Where does Star Fox go from here?

In just under 2 months time the newest entry to the Star Fox series, Star Fox Zero will release for Wii U. So why discuss what the future of the series already?  Considering we generally get one game per hardware generation and development can take many years and the potential situation with the newest release it’s worth exploring the possibilities.

It’s no secret the Wii U isn’t doing the best right now with just under 13 million sales when compared to sales of it’s competitors such as the Playstation 4 with just under 36 million sales.

Official support for the Wii U hasn’t been very strong in recent years and the upcoming Nintendo NX is speculated to release in some form between Q4 2016 and sometime in 2017. As a result the Wii U’s days are numbered and only launching on the Wii U would not be giving Star Fox Zero the best chance to succeed. If the game was to release on the NX not only would it give the NX more launch titles to help the console succeed it would give Star Fox Zero a very good chance of selling well compared to a sole Wii U release.

What’s after that though? Nintendo at some point has to move forward as opposed to more remakes and reimaginings. The biggest strength of the series is the characters, however I feel the stories that can be told and the expansion of the lore and the characters is limited with the series current format of the fairly linear mission to mission structure.

One way to allow the series to focus on its characters would be to look towards games like StarCraft 2’s Wings of Liberty Campaign and XCOM 2. In these games there is an emphasis on what happens after missions. There’s an experience outside of the missions which is just as exciting as the missions you perform and provide a greater context and investment into your actions and choices.

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The Bridge of the Hyperion from StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty Campaign. From here you can select missions or visit other parts of the ship for various information and upgrades or simply just get to know characters better.

My idea for a future Star Fox game would take inspiration from these games (See the links above if you are unaware how XCOM2 or Wings of Liberty work). Below I’ll include some examples of how this can be applied to the Star Fox series:

The Great Fox becomes a living breathing space. You can purchase various upgrades for it that affect how you are able to do missions and what can happen in those missions. If you invest in better engines your new speed allows you to access more side missions or perhaps you can invest in an orbital strike that allows it to once a mission provide heavy weapons support against enemies to make the mission easier to complete.

Star Wolf are also competing against you doing their own missions and making their own upgrades. If you leave them alone they will appear more often to hinder you in missions making them harder to complete or even finishing a side mission instead of you meaning you miss out on the possible rewards from having done that mission yourself.

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In XCOM 2 the Aliens progress in the game is represented by the Avatar Project. They are actively taking part in research and missions just like the player and the choices they make affect you and vice versa.

Every couple of missions Falco might ask to not come along so he can gather intel for the team. You can choose to either say no missing out on any intel he could have found but gain extra firepower during your mission or let him go but be down a man during fights making the next few missions harder.

Falco comes back and lets you know there is a company paying top dollar to protect their cargo transports. However Peppy lets you know there is a distress beacon coming from a planet. You don’t have time for both so which do you choose? Falco might get annoyed because he thinks the distress signal is a trap and you really need money to buy some much needed upgrades but Peppy might find it troubling that they aren’t helping people who might be in real trouble.

You decide to help out the people in need. However those people can’t really afford to give you much for your troubles. You go down to the engineering bay and find Slippy working on some cool new upgrades for the Arwing but tells you they currently only have the resources and manpower to invest in one project because of your last choice.

If you had taken the cargo transport mission instead you could have afforded both but Slippy and Peppy might not appear in the next few missions because they didn’t think you did what was right.

I’ll leave the overall plot which integrates all these mechanics and ideas to Miyamoto, I imagine it’ll be the standard Andross affair with a war over the Lylat system. However by taking inspiration from games like XCOM 2 and the Wings of Liberty Campaign we get to find out more about the characters, planets and lore within the series.

This would also address to issue of replayability and depth to a single playthrough that some games in the past have had. The ideas and examples I express have actually be partially explored already in Star Fox Command  however the fairly restrictive linear mission structure still holds it back.

TV Series Firefly is another example of strong character development and interaction involving the Galaxy and spaceships. After all Star Fox was inspired by Thunderbirds While the themes would be toned down for a younger audience that doesn’t mean it would lose out of the depth or emotion such an idea and inspirations could provide.

Although we are a long way off before we see what comes from the series after Star Fox Zero.

What do you think of my ideas for the future of the series? Do you have your own ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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