Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, affectionately known to fans as KOTOR, was originally released in 2003. It was a fantastic sci-fi RPG, and enough of a hit to spawn a sequel and form the underpinnings of EA’s hugely-hyped, monumentally-expensive MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. And more than a dozen years later, it’s the basis of a community-made “reboot” called Apeiron.
The Apeiron website describes it as “a remake and remastering of the original game with added content, new worlds, missions, HUD, inventory, items, and companions,” created by “a group of dedicated programmers, artists, voice actors, world builders, and writers that have all come together to breathe life back into a wonderful game.” It will be free at release, although as a mod, a proper copy of KOTOR will be required to play it.
As for whether or not the project will able to dodge the “cease-and-desist” hammer, the developers seem to be relying on precedent established by previous, similar projects, and a general hope that Disney/EA will just leave them alone. “Engine refresh of games has been around since the ’80s and some have become very successful. Games like Black Mesa did it with Half Life and Renegade X rebuilt Command and Conquer in the Unreal Engine 3,” the team wrote. “This is a full conversion refresh, that being said you will have to own a copy of the original game in order to play Apeiron since we are using the original audio and music. At its core Apeiron is the most intense KOTOR modification ever.”
The debut gameplay video, posted by YouTuber MrMattyPlays, looks really good. It’s choppy in spots and obviously not complete, but the visual upgrade is striking. I don’t agree with his assessment of KOTOR as “bland,” but as the screen below very clearly demonstrates, we’ve come a long way over the past 13 years. Also interesting is that Apeiron will support first-person play, which the original did not. Ideally, that will make for a more immersive experience, but I expect it will also require some rather dramatic changes to KOTOR’s lightsaber combat, which was built for a third-person view.
Apeiron is a long way from seeing the light of day, but so far so good.