Above: Star Wars: Battlefront II features a father-daughter story.

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: It seems like player feels something very different being on the Empire’s side. Can you describe that some more? It almost seems like a foreign idea, given that we’ve seen Imperial forces commit so many atrocities, that they would question orders.

Thompson: When you think about it, the daily job of a Stormtrooper is to receive an order and execute that order. As an audience, we have the privilege of seeing exactly why and when things happen. What we don’t know is how the Death Star was communicated or talked about inside the Empire. We were there inside the ship and we saw the order to destroy Alderaan, just to intimidate a Senator. But we don’t know how that event was communicated back to the wider Empire. Were they told that Alderaan was housing a superweapon aimed at Coruscant? We don’t know the narrative that was spun around that. We don’t know if everyone in the Empire uniformly understands what that was, or if they didn’t know what that was and believes it was the right course of action.

That’s part of taking the helmets off and meeting these people and seeing that they are people who fight for the Empire because they believe in that cause. They’re not mustachioed villains. They don’t believe they’re on the wrong side of history, because they don’t have the perspective we do as an audience, having seen all these events first-hand. A lot of the story is about experiencing these things from Iden’s perspective and making it more personal.

The movie stories are grand and sweeping in scale. It’s very much about the fate of the galaxy and following the journey of an unlikely hero who goes on the classic hero’s journey and discovers that they’re powerful and that they have a destiny. We didn’t want to do that same kind of story for Iden. It was more personal and grounded in what it means to be a soldier.


GamesBeat Summit 2023

Join the GamesBeat community for our virtual day and on-demand content! You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.

Register Here

We can still have these events happen against the backdrop of something big and galactic, though. On Endor you’re on the ground when the Death Star explodes. But Iden’s perspective is, having seen that happen and felt that emotional impact, can she maintain control, still be a leader, and ensure that her squad manages to survive and escape? That’s her only order at that time. It’s a more personal perspective.

Then, when she sees Operation Cinder challenging her father to launch this attack on their home planet—that’s almost her version of the Death Star, but again, grounded in a very personal scale. She’s confronted with the reality of what the Empire can do. Especially because, after Palpatine is dead, the Empire becomes more chaotic and more — it doesn’t have that same kind of control that Iden believes in as a strength of the Empire.

GamesBeat: What you described almost reminds me more of a Battlefield story.

Thompson: It’s us trying to tell a story that remains true to the identity of Battlefront. It’s about being a soldier. It would be strange if we told a story in Battlefront about a moisture farmer who discovers his grand destiny to become an all-powerful Jedi.

GamesBeat: My boss wants to know if he can shoot Jar-Jar.

Thompson: I can’t make any promises. [Laughs] The campaign is all set after the prequel era, obviously.

GamesBeat: What about Ewoks?

Thompson: The Ewoks are on Endor. If you look up in the trees you can see them running around.

Above: Star Wars: Battlefront II

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: I think back to something like The Force Unleashed as another interesting story that was somewhat outside the lore, but did a good job of connecting the dots between the films. Do you see an opportunity here to do something like that, filling in missing pieces?

Thompson: It’s always a good opportunity to explore and think about things in the movies that you take for granted, because they’ve existed in movies you’ve seen a dozen times. We can drill down and think about what happened and when and why. How do you connect this thing to this other thing? That’s where working with Lucasfilm is great. They either know, or they don’t know and they’re excited to talk about it and explore. They’re big fans of exploring the unknown areas. Any chance to expand on small events and little details is something they’re interested in.

GamesBeat: Was there any point where they had to pull you back from the limits of what you could explore?

Thompson: In the early days we did some of the obvious things. “Hey, can we tell this story about Darth Vader? Maybe he didn’t die!” The obvious fanboy asks. But no, overall they’ve been very good. When we touch up against events that we don’t know about from upcoming movies, we have to be a little careful. Things are still in development in different places. But we trust their judgment on those things. When they say “Don’t go there,” we understand why.

GamesBeat: Did you have any challenges communicating with the rest of EA, since you have three different studios working on the game? Do things have to be kept consistent between multiplayer and the campaign?

Thompson: It’s the way I’ve been working in games for the last six or seven years. To make a triple-A game these days, more often than not it involves multi-site development. It’s just the nature of these games. We have huge teams now. There’s so much content. It’s not a new experience for me to be developing a game with multiple teams in different places and different time zones.

It’s just about teamwork and collaboration and making sure there’s a unified vision between the three studios. Whether it’s people who are working on the floor below you, or people working seven hours away on the other side of an ocean, you can still use the same methods of communication. As long as there’s a strong, consistent, cohesive vision for the project, and everyone knows how their part of the project contributes to the larger whole, and everyone communicates and collaborates, then it’s easy to work well.

GamesBeat: The multiplayer in the original game seemed like you could be anybody and do anything. It didn’t matter that it didn’t fit a timeline. You have to be much more locked down to time and place.

Thompson: The conceit of multiplayer is really that it’s a fantasy battle. Most of it’s era-authentic. When you think back to Battlefront, the troops on Hoth all had the movie costumes of troops on Hoth. There’s a level of authenticity there that fans appreciate. But when you get into single-player, the level of abstraction and fantasy that’s acceptable in multiplayer—we have to be more stringent and more careful.

Everything we do becomes part of authentic Star Wars storytelling. If we put a character in a location with a certain uniform and a certain weapon, that has to be legitimately Star Wars. That has to be acceptable in the grand scheme of things.

GamesBeat: Does Iden appear in multiplayer?

Thompson: She’s a hero character in multiplayer, like Darth Maul or Luke Skywalker, who has a signature weapon and different abilities. She’s not like a trooper in multiplayer that’s customizable. You can get different star cards and upgrade Iden’s abilities, but she’s not like a trooper that can be equipped with any weapon.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.