Uncharted vet and former head of Visceral’s cancelled Star Wars project Amy Hennig has responded to the reveal of Respawn’s upcoming single-player release.
Respawn Entertainment finally revealed details on its Star Wars title Jedi: Fallen Order over the weekend, with a marketing push that stressed the importance of a single player, story-focused game with no multiplayer and no microtransactions.
That may come as a shock to anyone who remembers the shutdown of Visceral Games, and the cancellation of its own Star Wars project headed up by Hennig - then named 'Ragtag'. At the time, then-EA EVP Patrick Söderlund claimed the game was shelved entirely because it was a single player game that wouldn’t bring players back for months or years.
Which makes EA's messaging around Jedi: Fallen Order quite frustrating to those who were looking forward to an Uncharted-like Star Wars story.
No microtransactions. No loot boxes. And no, we won't be adding them. A single-player Star Wars story for those of you who are ready to become a Jedi. https://t.co/kTheWVBjJc— EA Star Wars (@EAStarWars) April 13, 2019
Speaking to Eurogamer, Hennig called the recent Fallen Order messaging "odd".
"I have to be candid with you," said Hennig. "I mean, it's coming from the EA Star Wars Twitter handle, so it's certainly part of the plan, but I don't know whether it's implicitly referencing previous comments they made after our project was killed?"
Part of why Fallen Order may be getting more favourable treatment is that EA has simply moved on from the days of Ragtag. Many big names have left the studio since - and while Hennig no longer works at the publisher, she wagers the company culture could have shifted in favour of strong story-driven games in recent years.
“You've got to understand there's been huge changes in management there since all of this happened as well. Both Patrick Soderlund and Jade Raymond have left in the meantime, and Laura Miele, who was the franchise general manager for Star Wars when I joined, is now in Patrick's role.”
Respawn’s unique position may have also given the developer more wiggle room in creating a less 'EA' Star Wars title. Fallen Order has been in development since before the publisher acquired Respawn, and founder Vince Zampella holds more sway among EA’s top brass.
Hennig continued: “Respawn's game has the benefit of being largely developed before they were acquired. It is a protected entity, and Vince makes very sure - because he's part of the executive team at EA, he can protect the interests of Respawn.”
“I don't have any insider knowledge, but there's a lot of reasons they could have adopted a new attitude for this.
But while Respawn has been given an opportunity Hennig had snatched away from her, she has no hard feelings against the studio.
“I'm glad for Respawn's sake," she said, "because I'm excited about their game, and I've heard great things about it.”