difficult and risky, even at a studio that’s as masterful at worldbuilding as Respawn. When making a new world, many ideas are thrown around as developers see what works and what doesn’t. Even after that, the developers still have to buckle down and make the game.

Known franchises are also a much safer bet. If Respawn and EA are going to dedicate years of development and millions of dollars to three new projects simultaneously, it’s best to do that with franchises likely to be a success.

What’s next?

I reached out to EA to learn more about Respawn’s plans for Apex Legends and other original IP, but did not get a response before publication of this article. Thankfully, there is a little bit of hope for the future of original ideas and worlds from the Titanfall developer.

The upcoming Respawn game that’s most exciting for me is a project in the works with a fifth development team. As recently as this month, we know that a fifth project was in the works at Respawn under Call of Duty and Titanfall designer Mohammad Alavi. His LinkedIn describes the project as “a brand-new single-player adventure from Respawn Entertainment.” Meanwhile, a report from Venture Beat says that it may be a first-person shooter that’s not Titanfall-related, but will still emphasize mobility and style.

A Jedi slides down a zipline in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Alavi did leave Respawn Entertainment this month, but Venture Beat’s report mentions that the project isn’t expected to be canceled and could launch in 2024 or 2025. We don’t know if this is an original IP or something tied to another universe. But as EA did not mention this project in the Star Wars announcement, I’m hoping it’s something brand-new.

While Respawn Entertainment’s output is likely just going to Apex Legends updates and Star Wars until 2025, hopefully, that game can be the start of something new for Respawn. I hope to see a game that reminds us of what the studio can do when it’s focusing on fresh ideas. Juggling five projects at once is challenging for any developer, but if that game gets the love and attention it deserves, it could be Repsawn’s next great hit. Hopefully, it won’t need a big brand name to get players’ attention.

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Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
Why Cameron Monaghan wanted a ‘darker’ Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Cal stands beneath the clouds in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor key art.

When we first met Cal Kestis in 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, he was just a young Padawan. A redheaded kid draped in an unflattering poncho, Cal would grow into a full-blown Jedi by the end of the game. It was a classic Star Wars arc in video game form, but one that left players wanting more. It’s great that we got to see that growth, but who could resist the idea of a sequel where his newly awakened powers would be fully unleashed?
Cameron Monaghan, who reprises his role as Cal in next year’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, had that same itch. The Gotham and Shameless star was already thinking about where Cal could go next before Fallen Order was even out. Monaghan’s ambitions weren’t focused so much on what kinds of cool lightsaber tricks Cal could pick up between games, but rather how to bring more complexity to one of Star Wars’ newest Jedis.

“In the first game, he had a naivete and a wide-eyed nature that I love about Cal,” Monaghan tells Digital Trends. “But I think tha,t situationally, if you’re in such a desperate place for so many years and fighting and being a soldier and a tool for resistance, at some point, it’s going to start to change the way you see the world around you.”
I sat down with Cameron Monaghan ahead of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s grand reveal at this year’s Game Awards. The actor explained how Cal has changed in the five-year time skip between games and shared fresh details on the sequel’s new companion character, Bode Akuna. Monaghan explained the balancing act that comes with trying to stay focused on a character’s personal journey when working within a much larger, expanded universe -- and he offered some praise for Andor too.
Back before a sequel was greenlit, when you were waiting to see if Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would get one, what did you want to do with Cal Kestis if you got a second run with him?
When we were making the first game, we had inklings that we would maybe want to do more with it if it was successful. I’ll never forget when we had the wrap party for the first game and Stig Asmussen, the head of Respawn, was like, “What do you want to do?” I had this crazy moment where I was like, “Wow, I really wish I was more prepared for this!’”
But I was able to give a broad strokes answer: I wanted to see Cal a number of years on from the first game and see him mature and have a different outlook. A more complex, darker, more challenged character. In the first game, he had a naivete and a wide-eyed nature that I love about Cal. But I think that, situationally, if you’re in such a desperate place for so many years and fighting and being a soldier and a tool for resistance, at some point, it’s going to start to change the way you see the world around you. I wanted to explore what that looked like for Cal.
He’s been through some stuff, and I think over the last two years, we’ve all been through some stuff, man!

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First Star Wars Jedi: Survivor trailer features dual-lightsaber combat, open-world teases
Cal Kestis with BD-1 droid on his shoulder.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is launching on March 17, 2023, for Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and PC. The action-adventure game received an impressive trailer during The Game Awards that showed off several new features and teased some potential open-world aspects.
Survivor takes place five years after 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, continuing the adventures of Cal Kestis and his droid pal BD-1. Cal is no longer a young Padawan and is now a full-blown Jedi. The much larger scope of the game seems to reflect that change.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - Official Reveal Trailer
Combat is notably evolved in the trailer, as Cal can now freely use a dual-lightsaber stance in battle. Later, we see him enter “cross guard” stance as he takes down droids with heavy, two-handed slashes. EA tells Digital Trends that the goal of the sequel is to give players more agency when it comes to their playstyle.
Traversal plays a large role in the clip too. In addition to swinging around via grappling points, Cal is seen mounted on animals. He’s shown riding the back of a four-legged creature and using a winged one like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s glider. The clip seems to imply that the game’s planets might be more open-ended than Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s, as one shot shows Cal peering out over a gigantic vista. EA notes that the sequel is still largely a Metroidvania-inspired title where Cal gets new abilities over time.
Cal has a new human companion this time named Bode Akuna. In one clip, we see Bode flipping over Cal’s back to attack an enemy with a combo move.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was built with current-generation consoles in mind, with ray tracing being a major focus. It appears to be a graphically impressive showcase that features more dynamic lighting and flashy lightsaber effects. The adventure won’t launch on PS4 or Xbox One, but it’ll be available for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC on March 17, 2023.

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor release date pops up on Steam ahead of Game Awards
Cal Kestis with BD-1 droid on his shoulder.

The release date of the highly anticipated Star Wars game Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leaked on the game's official Steam page.
A Steam Page for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor went live with this release date information on Monday morning, seemingly ahead of a heavily rumored appearance at The Game Awards. The store page description reveals more details about Star Wars Jedi: Survivor as well as its Deluxe Edition, which contains cosmetics that make protagonist Cal Kestis look like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and the pre-order bonus with a costume, Lightsaber, and Blaster based on Obi-Wan. 

The "About This Game" section also provides more details on the game. Narratively, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor's Steam page explains that "Cal is driven to make a stand during the galaxy’s darkest times -- but how far is he willing to go to protect himself, his crew, and the legacy of the Jedi Order?" On the gameplay side of things, new Force abilities, Lightsaber fighting styles, and enemies to take down are teased. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor looks like it will be a galaxy-trotting adventure like its predecessor the description hints that there will be lots of planets to explore and that they'll be bigger and have more secrets than the ones in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
EA and Respawn Entertainment have been relatively quiet regarding Star Wars Jedi: Survivor since announcing the game in May, so it's exciting to get a lot of new information about the game like its sooner-than-expected release date. If the rumors are true, this may have deflated the hype from one of The Game Awards 2022's big reveals.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be released for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S on March 15, 2023.

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