11/09/2021

Thoughts on the KOTOR Remake Announcement

Yesterday I woke up to my Twitter timeline going wild - a remaster of the original Knights of the Old Republic had been announced! I have to admit it was great fun to see people get super excited about this, even if it didn't mean much to me personally.

Long-time readers might remember that I never played the original KOTOR back in the day - I just worked my way through the mobile port a few years ago and documented my experiences with it here on the blog. I did like it well enough then - issues with bugs and opaque mechanics not withstanding - but it wasn't the same sort of foundational RPG experience that it seems to have been for many people nearly twenty years ago.

I can see why the idea of a remake would be appealing to Disney - it's both an opportunity to cash in on the nostalgia from older fans while also introducing the game to a whole new generation of gamers. While the original is technically still playable and I found it decent fun, it definitely doesn't have mass market appeal in its current, dated form - but a remake would change that.

It's worth noting though that this is a remake, not a remaster - so it's likely that we'll see more than an update to the graphics and the addition of some quality of life changes. Aside from that we don't really know what exactly to expect though, as the trailer was basically just a shot of a photorealistic Revan and there is no release date yet.


I can certainly think of a lot of ways in which they could improve on the original without changing the core of the game too much: making the combat less rubbish, giving the player character a voice, fixing the bugs that persisted even in the mobile port (such as being unable to negotiate with the sand people on Tatooine), allowing the player to respec their character, adding a greater variety of NPC models, and so on and so forth.

Yet there's also risk in all of those things: First off, there are probably people who liked the original combat, but even if everyone were to agree that it sucked, I'm sure we've all got different ideas about what would constitute "better" combat. Heck, I could even see simple graphical updates be controversial in some way - the original KOTOR was very limited by the 3D of its time, but does that mean that photorealism is the only logical option for a more modern version? I can already hear the complaints that Bastila isn't attractive enough, or that a realistic rendition of Juhani looks kind of uncanny.

I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade by saying these things - I'm sure the devs will give it their all and hopefully it will turn out to be a good game. Just... if you're one of those people for whom the original KOTOR was an important part of their formative years, maybe don't get too hyped up? Even if it turns out to be a good remake, playing it probably won't feel quite the same as it did back in the day.

Oh, and for some reason this has once again brought up the question of whether KOTOR will become canon instead of Legends material now. Personally, I don't really see why it would? The remake will be a new product, yes, but not a new story (or at least I wouldn't expect them to change the story in any major ways, considering that it's always been the game's major selling point). It strikes me as similar to the release of a new audiobook for an existing Legends novel.

I suppose you could theorise that going for a remake over a remaster would be the perfect opportunity to "canonise" KOTOR if Disney wanted to, though considering how far the story is set in the past compared to the movies, I don't think it would have had any clashes with any of the new canon material to begin with? Some people just obsess way too much over canon vs. Legends either way. Most major science fiction or comic book franchises like to spin off into alternate timelines and the like at some point or another, but I've never heard of people getting too upset about that. Maybe they are and I just don't know about it.

Anyway, will I play this when it comes out? Maybe. I liked the original and the ability to make different choices should make it quite attractive to replay even without any major changes to the story. However, my ever-present inability to muster up the enthusiasm for a single-player game when I could be playing an MMO remains...

4 comments :

  1. "I have to admit it was great fun to see people get super excited about this, even if it didn't mean much to me personally."

    I'm always a bit shocked when i see people getting excited about a trailer. Especially this trailer. We have exactly zero information at all for no nothing and even the pictures shown to us might be some cinematic stuff instead of gameplay graphics. Why are people excited? It's a mystery.

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    1. Some people are always excited for a new Star Wars game, no matter what it is. Others are thrilled to see the Old Republic era get some love/investment from up high. :)

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  2. Honestly, you kind of had to be there 20 years ago to get it. KoTOR was pretty much the best new Star Wars story we had gotten since the Empire Strikes back.

    Considered as a RPG it was a pretty big deal too. Dialogue trees that led all over the place was still fairly new at the time. Deus Ex and a series of RPGs (most from Bioware) based on PnP D&D were pretty much the only games that had done it. Setting a game like that in the Star Wars universe was an unexpected breath of fresh air both for the RPG genre and Star Wars fans.

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    1. I was there 20 years ago. KotOR I and II were my first two games. But i don't see why you have to be hyped after this trailer.

      I guess, it is because some people are optimistic and some people are pessimistic.

      Some people think "remaster" means only positive change and the new game will be what they dreamed off this since forever.

      And the other people are influenced by the netflix-era of "remaster". The redhead Triss Merigold is suddenly a woman of color. Another beloved character is portrait as a weak sidekick instead of the strong person in the original source. Instead a minor female character is pushed to be the main protagonist of the whole series, because of "woke" and "feminism".

      The trailer alone shows nothing to be hyped about. People need to manage their emotions. Just "Revan" don't get me hyped.

      The game has the potential to be good, the same way it has the potential to destroy the legacy of KotOR. Just like the three new Star Wars movies with Rey.

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