Despite my disappointment with the original 2015 game and reluctance to pre-order November’s sequel, this week’s big reveal of Star Wars Battlefront II’s space combat mode was a genuinely exciting moment.
As well as warming me to the new game, the footage left me hankering after another classic Star Wars gaming franchise – X-Wing.
First released back in 1993, the game was a dedicated flight and combat simulator which let the player lose on fleets of Imperial Tie Fighters, transports and capital ships, requiring the player to complete missions against each.
Unlike the Battlefront games, X-Wing also let the player toggle power allocations between shields, weapons and speed, giving greater control and flexibility over their ship.
A second instalment switched sides and put the player in the role of an Imperial pilot on a mission to stop some renegade Admirals plotting against the Emperor.
The franchise then moved into multiplayer gaming with 1997’s X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter which initially lacked much of a single player campaign mode but, as with EA’s 2015 Battlefront, this was added later following customer complaints.
The final instalment was 1999’s X-Wing Alliance which put the player front and centre in an original storyline set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and introduced multi-crew craft, such as the Millennium Falcon.
PC owners looking for a trip down memory lane can buy the original games from Steam, but I’d love EA Games and Disney to revive the franchise.
As the footage from the new Battlefront shows, today’s consoles and gaming PCs would allow a far, far richer experience than the original games could and, with EA focussing heavily on online multiplayer in its Battlefront games, the firm could return X-Wing to its single player roots and a less ‘on rails’ approach than Battlefront offers.
Or at least EA could remember not everyone wants to keep shelling out for an overpriced online subscription just for the privilege of playing the games they already paid for…
And of course, it’s not just gaming hardware which has moved on since the original X-Wing – five live action instalments in the saga, spanning from The Phantom Menace through to Rogue One – have been released in the intervening 24 years.
That’s a lot of potential dogfights and battles, plus a host of new star fighters which have never had the full flight sim treatment. Let’s hope EA and its partners grasp the chance to put that right…