One of the most intriguing areas in Star Wars canon is the nineteen years between the rise of the Galactic Empire and the destruction of the first Death Star. The period between the Original Trilogy and the Prequels is a dark time of repression and fear as the Sith take control of the galaxy.
A great many Star Wars video games take place during the films, or alternatively go for different time periods entirely. However, a select few have explored the relatively unplumbed depths of the time of the Galactic Empire. Often featuring darker stories with limited heroic victories, many of them have nonetheless been hugely popular with Star Wars fans.
8 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Sees The Birth Of The Rebellion
The founding of the Rebel Alliance is such a foundational moment in Star Wars canon, vital to the backstory of the first three films, but relatively few pieces of media cover it. One that does in great detail is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Although no longer canon, this game follows Darth Vader’s secret apprentice Starkiller, who founds the Rebellion on his master’s orders.
The game sees Starkiller turn from a loyal servant of Vader to a genuine rebel, ending in an epic confrontation on the first Death Star whilst it is still being built. The Force Unleashed is well-liked for its combat and its characters, but some disliked the revelation of Darth Vader being foundational to the Rebellion’s creation.
7 Dark Forces Directly Contradicts New Canon
Many games set in the nineteen years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope seek to explore the key events that lead to the Original Trilogy, and few are more foundational than the theft of the Death Star plans. Responsible for letting the events of the beloved first film take place at all, it is a momentous event.
In current canon, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story follows a group of rebels taking the plans in a daring surprise attack. In the Legends continuity, however, their theft is courtesy of Kyle Katarn, a mercenary-turned-Jedi. This theft makes up the first level of the game Dark Forces, although the rest of the game takes place after Episode IV.
6 Empire At War Doesn’t Follow The Films Closely
Given its focus on the intragalactic war between two factions, the Star Wars franchise has always been a popular setting for strategy games. As the films tend to focus on the pivotal actions of small groups, rather than huge armies, however, the strategy games typically hold a loose relationship with canon.
One of the most beloved Star Wars games ever, Empire at War follows this approach, letting the player fight their own war independent of the actions of characters like Luke Skywalker. Empire at War begins before Episode IV, opening on the theft of the X-Wing from Imperial Forces before stretching up to the events of the first film and the Battle of Yavin.
5 Battlefront II Follows The Rise Of The Empire
Before the modern series of Battlefront games, the second game of the first series was well-liked for its surprisingly in-depth and well-told story mode: Rise of the Empire. Following the 501st Legion of Clone Toopers during the last days of the Clone Wars and into the fall of the Republic, it shows them go from nominal heroes to villains as Darth Vader’s personal attack dogs.
Parts of Battlefront II’s story take place during Revenge of the Sith and through the Original Trilogy, ending with the Battle of Hoth, but a large chunk is set in the intervening years. Vader’s Fist quell holdouts to Imperial rule, battle resurgent droid armies, and eventually fight off the Rebel Alliance itself, giving the story a distinctly grim and sombre feeling.
4 The Force Unleashed II Follows On From The Original
Despite The Force Unleashed ending with Starkiller’s death and the Rebellion fleeing, it has a sequel that picks up a few months later, this time following a clone of Starkiller. Despite the time skip, the game is still set years prior to A New Hope, with the Rebel Alliance still a fledgeling movement.
The second Force Unleashed game takes more liberties with the accepted story of Star Wars, giving Vader a second secret apprentice and having him be captured by the Rebellion to be put on trial. Despite this, it is still considered canon in the Legends continuity.
3 Vader Immortal Follows Vader Shortly Before A New Hope
Given his status as the franchise’s most famous character and his active role in the Empire, a lot of Star Wars media set between episodes III and IV tends to heavily feature Darth Vader. Vader Immortal, the franchise’s foray into Virtual Reality gaming, follows suit, casting the player as a Force-Sensitive smuggler helping Vader find an artifact.
Vader Immortal’s story is fairly brief, but it’s placed at most two years prior to A New Hope. Regardless of when it is set, the situation and Vader’s personality indicate that the game is placed distinctly before the Original Trilogy, and it has little to do with the films themselves.
2 Jedi: Fallen Order Is Set In The Early Days Of The Empire
The first moments of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order run cocurrently with parts of Revenge of the Sith, showing Order 66 from the point of view of a Jedi Padawan. After the prologue, however, the game skips ahead five years to the nascent Empire, with the Jedi Purge nearing total completion.
Set over fifteen years prior to A New Hope, Jedi Fallen Order’s plot is almost wholly separate from the Original Trilogy. Instead, it tells a more original story of protagonist Cal Kestis attempting to keep a Holocron with the names of Force-Sensitive children out of the hands of the Empire; a tale that is relatively small compared to the war epics the franchise is known for.
1 X-Wing Builds Up To The First Film
An iconic Star Wars game, X-Wing is a flight simulator casting the player in the role of an X-Wing pilot of the Rebel Alliance flying missions against the Galactic Empire. It attempts to recreate the agile, dogfighting combat seen in the films, forcing the player to learn every trick of their craft to survive.
The story of X-Wing is relatively straightforward, and is clearly set in the months prior to Episode IV. The game’s climax is the Battle of Yavin with the player controlling Luke Skywalker, the culmination of a great many missions.
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