It’s a pretty great time for Star Wars gamers.
In April of this year the long-awaited release of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be upon us and beyond that is Star Wars: Eclipse from developer Quantic Dream.
However, our focus today is not on a new game but rather one that’s been live for over a decade. Star Wars: The Old Republic. This sprawling MMORPG takes players around 3600 years before the time of the Empire and Rebellion when the Jedi and Sith were comprised of entire armies and waged open warfare across a divided galaxy.
Among the game’s notable aspects are a series of high-quality cinematic trailers. The first came out in July of 2009. The most recent one, just this year. It speaks to the longevity of the game and the popularity of its animations.
One of the most expensive games ever made, The Old Republic served as a follow up to the hugely popular Knights of the Old Republic RPG series from developer BioWare.
Let’s take a look at the surprisingly long history of the cinematics of The Old Republic.
1. “Deceived” – July 2009
The first cinematic for the game came several months after its announcement in October 2008. Until now there had never been a true cinematic trailer for a Star Wars game that was not simply recycled footage from in-game material. It was truly a first of its kind for Star Wars. The video’s various posts have racked up tens of millions of views collectively and even received a 4K remaster.
The trailer takes place 10 years before the events of the game and also serves as the first in a kind of trilogy of trailers. It features Darth Malgus, one of the primary villains of the game, leading a Sith raid on the Jedi Temple at Coruscant. There is an unprecedented number of lightsabers in the frame at the same time here. Instead of fighting from the shadows, the Sith are here in full force ready for all-out war with their ancient enemy, the Jedi.
The cinematic ends with the Jedi temple in ruins and Malgus sauntering away from the wreckage as he raises his hood over his dark visage.
2. “Hope” – June 2010
The next trailer came out nearly a year later. This one, set in the peaceful world of Alderaan, takes place 14 years prior to the first trailer and 24 years before the start of the game’s events. Here we see Malgus as a younger man without his iconic respirator surrounding his mouth.
While it’s less intense than the original, there is a more personal aspect to the conflict as Malgus spends most of the time battling a single Jedi; Satele Shan, ancestor of Bastila Shan from Knights of the Old Republic.
3. “Return” – June 2011
The last trailer to release prior to the game’s launch in December of 2011. The cinematic completes the trilogy featuring the rise of Malgus, all in reverse order (Lucas would approve). This one takes place a whopping 38 years before the beginning of The Old Republic.
A Republic ship sits in orbit over the ancient Sith homeworld of Korriban. At this point in time, the Sith Empire is thought defeated. That changes when a war fleet emerges from the depths of hyperspace. Once again, we are met with Malgus, younger than ever as he and his master duel a pair of Jedi, including Shan from the previous trailer. Malgus kills her master as Shan escapes, making their rematch 14 years later on Alderaan all the more meaningful.
The trailer ends with Malgus killing his own wounded master in true Sith tradition.
This is a cinema at its best. It’s dramatic, beautiful, and leaves viewers with a sense of foreboding that carries through right to the actual game itself. And, come on, a Zabrak Jedi with three lightsaber blades fighting two Sith at once? Awesome.
Watching these three trailers in reverse order gives watchers a real sense of who Darth Malgus is. In Return, he is a young, smooth skin apprentice. In Hope, we see the corruption of the dark side of the Force beginning to distort his features. Then finally in Deceived, we see the true extent that nearly 40 years of war and Sith corruption does to a man. A rare example of visual storytelling told through what are essentially advertisements for a game.
4. “Sacrifice” – June 2015
A significant gap in time follows the third cinematic. Finally, after 4 years of waiting, we witnessed a new trailer, this time for the upcoming expansion pack Knights of the Fallen Empire.
This one is a bit different. We see a pair of twin brothers growing up under their father’s tutelage. As we watch them grow they learn to fight and use the Force. Then they begin to drift apart. One follows the path of the light side, the other the dark.
The cinematic tells a compelling and surprisingly emotional story with very little dialogue. Another terrific example of “show, don’t tell” in animated form. After all, if the studio went to the trouble to return to high-quality trailers, you may as well embellish on the visual aspect.
5. “Betrayed” – October 2016
The last trailer for a while. This one is a sequel of sorts to the previous cinematic. We meet a previously unknown sister to the twin brothers who turn out to be a kind of Force deviant with a scary amount of power.
Family drama has always been at the heart of Star Wars and it’s in full swing here.
The Old Republic has received 8 major expansions but only 3 of them ever received full-budget cinematics. This one was for Knights of the Eternal Throne which was released in December of 2016.
6. “Disorder” – February 2022
Finally, we come to the present. After more than half a decade since the last cinematic, most fans were not expecting any more. Few MMOs make it as long as The Old Republic has. The fact that one game has received 6 high-budget trailers after 13 years is an indisputable testament to its longevity and to viewers’ love for these stunning cutscenes.
After over 10 years, Darth Malgus is back and he looks more twisted and corrupted than ever before. There is a major graphical upgrade going on here with lighting that looks as good as if it were real and flashy visuals to match.
There is some serious attention to detail happening here. The trailer ends with Malgus raising his hood as he leaves just as he did at the end of the original cinematic nearly 13 years ago.
After more than 10 years of being live, The Old Republic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the near future. Here’s hoping that we haven’t seen the last of the game’s cinematic trailers.
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