A new build of canceled sequel Star Wars: Battlefront 3 appears to have surfaced online, but it looks a whole lot like an early version of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, a spin-off that actually was released on portable systems in 2009.
“LucasArts was a client of a relative of my fiancé back in the day, and he got to playtest a lot of games, one of which was Star Wars: Battlefront III,” Reddit user MissFeepit says in a post to the main gaming subreddit (opens in new tab). Once “all the assets were being gathered up to send back to Skywalker Ranch, one of the play test cartridges for the PSP version got left behind. Him being young, he didn’t think much of it and took it home, tested it out.”
The poster’s fiancé ran across that copy of the game recently, and the couple became “kind of curious of what it could be worth,” leading to the Reddit post. That post immediately blew up, as fans eager to learn more about the long-lost Star Wars game sought more information.
A (opens in new tab) few (opens in new tab) screenshots (opens in new tab) were provided later, which look more or less identical to the opening screens of the PSP version of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron – the only difference is that this version features a Battlefront 3 logo.
Battlefront 3 was in development at Free Radical Design, the studio behind TimeSplitters and Haze. LucasArts canceled its contract with Free Radical in 2008, and the studio went bankrupt later in the year, though it was soon bought out by Crytek.
Interviews with developers (opens in new tab) have confirmed that LucasArts passed some of the assets from Battlefront 3 to Rebellion, the studio behind Battlefront: Elite Squadron on PSP. A few years ago, a dataminer uncovered a Battlefront 3 logo (opens in new tab) in the game files for Elite Squadron, and that logo is identical to the one that appears in the screenshots from the Reddit post.
MissFeepit insists on Reddit (opens in new tab) that the timeline of her fiancé getting this development build would’ve put it well before Battlefront 3 was canceled and before those assets were passed to Rebellion.
But fan researchers at the Free Radical Archive wiki (opens in new tab) say that the PSP version of Battlefront 3 was, indeed, directly rebranded to Elite Squadron, and according to a developer interview (opens in new tab), this version was in development at Rebellion as early as 2007, well over a year before Free Radical’s Battlefront 3 was finally cancelled.
The wiki also links to a YouTube video (opens in new tab) of footage of Battlefront 3 on PSP, which also features images identical to the leaked build shown on Reddit.
A commenter on that video, DylanRocket, also claims to own a development build of this version of Battlefront 3. According to them, the only differences between the copy they own and the final version of Elite Squadron come down to minor UI and animation tweaks.
The couple behind the Reddit post is currently receiving a number of offers to either buy the game or get it ripped into a digital format for preservation. Either way, here’s hoping this copy of Battlefront 3 ends up in the hands of someone who can verify its origins.
Check out some of the best Star Wars games (opens in new tab) that are actually out there for you to play.