Of all the criticisms levelled against publisher EA for its handling of the Star Wars licence, I think most of us can agree that the cancellation of Visceral’s Star Wars game and subsequent closure of the studio is one of the bitterest pills to swallow.
A quick primer for those who might not have heard this sorry tale: Back in 2013, a linear Star Wars title was in development from the studio behind Dead Space, with Uncharted director Amy Hennig on board to lead the project.
In October 2017, EA announced that they intended to pivot the design of the game, taking Visceral off the project and tasking its Vancouver studio with adapting what had already been done into an open world adventure
EA said of the decision at the time that it wanted to create “an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come”. Just a few weeks back, EA scrapped the project altogether.
In an excellent new interview with US Gamer, Amy Hennig has opened up about her feelings on the project, and even shared a few previously unheard details on the game that, frankly, makes me even more annoyed we never got to see it.
One of Hennig’s main concerns seemed to be that EA simply wasn’t equipped to support a story driven game in the vein of Uncharted, admitting that her Star Wars game would have certainly had a similar feel to the adventures of Nathan Drake.
She also pointed out that EA’s frostbite engine – which is used for most EA titles – didn’t really lend itself to a third person action adventure game.
I think Visceral was sort of beset with a lot of challenges. Even so, we were making a game; people have said it was an Uncharted Star Wars. That’s sort of reductive, but it’s useful because people can kind of visualize something in their head. But what that meant is we obviously had to take the Frostbite Engine, because there was the internal initiative to make sure that everybody was on the same technology, but it was an engine that was made to do first-person shooters not third-person traversal cinematic games.
Hennig went on to say that the team had to put in mechanics like platforming and climbing into an engine that simply wasn’t made for that stuff. As a result, a lot of time was spent doing “foundational work” instead of just getting on with making the game.
In spite of this, Hennig revealed that development eventually started to progress at a pleasing rate, and that the game was a lot further along than people might have thought.
I wish people could have seen more of it because it was a lot farther along than people ever got a glimpse of. And it was good, you know? But it just didn’t make sense in EA’s business plan, ultimately. Things changed over the course of that time I was there. So you know, what can you do.
EA still have one story driven Star Wars game on the way, however. Respawn Entertainment is working on a game called Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and while we haven’t seen anything of it, it’s expected to release this autumn.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.