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The premiere of ‘Ahsoka’ is a sad reminder of how bland ‘Star Wars’ video game characters are

The saga of forgettable and inconsequential characters.

Images via Lucasfilm/Respawn Entertainment/Remix by Jon Wright

Star Wars has had a very extensive history in the interactive medium. From those early years when we sat down to play X-Wing to the amazingly well-received Battlefront series and even releases like Force Unleashed and Jedi: Fallen Order, there is something in this IP for every gamer out there, especially if they happen to be a galaxy far, far away stan too.

All of those titles have a problem, however, that most of us have glossed over, perhaps simply because such shortcomings are nothing out of the ordinary for video games. But now that we’re once again sitting through a Star Wars premiere on Disney Plus and seeing the full effects of its hype reverberating through the global fandom, we can’t help but wonder if there should be more Star Wars games centering around iconic characters from the Skywalker Saga instead of these newcomers.

Cal Kestis, Kay Vess, and the problem of indistinctive protagonists

The hype surrounding Ahsoka shouldn’t surprise anyone. After spending years building up her reputation within the fandom as a Clone Wars character, it was only a matter of time before the character made her live-action debut. Ahsoka is such a prominent presence in the timeline that she has a fandom of her own besides the Star Wars community. Which, of course, makes us wonder why we’ve yet to see her appear in any of the video games.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have Ahsoka in live-action, and Rosario Dawson might just be the perfect casting choice for her. Yet, why not allow her to appear in any one of the numerous Star Wars games currently in development? What we’ve seen so far in those games is a string of half-realized debuts, from Cal Kestis to the up-and-coming scoundrel Kay Vess.

Cal was a compelling character. He had all the characteristics of a typical protagonist and the fact that Jedi: Fallen Order incorporated its punishing gameplay into the narrative as a means to help him flourish really worked by the end of that plotline. Cal continues to shine throughout Jedi: Survivor, finding his place among the scattering few of the more fleshed-out characters since Disney’s acquisition of the franchise in 2012. But just like every Star Wars game before it, the Jedi series only became successful because it bore the franchise’s name, and not due to its own world-building and characters.

I bet most of you didn’t even care about Cal’s fate when you started playing Survivor, nor where he’d been since you saw him last. To most of us, Cal is just an avatar, there to fill a role as we take control of a badass Jedi and slice our way through countless Stormtroopers. You play Jedi: Survivor because you want to feel like a Jedi, so why not take it a step further and develop a game centering around a character that audiences are emotionally invested in?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why does every Star Wars story have to revolve around the Skywalkers or expand on that family’s endless drama? Well, you technically don’t have to bring one of the Skywalkers back. There are dozens of well-recognized characters in the original and prequel trilogy canon, and any one of them, if you prod hard enough, will have one more story to tell.

The untapped potential

Star Wars Outlaws
Image via Ubisoft

Perhaps that’s the problem with most Star Wars games, and the reason they fail to generate enough hype. There are literally 30 years of uncharted history between the fall of the Galactic Empire and the rise of the First Order in the sequels. A developer like EA could take that untapped potential and develop stories for any of the legacy characters. Though Carrie Fisher isn’t around any longer, and Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are a bit too old to portray their younger versions without resorting to unrealistic deep fake technologies, gaming doesn’t have these limitations.

In a way, video games are the perfect medium to tell the story of what happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens with any measure of immersive accuracy, and we’d bet our last dime that fans would form a line behind such a project, no questions asked.

That’s not to say we aren’t receptive to characters like Cal or Kay Vess, but would you rather control an obscure Jedi Knight who survived the Purge, or sit through another epic tale featuring the legendary Luke Skywalker?

The premiere of Ahsoka, coming hot on the heels of Jedi: Survivor’s release, is the perfect reminder of why Star Wars games are being held back at the moment. The Mouse House is reserving its big hitters for live-action projects that directly involve future films or Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau’s MandoVerse. Selling the license and then electing Lucasfilm’s story group to draw up an outline for game studios is the equivalent of throwing them a bone and hoping that they come up with something decent enough to expand the franchise’s reach, which, to their credit, they often do despite all of these limitations.

At best, we might be able to hope that some of these successful launches will end up crossing over into live-action projects, but never vice versa. Cal and the rest of these in-universe B-listers might be the perfect addition to a cameo-infested event arc, which seems inevitable at this point, but you can’t expect Ahsoka, Mando, or even Boba Fett to get the video game treatment. How amazing would it be if a younger Ben Kenobi suddenly showed up in Jedi: Survivor or its sequel to guide Cal? The canon certainly wouldn’t groan under such a development, but it sure seems like the powers that be would.

As of now, if you really, really want to play as Ahsoka Tano in a video game, then you’re going to have to visit the world of mods and content yourself with a Battlefront II visual tweak. Otherwise, getting her cosmetic package in Fortnite is as close as you’re going to get to playing as Snips for the time being.

About the author

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan is a religious consumer of movies, TV shows, video games, and speculative fiction. And when he isn't doing that, he likes to write about them. He can get particularly worked up when talking about 'The Lord of the Rings' or 'A Song of Ice and Fire' or any work of high fantasy, come to think of it.