Respawn Entertainment’s upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has already introduced us to Cal Kestis, the game’s protagonist, and like many other Star Wars characters that came before him Cal is accompanied by his very own droid, BD-1. Designed for research and exploration assistance, these particular BD-units are quite different from the BD-3000 seen in Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars. Instead of a humanoid waitress-like figure, BD-1 resembles a pair of binoculars with the legs of a flexible AT-ST, capable of running, jumping, and even riding on Cal’s shoulders. He is also designed to be unapologetically cute.
So far, Respawn is being rather quiet on just what upgrades and benefits BD-1 will have for the player during gameplay, save for a quick mention of a spotlight function and of the droid being able to restore some of Cal’s health. Gameplay scenes from E3, however, show the droid displaying a holographic map for the player to examine in lieu of a menu and performing R2-like functions like unlocking doors and beeping at dramatically or comedically appropriate moments. While indeed cute, BD-1's inclusion is yet another in a curious trend of video games introducing unique droids not seen anywhere else in the Star Wars universe instead of utilizing pre-existing canon.
Licensed Star Wars games have a long history of introducing new droids to the series, but many of them are no longer considered legitimate since the Disney merger. While these animatronic additions rarely jump mediums and get featured in the mainstream movies, that hasn’t stopped game creators like DICE from giving their own take on obscure Star Wars lore, adding the ID10 seeker droid to Battlefront II after its first mention in the game’s prequel book Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. One need not look far to find other examples of exclusive video game droids, from the one-off PROXY holodroid of The Force Unleashed (also, interestingly, first introduced in the game’s companion novel) to the dual additions of the HK-series assassin and the T3-series utility droids of Knights of the Old Republic.
It goes even farther back than that. In 1999 developer Totally Games created MK-09 for Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, and it was four years earlier, in 1995, when LucasArts itself added the Dark Trooper to Star Wars: Dark Forces, an enemy which would go on to appear in dozens of other games but still, curiously, not the movies. In between these two titles there was also the release of Star Wars: Droid Works, which not only included a new animatronic character in the form of Holocam E but was entirely based around the player building new types of droids. Droids are everywhere - even Google Android users are walking around with little Star Wars robots in their pockets due to LucasFilm copyrighting the word back in 2008.
The Star Wars universe is one filled with all different makes and models of droids. Servant droids, free droids, functional droids, assassin droids; while they can be both an expression of the creator’s love of Star Wars lore and creative new characters with which to tell a story, it’s hard to ignore the overarching reason so many different types of droids exist, which is to sell toys. Whether they appear in the theatrical films or not, fans and collectors both jump at the chance to own fashionable and obscure pieces of memorabilia. With Disney’s announced perpetuation of the Star Wars franchise into the foreseeable future and Jedi: Fallen Order coming November 15th, we can only mourn for the poor editors of Wookiepedia, whose list of droids grows longer every Christmas.