What is it?
Well, that’s the million dollar question.
The game was originally in development at Visceral Games, under the stewardship of Uncharted series writer Amy Hennig. During Electronic Arts’ 2016 EA Play presentation, we saw a few seconds of what was labeled “early in-game footage.” It showed a human male protagonist exiting a building on a desert planet that looked like it could be Tatooine, with Imperial flags draped over two structures nearby. There are Star Destroyers overhead, which points to a galaxy firmly under the control of the Emperor. In 2015, voice actor Nolan North told Metrocon attendees that the game would be “along the same lines” of the canceled LucasArts game Star Wars: 1313 and the Uncharted series.
It’s unclear, however, how much of that original premise will make it into the final game. In October 2017, EA announced plans to shutter Visceral. The publisher said the game is still in development at EA Vancouver, which had already been working on the game in a support capacity. The company announced that EA Vancouver would be assisted by other EA studios as well. Executive Vice President of EA Patrick Söderlund described the Visceral project as “a story-based, linear adventure game.”
The decision to close the studio seems to be centered around the decision to drastically alter the game’s structure to create something more open-ended.
“We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life,” Soderlund said. “Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”
A post-mortem of Visceral’s unfinished project reported by Kotaku could provide clues into those “central elements.” Visceral’s Star Wars game was called Ragtag, pitched as Star Wars meets Oceans Eleven. Given the nature of that premise, it would’ve likely been quite different (and still could be) from your typical Star Wars experience. You would play multiple protagonists, but when you weren’t controlling a certain character, they’d still be able to utilize their unique abilities to help out your team. An integral aspect of Ragtag were “sabotage” moves, which let players alter the environment to distract enemies and make progress. Sabotage powers were said to take the place of traditional Jedi tricks (the Force).
Hennig’s continued involvement in the project seems unlikely. In a statement to IGN, EA said it is “in discussions with Amy about her next move.” EA also specified that EA Vancouver will use assets made for the Visceral game in the new project.
From the sounds of it, the still untitled game will be reworked into a less linear experience.
What’s the story?
While there’s no way to know how the project’s story will change following Visceral’s dissolution, the Kotaku report on Visceral’s demise confirmed rumors that the game was set to take place between the events of the original Star Wars film and The Empire Strikes Back.
The game was supposed to hone in on Dodger, a criminal who dodged the draft and earned enough money working for Jabba the Hutt to pay his way off the Imperial hit list. The grand scale threat, and the central crisis, was the destruction of his home planet, Alderaan.
The Kotaku story revealed Dodger’s teammates: Oona, a mob boss’ daughter, and Buck, the team leader.
While these story elements could be completely scrapped, it’s possible that the “reimagining of the central elements of the game” may still involve some of these characters and storylines.
When can we play it?
With the move to EA Vancouver, this untitled Star Wars project is now even further off than before. In the post about Visceral closing down, Söderlund said a new launch window will be provided “in the future.”
Update: Edited to reflect the closure of Visceral Games.
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