Why big-bad Iden Versio will defect to the Rebels in Battlefront II
A recent hands-on with Battlefront II and chat with Motive Studios producer David Robillard teases a defection for the campaign’s villainous star, Iden Versio.
Star Wars Battlefront II is poised to tell a story that’s far, far away from the usual heroes. Battlefront II’s campaign is set during and beyond the events of Return of the Jedi and, more interestingly, from the perspective of an Imperial special forces operative called Iden Versio. She’s an all-new character for the Star Wars universe, and she’s in charge of the charmingly named Inferno Squad.
As the name implies, this squad isn’t so much about putting out fires as much as it is interested in starting them (and raging versions, at that). Created in the wake of the destruction of the first Death Star, Inferno Squad is tasked with ensuring that the fate of the original Imperial WMD doesn’t befall the Death Star II. As anyone who’s seen Return of the Jedi will already know, Versio’s primary mission is destined to fail.
What’s trickier for campaign developers Motive Studios is that they want us to sympathise with Iden’s plight, despite the reality that she’s anti-Rebel Alliance, anti-hope (by her own admission) and, without being dramatic, the bad guy. She’s fighting to protect the Empire’s interests which, everyone who’s ever seen an original Star Wars movie can attest, isn’t the noblest of causes.
In a recent interview with Motive producer David Robillard, here’s what he had to say about how the devs want players to view Iden Versio.
What about creating Iden, creating a new Star Wars character, and someone who’s going to become an iconic Star Wars character, you would assume, as well? Where did you have to start with her, and how did she evolve during the process of creating her character? But where I really wanted to start first was, the name: how did you come up with the name? Is there a Star Wars name generator? Is that a real thing?
I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure how we came up with the name. That’s an interesting question. There is some photography that we need to respect within the Star Wars universe, but the exact origin of the name, I can’t tell. As far as creating her, we wanted to create something that’s going to be true to Star Wars fantasy, and Star Wars has a strong and long experience of very strong determined female leads. So, we wanted to bring that to our campaign. That’s where we started with Iden. We wanted her to be super capable, super strong, and somebody that everybody will get behind.
That emboldened text is particularly interesting, especially for those familiar with the canonised Star Wars comics, Shattered Empire. This comic run tells the tale of Operation: Cinder, which is a posthumous scorched-worlds policy from recently departed Emperor Palpatine. In the comics, it’s particularly vengeful: with a satellite array deployed over Palpatine’s home planet of Naboo in the hopes of purging the planet’s populace.
Operation: Cinder is relevant to Battlefront II’s campaign because that attack on Naboo was only one part of the plan. According to a cutscene shown to us after a recent hands-on gameplay session, Iden’s home planet of Vardos is also targeted for satellite-induced cleansing of an Imperial-aligned world. Iden, understandably, questions these orders, and flat out looks defiant when her indoctrinated father, Admiral Garric Versio, gives her the order.
If Motive wants us to get behind Iden’s plight, her questioning of her father’s orders is a good start. After all, even for space Nazis, that’s a pretty cold move – destroying your home world – and this is what Robillard had to say when pushed on how that impacts Iden.
How does Iden fit into all of that? I would assume you want to create a sympathetic hero, instead of someone who’s just a super space Nazi who’s killing the good guys, right?
Yeah, we do want her to… we do want to bring her side to a more sympathetic eye. But we want to see… we want to bring the player to see how she evolves through the events of Endor, the Dauntless mission, and then afterwards, to Operation: Cinder. I can’t spoil anything, but there is more than meets the eye.
I’m glad you mentioned Operation: Cinder because, having read the comics, that thing in particular, I don’t think anyone’s clamouring for a story about the other side of Palpatine and how he was misunderstood. Operation: Cinder is really telling because he’s basically just applying a scorched-worlds policy. For me, I’m finding it really difficult to understand how we can see the other side of the story for somebody who’s basically enacting a revenge mission. I’m not looking for spoilers, I’m just wondering how you’ve had to approach the process of dealing with some of those darker moments, and playing as a special forces Imperial soldier enacting a revenge mission.
Like I said earlier, it’s all about the actions you have to take and the decisions of taking them or not and how you go through that process. So, as an Imperial loyalist, Iden will be faced with a choice, so it’s up to her to decide what she wants to do. And you’ll have to play [the] Operation: Cinder [mission] to know more.
Sounds like Robillard is hinting at the likelihood that Iden will defy the orders to help with the purge of her home planet. From here, the easiest redemption path for Iden is to defect to the Rebel Alliance. They sure could use her inside knowledge, and I can’t imagine it’ll go down too well that she’s made to watch the destruction of her home planet. Either way, we’ll know for sure when Battlefront II launches on 17 November.