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Star Wars: Commander's Worlds in Conflict expansion is all about what players wanted

Traveling through hyperspace may not be like dusting crops, but Star Wars: Commander's Worlds in Conflict expansion is letting players take the risk, starting today.

The update for the free-to-play mobile game allows players to move their custom-built bases around the galaxy far, far away and team up with classic characters like Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Wheres players used to be stuck on Tatooine like Skywalker, Star Wars: Commander's Worlds in Conflict expansion gives players the option of escaping the desert planet, jumping to hyperspace and exploring four new worlds: Dandoran, Er'Kit, Hoth and Yavin 4. The first two planets come from the extended universe. Yavin 4 appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope as the base where the Rebels launched their assault on the Death Star. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back begins on the ice planet Hoth.

Getting off Tatooine — a dual-sunned rock about which a certain farm boy once said, "Well, if there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from" — was the Star Wars: Commander's most-requested feature.

Nate Etter, VP of Studio Operations at Disney Interactive, told Polygon that, since its launch last August, Star Wars: Commander has seen 18 million players, who've fought in more than 600 million battles. The most popular fighters in the game, Stormtroopers, have been used 4 billion times.

The idea behind the Worlds in Conflict expansion, he said, is to "unlock the Star Wars galaxy to our players" and bring the larger scope of the sci-fi universe to the game. When Star Wars: Commander's players choose their faction — the Empire or the Rebellion — the wider scope will bring more surface area to the game, and a new Galactic Map will let everyone explore the the larger playable areas.

The new worlds will also tie into new competitive modes. In timed player-versus-player events, factions will fight over planets. There will be a winner, determined by the players who engage in planet-side battles. Events might last up to a week, Etter said, and include updates, twists and other changes as they unfold. The winning faction will receive benefits like loot bonuses.

It seems fair to call Worlds in Conflict an expansion, given how much it's adding to the game. And as Etter lays out the philosophy behind Star Wars: Commander's changes, it begins to sound either like a relaunch — or the way the game was always supposed to be.

After downloading the free-to-play game for Android or iOS, players begin as an unaligned mercenary. Players always had a choice between the light and the dark. They could always build bases, run out for fights, raise an army and collect resources at their home base. But they were firmly planted on Tatooine. Worlds in Conflict not only moves players off-world, but it gives new meaning to what players do.

Star Wars: Commander players will be able to choose which planet they want to travel to first. When they arrive, they'll be able to battle against players on the same planet — provided, of course, they have the resources they need. As a free-to-play game, Star Wars: Commander is built around standard-issue time limits, which of course anyone can get around by waiting or paying with real money. Either way you play, emerge victorious, and you'll receive bonuses and rise in the planet-specific leaderboards.

The planets, in other words, aren't just re-skins of Tatooine. They're designed to look, feel and have unique meaning for players, even beyond the film-based nostalgia.

They're also designed based on player feedback. Etter said that the development teams are always lurking and interacting with players in the forums, listening to their feedback and looking for ways to incorporate that into the game.

"Wouldn't it be great to move to new planets?" Etter said, quoting players. Today, with Star Wars: Commander's Worlds in Conflict expansion, developers answer "Yes."