'Star Wars: Battlefront II' aims to appeal to all ages, genders and Evil Empire supporters
WATCH 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' trailer has fans on the edge of their seats
To the delight of "Star Wars" fans everywhere, EA's "Battlefront II" is out later this week and will differ from its 2015 original in that there's now a single-player story mode.
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What that means is the game comes equipped with a new tale that fits into the official main "Star Wars" storyline, in which fans will be able to see the after-effects of "Return of the Jedi" from the perspective of the Imperial forces. Basically you'll see how the bad guys dealt with losing their secret weapon, except they don't think of themselves as bad.
There's also a PlayStation ad campaign that mirrors the new story, one of the first commercial spots brought to you here exclusively by ABC News.
Lucasfilm Games Vice President Douglas Reilly and PlayStation's marketing VP, Mary Yee, gave ABC News an inside look at this highly-anticipated game, including what it means for the "Star Wars" timeline and what to expect in the way of new characters and adventures.
The 'bad guys' perspective
The game takes place right after the second Death Star has been destroyed by Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion, and has a pretty big time gap to work with, given that "The Force Awakens" didn't happen in the storyline till decades later.
Fight for the Empire in Star Wars Battlefront II through the eyes of Inferno Squad: https://t.co/6WGSKHicJz pic.twitter.com/Zjvxi9GfeT
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) November 10, 2017
The game and story also follow in the footsteps of some of the universe's boldest heroines, like Leia, Rey and Jyn, with newcomer Iden Versio.
Actress Janina Gavankar plays Versio, the leader of the Inferno Squadron team, who are a type of special forces fighter pilots at the center of this story.
"She really came to this role and owned it," Reilly told ABC News of the "True Blood" and "The League" actress. "She was prepared, she read books, She's obviously a gamer's gamer. She was perfect for the role on a number of levels."
Be extraordinary. #StarWarsBattlefrontII pic.twitter.com/0eHhVEMq1n
— janina gavankar (@Janina) October 12, 2017
Versio and her Inferno Squad are soldiers tasked to keep the second Death Star safe, and if you've seen "Return of the Jedi," you know how that goes. Versio also gets her devotion to the Empire's cause from her father, who is a key Imperial officer.
"We've done some other Imperial storylines in books and games before," Reilly said. "This is a very unique individual person's perspective though. Their perspective doesn't view the Empire as the bad guys. But as somebody trying to bring order and control to a galaxy in chaos."
'Star Wars' and female empowerment
Reilly said having Versio at the forefront of this story shouldn't surprise "Star Wars" fans one bit.
"I think there's this perception that we are suddenly now bringing female protagonists to this universe," he said. "I want to remind people that maybe the first empowered female protagonist, at least in this genre, started 40 years ago in 1977 with Carrie and Leia."
Since then, Daisy Ridley fronted "The Force Awakens" in 2015 as the young but powerful Rey, and Felicity Jones starred as the crafty Jyn Erson in last year's "Rogue One," both huge successes critically and financially for Lucasfilm.
"Janina is just an extension of that legacy," Reilly said.
Other new characters include messenger droids, which you can see in the game's first trailer. After the emperor's death in "Return of the Jedi" at the hands of Darth Vader, these droids physically hand out nefarious orders that were put in place for such a circumstance.
"You see destruction of the second Death Star and this game takes you steps forward," Reilly added. "What happens after that? That's something you don't see in the films."
The story from this game is just one of the more recent pushes from the Lucasfilm Story Group to fill in the "Star Wars" legacy in between films with TV shows, comic books and now electronic games.
Listening to the fans
"We listened to the fans after the first 'Battlefront' that having a single-player campaign and story element was important," Reilly said. "We gave [EA, the developer of the game] the freedom to come to us with a story that inspired them."
But in addition to the new story, fans can still play with some of their other favorites in multiplayer modes with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and newbies like Rey and Kylo Ren. There's even Darth Vader.
The villains of the @StarWars universe are dangerous and ready to battle in #StarWarsBattlefrontII. See the roster: https://t.co/czmFJJPvt7 pic.twitter.com/oWarepJjaY
— EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) November 10, 2017
Heroes rise to fight against the forces of darkness. See the roster: https://t.co/czmFJJPvt7 pic.twitter.com/xM5TQ8lWdg
— EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) November 10, 2017
The idea is "to make people feel like 'Star Wars' is for everyone," Reilly added. "Young or old, there's a piece of the universe you can relate to."
And that was the idea behind the new PlayStation campaign and commercial, which was meant to parallel the story and its female protagonist.
Reilly and Yee said it took months to film the new spot, which includes a friendly rivalry between a girl who favors the Empire and a young boy who supports the Rebellion.
"It was as big of a commercial for games as I have been a part of in the 11 years I've been here," Reilly said.
Yee added, "'Star Wars is so personal for everyone. We were so honored to bring to life this story honoring that [legacy], we developed this story that directly drops the game into this universe."
Yee said the idea of the campaign and the game is to "trigger these personal connections" that come from the "Star Wars" fan base.
"It really gave the piece heart," Reilly said of the concept. "It mirrors many people's experience with 'Star Wars.' And they take those experiences and hand them down to their kids."
ABC News and Lucasfilm are both part of parent company Disney.