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Director: Canceled Star Wars game 'Ragtag' would have been hyper realistic

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Wars The Old Republic via EA website 2019

What might have been if EA Games hadn’t canceled the Uncharted-style Star Wars game that started out with the involvement of original Uncharted director Amy Hennig? Evidently something that might have given even Nathan Drake a little Force envy, according to the iconic director herself.

In a far-ranging interview with US Gamer, Hennig affirmed “Ragtag” as the in-house code name of Visceral Games’ now-canceled project, and said it was well on its way to bearing Hennig game hallmarks: graphical hyperrealism, real-time rendering, and complex characters who feel and behave like real people. In other words, a modern-day version of Uncharted, set in a galaxy far, far away.

“I hate saying the word ‘brand,’ it's gross — but like, if I have a wheelhouse, part of that is the fact that I know how to do like bang-on photo-real,” said Hennig, framing the idea that "Ragtag" was always meant to be a AAA-budget game. “Like the stuff we were doing for Star Wars, like high-end, high-fidelity real-time content and believable characters.”

Hennig, who headed the project as creative director before departing in a larger, EA-orchestrated switch-up, said recent comparisons between Uncharted and whatever Visceral’s Star Wars game was cooking up may be overly simplistic — but they’re also not far off the mark.

“So I think Visceral was sort of beset with a lot of challenges. Even so, we were making a game; people have said it was an Uncharted Star Wars. That's sort of reductive, but it's useful because people can kind of visualize something in their head,” she said, adding that progress had advanced far enough to give outside observers a decent idea of where the single-player game was headed — and, had anyone seen it, they’d have liked it.

“I wish people could have seen more of it, because it was a lot farther along than people ever got a glimpse of,” said Hennig. “And it was good, you know? But it just didn't make sense in EA's business plan, ultimately. Things changed over the course of that time I was there. So you know, what can you do?”

After EA shifted gears and brought the game over to its Vancouver studios following Visceral’s demise, Hennig’s trademark scripted narrative style reportedly gave way to a more open-world, yet still big-budget, RPG adventure. But last month EA scrapped that project too, leaving fans (and even Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta, who loved the build he’d seen) wondering when a great single-player heir to 2008’s Star Wars: The Old Republic might arrive.

Little is known about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the only other announced Star Wars game on EA’s horizon, other than that it may be released later this year and appears to be a third-person adventure. So for now, maybe the best way to dream of the Star Wars game we’ll never see is to pop in the original Uncharted, dial up John Williams’ iconic score, and play Nathan Drake’s first adventure through tightly squinted eyes.