Why the galaxy needs Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic III

Feature Rob Leane 24 Feb 2014 - 07:06

Ten years after the original KotOR, Rob looks at why the time is right for an epic new Star Wars RPG

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) is a role-playing game which first hit our shelves a decade ago in 2003. In an age before spoilers seemed to be a major talking-point or concern, peers urged me not to find out the jaw-dropping revelation which occurs in the game. In a time where the best Star Wars game I had played was a frustrating Rogue Squadron demo which came with my parents’ clunky PC, KotOR was an opportunity to step into a whole new galaxy of possibilities and mystery. The narrative, the graphics, the depth, everything about it was way ahead of its time.

It was story-telling on a galactic scale which really blew me away and quickly earned a lot of fans. The opportunity to design your own Jedi, build a lightsaber and set off in the Ebon Hawk to stop an evil tyrant was incredible. KotOR was the first game that made me feel that I wasn’t directing the character, I was the character. It was like playing your way through your own personal Star Wars movie.

Although not everyone who played this game may view it as such a life-changing moment as I did, the general consensus was that it was pretty ruddy good. Copies flew around my group of mates and people I didn’t even know would be able to switch on a PC were getting involved in the action. At the time, it was the most hype I had personally seen for a videogame.

The inevitable sequel followed, and while I still loved it, it was undeniably flawed in many respects. Like the disappointing Arkham Origins game last year, things went awry when the original production company dropped out for this follow-up. Obsidian took over from Bioware and things started to go downhill. Notoriously, the game was rushed. One key producer Chris Avellone confirmed in an interview that he had wanted ‘more time’.

A whole planet, significant locations and famously a droid factory, which was still referenced and present as an un-winnable mission, were cut from the final published version of the game. Although the game was still relatively well received (it has an 85% average on Metacritic), it is presumable that this troubled development is the reason KotOR III never got very far in development.

Star Wars: The Old Republic was launched in 2011 to mixed reviews. It’s a sort-of sequel set three hundred years later in a different gaming format it hasn’t sat well with some fans of the originals. I personally gave it a go, but the MMO just isn’t my style of gaming. My laptop can’t handle it, I can’t afford the extra content and it takes a long time to get anything done. KotOR and its sorry sequel were both romps around the galaxy, popping from one planet to another working to stop the baddies. SWTOR is a Star Wars MMO, a take on the World of Warcraft structure, which certainly built a separate fan base of its own, but didn’t quite quench everyone’s thirst for more KotOR.

Personally, I feel that the time is right for KotOR III to get the green light, and here’s why…

The story is there

Scripting a new KotOR instalment would not be that difficult. The successful framework of the previous two games still stands as a hugely engaging way of plotting a game. In both games you chose your character’s name and appearance, and then they wake up. They’re aboard a space ship with no clue who they are. It’s a minimalist start to a story which gets more complicated and thrilling the more you play through it.

This format encourages the player to implant their own feelings and personality on the character, to become them. I love playing as Obi-Wan in other games and web-slinging around New York in Spider-Man 2 is still a personal gaming highlight, but nothing quite compares to guiding your own character in the Star Wars universe and letting the world unfold around you. Supporting characters like human-hating droid HK-47 and strong female Jedi Bastilla Shan helped create a universe you really wanted to stay in too.

Many think that the sequel should start with choosing either of the two surviving protagonists from the previous two instalments and delving into the mystery of what happened to KotOR’s main character after the events of the first game, but I don’t think that’s fair. New gamers and youngsters joining the KotOR community should have their chance to create a new character and explore the universe too; it’s one of the best things about the games.

With that familiar beginning-point established, writers would of course need to establish what happened next. Despite not wishing to play as the character again, the mysterious enigmatic behaviour of KotOR’s protagonist following the conclusion of the first game is surely the direction to choose going forward. Since the end of their epic adventure, no one has seen or heard from them again. I’m not going to delve further into that, because if you’ve not played these games, you really should, and I still don’t want to spoil it ten years later.

Suffice to say, there’s a mystery out beyond the Outer Rim that needs investigating. In KotOR III it seems pretty logical that your new Jedi would pick up clues about an imminent threat emerging from beyond the known galaxy and would get caught up in a plot to avert it (or help it, depending on your choices). In one SWTOR flashpoint and an associated novel, this loose end has been seen to already, but many believe that much more could be done with it. If EA, Bioware and Disney are brainstorming how to do KotOR III, solving this mystery is surely the direction to choose.

The gaming world is ready

The original KotOR graphics looked great at the time, but like many early noughties games, they are already starting to age badly. Games consoles these days are now capable of so much more. It seems a natural fit that KotOR III would launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well as being available for super-powerful computers. In age where exploratory games like Uncharted are huge money-spinners, the chance to explore a whole galaxy in a new KotOR could be a huge hit.

The Force Unleashed is the closest we have got to a single-player Star Wars gaming really taking full advantage of modern graphics. Surely the time is right to drop a stunningly beautiful, fully playable Star Wars galaxy into stunning HD. A whole generation of kids would have completely missed the first two KotOR games so there must be a captive market waiting to excitedly create their own Jedi adventure.

Games like Diablo III have proved that it’s possible to revamp a franchise for the HD age without alienating gamers with hours of backstory to learn. If kids can follow modern Doctor Who, with all the backstory that entails, you think newcomers to this franchise could handle having to learn a few details from the previous KotOR instalments. Introducing the idea of KotOR’s protagonist mysteriously disappearing into the unchartered galaxy and the existence of a Jedi exile who followed him, really isn’t that much more backstory than when we had to learn about Revan and Malak back in 2003.

The early hype for SWTOR was built through epic cinematic trailers, which showed just how great the Star Wars galaxy could look with modern technology. The highly-realistic epic battles depicted therein promised a game of stunning force-use and lightsaber battling. Sadly, due to being limited to the abilities of laptop computers, SWTOR didn’t live up to the promise. Bioware must be tempted to build on this visual style with a more powerful and visually-pleasing Star Wars game for new consoles akin to their hugely successful Mass Effect series.

If Bioware could produce a pitch for KotOR III that looked anywhere near as good as their SWTOR trailers, stuffed with Jedi and opportunities for new gamers to join the community, it’s sure to be a popular idea at the Mouse House.

Disney wants a hit

This is completely undeniable. Disney have acquired the rights to all Lucas Arts properties and will be currently looking at how to start turning a whopping profit any way possible. The cinematic world is moving forward with Kathleen Kennedy’s dream choice for director, even the new animated series Rebels is beginning to look very promising. The gaming world needs to catch up.

Movie tie-in games are an absolute certainty, as are more family-friendly Lego games, but those won’t be getting anyone reaching for their wallets for over a year at least. A next-gen Battlefront game is in development too, but that still leaves the problem of Disney missing out on years of single-player Jedi gaming action, which is sure to rake in plenty of cash. If Warner Brothers can make good money out of Batman every year, you’ve got to think that the allure of playing as your own Jedi could do the same for Disney.

We shouldn’t think for a second that Disney will wait for the movies to come out before trying to make money out of cool lightsaber gaming. With the new movies already nabbing the time period directly after Return of the Jedi, the centuries-before prequel option is surely just as attractive now as it was when the prequels were in production.

It’s known that Disney have tasked EA to publish brand new Star Wars games with DICE, Visceral and Bioware. We already know that DICE are working on the new Battlefront game and that Visceral are working on a new open-world idea after the stunning bounty hunter game Star Wars: 1313 was taken off the table.

That leaves Bioware, who have successfully built a huge franchise in Mass Effect since parting ways with KotOR when the second instalment went into production. Bioware also worked with EA on SWTOR, so it’s fully plausible that their new Star Wars project will be something similar. Could it be that Disney are looking for them to develop a single-player console game as a modernisation of their hugely popular KotOR?

Although SWTOR garnered lots of players, it seems likely that EA will want something a bit safer from Bioware this time, which opens the door to the possibility of KotOR III. With no single-player Jedi-creating or lightsaber duelling yet lined up for the new consoles, a whole generation of kids waiting to explore a galaxy far far away, and a loving fan-base eagerly awaiting a new instalment, KotOR III looks like a pretty safe option for Disney, let’s just hope they notice.

The original KotOR was a great gaming experience, and one that really captured our imaginations. By creating a visually stunning sequel allowing another generation to engage with the Star Wars universe, Disney could start making new fans and bags of money long before their new trilogy of films is even made. We’ve got to hope then, that we will hear an announcement for KotOR III, or something similar, in the near future.

Do you want to see more KotOR or would you like something new from Bioware? 

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one of the best games on the original Xbox,although some bastard at work told me the ending a few hours before i was to get there myself

I've always thought that going down Old Republic route would be a good direction for the movies. You'd be able to have multiple Sith Lords and a range of new characters that wouldn't need to be tied to the previous franchises giving it a fresh take.

KOTOR was awesome, recently replayed both it and KOTOR 2 and fell in love all over again. Anybody wanting to play KOTOR 2 should get the restored content mod as while the ending is still abrupt the reintroduction of deleted elements definitely makes for a more fulfilling gaming experience. I played SWTOR and solo'd the Jedi Consular story including the Flashpoints linked to KOTOR, I've been meaning to go back to do the Jedi Knight story but the Rob is right, everything seems to take so long even when subscribed and having full xp gain. I would be there day one for KOTOR 3 and I agree it should be a new character, somewhere within the 300 years between KOTOR 2 and SWTOR perhaps investigating the Sith Empire or perhaps it would be better to have a separate story with hints at the return of the Sith. I've always dreamed of a game where the story and characters were like KOTOR, the combat was like TFU2 and had space sim elements like X-wing Alliance.

I feel your pain brother, back in '99 my friend had been to see two films over the weekend. Fight Club and the 6th Sense and he blurted out both twists.

The problem with doing a direct-sequel is that the fate of Revan and the Exile has already been established in the canon. Drew Karpyshyn's 2011 novel is set before KOTOR 2 and just after it. It establishes why Revan isn't present in the sequel and what the danger beyond the Outer Rim was. Many KOTOR fans have problems with the novel and it's conclusion. I personally liked it but I can understand the issues.

Ultimately, the novel leaves all the characters on a cliff-hanger which is resolved in SWTOR through Flashpoint missions and the general class storylines, over 300 years later. I won't reveal spoilers here but a quick look on Wookiepdia can explain it all to you.

Unless Lucasfilm and Disney were prepared to retcon everything said in the novel and the MMORPG, I can't see there being a third KOTOR that runs contrary to what is already established in the EU.

That being said, SWTOR is set 300 years after the novel, so a third game could be set at some point in that time frame. Although, the script of SWTOR would suggest that it was a time of peace and prosperity for the Republic, so I'm not sure how it could work.

I will concede that seeing the type of gameplay and mechanics from KOTOR bought to life on the new generation of consoles is an intriguing prospect. If there is a way to make it work in the EU (if any franchise can do it, it's Star Wars) then I'd be all for it.

I've been playing SWTOR since late-2012. It's the only MMORPG that I’ve played so I cannot compare it to anything else. Maybe that's why I still enjoy it. I don't get the chance to play it that much these days, but I'm determined to get all of my classes to Level 55 before the plug is inevitably pulled!

I'd rather see Bioware do their own thing rather the licensed stuff. Also if KOTOR2 wasnt so buggy and broken, I'd prefer that over the original...

Sorry but SWTOR and its books need to become non-canon for the sake of KotOR III, and I say this as someone who has beaten the game SWTOR with every character. It doesn't hold a candle to KotOR I & II, cost tons of money to produce but barely made it back (aka too risky to invest more money in), and is hated by KotOR fans about as much as the prequals are by fans of the original trilogy (it destroyed the characterization of every character from KotOR I & II and then added insult to injury by killing off most of whom where still alive or just made them dead from the getgo).

Disney bought LFL, now is the perfect opportunity to examinie canon and cut outt the bad. The Force Unleashed is now non-canon already, might as well add SWTOR to that list.

My hero! Well said. 10 years after and I still pop the game in my xbox when I get frustrated by my new games that almost never live up to that first RPG I ever played.

I would happily sacrifice many kittens for this to become a reality.

I love both KOTOR 1 & 2. They were great times in my life and was excited when news broke of SWTOR. Unfortunately Im not a fan of MMO but I still tried it and as expected found myself getting bored rather rapidly with it. Imagine what they could do now with KOTOR 3. It would be spectacular. The time is right for it.

Probably one of the best games I ever played entering my early 20's. Remembering games like Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire, its like Star Wars followed me into my tweenhood and gave me a game that was meant for my age group (although I know a lot of teenagers and even younger than that may have enjoyed it too). It also gave me the ability to enjoy the content without feeling like it betrayed the Star Wars universe, having been set long before the events of the Star Wars films. I think it would be brilliant to see a third installment with all the next gen systems and new A.I. mechanics available for game systems now. Also maybe it would open Disney to explore the possibility of bringing the original game to life in a film series...I think I'm not the only one who wants to see The Ebon Hawk take flight on the big screen.

Ah, the nostalgia..! KOTOR was an excellent game and I would gladly play a third one, after Dragon Age and Mass Effect have made me in the mood for Bioware's old games again.

I'd hate to come along and wreck your day(not really), but that won't happen. The digital expansion for The Old Republic, Galactic Star Fighter, includes the Lucasfilm Story Group in its credits. It's looking increasingly likely that KotOR I, II, and SWTOR will be established as canon.

too bad Bioware doesnt make rpgs anymore, specially not like KOTOR, they make action-rpgs such as Gears of Effect 4 and Battle Age 3. The TOR MMO is already their try at a KOTOR game so why you think they should do it again is beyond me. It's basically a bunch of single player storylines slapped on WoW.

Believe me, if Bioware gets their hands on KOTOR 3 you will be very disappointed.

Now, Obsidian, they could make something like that, if they can prove they can tame the bug-beast with their kickstarter project. And honestly I'd still take a completely bugged and almost broken rpg by Obsidian than any of the interactive movie crap Bioware has been trying to pass as rpg.

too bad Bioware doesnt make rpgs anymore, specially not like KOTOR, they make action-rpgs such as Gears of Effect 4 and Battle Age 3. The TOR MMO is already their try at a KOTOR game so why you think they should do it again is beyond me. It's basically a bunch of single player storylines slapped on WoW.

Believe me, if Bioware gets their hands on KOTOR 3 you will be very disappointed.

Now, Obsidian, they could make something like that, if they can prove they can tame the bug-beast with their kickstarter project. And honestly I'd still take a completely bugged and almost broken rpg by Obsidian than any of the interactive movie crap Bioware has been trying to pass as rpg.

PS I know if you like current EAware and their recent games you will disagree and probably call me a hater, I'm not up for arguing about it anymore so feel free to bash me for "EA/Bioware hatin'". It won't change my opinion and I do believe both fans and ex-fans would benefit from adjusting expectations of their new games

Bioware doesnt make rpgs anymore, specially not like KOTOR, they make cinematic action-rpgs such as Gears of Effect 4 and Battle Age 3.
Believe me, if Bioware gets their hands on KOTOR 3 you'll end up disappointed.

Obsidian could make something like that, if they can prove they can tame the bug-beast with their kickstarter project. Hell even Bethesda can do better at the sort of rpg KOTOR was if you look at Fallout 3

PS feel free to bash me for EA/Bioware hatin

My brother and I rented KOTOR when it came out thinking we would play through it and then toss it back disappointed. Instead, we wound up fighting with our mother when she tried to return it to the video store.

"And is hated by KotOR fans about as much as the prequals are by fans of
the original trilogy (it destroyed the characterization of every
character from KotOR I & II and then added insult to injury by
killing off most of whom where still alive or just made them dead from
the getgo)."

You cannot speak for a huge fanbase like that. I'm a big KOTOR fan, it got me into the Star Wars EU as whole and is the reason why I prefer the Old Republic to anything post RotJ (aside from the Thrawn trilogy) and I love SWTOR and I like the direction it has taken, in terms of lore and story.

Not idea what you're trying to say at the end there.

Another Star Wars RPG that isn't SWTOR would be nice but it just won't happen anytime soon. Disney have invested billions in the franchise and the quickest way they can get a turn-around would be by making direct adaptations of the upcoming movies that will probably be average but appeal to the mass-market much more than KOTOR III.

Personally, I'd much, MUCH rather see them bring something like 1313 (that was already being developed) back than spend the time creating KOTOR III, but we can't get what we always want. KOTOR was great, KOTOR II was alright, SWTOR divides opinion like marmite, lets leave it at that.

There's a difference too of passing through an expansion of a game that innitially lost tons of money and has just barely started making profit for the sake of keeping a business partner happy that they're stuck with for the next 10 years. EA just wants their hundreds of millions back. This was a business choice (just like allowing the EU to exsist to help fund the prequals after Lucas's ex took half his worth back in the early 80s) just like Hasbro being allowed to pass down the pipeline the last few EU toys getting made but where given a stop all other EU order right after. In both cases the Story Group signed off on it, but odds are its not since they're canon but only to get them through the pipepline before a cutoff date for the sake of not finacially harming a key business partner who's already invested a ton in stuff.

Now next off the quote about the story group is "that's definatly a primary goal of the story group" when asked if they where trying to setting up a singular heirarcy canon. In otherwords its not yet been implmented. If you choose to believe otherwise you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. Yes I agree disney is trying to make all the stories matter equally, but besides G-level and T-level canon (and likely the Darth Maul upcoming comic based on an unfinished season 6 script of the Clone Wars) we don't know what will cross over (clearly though Korriban hasn't but the idea of it did)

An effort of this magnitude isn't going to have a switch that just says: here is the new canon! The story group isn't going to be involved with non-canon. That's not their mission

On a side note, EA made back their money on SWTOR in the first few months off of subscriptions and box sales. In fact, since the game went free to play it's made more money with half the subscribers than it would have otherwise.

You seem to like to take a lot of conjecture and state it as fact. The truth is, there are a lot of fans of KotOR who like SWTOR and fans of the original trilogy who like the prequel movies. Do some or even a lot of people hate them? Sure, but that doesn't mean everyone does.

What and you don't? What is your definition of a lot of KotOR fans who like SWTOR too? How about how much money they made back from it? Drew K own website says Revan and SWTOR isn't for KotOR fans, it was aimed at a new generation plain and simple. Will some old fans still like it, yes, will more than half... based on what Drew K wrote on his own site I think he didn't believe they would either.

I've seen the stock reports And stock holder call, they sucked and mislead the investment in SWTOR much lower than it likely was. There's no denying its now made profit but when and how much is a different matter... so too how many like the game play vs story and how many still prefer kotor I or II over SWTOR but put up with it for their fix.

As to their mission... as stated prior if you choose to believe otherwise that's on you. I think its clear they're just letting a partner make as much money as possible for the time being... but let's face it if any timeline will get its own trilogy or show it KotOR and once that happens the retcons to get 2 60 hour games and 1 300+ hour game into 6 hours will take effect.

You can choose to believe what you like, but the one known fact as far as what will and what won't be canon is on my side of this argument. The Lucasfilm Story Group has been credited in collaboration with SWTOR since they were formed.

Hahahaha.... fist off what did you say about speaking up for others and are now doing yourself?

Second, clearly you missed Pablo Haldgo being quote just three weeks ago as saying only the movies, TCW and Rebels are canon (Lee Chan also has said something similar) and both are on the Story Group. Everything else is subject to change... including SWTOR as proven by Korriban getting retconned to Moriband. You took one twitter quote and ran with it like a fanboy on a holier than thou crusade... how about you try following them on twitter and reading everything they say before speaking as if you know everything and can speak for them. They can only say so much in 140 characters or less.

All that happened with SWTOR is the Story Group let them proceed with what was already in the pipeline and EA used their pass off to dupe fans to increase sales... just like Lucas oking TFU increased sales of that game. The same thing is going on with Hasbro, but they're being honest about it unlike EA (shocker).

Laughing derisively and acting like you know know more? Something tells me even handed debate isn't your forte. The members of the group can say certain things in interviews, yes. But there is only one real fact at the moment, and that is that they were credited in collaboration with SWTOR. Whether that means it will be canon or, less likely, not canon is anyone's guess.
Claiming to know their goals and why they are credited is a bit of an over reach on your part, it just goes to show the serious hate-on you have for SWTOR and Bioware.

So I don't play even handedly and it could mean anything, which I admitted was my view of the matter long ago yet your wording imply I was hiding this. Fact is I did know more and sourced it. Your double standard about attitude was why I laughed btw... now acting like my hate of SWTOR is any worse than your fanboying of it objectivly. Sorry but again doublestandards. Plus you do realize I love KotOR 1 & 2 yet what I'm arguing retcons them too... of the two of us I'm more likely being the objective one here.

Now I couldnt help but noticed you gave ground here, though have kept the implication of who is right. Sounds to me like you just realized your argument was a fallacy logic but had to save face here. Simply put you can't now discredit what the story group said, yet previously considered it the end all be all when its quote served your purpose, about what is canon at the moment and are going through the same anger and shock I went through last month when I realized what this would mean and Korriban to Moriband likely being huge foreshadowing of what is to come. I too argued since Disney boughtout LFL that they wouldn't get rid of the bigger EU pieces, though it appears now that they're just going to keep ideas but cut all names to whipe the slate clean so they can go to new places since they'd prefer creative freedom. I'm as big of a kotor and post VI EU fanboy as they come but like TCW did with clone wars EU they're only using it as a well of ideas they can play with. We're just going to have to accept it.

Seems like they care more about how much money creative freedom will give them for the next 40 years than any amount of what they invested in EU in the past 36 years of it (after all that was Lucas's money, not Disney's so clearly they dont). Is this going to happen? Who knows, besides the Story group... but do most signs point to it (and all current leaked rumors on the net imply), sadly to us EU fans they do. I personally bet JJ is partly behind this, since he got so much flack for ST:ID changes he's now going to not use same names so no one can say he's pulling a redone Khan with Star Wars. It sucks and it feels like they don't give a **** about the EU we care about but we either accept it or we won't be voting with our dollars and letting new fans vote with there's instead. Best to just go with it and keep posting on the net what Ideas from the EU you love, odds are eventually they'll borrow from the EU and see a demand for what you want and incorporate it.

I love how people always seem ready to cry "fanboy" when someone disagrees with them. Do I play SWTOR? Certainly I do, but I'd hardly call it the best game ever. No where did I realize a quote did or did not serve my purpose. All I've done is point out one fact: The Story Group is working in collaboration with Bioware on SWTOR.
That's it. End of discussion. What it means is anyone's guess, but I doubt they'd continue to work in collaboration on a story they aren't going to include as canon.
Though I would like to point out one thing wrong with your earlier claim that there is only one Sith Homeworld. Let's take a look at the Miraluka. In Lore, their homeworld was Katarr, but it wasn't the original planet of their species. It was a colonized planet because their original world was left uninhabitable due to a dying sun. Homeworlds can change, there can be more than one, and they can be renamed.
The existence of Moriband does not necessitate the elimination of Korriban in lore.

See, here's the thing that really confuses me about your logic here. You claim that they're just doing it to milk money for the duration of the license, but you're forgetting one thing. It's a decade long, and it's going to affect the perception of an entire generation of Star Wars fans. Especially in a crucial time where they're trying to solidify canon.

So if, when the new movies start releasing, they decide that SWTOR and the rest of the Old Republid is not canon, then that will dissuade a majority of the player base, because it would suddenly be NOT Star Wars.

If, by your logic, they want to just milk the franchise for what it's worth, then it would be in their favor to canonize as many current licenses as they can, and just work within the established canon.

Interesting points, I will admit. I had not heard that about Korriban. Several others I would debate but you seem to be slugging it out with someone else in the comment section and I can't be bothered to go through it to see what's been addressed.

Can you link me to a source that says EA are not going to do games based on the movie? Because it's happened with the prequels, as it does with every other franchise these days.

Dragon age 3 will be the game that decides that for me.

SWTOR is KOTOR3.

Obsidian did try to pitch a RPG set between episodes 3 and 4, which apparently Chris Avellone had already come up with an idea for the story, last year.I don't think EA or maybe Disney approved though because I haven't heard or seen anything since then. Which is a massive shame because knowing Chris' writing it would of been epic.

Hmm, according to the episode guide trivia of the Clone Wars Episode, Sacrifice, Moraband is one of many names for Korriban. Looks like there was no retcon.

Yes i and milions customers want a kotor 3 exclusiv for xbox one, then microsoft have a take first place on consol war

Hell yeah we want more! Reading this has just made me get my old Xbox out and order kotor from amazon

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