EA’s Star Wars games have built up a bit of a reputation for being soulless money-grabbing releases that not only have no depth to them whatsoever, but also bleed players dry of their hard earned money through microtransactions. I’m pleased to say that Respawn Entertainment has helped the publisher avoid repeating the missteps they made with Star Wars Battlefront II, creating a game that not only feels unique, but may as well be Star Wars canon.
In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, players take on the role of Cal Kestis, a Jedi survivor of Order 66, five years after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Cal is hiding out as a scrapper, ripping apart ships for the Empire so that they can build more war machines. A well-paid opportunity ends up thrusting Cal onto the radar of an Imperial Inquisition, who want nothing more than to kill every remaining Jedi in the galaxy. After being rescued by the mysterious Cere, who says she knew Cal’s master, players will follow him on a journey across a number of planets as he works against the Empire to uncover the secrets of an ancient race of Force Users.
The game’s story is fantastic, and thoroughly enjoyable for any gamer regardless of their favourite genre. However, as an old-school Star Wars fan there were definitely points where I felt that the story went off the rails, or didn’t stay true to its roots. Despite the ways in which the story sometimes falters, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order definitely hits the mark when it comes to the environments.
Every location, from the homeworld of the Zeffo, to Kashyyyk, homeworld of the Wookies, is dripping with Star Wars lore. Hints of the Clone Wars can be found in the repurposed ships rebels are using to free Wookie slaves from the Empire, and even the very structures built into the planets resemble the architecture found in the original Star Wars trilogy.
The game also nails the extremely hard balance that the very best Star Wars films have between futuristic technology, and that sense that everyone in the galaxy deems that same technology ancient and almost part of the woodwork of the era they live in. One particular section sees Cal swimming through a large body of water while AT-ATs emerge from the depths, plodding along on a seemingly endless and destructive hike of the planet. The troop carriers have been exposed to the humid atmosphere of Kashyyyk for so long that plants and vines have taken root in the spaces between metal plating, creating an almost beautiful covering of lush greenery around the deadly monstrosities.
Since Cal is a Jedi, the gameplay in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order revolves around lightsaber skills and the use of the Force. Cal is a far more agile character than you’d expect to see in a Star Wars game, able to easily jump, climb, and move around each world as effortlessly as Nathan Drake. Exploration is aided by BD-1, a droid Cal picks up early in the story, and whose abilities develop over time to open up new areas of every location players will visit. Initially Cal’s Force abilities are limited, due to a blockage he experienced long ago, but over the course of the game he will come to terms with the past and become a true Jedi, with all the skills to match.
If you were expecting a game like The Force Unleashed then you’re fresh out of luck. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is closer to Dark Souls than it is a traditional action game. Enemies are tough, and if players want to defeat them then they’ll need to pay attention and defend, parry, and attack when it matters, instead of trying to break through shields and stamina with a flurry of blows. Cal’s own stamina must be managed alongside his Force meter to bring foes down without succumbing to their attacks. Players can use base Force skills like push, pull, and slow in battle, but more fighting moves can be unlocked through a skill tree that open up new ways to approach each combat situation. For example, at the start of the game I was using slow a lot to help me take down tougher enemies, while later on I developed the far better strategy of just pushing them off of high ledges.
Planets are filled with Stormtroopers to slice up and wildlife to murder, but none of it is easy to kill. In fact, each planet hosts a specialised version of most fauna, forming miniboss fights when players least expect them. These minibosses extend to Empire forces like Droids and AT-STs, and though tough to fight they’re also the highlights of much of the game.
As the story develops, players will encounter specialised enemies who have been specifically trained to take down Jedi. Not all of these foes are Force Users themselves, but they’re the cream of the crop from the Empire’s stock of soldiers. Respawn Entertainment has done a great job of making these enemies feel as though they fit in with the Empire’s regime, as if they’d always existed in the Star Wars universe and we just hadn’t seen them yet.
In terms of visuals, gameplay, and audio, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a fantastic game. Everything, down to the sound of a Stormtrooper blasting away at Cal as he thrusts his lightsaber into their gut has to have been taken from the original movie sound files, because it’s just too perfect. Even so, I found myself encountering a couple of issues where the game lagged so hard that the screen froze for about 10 seconds at a time. At one point I also managed to break the game in a way that meant my controller was powered on but wouldn’t control anything.
However, these momentary issues that took me out of the game were few and far between. Overall Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order feels like a solid game, perfect for sinking dozens of hours into while you watch the original trilogy in the background.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a great Star Wars game that’s true to the lore of the universe whilst also expanding with an attitude of conservationism. Respawn Entertainment have carefully crafted a new story that fits in well between two movies and even features one of the characters from Rogue One. As a first step for the series into the soulslike genre it feels natural, though it also offers a more hardcore game mode for those that want a real challenge.
Cal is a totally different Jedi to the ones portrayed in any other game or movie. Through him fans experience a new story that cuts right to the heart of Order 66, and what happened to any of the survivors. This brief glimpse into the dark time when the Empire imposed themselves on an entire galaxy is both bleak and filled with hope, a perfect adventure to go on before watching The Rise of Skywalker.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order (Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a great Star Wars game that’s true to the lore of the universe. As a first step for the series into the soulslike genre it feels natural, though it also offers a more hardcore game mode for those that want a real challenge.