A Redditor claims to have sourced the only physical copy of Free Radical’s canceled Star Wars Battlefront 3 video game, raising the excitement of Star Wars fans online. But don’t get your hopes up, as it’s probably not what it seems.
An image of what looks like a PSP playtest disc labeled Star Wars Battlefront 3 was shared on Reddit by user MissFeepit (opens in new tab), alongside several photos of the game running on PlayStation’s handheld console.
The Redditor says they came into possession of the disc through a family friend, who playtested LucasArts games around the time Battlefront 3 was in development. They had been given the PSP disc to play but never returned it.
The images show what appears to be a loading screen, main menu, and single-player game mode selection screen, which shows options for “Instant Action”, “Campaign”, and “Galactic Conquest”. All three game modes were included in the first two Battlefront games, although the Redditor also mentions that their family friend remembers playing Capture the Flag, battles against the AI, and Conquest.
But as one Redditor pointed out, the photos more likely show an early build of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, a PSP spin-off released in 2009. Its game mode selection screen certainly looks remarkably similar (opens in new tab) to those images shared on Reddit, with two Clone Troopers staring at each other from the sides of the screen. Although the disc is labeled Star Wars Battlefront 3, this may have simply been the game’s internal title before it was released.
The Redditor originally said they were interested in selling the disc and were curious to know what it could fetch. Others, however, suggested they try to copy its content and export it to a ROM file – which could be run through modern PSP emulators – for preservation.
Duplicating games, even decades-old canceled projects, does throw up several legal questions, however, concerning copyright and NDA infringement. But if the game is ever copied and widely shared, we’ll know for certain what it is MissFeepit has got their hands on.
What could have been
Star Wars Battlefront 3 has remained something of an enticing mystery since it first emerged over a decade ago. Development of the game was handed to TimeSplitters studio Free Radical in 2006, but it was never officially unveiled before its cancellation two years later.
Sources inside the studio have spoken about the canceled project since, with Free Radical co-founder and director David Doak telling Eurogamer (opens in new tab) it was the most ambitious project the studio had worked on up to that point. Building off its predecessors, Battlefront 3 would have allowed you to seamlessly transition from ground warfare to space battles, letting you hop in a starfighter and ascend to the fight taking place in the skies above you.
"It was so ambitious because you had to populate an environment like that on a scale like that, so we had some tough nuts to crack," Doak told Eurogamer. "We were continually trying to improve that, and it was going well. In fact, it was going so well that we were going to make two, and they were letting us do some really interesting stuff with the mythology."
Free Radical’s relationship with LucasArts became increasingly fraught, however, as their visions of the project divided. Eventually, the game was canned entirely, with Free Radical agreeing to pass some assets to Rebellion Studios, which would go on to release Elite Squadrons.
So, while the PSP disc shared by MissFeepit is unlikely to be Free Radical’s Star Wars Battlefront 3, they may well share some similarities. It’d be interesting to know what assets were carried over from the canceled project to Elite Squadrons, and how they featured in the game’s early build.
Leaked gameplay of Star Wars Battlefront 3 has made its way online in the past. Way back in 2012, an hour’s worth of gameplay (opens in new tab) was uploaded to YouTube, but has since been taken down after Disney issued a copyright claim. Shorter snippets of footage (opens in new tab) have since been uploaded.