Some games are decent enough that they receive a yearly sequel; Ubisoftís Assassinís Creed series, and Activisionís Call of Duty franchise just to name a couple. Other games are just as good yet for whatever reason, due to underwhelming sales or internal development issues, fans might have to wait years, if ever to get a follow-up to a beloved game.
For this first feature, I am looking at the Star Wars: Battlefront series, which despite being the best-selling Star Wars game of all time has yet to have a next-generation sequel.
A few months ago, I bought a PlayStation 2 Slim, and with it, I picked up a copy of Battlefront and quickly realized how great this game was. It is no secret that I am a Star Wars fanatic and when both Battlefront 1 and 2 were released, the first in 2004, followed by Battlefront 2 just a year later, I was hooked. Combining the popular Battlefield concept with Star Wars was a no-brainier, and it was no wonder that the series took off like it did.
However, eight years later there is still no word about possible Star Wars: Battlefront sequel and it is killing me. Yes, I know there were a couple of PSP games, but Iím talking about a true next-generation follow-up, not a handheld.
In 2009 there seemed to be some hope when Free Radical was rumored to be developing the third installment in the series, after leaked footage of a supposedly early alpha build (which looked amazing) was released online. The video was over five minutes long and showed a noticeable improvement to the graphics engine, as well as advancement in the general combat, which was to feature planetary flight missions. While classic locations were still present: Hoth, Endor, the Death Star and more, it was hoped that these areas would be greatly expanded upon beyond what was just seen in the film. This was one of the major drawbacks I found with the first two Battlefront games.
The basic elements all seemed to be in place: space combat, character classes, heroes, Jedi and Force powers, and the four factions of the two primary timelines of Star Wars film universe. There seemed to be a greater focus, as well on a single player story, seemly revolving around the events of Revenge of the Sith. Battlefront 2 had a decent story mode, but I would have liked to see it expanded upon, which it seemed Battlefront 3 was working on.
Unfortunately, it seems that the footage and rumors surrounding a story dealing with a Dark Obi-Wan Kenobi might have been a myth as Free Radical never admitted they were actually developing the sequel. And as for Pandemic Studios, the original developers for both Battlefront games, the studio sadly closed down in 2009.
In 2010, Kotaku reported that a much bigger and more ambitious project was in development at Slant Six Games, the makers of Sonyís SOCOM series, and that game was rumored to be Star Wars: Battlefront Online. This would have been an exciting prospect given the rise in popularity of online shooters, and with a creditable developer behind the franchise, the series might have been a real winner. It was later revealed that the game was canceled after Slant Six Games failed to meet its production deadline.
Hypothetically what should a next-generation Star Wars: Battlefront III look like? Firstly, I would like to see a stronger story for the single player game. The original game lacked this feature altogether, though the follow-up did a decent job of telling the story of the 501st during the events of Episodes III through V. I also would hope that a true modern sequel would bring in fresh story-telling and pull not just from the primary six movies, but also be inspired by events and characters from the Clone Wars animated series, the Expanded Universe, or even the Old Republic era. As great as the six movies are I think pulling additional material could both extend and enhance the overall quality of the franchise.
Regardless of the single player game, story, and content or how amazing Star Wars: Battlefront III might be graphically on a next-gen console, probably the most important thing would be the multiplayer component.
Multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo dominate Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. As good as the first two Battlefront games were both lacked any serious online support through strong server support or player community. Frankly, neither game seemed built for online play even though they were begging for 32x32 battle-royals.
With multiplayer I would hope that the maps would grow, and that classic locations expanded upon. The first two games were grounded too much by what was seen on film, and didnít expand beyond those iconic imagines. What does the rest of Hoth look like? What lies below the surface of Coruscant, and what secrets might the swamps of Dagobah hold? Let the designersí imagination run wild and the players explore what theyíve never seen before.
So the question remains, will we ever get a true sequel to Star Wars: Battlefront? I wouldnít bet against it. With the recent Disney acquisition of the Star Wars universe and all Lucas brands, which include Lucas Arts I would wager that somewhere waiting in the wings is a secret Star Wars project and that we will hear something about it after the release of Star Wars: 1313, perhaps even during E3 2014. Until that day, I can continue to dream.