(Note: This post contains spoilers for the video game “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and “The Force Awakens.”)
“Star Wars: Battlefront II” is a video game that adds a bit more story that’s been left out of the films so far. Taking place starting at the conclusion of “Return of the Jedi,” “Battlefront II” fills in some of the 30-year gap between the final film of the original trilogy and the start of “The Force Awakens.”
Though it’s not completely illuminating for telling fans what happened between the destruction of the Death Star and the rise of the First Order, “Battlefront II” does give a few hints that might shed some light on what’s happened to Luke Skywalker in the interim between films. At the end of “The Force Awakens,” we know Rey discovers Luke on an uncharted, uninhabited planet called Ahch-To.
Luke apparently went in search of Ahch-To to try to find the first Jedi temple ever built. Why exactly he’s looking for it (we presume it’s something beyond just general curiosity) isn’t clear. But “Battlefront II” provides what’s probably the first step on Luke’s journey, and ties his search for the first Jedi temple to the series’ ultimate villain: Emperor Palpatine.
“Battlefront II” mostly follows the exploits of an Imperial special forces group called Inferno Squad as it carries out the Emperor’s final order, something called Operation: Cinder. In carrying out the operation throughout the course of the game, one of the squad members, Del Meeko, is dispatched to an uninhabited planet called Pillio.
On Pillio, the Emperor had a “classified observatory” filled with “artifacts” that the Empire worries could be used against it by the Rebellion, should the facility be discovered. Del’s job is to secure and then destroy the facility and everything in it. The Imperial expedition to find the observatory is met with some local resistance, however, in the form of gross bugs that spray a kind of quick-hardening amber all over everything. As he and the expedition delve underground to find the observatory, Del is attacked by the bugs and his arm is trapped in the amber, leaving him helpless.
Also on Pillio is Luke Skywalker, who was called to the planet by something he sensed in the Force. He fights his way through the Stormtroopers on the expedition, but when Luke comes across the trapped Del, the Jedi helps him. The two become uneasy allies — Del by this point has already been having second thoughts about the Empire — and work together to get into the observatory.
When they arrive, Luke discovers what he refers to as a “compass,” the object that has been calling to him. He asks Del if he can take it, and Del agrees before destroying the rest of the observatory.
There’s not much more context than that in the game, and Luke never shows up as a character in the story again. But “Battlefront II” is definitely designed to link aspects of the aftermath of “Return of the Jedi” directly to “The Force Awakens.” The game’s epilogue leaps 30 years in the future and concerns Kylo Ren, Luke’s former apprentice and Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son, and gives a few hints about what goals he might be working toward, as well. It shows Kylo interrogating Del in search of information about Skywalker, suggesting Del and Luke’s meeting and the compass found are key to where the Jedi eventually wound up.
What “Battlefront II” makes clear is that whatever was in the Emperor’s observatory — seemingly the compass, since that’s the only thing that wasn’t destroyed — was so important that the Emperor ordered its destruction to be carried out on the event of his death. It’s possible the compass has other uses, but this definitely seems to be the first step on the journey that brings Luke to Ahch-To.
That the compass was so important to the Emperor, and that he was so worried it might fall into the wrong hands, adds some context to Kylo Ren’s actions in “The Force Awakens,” as well. In that movie, the villainous Kylo is obsessively searching for the pieces of a map that would lead to Luke Skywalker. It might be that Kylo is not only interested in destroying Luke as the last member of the Jedi Order, but in stopping him from finding and using whatever it was the Emperor was so keen on keeping out of Rebel hands.
One thing that “Battlefront II” suggests for “The Last Jedi” and “Episode X,” however, is that the Emperor and his plans may have more influence on the new trilogy of films than anyone has yet realized.