Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Preview: We Left Quietly Optimistic
As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I don’t feel like I ask for much in a video game adaptation of my favourite franchise. The ability to dive deep into Star Wars lore, to feel like I’m immersed in the spectacular universe, and to wield a Lightsaber with all the reckless abandon of a 7-year-old brandishing a sizeable stick and a penchant for roly polys.
You feel my plight, then (and possibly share it) when you acknowledge that EA have thus far, been bantha fodder when it comes to bringing Star Wars to your home entertainment system of choice. Something they’re looking to put right with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
You’ll also be able to imagine my glee when I was given the opportunity to play the game myself, in a behind closed doors meeting at this year’s E3. So the question is: Does Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order make me feel like a sugared-up child waving a pretend laser sword? The answer is… pretty much, yeah? Let’s take a look:
The premise for the game is a simple one. You play as Jedi apprentice Cal Kestis who’s in hiding after the execution of Order 66; hunted by a fledgling Galactic empire hellbent on the eradication of force sensitive beings.
During the section I played, you’re on the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk some six or seven hours into the game with your trusty companion droid BD-1, attempting to have a chin wag with Wookie chieftain Tarfful for sci-fi plot reasons.
It’s the same gameplay section as was shown to the public, but with an extra 10 minutes or so tacked on to the start.I didn’t actually play any of the prelude bit (a handily placed dev did that for me), but it involved Cal climbing, taking over then piloting an Imperial AT-AT as re-purposed Republic LAAT gunships and TIE fighters dogfight above a misty lake.
Cal then goes on to destroy another AT-AT and carve into some ground troops from the cockpit of his new toy, before it eventually decides to take a nap and the level starts proper. This apparently is one of many “Star Wars” moments sprinkled throughout the games to give it that razzmatazz we’re all so fond of.
The guts of gameplay in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order can be split into three main categories; combat, puzzle solving and traversal, each drawing on the blueprints of other critical hit titles to draw players in.
Combat is distinctly Soulsborne-lite, and I say that with the utmost respect. You’re thrown into situations that could quickly become problematic if you’re not familiar with where your dodge, evade and parry buttons are, forcing you to think carefully before you fling Cal into a fight.
I’m sure for people familiar with those games, this part will be a doddle, and Respawn – the team behind the game – have made it clear they intended the combat to be approachable yet challenging. Something I certainly found it, as I suck at those kinds of games.
I did, however, find it entirely satisfying fwooshing my saber around at Stormtroopers and sending laser blasts packing back to their senders with a well-timed parry. Hits carry a modest amount of weight and chaining together a decent combo of light and heavy attacks makes you feel like you’ve got a 10 foot space-dong, especially if you can work in some stylish executions.
Sadly, you can’t lop off a stormtroopers arm and use it to beat his mates to death as he lies bleeding on the ground, but Respawn did say they wanted to keep the slicing and dicing true to the movies, so a kill leaves nothing more than a glowing stipe across your victim.
You can check out our interview with the devs below, where they touch on the subject. The chopping limbs off bit, not beating grunts to death on a strange planet far from their family and friends. That’s “not the Jedi way”, apparently.
"It's a good sized game; I'm not worried about it as a gamer, it's a really good size."We spoke to the developers of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order about making a single player game, how good the combat feels and wether or not you should be able to cut people apart with a lightsaber 👀
Posted by UNILAD Gaming on Monday, 10 June 2019
Next up, is traversal, and it’s clear Respawn have dipped into their expertise working on the much-lauded Titanfall series when it comes to getting around the maps. While it seems each map will be a largely linear affair, there will be a few places where you have to think outside the box in order to progress to the next section.
Using Cal’s force powers you’ll be able to force jump, pull and push, wall run and even use your lightsaber to brighten up dark nooks and crannies. Side note; yes I tried to stop a laser in mid-air and pull a hapless bloke into it, and no, I didn’t manage to pull it off. I also managed to take an alternate route through one parkour section that opens itself up if you fail a wallrun.
The dev explained that often the most obvious route to your goal isn’t always the best, so it’s worth surveying a situation before you go at it like a bull in a china shop. Not my preferred playstyle but, you do you I guess.
Anyway, it’s clear that the Uncharted and Tomb Raider series were used as cornerstones for how you’ll be able to ebb and flow through the level, and it certainly made me feel like a nimble force user as I bounded around an Imperial refinery and some jungle overgrowth.
On this point, there is also a skill tree that you’ll be able to level up and gain access to new abilities through. This is important because a new ability might mean you can go to a previously inaccessible piece of map, giving you reason to travel back to previously visited planets in your fancy-pants star ship.
Yes, there are multiple planets to see. At time of writing we know of at least 4, with the devs telling me that the weighting would be roughly 50/50 new planets and old favourites.
You can apparently even up sticks at any point to go and do your own thing elsewhere in the galaxy. No word if you can dip out on defending a Jedi temple full of younglings from an Imperial ambush though. Looking at you, Yoda.
Finally, we come to puzzle solving. Now, admittedly, this is the part of the game I had the least amount of time looking at, as the section we played through was fairly short and combat heavy. From what I can tell though, it will be at least serviceable, which is nice.
It seems to be that a good chunk of this will be environmental puzzle solving which ties into the Uncharted style movement but for my money, there’s no better way to do it, so no complaints here.
All things told, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks to be firmly on the right track. It apes a lot of great games without ever really committing to being akin to any of them, but that’s okay. EA have a bumpy rep when it comes to the Star Wars license but if anybody can do it justice, it has to be Respawn right?
Full judgement should obviously be reserved until the game releases on November 15, 2019, but from what I can tell it’s off to a good, if not miraculous, start. Some big questions remain to be answered though: Will there be a mod to decapitate Stormtroopers? Did Watto survive the Clone Wars? Would I be accepted as a Jedi Padawan?
Probably not – I’m too old to take the trials now. Bugger