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The Force is strong with these 9 essential 'Star Wars' video games

Nine main Star Wars films… and nine great games to match.

By Benjamin Bullard
A screengrab from the game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

We’re one day away from the April 5 launch of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, and you can bet we’re blocking out some free time to play it.

Updating the long-running series of LEGO-themed tweaks to George Lucas’ iconic movie series, the new game promises to live up to its name, spanning all nine mainline movies that follow the galaxy-sweeping story of Anakin Skywalker and his Force-sensitive offspring. 

With new-generation game consoles just crying out for fresh Star Wars adventures, the timing couldn’t be better — which is why we’re taking a light-speed trip down memory lane to shout out the greatest of the Star Wars titles that’ve grace consoles (and PCs) past. Our top pick won’t surprise anyone who’s been playing Star Wars games for long — but that’s no reason to run from destiny. In keeping with The Skywalker Saga’s nine-movie span, here’s our nine-game countdown of the very best Star Wars video games that’ve ever been. 

9. Star Wars: Squadrons

A screengrab from the game Star Wars: Squadrons

The dogfighting is great, but the thing that really ices the deal for Star Wars: Squadrons is just how fantastic it looks.

A space combat game that takes in-cockpit simulation to the next level, Squadrons’ story unfolds just after the events of the original film trilogy and puts you on a campaign path toward becoming an ace pilot in alternating flight groups for both the New Republic and the persisting remnants of the Empire. But multiplayer is where Squadrons really shines, with both a dogfighting mode and a cool team-based Fleet Battle mode, which lets you assault the enemy’s capital ship as part of a five-pilot sortie. Play it in VR for the complete immersive experience.

8. Star Wars: Dark Forces

A screengrab from the game STAR WARS™ - Dark Forces

LucasArts’ early first-person Star Wars shooter may have borrowed a trick or two from DOOM, but it was still way ahead of its time. Star Wars: Dark Forces introduced a whole slew of FPS conventions that players take for granted today, from multidirectional view controls to scaling obstacles vertically with a jump button. For a mid-1990s game, it looked amazing, too, tracking franchise newcomer Kyle Katarn through a mercenary quest to prevent the Empire from leveling up its stormtrooper tech.

The lore was fresh, and it’s even reared its head in recent times: The Dark Trooper Project that Kyle’s trying to thwart ends up spawning the namesake battle-bots that Luke slices through like butter in the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian.

7. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

A screengrab from the game LEGO® Star Wars™: The Skywalker Saga.

We’re pumped about the imminent release of a new LEGO Star Wars game that dives into the full nine-film story, but in the mid-2000s, LEGO was already on the case with an amazingly charming take that showed just how versatile the Star Wars universe could be — even in adorable block-figured form.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga lived up to its name at the time, covering all the plot territory from the first six films of the main movie cycle. Kids will never tire of the LEGO-themed games that’ve been inspired by Batman and Star Wars, but there’s tons of fun lore callouts for adults, too — and no matter your age, the game’s sprawling playable character ensemble and deceptively deep action-adventure gameplay will have you scrounging to board the first freighter out of Mos Eisley.

6. Star Wars: Battlefront II

Star Wars: Battlefront II

Not to be confused with EA’s still-great game of similar name from 2017, the original Star Wars: Battlefront II sizzled like a freshly lit lightsaber when it arrived from LucasArts in 2005.

Boasting a massive multiplayer mode that pushed lots of players’ early-2000s internet connections to the limit, Battlefront II evolved its predecessor’s formula by attaching a single-player campaign that featured none other than Temura Morrison, who voiced the player character as a Republic separatist clone. Battlefront II nailed the key, gotta-have-it main Star Wars ingredient, too: No matter how much you played, there were always a new planet to explore and new weapons to try out — and the whole thing was bolstered by a choose-your-path character progression that forced you (pun intended) into picking a Jedi or Sith path.

5. Star Wars Episode 1: Racer

A screengrab from the game STAR WARS™ Episode I Racer

Who says the middle trilogy didn’t inspire a great video game? Star Wars Episode 1: Racer was the perfect Star Wars experience to put on the Nintendo 64 console, hooking in with the most exciting set piece from young Anakin’s big-screen time on Tatooine. The result was a series of podracing canyon blasts that evoked the movie better than 1999 game technology had any right to. A lot of racing fans can’t get into games that don’t feature, y’know, actual cars. But Star Wars Episode 1: Racer was the game that converted a whole generation to the idea that speed thrills — no matter what galactic whip you’re driving.

4. Star Wars: Rogue Leader - Rogue Squadron 2

A screengrab from the game Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2

LucasArts and Nintendo hit the big time with Star Wars’ GameCube debut, letting Luke (or Wedge) pilot their X-Wings through a mission-based take on the original three-film trilogy. X-Wings were just the beginning, though: Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 let players pilot the Millennium Falcon and tons more classic vessels, all in bullet-hell tours of some of the movies’ most iconic battle locations.

To this day, there’s not been a better video game version of the Death Star trench run from the original Star Wars than the one that’ll leave you sweating in Rogue Squadron 2.

3. Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order

A screengrab from the game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

EA did an incredible job with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, surprising fans with a lengthy single-player story that broke new lore ground while scaling the difficulty with clever battles reminiscent of the famously tough Souls series.

Chasing down Jedi secrets in the aftermath of Order 66, ex-Padawan Cal Kestis wielded a lightsaber in battles that felt more immersive than any Star Wars game to date. Fallen Order nailed everything a Jedi could do, in fact: From wall jumping to Force pushes that knocked back enemies, mastering the power of a Jedi never felt so real. Bonus points go to Fallen Order, too, for introducing diminutive shoulder droid BD-1 — the best new Star Wars ‘bot since BB-8.

2. Star Wars: TIE Fighter

A screengrab from the game STAR WARS™: TIE Fighter Special Edition

Spawned from the same DNA as its predecessor Star Wars: X-Wing series, Star Wars: TIE Fighter took everything that was already great about piloting an X-Wing…and handed it to the enemy.

TIE Fighter brought a true flight sim feel to the experience of piloting the Empire’s wicked starfighter through a mission-based story set among the bad guys, and from start to finish, it committed fully to the dark side. We’ve gotta admit, TIE Fighters are among the coolest ships in all of science fiction, and it’s wild to think that the best game to put them front and center still hails from all the way back in 1994. Nearly 30 years after its release, it's still the best way to experience the Star Wars universe through the eyes of the villains.

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

A screengrab from the game STAR WARS™: Knights of the Old Republic™

You don’t need to use the Force to sense that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic would sit at the pinnacle of this list.

BioWare worked its RPG magic under LucasArts’ guidance for an early-2000s game that remains in the conversation for one of the greatest RPGs — regardless of franchise — that’s ever been created. Going back to a time thousands of years before the familiar events of the movies feels as fresh today as it did back then, and KOTOR’s incredibly deep RPG underpinnings made for a consequence-filled story whose every choice made a difference in how aligned with the Force your Jedi would ultimately become.

The score from Skyrim composer Jeremy Soule evokes the Star Wars universe in a way that even George Lucas and John Williams would admire, and it frames a sweeping RPG that captured the epic feel of being part of hugely significant events near the dawn of the Star Wars timeline. A PlayStation 5 & PC remake of KOTOR is currently in development, and we can’t wait: no other Star Wars game has ever so successfully, and so immersively, swept players into the galaxy far, far away.