We’ve waited a long time for a new single-player Star Wars game. Now it’s here. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is something we can finally play.
Set between Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order catapults you to a time in which Jedi are hunted down and eradicated. Inquisitors, led by Darth Vader, scour the planets for those who are Force-sensitive, attempting to put the Jedi down for good. But there’s always hope. Using the powers he’s hidden for so long, a young engineer called Cal Kestis saves his friend and co-worker, attracting the attention of the Second Sister. As a result he finds himself in a battle for survival and in a race to preserve the Jedi order.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gets off to a really good start. Tasked with a routine maintenance job, you’re given a good opportunity to get used to controlling Cal, engaging in some Tomb Raider-style traversal. He can balance on beams, climb walls, hang onto ledges, and he’s pretty good at jumping, too. With the drawing of Cal’s lightsaber, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order steps up a gear, and you’re left to experience the game’s first breathtaking setpiece as you escape a deadly adversary.
There are many more brilliant setpieces spread throughout Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s 20-odd hour playing time. For the most part, however, it’s a game that’s happy to let you determine the pace. Finding yourself aboard a ship with a small crew, it’s up to you where you travel – though the story will direct you through all of the available planets in a specific order. It’s thanks to Metroidvania-like elements that you’ll perhaps wish to revisit planets once you’ve acquired new abilities, exploring all possible paths and discovering additional secrets. Though outside of health and Force power-ups, the only thing you’ll really be plundering is additional cosmetic skins for Cal and co., and additional database entries.
In terms of its gameplay, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order feels like a mash up of the recent Tomb Raider titles and Sekiro. Environments are large and multi-layered. You’ll spend much of your time solving environmental puzzles, climbing, swimming and sliding down inclines. Come to think of it, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order likes making you slide a lot, which is a shame as those sections feel a little clumsy. Eventually you unlock new skills, including the ability to wall run, opening up new traversal options. And of course you have Force powers which, aside from being useful in combat, also enable you to knock down weak walls, slow down dangerous hazards and more.
There’s nothing revolutionary about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s exploration, but it constantly matches the highs of other titles with similar mechanics. The only thing that might irk some players is the occasional backtracking that you have to do to get back to your ship. The map you have gives a good idea of new routes that have become available, but it’s still easy to get lost at times. The saving grace is there’s just so much to find in each and every one of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order‘s environments that every journey throws up something new, if not only more of the Galactic Empire’s goons to defeat.
As you’d expect, Stormtroopers are the main foes you’ll be fighting against in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, though they come in many varieties. Those equipped only with blasters are very easily dealt with up close, and a well-timed parry at range can send their blaster fire right back at them. Stormtroopers equipped with other ranged weapons such as rocket launchers and flamethrowers pose more of a threat, but are still easily dealt with providing you have space. The enemies you really have to worry about in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are those who like to get up close and personal, because aside from not going down so easily, they also make it harder to deal with ranged threats.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is not an easy game. Well, unless you play it on “Story Mode” difficulty, then it’s just a cakewalk. On normal difficulty (“Jedi Knight”) and above, even the most basic of Stormtroopers equipped with a melee weapon can easily put you down if you don’t keep your wits about you. Defensive play is a must, blocking and parrying incoming blows before dealing out a flurry of your own. Catch your enemy off-guard and you might get a hit or two in before they regain their composure; but in many cases you’ll have to create an opening, wearing down your opponent’s posture before you can do some damage. Just swinging your lightsaber around wildly does you no good at all.
What really drives up Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s combat difficulty is the sheer number of enemies you’ll face at once. You might have two stormtroppers equipped with blasters, one with a rocket launcher, two riot troopers, a security droid and a purge trooper all out for your blood. In such situations you’ll have to make use of space as well as your Force powers to emerge victorious, though some opponents are not susceptible to the latter. There are also plenty of boss fights, which really will test your abilities. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dying a lot unless you’re playing on Story Mode difficulty. Dying isn’t much of a problem, aside from how long it takes to reload your game afterwards.
Keeping in with the Sekiro comparison, you come across many places where you can meditate in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, saving your game and creating a checkpoint at which you’ll respawn should you die. You death will have similar consequences, too. Experience is earned by defeating enemies and obtaining information from the environment. Fill the experience bar and you earn a skill point which can be used to increase your powers and learn new moves. Die before the bar is filled, however, and your experience is forfeit – unless you can return to your place of death and strike the enemy that finished you off.
By resting at a meditation spot you’ll not only restore your health, but enemies in the area will also be respawned. It gives you more chance to earn experience, but also raises the threat posed by exploration. To heal yourself between bouts of meditation you have to rely on limited healing stims provided by your lovable robot companion, BD-1. He can also be upgraded throughout your adventure, and proves to be quite a valuable ally.
The characters of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are just as pivotal to your enjoyment of it as the actual gameplay. Your crew is a ragtag bunch, each with their own history that isn’t exactly squeaky clean. Together, however, they’re better. Stronger. It’s BD-1 that’s likely to steal your heart, though; not only because he’s been lovingly brought to life with wonderful animations and sound effects, but also because he’s a great guide through your adventure. Without him, you’d be lost. And of course, the villains are suitably villainous. The Second Sister makes a great adversary, though she isn’t the only powerful foe you’ll be facing off against.
It goes without saying that Respawn Entertainment has done a brilliant job capturing the essence of Star Wars in video game form. Everything from the visuals to the music is spot on. It’s just a shame that little things bring the experience down a little, like the gulf between Story Mode and Jedi Knight difficulties; it really is too easy on Story Mode, while Jedi Knight will probably get troublesome for many further into the game. Jedi Master and Grand Master difficulties are truly for the brave. The game’s long loading times and its reliance on backtracking will also sometimes annoy. I also encountered a number of small bugs during my playthrough, which broke my immersion a little.
It would have also been nice to have more human interaction in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Hopping around planets and killing their wildlife, local inhabitants and Galactic Empire troops of various kinds is fun and all, but I yearned for the hustle and bustle of a market or bar now and again. You feel very cut off from the larger world, though perhaps that’s purposeful. A scene in which one of my companions fought with both a lightsaber and blaster also made me wish I could do the same. The focus here is definitely on lightsaber battles, perhaps to the game’s detriment at times. Being able to use a blaster, even only during certain sections of the game, would have added another dimension to the combat.
Despite the issues I encountered and the ways in which I feel Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is lacking, however, it’s still a very good game indeed. Its blend of action and adventure works brilliantly for the most part, and once you’ve acquired all of the powers at your disposal, you do often truly feel like a Jedi; there’s nothing quite like using Force Push to send an entire squadron of Stormtroopers off the edge of a cliff to their inevitable doom. Players are likely to encounter some frustrations throughout the adventure though. The Force is strong with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but sometimes glimpses of the dark side seep through.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.
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