New Star Wars Game Coming From Ubisoft's The Division 2 Dev, Will Be Open-World
Lucasfilm Games announces a deal with Ubisoft to make a Star Wars game.
Ubisoft has announced it is partnering with Lucasfilm Games on a new Star Wars game. The development effort will be led by Massive Entertainment, the studio behind The Division series. Although little is known about the game, it has been described as "a new story-driven open-world Star Wars adventure."
The unnamed Star Wars title will be developed on the Snowdrop engine, which was most recently used by Massive Entertainment for The Division 2. It's a versatile engine that despite being created for open-world games, was also used for South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It's one of several engines Ubisoft uses for its games, with the Assassin's Creed games using the AnvilNext engine, instead. The approach is far different from EA, which has shifted to Frostbite for nearly every game it makes.
Julian Gerighty, who was the creative director of The Division 2, will serve the same role for the Star Wars title. He had previously joked that he was working on a new Splinter Cell game, which Ubisoft played down. This seems to confirm that was indeed just a joke.
"This is a lore that we love, and we want to do it justice with a game and story that bring both lifelong and new fans on an immersive and outstanding journey that will stay with them for years," he said.
Both of Massive Entertainment's The Division titles have been games as a service, inviting players to return frequently to engage with daily tasks or new content, earn loot and develop characters, and play with or against others in multiplayer. It's unclear whether the Star Wars title will follow this same format, but Ubisoft CEO Guillemot has described the project as being part of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games.
"The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams," commented Guillemot. "This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love."
Douglas Reilly, VP of Lucasfilm Games, added: "Ubisoft [has] a unique talent for crafting immersive worlds so we're thrilled to work with them on this project. We are inspired by the passion and talent of the team at Massive, and together we share a vision for the type of original stories we want to tell with our players in this expansive galaxy. They have the creativity, experience, and community understanding to bring awe-inspiring authenticity, depth and innovation to this new Star Wars game."
Lucasfilm recently announced its gaming efforts would exist under the new Lucasfilm Games umbrella. Along with Ubisoft's Star Wars title, Machine Games, the Bethesda studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, as well as their expansions, is working on a new Indiana Jones game.
The announcement of this game might be a surprise to some, as it was believed that EA had the exclusive rights to developing core Star Wars games, based on its 10-year deal with Disney from 2013. It appears the terms of that deal may have changed, but Disney will continue to work with EA in the future on Star Wars.
"EA has been and will continue to be a very strategic and important partner for us now and going forward," Disney games boss Sean Shoptaw told Wired. "But we did feel like there's room for others."
According to the report, Lucasfilm Games might be looking to partner with even more studios, outside of EA and Ubisoft. "We get no shortage of folks knocking on our door, wanting to play with our toys," Lucasfilm Games boss Douglas Reilly said.
For the Star Wars game from Ubisoft, Shoptaw said he's hoping it can help the Star Wars brand connect with players on a longer timeline than TV or film.
"That really leans into why we are doing what we're doing, because these are massive entertainment experiences that last many hours, much longer than film," Shoptaw said. "When people are paying $70, or they're paying good amounts of money to spend time with your content and play your game, you've got to reward that investment."
Massive's new Star Wars game is a "story-driven, open-world experience within the Star Wars galaxy that will also utilize the studio's cutting-edge technology and advancements, including the Snowdrop engine," according to the publisher.
Creative director Julian Gerighty said he has been a lifelong fan of the Star Wars universe, so he's over the moon about working on the new game. "A New Hope was the first movie I saw at the cinema, the first VHS that I wore out, the first action figures that I craved," he said. "The characters, the planets, the ships, and the timeless stories became so familiar and loved that I have no doubt that they have become part of who I am."
Gerighty stressed that today's announcement is just the "beginning of our new journey." As such, the developer said, "We are still working out many of the details" about what the game will be, though he stressed that the key takeaway to understand is that it's a "story-driven open-world game."
"For me, personally, this will be a departure from the world of The Division, and both I and the team at Massive are very excited to start crafting this new experience," he said. "We truly look forward to create something totally different from what we have done in the past, while upping the bar for the industry."
Gerighty said the new Star Wars game will be "unique" and it will tell a "captivating story" featuring a "set of characters that players can relate to and connect with."
"We want to take what is familiar and resonant about Star Wars and tell the stories of new characters who have their own motivations and stakes. We have a passion for Star Wars and shared vision with Lucasfilm Games on the kind of original story we want to bring to fans, which makes this a very exciting part of the project," he said.
Gerighty went on to say that one of the reasons why Ubisoft got the job in the first place was because of Massive's technology base. He said the team will use the Snowdrop engine to "bring innovation to the gameplay and world building."
"Our talented developers and our tech expertise, especially with our in-house game engine Snowdrop, enable us to push the envelope in various aspects of game development," he said.
Massive managing director David Polfeldt said in the interview that the studio is big enough these days to accomodate multiple AAA projects, so fans eagerly awaiting the Avatar game for 2022 need not worry. The Division 2 itself sold slightly below Ubisoft's expectations but has been updated regularly with new content.
"We have been preparing the studio for a long time to handle all our projects with equal attention and love," he said. "Since all our teams work on the Snowdrop engine, all projects benefit from each other's progress and successes. And obviously, with such an amazing collection of triple-A projects under one roof, we are continuously recruiting, and we’re currently looking for experienced developers from all over the world to join us on our future adventures."
He also spoke about how the Snowdrop engine will help unleash new technical and graphical advancements for Massive's upcoming games.
"Our amazing rendering will visually bring Star Wars to life in a way that no game has ever done before," Polfeldt said. "As a game-agnostic engine, Snowdrop has always been developed as a future-forward piece of tech, with the focus to empower our developers. The beauty of our engine is the control and flexibility given to our creators to innovate the best games possible for the players. Snowdrop is extremely agile and has the power to bring a variety of games to our players. With the launch of next generation consoles, Snowdrop's engineers are pushing the engine even further so that we can really make the most of the opportunities the new hardware provides."
Ubisoft signed on to make the Avatar game back when the franchise was owned by Fox, but the ownership of the property has since shifted to Disney, meaning Ubisoft is now working on multiple game projects for the House of Mouse.
Ubisoft is collaborating with Lucasfilm Games on the new Star Wars game. The newly minted organization is also working with Bethesda on the Indiana Jones game and with Electronic Arts on multiple future Star Wars games.
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