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EA sends Vancouver Studio’s Star Wars game back to the drawing board

After Visceral Games was shut down by EA in October, 2017, assets for its Star Wars game were moved over to its Vancouver Studio, transforming the project from a linear action-adventure game into an open-world space epic. It turns out this approach was just a little too big for the time-frame that EA had in mind, as reports suggest that this has now been cancelled in favour of something smaller.

Visceral’s linear Star Wars project was fondly codenamed Ragtag internally, directed by Uncharted’s Amy Hennig. When this project was scrapped, EA’s executive VP, Patrick Soderlund stated that the company wanted to shift the game to “be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

In this transition, Ragtag became “Orca,” according to inside sources speaking with Kotaku’s Jason Schreier. This was instead an open-world Star Wars game that put the players in the shoes of a “scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.”

Image: Visceral’s cancelled Star Wars game

Although EA has yet to officially comment on the whispers from these anonymous sources, they suggest that the company has since re-evaluated its scope to fit a timelier roadmap. It remains to be seen what the new project might become by taking a “smaller-scale” approach, but Schreier speculates that it should arrive by late 2020, accompanying next-generation consoles. Some are hoping that Orca could still be on the cards following the completion of this new project.

This is less a part of a cost-cutting exercise amidst an industry-wide effort to save the bottom line, and perhaps more in order to please its licensing from Disney as sources emphasise that jobs remain unaffected. Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars game looks to be unaffected, still expected at some point during the holiday season this year.

KitGuru Says: When the story broke, I was guilty of the knee-jerk denouncing of EA cancelling another Star Wars game, but it seems to be more calculated than that. Truthfully, Star Wars should be an IP warranting much more games than we’ve had in recent years and I wouldn’t put it past EA to finally be realising that.

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