Geek Culture

EA Vancouver’s Open-World Star Wars Game Canned

A minute of silence as another Star Wars game has been culled from existence before it even truly did.

Concept art for “Ragtag”.

In a recent report by Kotaku, Electronic Arts had just pulled the plug on its Star Wars open-world game – codenamed “Orca” – that was being developed in its Vancouver studio.

EA Vancouver, mainly responsible for technical support regarding EA’s FIFA and Battlefront titles, had been working on this project since October 2017, about the time when EA closed the now-defunct Visceral Games.

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Visceral, once famous for its iconic Dead Space trilogy, was in charge of developing this Star Wars title, which, back then, was codenamed “Ragtag”. At the helm of this project was Uncharted creator Amy Hennig, who left EA in January 2018 to form her own independent studio.

Concept art for “Ragtag”.

According to an update on their website, Ragtag was initially “shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game”.

Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.

We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting 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.

After the change in direction, the codename Ragtag was ditched (since it was originally conceptualized by Visceral) and has since then been renamed Orca, possibly alluding to the idea that you’re one organism swimming about in a large universe.

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This is true in the sense that, in Orca, players would play as scoundrels and bounty hunters who’ll be able to traverse across the various planets in the Star Wars universe, interacting with the various factions that presided there. This is very much akin to the likes of EA’s acclaimed Mass Effect series.

However, due to the sheer size of the project, EA decided to shelve Orca in favour of a smaller-scale Star Wars game that will see a much earlier release date than Orca. Plans for this new project to be released will be as early as 2020, but that’s all we’ll be getting for now.

As it stands, it is a sad occasion for gamers as what could’ve been a promising Star Wars game will now never see the light of day.


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