Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the latest addition of greatly anticipated Star Wars video games. Fans of the franchise will know the pain and anguish of not having a solid Star Wars game in some time. From canceled games like Star Wars: 1313 to promising but ultimately controversial games like the rebooted Star Wars: Battlefront series, there has been a lot of pressure on Electronic Arts to deliver on their new action-adventure game. Developer Respawn Entertainment has brought mechanics to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that has made their other games like Titanfall and Apex Legends so popular. However, the question remains whether or not it will be enough to satisfy the fan base.
Untold Star Wars Story
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place five years after the events Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and follows the adventures of Jedi Purge survivor Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan). The former Jedi padawan is on a mission to find himself as well as restore the Jedi Order to its former greatness. On this journey, Cal is joined by the newest adorable droid BD-1 and the crew of the Mantis: human Cere Junda (Debra Wilson) and letero Greez Dritus (Daniel Robuck). The Empire, with the help of Sith Inquisitors, Purge Troopers, and a host of other stormtroopers, chase our heroes around the galaxy in hopes of stopping them from accomplishing their goal.
Players are taken to various worlds throughout the game. Some of them new, some of the old, but all with a host of history to explore. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order allows players to learn more about the environment they are in with two unique ways. The first is through BD-1. Occasionally, the droid will jump off of Cal’s back and beep at a certain location prompting Cal to follow. If players follow and interact with BD-1, he will begin scanning the area to provide detailed information. Additionally, Cal has the ability to use Force Echo to engage with his surroundings. With this ability, Cal is able to see what has happened in the past in various locations. Information gathered in both instances is added to a databank and tactical guide in the menu for later reference. As a lore buff, I really enjoyed this part of the game. It added depth to the canon with different fauna, planets, environments, and history.
The story progresses in a very linear fashion. Players work through chapters as the story unfolds. There is a main objective, which is visible on the map that BD-1 provides, as well as the holotable of planets on the Mantis. While the game itself is not fully open world, players can still explore the planets freely to find secrets for 100% completion of the game. Players who are interested in the story may not be concerned with going back to the first couple of planets but those completionist players will enjoy that option.
Given that Star Wars canon became sacred once Disney took over the franchise, players will not be able to decide their own story. Unlike other popular Star Wars role-playing games, there are not any Light side or Dark side choices to alter the course of the story. Instead, the story follows more of the model presented in Star Wars: Battlefront II‘s campaign where players are along for the ride.
Again as a lore buff, I am not opposed to learning more about what happened in between movies. However, knowing this self-contained story doesn’t have major implications for the larger universe does take away from the story a bit. I think back to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that allowed for different endings even though it didn’t really have an impact on what would happen in the main story of the franchise. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order does have very small instances of where while you can pick a response to an interaction, they don’t really matter to the overall story or even to that specific instance. Their presence in the story just makes me wish that I had more control over the narrative.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Gameplay and Combat
The best way I can describe the mechanics in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is if Dark Souls and Tomb Raider had their own youngling. Fighting enemies requires well-timed parries, blocks, and dodges as well as an awareness of the kind of attacks your enemies can perform. Time it right and you can defeat the opposition with a fantastic flurry. Time it wrong and a giant beast can put together their own combinations that could take you out in a hurry. While combat isn’t as treacherous as Dark Souls, dying does mean you lose progress and experience from your last save point. You can regain lost experience by killing the enemy who killed you but it is disheartening to have to go back and reclaim that lost time.
Skill progression evolves along with the story. As Cal begins to reconnect with his training, he gains access to more and more abilities. Newly remembered Force powers allow the player access to previously unavailable areas upon revisitation while the skill tree lets the player unlock more elaborate combos. The player has some playstyle choice as the skill tree is split into three categories: lightsaber, Force, and survival. From my time playing the game, there is enough experience gained through fighting and discovering secrets that there isn’t a sacristy of skill points that would pigeonhole players into one category.
Respawn Entertainment‘s influence is felt in the platforming aspects of the game. From my experience, some of the combat suffers from buggy character models. This was not the case when it came to platforming. Wall running, climbing, swinging, sliding, and well-timed jumps are essential to traversing the different landscapes. As Cal gets more Force abilities, the platforming becomes more complex, which comes as a nice change of pace.
While not a huge part of the game, the puzzle challenges in the game were enjoyable. They weren’t as intricate as challenge tombs in Tomb Raider, but they did provide a different wrinkle to the gameplay. There were many times where I had to get creative with how I used my abilities to get things where they needed to be. If puzzles aren’t your strong suit, you can get hints by talking to BD-1 after a certain amount of time. If you are like me and are determined to figure out the puzzles on your own, you can decline the hints when prompted.
When I wasn’t switching between lightsaber styles to slash fauna, running sideways from wall to wall, or trying to solve ancient alien puzzles, I spent a decent amount of time searching for hidden crates and places to use Cal’s Force Echo. The crates provided nothing more than cosmetic options for the Mantis, Cal, BD-1, and lightsaber combinations. The cosmetics were easy enough to switch out in the main menu while the lightsaber configurations required a workbench. There are enough options that anyone should find what makes their character, ship, and little droid look the best. Like the crates, the places to use Force Echo aren’t always in the open. Many of them required me to search off the beaten path. Finding certain echoes increases Cal’s Force and health meter too, which gives the player more incentive to go out and search.
In our current gaming environment, accessibility is important. More and more companies are expected to produce games that allow everyone to enjoy the game at their own pace and comfort. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order does a pretty okay job at this. I went back and forth on which gaming system to play the game on. I ultimately ended up choosing PC and I am glad I did. When playing on PC, the game immediately tells you that for the best experience to use a controller. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my Xbox One controller to connect to my PC and the default PC controls aren’t very conducive to the fast-paced melee combat. Thankfully, you are able to remap all the controls regardless of the system used and I was able to find a set up that worked well with my mouse and keyboard. Remapping controls is essential to a lot of players with accessibility needs.
As far as difficulty is concerned, the game provides four different modes for players to choose from. Each mode provides its own description of what kind of player should choose that option as well as information on what players can expect from damage, parry timing, and enemy aggression. I played the game at the Jedi Master level which is prescribed for, “Players who are familiar with melee action games and desire a challenge.” I found the mode difficult but nothing that years of Dark Souls hadn’t prepared me for. You can change the difficulty at any point which may come in handy for those enemies that are just too tough to get past otherwise.
On PC, there is a variety of options to help players understand what is going on in the game. There are different audio settings to choose from depending on the setup you are using ranging from standard headphones to 7.1 surround sound. The options for subtitles are also extensive. You are able to change the size of the font, transparency of text box, and the languages that they are provided in. Players are also able to disable possible disorienting effects like chromatic aberration and camera shake.
If there is one major gripe I have with the accessibility of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order it is the lack of colorblind options. In a day in age where the colorblind options are becoming the norm, I was disappointed not to find any in a game this extensive graphically. One of the main combat features of the game is being able to avoid enemies that turn red as they attack. These moves are unblockable, cause massive damage, and could potentially stun Cal. As someone who is red-green colorblind, this mechanic wasn’t the easiest to see at times depending on the enemy and the environment. Further, some of the blocked content is denoted with red on BD-1’s map and at times, I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t progress. The situation becomes even more disappointing when I think about Respawn Entertainment‘s Titanfall 2, which had great colorblind options. To me, this shows their ability to incorporate the settings into the game but a lack of oversight at the end of the day. I hope they are able to add in these settings in future patches of the game.
Overall, I enjoy my time playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. If it isn’t my favorite Star Wars video game (Knights of the Old Republic and the original Battlefront II are near perfect in my eyes), I believe I got more than my money’s worth. After over 30 hours of game time, I know there are still lots to go before I 100% complete all the planets. The game itself is beautiful and there many times where I just stood still and took in the environment by panning the camera around. I will have no problem revisiting these planets if nothing else just to see what backdrops I missed the first time.
While the story is nothing groundbreaking, it is a decent hero’s journey that Star Wars is known for. I am not sure how much more the franchise will be able to get away with these in-between movie games, but I am enjoying them for the time being. It is hard to be as invested in the story as I was during my playthroughs of Knight of the Old Republic, or even The Force Unleashed since I don’t have major control over what happens other than whether or not I can beat the next enemy in front of me. With that said, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order does offer lots in terms of canon new and old. New species of fauna and plants, as well as trips back to visit and interact with Star Wars staple planets and characters, will be enough to get any fan engaged in what is going.
The gameplay is able to take from what’s come before it in the genre and presents a satisfying experience. The combat is not as over the top as The Force Unleashed series or as a technical as the rock-paper-scissor matches from the Knights of the Old Republic series either. It strikes a nice balance between games like Dark Souls and Tomb Raider by implementing Star Wars elements to make the mechanics it’s own. If not for the occasionally bugged out enemy, slow texture loads, and lack of colorblind options, I would say it is near perfect.
If Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment’s goal was to give fans hope that good Star Wars games can still be made despite the Disney takeover, I think they succeeded.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
It strikes a nice balance between games like Dark Souls and Tomb Raider by implementing Star Wars elements to make the mechanics it’s own. If not for the occasionally bugged out enemy, slow texture loads, and lack of colorblind options, I would say it is near perfect.