Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic has been making headlines recently – not bad, for a video game that’s nearly 20 years old! And while some of the coverage of this beloved BioWare/LucasArts RPG has been less than positive – its protagonist, Revan, was at the centre of a heated social media debate around gatekeeping in fandom – rumours of a remake has got plenty of people excited, including me.
My excitement is tempered, however, by the realisation that what I’m holding out for isn’t a remake – it’s a sequel. That’s right: what I really want is for Lucasfilm Games to restart development on Knights of the Old Republic III, the cancelled single-player outing intended to finish the story started in the original 2003 game and continued in 2004’s Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.
Because although a remake (whether it’s a simple port or a full-blown remaster) is a welcome development – particularly as an entry point for newer fans who’ve never played a game in the KOTOR series before – releasing Knights of the Old Republic III would at long last give one of the greatest stories in Star Wars history the finale it deserves. And that’s a good thing for all fans, newbies and veterans alike.
Why didn’t Knights of the Old Republic III happen?
But first, why did LucasArts scrap Knights of the Old Republic III back in 2004? The answer is depressingly prosaic: because the company was struggling financially. As a result, then-LucasArts President Jim Ward shelved a raft of third-party projects to refocus on internally-led games development, and one of the casualties of this move was Knights of the Old Republic III.
There was a brief flicker of hope that Knights of the Old Republic III would be resurrected following Ward’s departure, when his successor, Darrell Rodriguez, reversed Ward’s position on prioritising internal development over third-party projects. Sadly, this optimism proved unfounded.
A new KOTOR game would indeed be announced – but it wasn’t Knights of the Old Republic III. Instead, BioWare and publisher EA announced Star Wars: The Old Republic, a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG that served as an indirect sequel to the earlier KOTOR games and effectively represented the final nail in Knights of the Old Republic III’s coffin.
What was Knights of the Old Republic III going to be about?
So, what did we miss out on when Knights of the Old Republic III was cancelled? To be honest, while not a lot is known about the game’s plot or gameplay mechanics, what we do know sounds amazing.
The story would have picked up where The Sith Lords left off, with the player venturing out into the uncharted space on the trail of Revan. There, they would confront the ancient True Sith teased during the finale of The Sith Lords, who would prove to be far scarier and more powerful than any Dark Lord we’ve encountered before.
Knights of the Old Republic III designer Chris Avellone has previously revealed that the creative team planned for these new baddies to be compelling, fully realised villains intended to push the series’ already strong RPG system even further.
To that end, the True Sith would have boasted rich histories and sophisticated characterisation, and form complex relationships with the player character – building on the more nuanced, morally ambiguous choices introduced in The Sith Lords.
This creative depth would have extended to Knights of the Old Republic III’s environment and level design, too. Avellone noted that the game would have explored the terrible impact of the True Sith on the universe around them, in a way that few (if any) Star Wars stories have addressed before – we’d be visiting entire worlds devastated by their tyranny and unchecked cruelty, give us real motivation to save the Star Wars galaxy from a similar fate.
In short: Knights of the Old Republic III was shaping up to be epic, original, and emotionally-engaging, and was on track to be one of the best Star Wars stories across any medium – ever.
Knights of the Old Republic III would be good for everyone (not just long-time fans)
We’re living in an era where the entertainment industry is increasingly catering to hardcore fans’ every whim, often to the exclusion of newer or more casual fans. Ostensibly, restarting development on Knights of the Old Republic III – the sequel to a video game franchise that stalled nearly 20 years ago and isn’t even part of official Star Wars canon anymore! – appears to fit neatly within this trend.
There’s a bit more to it, though. By releasing Knights of the Old Republic III alongside remakes of Knights of the Old Republic and The Sith Lords (seriously: is it even a question that they’ll remake both?), Lucasfilm Games wouldn’t just be making long-time Star Wars devotees happy. They’d be giving a whole new generation of fans a chance to experience one of the best adventures the entire saga has to offer, as well.
So, while the KOTOR series itself revolves around making difficult choices, from where I’m sitting, the decision to greenlight Knights of the Old Republic III is an out and out no-brainer…