The lights are on
One of the concerns I had about the latest entry in the Lego Star Wars series orbited around its seemingly small scale. Where previous entries compiled the events from several movies or seasons of a show, I assumed that Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be solely devoted to what you saw from that movie. It's a fun film, to be sure, but it didn't seem like a bounty of content. As it turns out, that's only part of the story. TT Fusion is indeed retelling the story from that movie, but it's also using the events as a launching point for a slew of side content, including exclusive story missions that add to Star Wars canon. We've got a few examples, too.
"Obviously, each IP gives us some very specific content that adds interest to the titles," says Mike Taylor, head of design at TT Fusion. "The obvious one in Jurassic World was dinosaurs, we got to play around with dinosaurs, which is great. The thing with The Force Awakens is that we've had the privilege of being able to create some additional content, some additional levels that take place before the events of The Force Awakens and allow us to explore some of the backstory of the characters, which is an absolute dream for any fan of Star Wars. There's lots of exclusive stuff there, and we've drawn from the content in some of the other additional materials that Lucasfilm have been involved in."
Not all of it is exclusive, since Star Wars lore is distributed across a wide spectrum of media. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens will likely be the way that smaller fans learn about some of it, as game director Jamie Eden explains. "I think we package it in a way that younger audiences can get to see those. Younger kids getting to play those levels that are based on books or comics that they might not have access to but they can play through as part of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
There are six missions that TT Fusion describes as bridge content. These pop up after completing story missions based on the film, after every two or so. They're optional, and require that players collect a certain amount of gold bricks before they're unlocked – similar to how Traveller's Tales' Deadpool missions worked in Lego Marvel Super Heroes. One key difference is that these are full-fledged missions, not the smaller experiences that the Merc with a Mouth delivered.
For instance, one of these missions will explain how C-3PO got his red-arm replacement. It's a story that's being told in a comic series, though thanks to a close working relationship with Lucasfilm's loremasters, it's likely that players will get to see aspects of the tale that aren't explored in print.
"I can remember the first day on the project and we said that we'd be doing those sort of levels and content, and I couldn't believe that we were going to get to make our own content that was going to be part of the Star Wars universe," Eden says. "We tell the story through the sort of Lego viewpoint as well, so the crux of the story is what happens is true to the IP, obviously we put gags in with characters holding sausages or riding around on pigs, et cetera."
One of the film's highlight moments is when Rey and Finn meet up with Han Solo and Chewbacca aboard the iconic duo's new freighter, the Eravana. They've acquired some dangerous cargo, in the form of the ravenous Rathtar creatures, which are essentially huge maws with tentacles and teeth. The game will let players see how these creatures were captured. Perhaps we'll learn more about the Trillia Massacre, which was mentioned by name only in the film and books.
"It's pretty mind-blowing really to think that we've had the opportunity to do that," Taylor says. "It's fantastic to be able to look at all these fantastic new characters from The Force Awakens and speak to Lucasfilm about how we can sort of look into their backstory and how they've been led to the events of The Force Awakens, I still struggle to believe that it's actually possible to do that."
The team has been able to flesh out some of the film's lore, including the naming of new planets.
"We've covered – or are in the process of covering – some pretty significant events that happen before the film that give people more information about why certain things in The Force Awakens happened and why certain characters have ended up where they are," Taylor says. "It's pretty amazing."
As exciting as this will be for superfans, don't expect to get answers for some of the biggest mysteries. If you're looking to learn about Rey's parents, for example, you'll have to wait. "Certain things are too sacred, I'd say, and too secretive," Taylor says.
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