Amy Hennig, writer/director of the first three games in the Uncharted series, has revealed a few details about the new Star Wars game she is working on at EA's Visceral Games, the studio she joined after leaving Naughty Dog in 2014.
Hennig had laid the groundwork for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End prior to her departure, an announcement that surprised observers given her ten-year career of no little success with the makers of Nathan Drake's treasure-hunting adventures. She'd cut her teeth on another Naughty Dog IP, Jak and Daxter, and said series' sci-fi fantasy feel could be seen as a handy addition to the CV when it comes to working on a franchise like Star Wars.
Until this weekend's Star Wars Celebration in London, we all knew very little about Visceral's Star Wars title, on which Hennig is creative director, save for its release year: 2018. Now, we know a little more, and have some concept art to gawp at, too.
The team at Visceral is, expectedly, collaborating closely with Lucasfilm to, as Hennig put it in a panel at Star Wars Celebration, write "an original Star Wars story with new characters, locations, tech, creatures, you name it." She added that these fresh creations had to "sit authentically alongside the stuff people know". Banthas, then.
In terms of the player-controlled additions to the Star Wars universe, Hennig implied that Visceral's game will feature a number of protagonists, reflecting the films' ensemble of equal-billing characters. Referring to how Uncharted riffed on Indiana Jones, touching upon her inspirations for this new project, she said: "The difference between Star Wars and Indiana Jones is that there aren't side characters, there are co-protagonists, and so the same thing is true of our game. They only escape the Death Star because everyone does their part in parallel. The challenge for us then is how do we enable that in gameplay."
She added: "The end goal is by the time the player has finished playing they feel like they really did play a Star Wars film. So I've done the same thing for Star Wars. What does that mean? It's getting the structure right. It means you have to understand where the act breaks fall, where all the obstacles and reversals fall, and the set-pieces."
Expect some role-swapping, then, alongside Uncharted-style scripted events, which are likely to fill the screen in pretty eye-popping ways (there's no way they're going subtle on this). And anticipate a third-person perspective, too, if the early in-game footage teased at this year's E3 is anything of a steer.
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Uncharted is known for its leading man's snappy quips, its sense of humour, and it's likely that Hennig's Star Wars will feature some of the same levity in intense situations. Addressing the game's tone, Hennig said that her writing partner Todd Stashwick had acknowledged a "breezy urgency" to proceedings: "It's the idea that there's sort of a swash-buckling charm to the thing. There's humour and buoyancy but at the same time there's stakes and jeopardy."
An action-packed third-person Star Wars game was on the cards a couple of years back, in the form of 1313. That title died a death however, when developers LucasArts was taken over by Disney, and the House of Mouse decided to shut the project down, laying off all but a skeleton crew at the studio.