The Star Wars universe is no stranger to missed opportunities and speculative what-ifs, especially in the realm of video games. Fans should count themselves lucky that projects like Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront were able to come to fruition, because there are just as many examples of great ideas for Star Wars games that failed to materialize.
One of those projects was the third installment of The Force Unleashed series, which followed Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, as he helped trigger the formation of the Rebel Alliance and eventually turned on the Empire himself. A second sequel was canned for good after Disney acquired Lucasfilm and shut down the LucasArts studio, but a former executive with the company reveals some tidbits of what they had in mind.
Cinelinx recently sat down with former LucasArts Creative Director Haden Blackman, who worked on both Force Unleashed games. While the full interview hasn’t been posted, Cinelinx posted snippets of key parts of the interview where Blackman hints at some of his ideas for a third game in the series.
The Force Unleashed games were heavily criticized for their linear, restrictive game paths, but that’s one thing that Blackman aimed to fix in a potential sequel by transforming the game into an open-world universe — with a twist:
“My long-term plan was to turn the franchise into more of an open world experience, and eventually introduce co-op play — I wanted to make games about two Force wielders adventuring through the Star Wars universe together. I tried to keep that alive for an early treatment of TFU3.”
Star Wars games have struggled to deliver a satisfying lightsaber-wielding experience (even The Force Unleashed wasn’t perfect with its handling of the dynamic), so bringing in a cooperative element sounds ambitious. But why would you need co-op play in a game with a solo protagonist?
That’s where Blackman’s other idea comes in. If you remember, at the end of The Force Unleashed II, Vader is captured by General Rahm Kota and Starkiller on Kamino and taken away by the rebels to be interrogated (with Boba Fett secretly on their tail). The sequel would expand on that idea:
“I think the details are best lost to time now, but my hope was that we’d have Vader and Starkiller reluctantly working together to stop one of the Emperor’s plots that threatens to replace Vader.”
The implication here is that one player could play as Starkiller while the other takes control of Vader. The possibilities are overwhelming. Would each be able to go on separate missions during the story? Would they have different abilities? I’m picturing one player using Force abilities to take down a boss while another player wields a lightsaber, or perhaps there’s a two-on-one duel between the players and Emperor Palpatine at the end of the game.
If all of that sounds radical, it doesn’t even compare to Blackman’s original idea for The Force Unleashed II, which the interview also covered. The former LucasArts executive reveals that the game’s storyline felt a bit incoherent because it originally wasn’t going to focus on Starkiller — it was going to be about Yoda.
“After TFU1, we weren’t officially working on TFU2 in any capacity, and most of my time was spent on the first incarnation of 1313 and exploring other Star Wars games (including a Battlefront reboot). However, I did carve out a small amount of time to generate some high-level concepts, none of which involved Starkiller. One idea was for a Yoda Unleashed game, which would have used Yoda as the main character and explored his past.”
Yoda does show up in The Force Unleashed II but in a small role. Riding off the success of the original Force Unleashed game, LucasArts was clearly confident enough to take the franchise in risky directions, as it’s hard to imagine what a Yoda game would have looked like.
Blackman had a few other ideas for sequels that sound intriguing that you can read about in the interview, but overall, it appears that the intention was to push the series into an open-world format. Unfortunately, those concepts never became reality, and they likely won’t be, as The Force Unleashed was scrapped by Disney along with the rest of the Expanded Universe.
But with Star Wars Battlefront out soon and a new game from Visceral poised to take Star Wars games into a new era, fans probably won’t have to dream about these possibilities much longer.