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EA Reportedly Cancelled A Star Wars: Battlefront Spinoff

Although there have been plenty of Star Wars games over the years, there have been several that haven't been finished for one reason or another. In fact, according to a report from Kotaku's Jason Schrier, we just narrowly missed out on a third Star Wars: Battlefront title. Rather than being a sequel in the main series, however, this game was a spin-off of some kind. The project was canceled, but this news has been relayed to Kotaku through anonymous sources who are "familiar with EA's inner workings."

This game, codenamed Viking, was originally intended to be released later in 2020. However, the game's development took a rather circuitous route before it got the axe. In fact, Viking's origins involve at least two other canceled EA Star Wars games.

The first of these was a game called Ragtag. This game has been described as a "hyper-realistic" take on the Star Wars universe that would have seen a group of thieves led by a new character named Dodger. The tone of the game reportedly drew quite a bit from Uncharted. In fact, Ragtag was directed by Amy Hennig, who was the head writer and creative director for much of the Uncharted series.

Though Hennig says Ragtag got rather far along in the development, she told Syfy Wire that the game "just didn't make sense in EA's business plan, ultimately." The title was canceled and its assets were reportedly used to develop another Star Wars game.

This other game, codenamed Orca, was supposedly an open-world game with a large emphasis on exploration. Orca would have seen players becoming smugglers or bounty hunters as they interacted with the wider Star Wars galaxy. EA then made the decision last year to cancel Orca in favor of a smaller-scale game that could be released in late 2020.

Well, we now know how that worked out for them. Yes, Viking was the latest replacement project, but it was simply not to be. It's unclear quite what Viking would have been about. However, Kotaku's sources say that Criterion, the lead studio on the project, "had an ambitious vision for the project, aiming to put a strong focus on story and characters."

Unfortunately, EA had given the project a development window of roughly a year and a half. When it became clear to EA execs that the game could not be properly completed in that timeframe, they declined to give it any more time and canceled the title. While the news didn't break until now, Viking was reportedly canceled sometime in the first half of 2019. Since then, EA has managed to release one of its many planned Star Wars titles. Luckily for EA, that game was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. While not on the scale of something like Orca, Fallen Order does have a strong emphasis on exploration. The game allows players to backtrack to previous levels and unlock new areas, giving it a bit more of an open feel when compared to similar action games.

Fallen Order has been very well-received by critics and fans and there are already rumblings of a sequel on the horizon. Still, as pleased as people were with Fallen Order, one cant help but feel like Star Wars fans have been cheated out of a number of exciting experiences set in a galaxy far, far away. It all just seems like a lack of faith in project after project has led to these cancellations.

In fact, this is a feeling that has been echoed by people who have worked directly on the Star Wars film series. Just last year, Gary Whitta, screenwriter of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, said that EA's handling of the Star Wars license "has been catastrophically mismanaged."

This sentiment has been echoed by fans as well. When Schreier shared his report on Twitter, one fan wrote, "Paying to lock up the Star Wars license and then making only a couple alright games is a crime."

EA has put out some decent Star Wars games since gaining exclusivity over the license in 2013. However, the publisher hasn't done nearly as much with the property as one would expect. Battlefront and Battlefront 2 were decently-reviewed, but suffered from major backlash over EA's reliance on loot boxes and in-game currency. These controversies more or less soured fans' feelings toward the franchise, but there's still been hope that EA would course correct.

Some fans are already giving EA the benefit of the doubt, however. One user on Twitter suggested that the cancellations could reflect EA's reactions to recent high-profile failures like Anthem. The company could simply be overly cautious, attempting to nip unfruitful projects in the bud before they suck up too much money.

Whatever the case, it's always a bummer to see an ambitious new game meet an early end. Hopefully some of the ideas for Viking and the other scrapped games will make their way into a future EA Star Wars title.