Setting: a humid tropical planet.
Amid the swaying trees, Jyn Erso and her band of misfits have just blown up an Imperial landing craft. Dozens of stormtroopers lie dead, while their black-clad deathtrooper comrades race to the scene. The rebels fight back, and a firefight erupts.
And then…. walkers! The famous All-Terrain Armored Transport makes its first appearance in the Rogue One trailer.
But these are NOT your grandpa’s AT-ATs.
Take a closer look.
Notice anything different? I’m not talking about the hilarious olive drab camouflage (as if the walking behemoths would blend with the trees).
The head (or cockpit) is actually different, and it lacks the massive chin cannons seen in Empire Strikes Back.
One of the walking artillery pieces turns right toward the camera and fires a devastating barrage against Jyn and her hapless crew. This allows us a full-frontal look at the slight variations from the 1983 version.
Here’s the head-on view:
And here it is side-by-side with its predecessor. Or in the Star Wars timeline, its successor:
The ESB version seems to be a more heavily armored and up-gunned walker, which would make sense. Perhaps what we’re seeing in Rogue One is the older model.
In the real world, it would be like the M1A1 version of the Abrams tank from the first Gulf War, and the M1A2 version in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The hardware may look the same, but there’s a lot of subtle exterior changes (and much more on the interior) that is easily missed by the casual observer.
Our Bothan spies actually noticed this during our frame-by-frame lowdown of the Rogue One trailer. But we were just too lazy to note it at the time.
If you’re itching for more AT-AT action, here’s the GIF from that glorious scene.
UPDATE: We received a number of comments claiming the Rogue One AT-AT is similar to the one from the Star Wars Rebels animated series. It’s not. Here’s a comparison of all three versions:
We also have this interesting tweet from Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo: