After writing this list I am confronted with the fact that the best Star Wars games came out decades ago.
Will new ones succeed them? Maybe. Recent titles certainly offer something I want in the galaxy far, far away, but nothing captures the magic of Star Wars as my memories of what flying a starfighter felt like on a fuzzy CRT screen. The best Star Wars game is undoubtedly the one you played most as a kid. The best ones of late? Those are the ones that remind you most of your childhood memories with the series.
10 – Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005)
PC, PS2, Xbox, PSP
Released just a year after Pandemic Studios’ first Star Wars: Battlefront, the many small refinements to Battlefront II made it endlessly replayable. With a campaign following the legendary 501st legion throughout the prequel and original trilogy, competent AI (for 2005) in the strategic Galactic Conquest mode, and online servers, there was no end to the fun had in epic space battles and on iconic battlefields that seemed so large and expansive at the time.
9 – Star Wars: Republic Commando
PC, Xbox, PS4, Switch
After 16 years, Republic Commando is still the franchises’ definitive first-person shooter. While you can definitely feel its age in more recent replays, the game, released on the original Xbox in 2005, immerses players into the role of an elite clone trooper in the Grand Army of the Republic. Plainly, it makes you feel very cool, imaginatively coloring in the world of the Clone Wars years before the animated series would. Maybe one day it will even get the proper sequel it so deserves.
8 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
PC, Mac, Xbox, iOS, Android
The first Star Wars RPG, Knights of the Old Republic brought the franchise to life in a way no other game had yet with its epic story and novel combat system. Set 4,000 years before The Phantom Menace, a time period still scarcely explored in canon or legend, the game was developed by BioWare shortly after their much-acclaimed Neverwinter Nights. The game’s cinematic combat system and light side/dark side morality system drew players into the epic stakes of the galaxy.
7 – Star Wars: TIE Fighter
PC, Mac, DOS
Considered among the greatest games of all time regardless of franchise, TIE Fighter was a monumental release for Star Wars video games. A sequel to X-Wing, the flight sim sets players on a campaign across the expanded universe after The Empire Strikes Back. In first or third person, TIE Fighter lets players fight for the Imperial navy in an array of crafts while dogfighting, escorting ships, or disabling capital ships with the novel targeting system.
6 – Star Wars: Dark Forces
MS-DOS, Mac, PS1
Dark Forces introduced Kyle Katarn to the expanded universe and spawned the Jedi Knight series when it was released in 1995. A first-person shooter of the early 90’s era, the game followed a Rebel mercenary who investigates the Empire’s secret developments, uncovering the original Dark Troopers.
5 – Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
A launch title for the Gamecube, the sequel in the much loved Rogue Squadron series iterated on the arcade flight sim to great acclaim. A hangar filled with many unlockables and secrets flung players across cinematic and original battles in the original trilogy. At the time, Factor 5 wowed audiences by rendering iconic battles and starfighters in 3D, and brought combat to life with AI that, in 2001, pushed console hardware to its limit.
4 – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia
I’m admittedly conflicted over this one. Fallen Order was well received by fans and critics as an action game that mixed Souls-like combat and metroidvania progression with a rote Star Wars power fantasy in beautiful galactic locales. But each of those elements lacks some polish, and Fallen Order felt like it stood out most after a string of failures for Star Wars games post-Disney acquisition. But while it can feel more like a theme park ride through movie sets than an immersive RPG, it’s still a fun ride.
3 – Star Wars: Empire At War
Empire At War is a real-time strategy game that seats players behind the Rebel and Imperial fleets during the Galactic Civil War. Through a scripted campaign mode or the more sandbox Galactic Conquest, the galaxy is laid out before players who can conquer planets and build their armies. Battles take place on land or in space and are fought with forces that must be assembled in the overworld to fight over the Death Star, enemy leaders, and map space.
2 – Star Wars Episode I: Racer
PC, Mac, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Episode 1: Racer has perhaps aged more gracefully than its movie counterpart. With plenty of quirks you could expect from revisiting a 20-year-old spin-off game for the N64, the title harkens fond memories for many younger fans of the franchise. Several maps are set on different planets, with courses that emphasize speed and adrenaline. You can play as Anakin or a number of aliens, some of which were original to the title, and customize and upgrade your pod.
1 – Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017)
PC, PS4, Xbox One
For all its monetary faults, the core of EA DICE’s spiritual successor to the original Battlefront II brings some of the magic of its original to the modern world of games. Beneath an exploitative progression and unlock system (that is largely defanged now) the huge battles on beautifully rendered planets make for fun and playful experiences in the galaxy far, far away. The Ewok survival mode even evokes Republic Commando’s memorable ghost ship level. It gives me something closer to my memories of the original than I can get from my old PS2, and I’m happy to entertain that nostalgia trip — loot boxes aside.