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'It Made Sense' To Choose Unreal For Jedi: Fallen Order, Says Respawn

Respawn Entertainment's ability to dodge EA's Frostbite Engine has always been intriguing. What's made this studio — now owned by EA — free to pick the engine of their choice when just about every other EA title has had to go with Frostbite?

Game Informer posted that question to Respawn's Stig Asmussen and Vince Zampella, and the two talked about why their latest title – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – uses Unreal Engine instead of Frostbite.

"It made sense for the team," Zampella said. "You know, as we're hiring up a new team, it's easier to find people that have Unreal experience. It was an engine that fit kind of what we were trying to do."

"I don't know why people give a sh-t," said Asmussen, laughing. "You can make a good game with, like, pretty much any engine if you've got the right people."

According to the two, EA has not mandated that Respawn use any particular engine, and thus far, Respawn has yet to use Frostbite for anything. Both Titanfall titles and Apex Legends made use of Valve's Source engine, while Jedi: Fallen Order is being made in Unreal. Part of that — mostly the Source part — had to do with the fact that Respawn was an independent developer until late 2017, and didn't have access to Frostbite even if it wanted to use it.

As for Jedi: Fallen Order, well, that could be one of two things. It's entirely possible that Respawn was spinning up work on its Star Wars title prior to actually being acquired by EA, and had already begun laying the groundwork for its game in Unreal. But there's also the comment made by Zampella that deserves some attention: the one about it being easier to find developers who've used Unreal in the past.

It's no secret that EA hasn't exactly been knocking it out of the park with the Star Wars license. And it's also not been a secret that Frostbite is — according to those who've worked with it — challenging. Frostbite gets a lot of the blame for why Mass Effect: Andromeda had issues, for instance, and why Anthem went through such a perilous development cycle. It's possible EA needed to get a solid Star Wars game out the door, needed a good team to do it, and didn't need to encounter the same obstacles faced by BioWare and other teams using Frostbite.

And so we have Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-player Star Wars experience developed in Unreal, from a company that has gone through great pains to avoid using third-party engines. If the game is a success, it's certainly not going to do Frostbite any favors. And if it fails? We'll have to keep an eye on the engine that Respawn uses next.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order arrives on Nov. 15, 2019.