To celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the live team at EA’s Capital Games worked with Lucasfilm to bring a very special event to Galaxy of Heroes on Android and iOS devices: Rey’s Hero’s Journey. Inspired by August’s Luke Skywalker-focused Hero’s Journey update, the latest event launches today, December 15, alongside Rian Johnson’s new entry in the saga. The update will let players relive Rey’s most exciting moments from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as she discovers her connection to the Force and sets out to find Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi. Players who complete all of the event-specific challenges will be rewarded with the iconic “Rey (Jedi Training)” hero.
The previous Galaxy of Heroes update, which launched just last month, added Territory Wars, a massive guild-versus-guild competitive mode that helps players band together to take on enemy squads in strategic turn-based combat. StarWars.com connected with Carrie Gouskos, senior producer on Galaxy of Heroes, and Nick Reinhart, the game’s live producer, to find out what changes we can expect — and how new players can get in on the excitement.
StarWars.com: The latest Galaxy of Heroes update is called Rey’s Hero’s Journey. Can you tell me a little bit about how The Last Jedi informed your creative direction this time around? Was Rey your starting point?
Nick Reinhart: In August, we released our first-ever Hero’s Journey for Galaxy of Heroes, which gave players the opportunity to experience Luke’s journey from farm boy to commander. The feedback we got from the community was great; they loved the attention to detail and how it tied back to Luke’s story from the films. We had already been thinking about doing Rey’s Hero’s Journey next, so based on fan feedback — and the fact that doing a Hero’s Journey for Rey allowed us to play a part in the excitement for Star Wars: The Last Jedi — the decision became obvious.
StarWars.com: How long has the live team been working on this particular update? What’s your day-to-day been like?
Nick Reinhart: Since around June, we’ve been concepting ideas on how we could deliver a Hero’s Journey for Rey that fans would really enjoy. That was followed by months of working closely with our friends at Lucasfilm to make sure the design of the event was authentic. That started as early as September, which helped to inform her animations, VFX, and audio. Then, once we have the concept and design down, we go to work actually bringing the idea to life, which includes lots of testing and iteration, making sure we got it just right. We’re really proud of the event, and look forward to letting fans experience it for themselves.
StarWars.com: What’s the main thing you’re excited for people to experience in Rey’s Hero’s Journey?
Carrie Gouskos: While it’s incredibly exciting for us to be able to play year-round with all the Star Wars characters and environments, it’s on a completely different level when we get to provide players with an experience that aligns with a major new story in the Star Wars universe. With The Last Jedi coming out on December 15, we wanted to mirror the storytelling of this new trilogy in our own way by bringing out Rey’s Hero’s Journey around the same time. The experience of the Hero’s Journey is all about reliving some of the iconic battle scenes from The Force Awakens that lead to the moment where Rey finds her power. Then, after you replay these moments where Rey truly is the hero, you unlock Rey (Jedi Training), which means starting a new chapter of your game experience with this game-defining character in your arsenal.
StarWars.com: Should we expect any other changes to the way the game works?
Carrie Gouskos: Our roadmap has different objectives throughout the year. We start by factoring in major Star Wars events like movie releases, but the key for us is balancing, adding new things to do, and making sure that the older systems are aging well. This means that we try to find a way throughout the year to create new features for the seasoned players, keep a constant flow of new content, onboarding for our stream of new players, and then maintenance of the existing features.
Sometimes that means taking something that was hard and time-consuming before and making it “simmable,” because there is so much new stuff to do. Given that we’ve just released Territory Battles and Territory Wars, two pretty substantial updates, our focus is now definitely on quality of life for a little bit. But what the full picture of that looks like, and when it will be released, is still to be determined.
StarWars.com: Has your team’s philosophy evolved much since the game launched during the lead-up to The Force Awakens?
Nick Reinhart: Oh, gosh, our philosophy has changed dramatically from The Force Awakens to The Last Jedi. If you compare our initial release of characters, events, and features in the game to now, it’d look like night and day. More specifically, we’ve learned a lot from the players as we engage with them on a daily basis.
We’ve worked hard to make our characters’ various kits more interesting and dynamic over time. And, along with that, one of the biggest changes is that we celebrate all of our new character releases in some way. We know how important Star Wars characters are to the fans, and we really try to service that love with our Marquee, Legendary, and Hero’s Journey events.
We’ve also added a lot of really incredible activities to do in the game. Players can fight the rancor, or an AAT. They can engage in ship-to-ship combat. They can fight with their guild on the snowy landscape of Hoth against rebel and Imperial enemies, using thousands of squad and ship units. And, most recently, players can now team up with their guild to battle other guilds on Jakku in a full-on, 50-versus-50 PvP experience.
We’ve gone from being a game about collecting Star Wars characters to a game about having a Star Wars experience, across all eras and factions.
StarWars.com: Given the turn-based combat system, do some of the new characters introduce any major new abilities or special mechanics we haven’t seen before?
Nick Reinhart: The Rey (Jedi Training) character brings some new, interesting synergies and abilities to the game. Much like in the films, she and BB-8 share a special bond that lets Rey take more turns than normal with one of BB-8’s buffs. Rey also works well with Resistance characters, helping them move faster and hit harder. And, finally, Rey has a new debuff that can’t be resisted by opponents, which prevents them from gaining their health back. She’s a powerful addition to any collection of heroes.
StarWars.com: What does The Last Jedi mean for bringing new characters and locations to the game?
Nick Reinhart: Whether it’s bringing well-known characters like Rey into the game, or possibly introducing fans to characters they’re not as familiar with, like the Nightsisters, it’s some of the most fun we have here as a team. A new movie provides us with new characters and locations to bring into Galaxy of Heroes, which gives players the ability to interact and engages with these characters in all-new ways. While Rey’s the only new character coming in December, we have a lot of great content and ideas in the pipeline that we can’t wait to share with our fans.
Carrie Gouskos: One of the things that we enjoy the most about a new piece of Star Wars lore — whether it’s a movie, TV show, book, or any other of the myriad of Star Wars experiences — is that it gives us a new playset to pull from. We’re thrilled to add The Last Jedi to our arsenal of potential characters, stories, and environments.
StarWars.com: In terms of the mythic “hero’s journey” structure that’s been used by Joseph Campbell and other scholars to make sense of stories like Star Wars, where might we be in this game right now? Does Rey’s Hero’s Journey lay the groundwork, in some way, for future adventures?
Carrie Gouskos: I love that you asked this question! While we didn’t name the Hero’s Journey in order to directly force comparison to the monomyth, it is such an integral part of the storytelling lexicon that it’s hard not to draw parallels. The structure of the Hero’s Journey event itself doesn’t map to the hero myth one-to-one, but we definitely tried to capture each “act” of the hero’s journey in some way, so that players feel the full impact of the story, even though it’s being told on a very, very small screen.
As for where the game is on its own hero’s journey? I’d like to think that we’re still in the call to adventure. There are so many more experiences we want to bring to our players, and each update and feature, in its own right, is like a mini adventure for our players to embark on. But, as for the full experience, we still say we’re just getting started. We are still growing, so we understand the expectations are high — and we endeavor to meet them!
StarWars.com: What about new players — folks who love Star Wars but haven’t had a chance to try Galaxy of Heroes yet? What makes Rey’s Hero Journey a great place to jump in?
Nick Reinhart: With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there’s never been a better time for new players to jump into Galaxy of Heroes and embark on their own journey. They’ll have the chance to collect and engage not only with characters they know and love, but also characters they may not be as familiar with — and along the way experience fun, rewarding gameplay that we feel showcases just how special the Star Wars universe is.
Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Glixel, Kill Screen, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.