The legacy of Star Wars is undeniable, and it carries a similarly storied legacy in the PC gaming space too. Decades’ worth of games set in the galaxy far, far away have come in all shapes and sizes. Some games have been high-speed racers or turn-based RPGs, while others have been space flight simulators or Jedi-focused action adventures. There’s no shortage of ideas for what a game developer can do with the Star Wars license.
Fans of the franchise all have their own favorites they can point to when it comes to Star Wars games, but some titles have been universally praised by all who enjoy George Lucas’ sci-fi universe. Star Wars may never have been as popular in the gaming space if it weren’t for these spectacular games on PC.
Star Wars: Dark forces
PC gaming in the 1990s felt more experimental for Star Wars games, and few of them had an edge like Star Wars: Dark Forces. The first-person shooter put players in the boots of Kyle Katarn as he traversed through Empire strongholds to discover the Dark Trooper Project. In a time before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, the Galactic Empire was planning to unleash deadly new battle droids and Stormtroopers with power armor.
It felt like playing in the darker side of the Star Wars universe, where each and every Stormtrooper was a genuine threat. That’s a rare feeling for any Star Wars game to capture, and it gave Dark Forces an intense atmosphere. The inspirations from other early shooters like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D were apparent, but Dark Forces carved out an identity all its own thanks to innovations like levels designed with multiple floors and a camera that could look up and down.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
For some players, the ideal Star Wars game is one in which you play as an all-powerful Jedi or a bounty hunter. For others, it’s experiencing the literal “Star Wars” for themselves. In Star Wars Battlefront II, players got the truest gaming experience of that fantasy. Large-scale battles on famous Star Wars planets or in space were supported by vehicles, intricate maps, characters, and modes. Galactic Conquest let players command a fleet and fight over planets, and in modes like Hero Assault, players could go wild with two opposing teams of iconic Star Wars heroes and villains. It was a true sandbox for Star Wars fans.
Players take on the roles of different classes within notable factions like the Clone Troopers or the Trade Federation. Each class has its own weapons and abilities to master for use in different scenarios. Capturing points, earning kills, and contributing to other large-scale team objectives were core to the Battlefront experience. If that wasn’t enough, a narrative-driven campaign retold the events of various Star Wars films from the perspective of a veteran clone Imperial Stormtrooper. It truly was the Star Wars game that let fans live out their dreams, and fans would argue it’s still the best in the Battlefront series.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
BioWare has made some of the most beloved Western RPGs of all time, and its work on the Star Wars series is a true standout. Star Wars fans had been wanting a sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for a long time, but BioWare gave them something unexpected. Instead of a traditional single-player RPG, BioWare created Star Wars: The Old Republic. SWTOR was an MMORPG in which players could cooperatively take on quests together.
MMOs like World of Warcraft have been around for years, but what sets SWTOR apart was its focus on BioWare-style storytelling. That emphasis on narrative led to each character class having its own story to progress through, complete with unique companions, full voice acting, a morality system, and a BioWare dialogue system. The entire game can be played cooperatively, and numerous expansions added additional content for players to dig into. It was and still is, a true Star Wars universe brought to life, and we’re glad that it exists.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
The Lego games from Traveller’s Tales have always been loving recreations of the film franchises they emulate. Star Wars has already been featured in the Lego franchise of games, but this year’s release of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is easily the most comprehensive and enjoyable entry yet for PC players. On a base brick level, it lets players tackle the stories of all nine core films in the Star Wars saga. Each film can be played in any order, and the new third-person camera represents a dramatic shift in design. It lets players marvel at how authentic this collaboration between Lego and Star Wars truly is, as well as find joy in every minor reference and joke that the developer managed to squeeze into those tiny bits of plastic.
This new approach did wonders for platforming and combat gameplay, allowing for more strategy to encounters than in past Lego titles. Most impressive is that the game allows players to freely explore the Star Wars galaxy. Being able to fly through space and explore planets like Coruscant, Yavin 4, and Endor, as well as the interiors of ships like the Death Star or Star Destroyers, is a feat that other games in the franchise haven’t been able to accomplish to this extent. It is truly a Star Wars fan’s dream brought to life, and we’re just as surprised as you that the Lego series was the first to accomplish it.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
While it was never as widely beloved as its predecessor, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was a worthy follow-up to BioWare’s Star Wars RPG hit. KOTOR II took a darker route in its narrative which follows a Jedi Knight who has been exiled from the Jedi Order. The keepers of peace have been almost completely eradicated by the Sith, and it’s up to players to seek out any remaining Jedi to mount a comeback against the dark side.
Obsidian’s take on the KOTOR franchise was praised for its storytelling and writing, as it presented a more nuanced and grayer take on the light vs. dark morality system of the first game. Decision-making, either with your light or dark side alignment or in smaller moments like dialogue and puzzles, played a vital role in shaping your character. Despite its rushed development schedule leading to an incomplete game, KOTOR II stands the test of time as an impressive Star Wars RPG.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
The extended canon of Star Wars was a place where anything felt possible after the original and prequel trilogies had been told. Main characters had children of their own and went on adventures that fans would’ve loved to see in live action. Some of the highlights of these moments were wholly original characters, including Kyle Katarn. This loveable rogue was instantly likable thanks to his witty personality and mannerisms that felt like a cross between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Being able to continue his story after Dark Forces was an unexpected treat, and his journey to regain his Jedi abilities and stop the plans of an Imperial remnant was a perfect setup for this adventure.
Jedi Knight II expanded on the combat of its predecessors with its first-person shooting, and a renewed focus on hack-and-slash lightsaber gameplay. Using the Force in combination with a lightsaber and a variety of weapons provided an endless bag of tricks to dig into, and it was just as fun in the game’s multiplayer modes.
Star Wars: Republic Commando
While many of the Star Wars faithful have their gripes with the prequel trilogy, it’s hard to argue against the consistent quality of Star Wars games that came out on PC during that period. One of these was Star Wars: Republic Commando. It was a squad-based, tactical first-person shooter set in the Republic era of the story. And there is still nothing else quite like it.
As RC-1138, the leader of the Clone trooper Delta Squad, players would go on missions during the Clone Wars and issue commands to RC-1140 (Fixer), RC-1207 (Sev), and RC-1262 (Scorch). These could be simple tasks such as taking up specific positions and attacking targeted enemies, but there was a sense of real teamwork and camaraderie with these characters. Characters is the keyword, as Republic Commando also went out of its way to craft a compelling narrative around this squad, making players truly care about the team they were leading into battle.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy may stumble in a few areas, but it more than makes up for it with its Jedi gameplay. Players would create their own version of the main character Jaden Korr, as they learned the ways of the Jedi under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker and Kyle Katarn at the Jedi Academy. The overall plot about fighting against a Sith cult wasn’t universally praised, but it did lead to a greater sense of freedom and meaningful choices than in past games.
There was a wealth of options when it came to customizing your lightsaber, combat style, and force powers. The result was the most robust Jedi power fantasy that the franchise had yet seen in gaming. Missions could be tackled in various orders, and aligning with the light or dark sides of the Force had consequences. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a fantastic multiplayer suite to let players go wild with characters from across the franchise. Jedi Academy is a content-rich PC Star Wars game, and one that fans argue still has the best lightsaber combat in the series.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the definitive Star Wars gaming experience for a lot of fans. It features a simple but enjoyable combat system and took players into the distant past of the Star Wars canon. Darth Malak has unleashed a Sith armada on the Galactic Republic, and it’s up to players to defeat him in this era set almost 4,000 years before the Galactic Empire emerged. It was an era in which Jedi and Sith were plentiful, thus providing a chance to explore the lore of these opposing sides like never before.
BioWare brought its signature storytelling chops to the table. It crafted memorable characters, and most impressively, revealed a plot twist that no other game in the franchise has been able to top. In gameplay, a round-based combat system forced players to make important decisions. Outside of combat, BioWare’s signature dialogue and morality systems let players align themselves with whichever side of the force they fancied. KOTOR is still a one-of-a-kind Star Wars adventure, and the pressure is on for developer Aspyr to do the remake justice.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was initially revealed, it was little more than an awkward title drop from the head of Respawn Entertainment, Vince Zampella. Little did fans know that the final product would be one of the most robust Star Wars adventures to date. Cal Kestis’ journey of survival explores the darkest days of the Jedi after Order 66. It introduces loveable companions like Cere Junda, BD-1, and Greez Dritus, and it adds to the established canon of events that happen between the original and prequel trilogies.
In gameplay, Fallen Order holds its own too. It’s a clever mix of Uncharted-style platforming and production values, mixed with the combat and level design from a FromSoftware game. Various difficulty sliders can tailor the challenge to your liking, and its satisfying lightsaber action felt more authentic than in prior Star Wars games. Respawn wasted no time in establishing a new cast of compelling Star Wars characters and Jedi combat to get engrossed in. We have high hopes that it can build on this with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
The Star Wars series has seen plenty of stellar PC releases over the last few decades. With any luck, there will be plenty more arriving in the coming years.