During our first look at the new Star Wars Battlefront, we saw something we haven't seen in developer DICE's Battlefield games: women soldiers in the game's multiplayer. On the Rebel side, there was some gender diversity, which isn't exactly new — Princess Leia fought with the Rebels on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, and previous Battlefront games have featured women among the Rebel ranks.
But Star Wars Battlefront will also have women Stormtroopers, something we haven't seen much of in the Star Wars universe, certainly not in the films. While Stormtroopers have primarily been men in the Star Wars film franchise — at least, as far as we know — some women have served the Empire in books and other parts of the expanded universe.
When I asked DICE general manager Patrick Bach about women Stormtroopers appearing in Battlefront, he said, "Why wouldn't there be?"
"When you talk to Lucasfilm, they're like, 'Yeah, of course there are. We just haven't shown you [in the films],'" he said. 'For us, it's about filling in the details in the universe. We help out by asking the question, 'Can we do this, can we do that? Should we do this or do that?' And then we work it out [with Lucasfilm]."
Here's how Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia describes the inclusion of women soldiers in the Empire:
Service in the Stormtrooper Corps was open to both Human men and women, but female stormtroopers were an extremely rare sight under Palpatine's reign and on average there were never more than three female stormtroopers within a whole legion. In spite of this disparity, some female troopers served in elite units, such as the Coruscant Guard.
Female Stormtroopers underwent the same hard training as their male counterparts. Only the best of the best recruits were selected for the stormtrooper corps. Once accepted into the stormtrooper corps, every trooper was treated as an equal. There were no differences between males and females. They even shared the same barracks. Wearing the exact same white stormtrooper armor, one could not distinguish between a male or female Stormtrooper.
Women 'troopers were casually mentioned in a new canon novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, earlier this year. And it sounds like the new film, Star Wars: A Force Awakens, will give at least one woman Stormtrooper some screen time.
It sounds like gender options in Star Wars Battlefront is just part of the game's character customization. Players will be able to choose from a variety of Star Wars races, and while many of the characters we saw in the demo were human, we also spotted one Sullustan — remember Nien Nunb, Lando's co-pilot in Return of the Jedi? — and what appeared to be an Ishi Tib, one of the green-skinned aliens that appeared in Jabba's palace.
You can see some of that gender, racial and species diversity in Star Wars Battlefront's first trailer below.