Lucasfilm and EA Games are set to release a new video game in a short couple of weeks: Star Wars: Squadrons, which puts you in the cockpit of both X-Wing and TIE Fighters in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.
The game looks excellent, and rekindles our love of the older TIE Fighter and X-Wing games—and to get fans hyped for its release, EA Games released a short film called Hunted, which has all the elements of the project I most want to see from Lucasfilm: An X-Wing TV series.
According to StarWars.com, the film is a collaboration between ILM special effects supervisor and Rogue One creator John Knoll, Lucasfilm, Electronic Arts and Motive Studios.
The story, which is meant to serve as setup to the game, is set shortly after the Battle of Endor over Var-Shaa’s Imperial Dockyards. The Imperial garrison there is working to fend off a Rebel Alliance attack fleet, and we follow pilot Varko Grey, who’s helping lead the planet’s defense in a TIE Interceptor. He’s ordered to pull back his forces as the Empire decides to cut its losses and run. His commanding officer tells him that they’re not going to lose another destroyer to the Alliance, and that they’re headed out—if he and his fellow pilots aren’t back on the Overseer, they’ll be left behind.
While protecting a TIE Bomber pilot, his fighter is damaged and Grey is left behind. His ride out of the system jumps to light speed just as he’s about to enter the hanger. Left in the wreckage, he has to figure out how to survive as Alliance forces comb through to look for survivors.
It’s a tense short film, and has all the elements that I’ve been wanting to see for years now: some sort of series that’s based on or takes inspiration from Michael A. Stackpole’s fantastic X-Wing series. We’ve got pilots engaged in some pretty excellent dog fights as the Empire and Rebellion duke it out in the aftermath of Endor, something we’ve seen a bit of in Alexander Freed’s recent novels Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Fall. This feels exactly like such a series should look like.
StarWars.com has a longer look at what went into the project—the team had to figure out the right story as to not glorify the Empire, but figure out how to tell a sympathetic story for an Imperial pilot. According to Lucasfilm VP of content and strategy James Waugh:
“Varko is still a committed idealist and someone who you think is probably a pretty dangerous individual and has done some terrible things. But his entire galaxy has just flipped on its head. All context of order and what will come next is suddenly in chaos and shambles. Seeing that, and seeing that flip, and seeing his reaction to the fact that what he cherished and believed in may be lost, is as human an experience as you can get. It’s part of the power of the storytelling of the game and the short.”
Knoll explained that they worked to adhere to the same film language that they used with their feature films, meaning that this short film feels very much like part of the cinematic side of the universe. But the digital nature of the film meant that they got to experiment a bit: They got “to do shot designs that wouldn’t really fit into the cinematic design of the feature films. Go-Pro mounts and that kind of thing. It was really fun to get into.”
Star Wars: Squadrons is set to be released on October 2nd on Play Station 4, Xbox One, and PC. Maybe we’ll get a longer version or project somewhere down the line.