Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which was developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts in 2003, is fondly remembered as one of the greatest Star Wars games ever produced. KotOR (as fans took to calling it) was epic an RPG with a killer story, heaps of planets to explore, loads of loveable characters, and a real sense that your actions had consequences.
Obsidian Entertainment took over from BioWare to make a sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, which arrived at the tail-end of 2004. KotOR 2 felt a little rushed in comparison to the original, but it still stood up on its own as an impressively detailed game with a stack of excellent features. Its villains were particularly memorable.
Since then, fans have longed for a third installment in the KotOR series. Another RPG game in the franchise is yet to materialize, although BioWare’s MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic attempted to scratch a similar itch with its launch in 2011, continuing several storylines left unfinished from the RPG series. Despite that admirable attempt to keep us abated, it isn’t really a replacement for a proper KotOR 3.
As it turns out, both BioWare and Obsidian have actually tried to get KotOR sequels off the ground. Both studios dreamed up extensions of the franchise, but sadly neither one of these games actually got made. Just for fun, let’s have a look at what we know about these alternate visions for KotOR sequels…
BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic 2 Idea
Back in the day, before Obsidian took the reins of KotOR 2, BioWare was putting together its own ideas for a sequel to KotOR. And thanks to James Ohlen, the lead designer on the original KotOR who worked at BioWare for 22 years before leaving the company in 2018, we have a decent idea of what BioWare’s version of KotOR 2 could’ve looked like.
Trying to top the Darth Revan twist from KotOR wouldn’t be an easy task, but BioWare had developed an idea that could’ve made for a great follow-up. As Ohlen explained in a 2017 interview with Eurogamer, BioWare’s KotOR 2 would’ve tried to wrongfoot the player once again, engineering a massive rug-pull based around the fact that “everyone trusts Yoda.”
“The initial twist in the first two-page concept we had for Knights of the Old Republic 2 was you were going to be trained by a Yoda-like figure,” Ohlen said in the interview, “someone from the Yoda race. That character was going to train you in the first part of the game but then you were going to discover this Yoda figure was actually not the good Yoda you expected… He was training you to essentially be his enforcer, a Dark Lord to conquer the universe, and he was going to become the main villain.”
Ultimately, BioWare bosses Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk decided not to press ahead with this project, which is why Obsidian came in and made their own KotOR 2. Ohlen reflects on this as “a very smart decision on Muzyka and Zeschuk’s part.”
He explained that “in order for a company to be successful and control its own destiny you need to own your own IP, and we [BioWare] didn’t own Dungeons & Dragons or Star Wars. Mass Effect was something we decided we had to do instead of another Star Wars game.”
In the years that have passed since both KotOR games came out, it sounds like BioWare has come back around to the idea of making a new title in the franchise. And, as the originators of KotOR as a concept, you’d expect them to have first dibs.
According to Kotaku, BioWare has attempted on numerous occasions to get development started on another KotOR game. However, the studio seems to have been shot down by EA, despite the fact that the publisher both owns BioWare and controls the Star Wars game license. It might be a perfect match, but BioWare seems to believe that more than EA does.
“[BioWare have] tried to make it happen,” Kotaku’s Jason Schreier said on Twitter, in a conversation about KotOR 3, “more than once from what I’ve heard. No luck.” Sadly, apart from the original Yoda idea, we don’t know any specifics about BioWare’s ideas for bringing the KotOR franchise back.
Obsidian’s Pitch for KotOR 3
Chris Avellone, the lead designer on KotOR 2, recently told VG24/7 that Obsidian “did start working on the third game pitch [after the release of KotOR 2], because we always imagined the trilogy. Even when working on the second game, we [tried] to foreshadow what Darth Revan was doing in the second game, and he wasn’t always just ruthlessly and mindlessly blowing everything up. He actually had a larger plan because there was some greater manipulation and threat going on.”
Indeed, those worried about Knights of the Old Republic 2‘s infamous cliffhanger would have had some closure in KotOR 3. In fact, the threequel would have followed up directly on the first game, too.
“The third game involved you, as a player character, following where Revan went and then taking the battle to the really ancient Sith lords who are far more terrifying than the Darths that show up,” Avellone revealed in the interview.
“These guys would just be monsters. These would have a level of power that was considerable, but at the same time you’d be able to dig more into their psychologies, and their personalities, their history, and even how they dealt with the player, how they talk with the player, the different powers they cultivated and developed, and for some of them like – they’re the ancients, so they’re not just ruling a solar system, [but] swathes of the galaxy.
“So the places you travel to [you’d see] how they left their stamp on that world, or that solar system, or whatever collection of moons. You’d see how horrible that was. Part of that environment would tell a story about that. [That] would be a great, epic way to end the trilogy […] We just didn’t get a chance to do it.”
It’s an interesting pitch, and you’ve got to assume players would’ve jumped at the chance to follow in Revan’s flight path and battle mentally and physically with some ancient Sith. But the game didn’t get made, and Avellone has some ideas as to why that could have been.
“I think part of the reason, and I’m just speculating, is that I think there was a team internal at LucasArts at the time that wanted to do it,” Avellone suggested. “So obviously they would have gotten priority over us. So I think that was one factor. Another factor is I think that… BioWare tried to do it a few times. They tried to pitch it and tried to pitch it, and were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to do a third game.’ But it just never seemed to actually go anywhere.
“So I don’t know whether people didn’t think there’d be enough sales, [or if] they didn’t care about doing a single-player game. I know a ton of people who would want to play it, but obviously, maybe those numbers aren’t big enough, or whatever, so I don’t know what the deal was. So [the answer] is ‘I don’t know,'” Avellone said. “It wasn’t us!”
What next for KotOR?
One thing that remains to be seen is whether EA will ever dust off the KotOR franchise. With the recent launch of BioWare’s Anthem game turning to be something of a dud, perhaps now is the time for EA to win back some goodwill with gamers by pulling KotOR out of retirement and giving it to BioWare as a chance for redemption. That’s just speculation on our part, though.
While fans wait in hope that KotOR 3 might one day get made, BioWare Austin has kept plugging away on The Old Republic MMO, with a recent announcement confirming that a big expansion event (entitled Onslaught) will arrive in September for the online game. We’ve also seen KotOR characters popup in Capital Games’ Galaxy of Heroes mobile game.
Additionally, how’s this for an interesting aside: KotOR 2‘s Chris Avellone returned to the Star Wars fold recently, taking a writing role on Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order action-adventure game. That title is due for release on Nov. 15, marking the first single-player Star Wars video game launch in what feels like ages.
Lucasfilm’s big boss, Kathleen Kennedy, also teased the potential of Knights Of The Old Republic as a brand at Star Wars Celebration 2019. There’s been no official announcement, but rampant speculation suggests that the KotOR time period could inspire an upcoming movie or TV series. If either of those things happens, wouldn’t that provide the perfect timing to bring back the game series?
For now, all we have is speculation, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted if Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ever makes a comeback…