If You Like Rogue One, Try These Star Wars Stories
Star Wars fans flocked to theaters in recent days to see the latest film adventures in their favorite universe. And while Rogue One does a lot to try and enrich the other movies within the canon, it’s safe to say that its focus on espionage, morally gray characters, and covert military operations communicates a different tone than the other movies in Star Wars lore.
If that different tone appeals to you, here are several games and stories within the Star Wars universe that you owe it to yourself to discover.
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion
Format: tabletop RPGs
Fantasy Flight Games could hardly have crafted a role-playing game that does a better job of capturing what works about Rogue One, even though both games have been out for a couple of years now. Part of a linked and cross-compatible series of RPGs, these books each present aspects of the Star Wars world that lie along a different trajectory than many Star Wars releases. Edge of the Empire should be your choice if you really like the dark underbelly of the Star Wars universe, typified by smugglers, hidden families on the outer rim of the galaxy, and dark deals in darker corners. Meanwhile, Age of Rebellion focuses on the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and Empire, and the ongoing conflict between these two asymmetrically matched forces. In each case, smartly crafted rules and a great core dice mechanic maintain the flavor of Star Wars, but also provide hours of freeform storytelling for creative friends.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Format: video game
Looking for a trip back in time for Star Wars video games? Consider checking out Dark Forces, an early and fondly remembered entry for Star Wars games that stepped away from the expected characters and situations. The 1995 games finds a mercenary named Kyle Katarn working for the Rebellion and uncovering a plot surrounding some powerful new Strormtroopers being created by the Empire. While the graphics and gameplay are primitive by today’s standards, the game is a showcase for the ways in which video games began exploring this bleaker corner of Star Wars storytelling decades before Rogue One’s release.
Star Wars Rebels
Format: animated TV show
If you’re a Star Wars fan and you’re not already watching Star Wars Rebels, you’re missing out. The excellent CGI animated show may be ostensibly targeted to kids, but it’s also a rich repository of lore about the early days of the Rebel Alliance. Primarily focused on a specific ship crew of rebellious heroes, the story grows more nuanced and character-driven with each passing season. Like in Rogue One, we see the lead characters facing tough choices about how to exist in a world locked down by an authoritarian regime, and the ways that life can tempt anyone into darkness.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Format: board game
This stellar tabletop board game pits a crack team of rebel operatives against the teeming hordes of Imperial Stormtroopers in the days after the fall of the first Death Star. One player controls the Empire, while the other players work together to survive one of several story-based encounter scenarios. The game plays out on a modular tile-based board with some gorgeous miniatures to help enliven the skirmish action. A forthcoming mobile app also aims to remove the need for an adversary player, letting all players enjoy the game as a fully cooperative adventure.
Star Wars: Legacy Volume 2
Format: comic book
The recent retrofit of Star Wars canon means that many great stories have been relegated to “Legends” status, without any direct links to the accepted story being told in the movies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the amazing expanded universe content that came before that shift. The Legacy comic books explored an interesting premise, leaping forward more than a hundred years after the end of Return of the Jedi. In the second volume, the resourceful Ania Solo takes the stages. She’s a descendant of Han and Leia who starts the series running a junkyard on a backwater planet. While lightsabers and big galactic affairs do figure into the story, the focus on characters without powers trying to survive a rough hand they’ve been dealt echoes the vibe of Rogue One.
Star Wars: X-Wing Series
The expanded universe of Star Wars novels is challenging to wade through. A few of the stories are standout successes, while others really fail to hit the mark. If Rogue One’s coordinated rebel squadron attacks got you excited, you might get a big kick out of the X-Wing novels, particularly the first four, written by Michael A. Stackpole (Rogue Squadron, Wedge’s Gamble, The Krytos Trap, and The Bacta War). The focus is squarely on mid-air/space dogfights, and the camaraderie between the members of a fighter squadron, and they provide a glimpse at the actions fought by the military arm of the Rebellion, even while other heroes are off fighting Darth Vader in lightsaber duels.
What other grittier takes on the Star Wars universe are among your favorites? Share your picks in the comments below.