There were two Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games, one great (if you ask me – no one ever does) and the other a bit ropey – but there was never a third. There was never even close to being a third, but there were ideas.
Two of those ideas for The Force Unleashed 3 were co-op and an open world.
“I wanted to build a more open world,” said The Force Unleashed project lead Haden Blackman, “a game that had more exploration to it and a more open-world feel without going the whole hog.
“The one idea I had related to that was Boba Fett being sent after the Rogue Shadow and basically shooting it down and you literally play as Vader and the Apprentice trying to survive and they have to join forces together to work their way off the planet – and you never know when you can trust Vader.
“Then you find out Boba Fett has been sent by the Emperor to make sure neither of them gets off the planet because the Emperor has his own plot…”
Blackman was speaking on a Force Unleashed Twitch stream hosted by none other than the face and voice of Starkiller himself, Sam Witwer. Also on the stream was David Collins, audio lead for the games. They talked for three-and-a-half hours, producing a kind of impromptu ‘Making Of’ for The Force Unleashed series. Turns out Sam Witwer is a massive Star Wars nerd.
It also turns out Starkiller was very nearly a part of animated series Star Wars Rebels, and therefore very nearly a part of Star Wars canon – a very exclusive club no video game entity has ever gotten into, although Knights of the Old Republic came close due to a tenuous link in Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber – and I had the temerity to call Witwer a nerd!
Witwer plays Darth Maul in The Clone Wars animated Star Wars show so knows the overlord of them, Dave Filoni. “Dave [Filoni] did share with me he considered making Starkiller an Inquisitor in Star Wars Rebels,” Witwer said. “It didn’t quite fit the story they were telling but he did think about it.”
Anyway – back to The Force Unleashed 3. Other musings included Darth Vader being captured at the end of The Force Unleashed 2 and being disassembled by the Rebel Alliance in order to keep him “under wraps”.
“I remember pitching a nightmare scene where the trap is sprung as they’re trying to bring Vader to justice,” said Sam Witwer. “There’s going to be the trial of the century – they’re going to put Vader on trial – and then the Imperial Star Destroyers turn up, Boba Fett turns up…” And all Vader’s components start to shake as he starts reassembling himself with the Force.
David Collins said he wanted The Force Unleashed 3 to resemble something like the Nuremberg Trials – that is, a major villain standing trial for all the atrocities and crimes he had committed.
Sam Witwer began talking about a “provocative” idea for a third game, something to do with alternate endings – “there were two alternate endings to the ultimate story,” he said. Haden Blackman had pitched him a vision of a final level but, alas, we’ll never know what that vision was because Witwer lost his nerve and clammed shut, preferring the idea remain secret.
Nevertheless, all ideas for The Force Unleashed 3 were never anything more than ideas – the game itself was a non-starter.
“There was not even any concept art that I recall,” said Blackman. “I obviously had ideas about where the story could go – maybe I wrote up a couple of plot synopses just for my own brainstorming – but I knew that I was leaving LucasArts to found my own studio well before we done with TFU2 so there wasn’t a lot of work put into any kind of TFU3 that I’m aware of.”
One other interesting tidbit had to do with when The Force Unleashed was pitched to George Lucas in the first place. Apparently he was well on board with over the top Force powers, the game’s signature feature, but had some advice about making sure there was a strong love interest. In the first draft of The Force Unleashed, you see, Juno Eclipse (the love interest) didn’t exist.
Incidentally, Juno Eclipse was also originally the name of the Sith Star Wars Clone Wars character Ventress!
The first draft of The Force Unleashed also had the Apprentice (Starkiller) be much older than he eventually was. He was envisaged as being a bodyguard of Princess Leia’s who would be captured and turned Dark by Vader’s forces.
The full Twitch stream is well worth a watch if you have time. There are various behind the scenes photos to see before the gameplay kicks in.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was released in 2008 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, primarily, but also PS2, Wii and PSP. It’s a gorgeous (for its time), fast-paced, third-person action game heavy on massive Force powers and twirly Lightsaber strikes, and it’s a lot of fun.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 came out in 2010.