In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, fauna is absolutely everywhere. As you travel across the galaxy visiting planets old and new to longtime Star Wars fans, you will encounter all sorts of creatures, virtually none of which have ever featured in Star Wars before. From the absolutely adorable hopping, bug-eyed, fluffy-tailed little boblings of Bracca to the utterly huge, ferocious, tusked hydraatis of Dathomir, there is an abundance of new beings in the Galaxy Far Far Away to learn about in the game’s database after encountering them or exploring their habitats.
For as much though, as Fallen Order poured enormous detail into the invention of dozens of new creatures, the game has a huge problem: leveling up is tied directly to the mass murder of the indigenous fauna. There are three ways that your character, Cal, levels up in Fallen Order. Either you complete your objectives and you gain experience towards skill points, you find hidden collectibles, or you kill things. In many of the game’s environments, since the whole point is to avoid being detected by the Empire, the only types of enemies the folks at Respawn Entertainment were apparently left with are eternally hostile creatures and monsters.
It’s deeply anthropocentric to assume that every wild creature Cal would encounter in his journey would automatically be hostile towards him and attack him relentlessly. Humans are an invasive species to literally every planet in the galaxy as they colonized foreign worlds over the course of millennia. The human infestation is not only dangerous to the wellbeing of native fauna, but it’s also pretty amoral.
Look, I get that Fallen Order fauna are just polygons on a screen. I’m not offended by the fact that you can kill them recklessly. Plus, the “enemies” respawn every time you meditate, so it’s not like I’m worried that Cal is going to cause an extinction with his murder sprees or anything. Do I think that it’s a bit weird though when wild animals constantly attack people unprovoked in games? Absolutely. Why are they just attacking humans for no reason all the time? Even still, what sets Fallen Order apart from other games that feature wanton animal murder, such as Far Cry games, is the fact that killing these creatures is an absolutely necessary part of progressing in the game.
You can play the whole of Far Cry games without ever killing more than a few animals if you wanted to, besides the ones that attack you for no reason. Sure, the benefits that killing animals provides are nice, but you can get on just fine without the upgrades from skins or the other marginal benefits. You gain very little experience in those games from killing wildlife. In Fallen Order, there is simply no other way to gain experience besides killing wildlife in a significant portion of the game.
I think it is specifically the fact that you can play Fallen Order for hours at a time and never encounter another sentient enemy, only creatures and monsters, that makes it is so upsetting. Why is nearly every creature you encounter immediately hostile? That is not how animals work in real life, so there is no reason why they should act this way in Fallen Order.
Ultimately, there’s something that upsets me more about this than the anthropocentrism and the poor creativity in finding ways to fight more humanoid enemies and fewer innocent creatures that did nothing wrong but get in the way of Cal’s lightsaber. What really bothers me is how much all of this fauna murder takes me out of the experience. Jedi are guardians of peace and meant to be one with the Force. Being one with the Force, as the entire point of Star Wars: Rebels seems to have tried to relate, includes being kind to, caring for, and connecting with all of the living beings that are entangled within the Force. Going around just killing innocent beings feels as antithetical to the Jedi way as it comes.
There is an entire part of Cal’s quest where you are trying to help this giant, majestic creature while you slaughter smaller flyer creatures for your own self-preservation. There is another point where you get stuck in a gladiator ring against a slurry of innocent beings. It just feels so deeply wrong to me. I even tried for several hours to play the game on Jedi Master difficulty without killing any native creatures, but I barely made it anywhere and wanted to actually finish the game so I gave up. I might likely try again though after completing the game once first.
While the Fallen Order fauna may not receive the respect and sanctity they deserve, I still am appreciative of this game for how much detail is put into developing amazing flora and fauna for every world in the game. The fact that you have a terrarium on your ship to collect plant seeds and that there’s ample information to collect on every creature you encounter is amazing. I just wish you didn’t have to slice those creatures in half before your adorable droid friend BD-1 is able to scan them and unlock their database entry.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available now on Xbox, Playstation, and PC.