History may well be written by the victors, but those of us who have played through the long list of Star Wars video games – how can you forget Star Wars Episode 1: Racer? – it has been a long time since we could hold a game up as our leader, one who will guide us to a future where bad Star Wars games are but a distant memory.
And, having spent an hour or two with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and had a quick chat with the Respawn devs, we can confidently say a New Hope is dawning. This is the game that will make you forget all about Star Wars Yoda Stories.
That’s right. Digital Spy got our hands on Fallen Order and managed to play a solid chunk of the game. And we left the venue confident this game will take up all of our time in the run-up to Christmas.
At last, a single-player-focussed game that has action, an immensely heart-warming and meaty plot (that fits into the Star Wars canon perfectly), tight combat mechanics and the ability to customise our own lightsaber: everything we’ve been looking for for the last three decades. Read on to find out our initial thoughts on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
A marriage of Dark Souls, Mass Effect, Uncharted, God of War, and Star Wars
OK, so a lot of people who’ve had time playing this game have claimed it to be a mixing pot of different games and genres and they are partly telling the truth. Fallen Order doesn’t reinvent the single-player action game genre, but it goes a long way to improving it, and it does all the basics perfectly.
Playing a hodge-podge of all these different games is a much better experience when it’s set in our favourite universe and we have a lightsaber in our hand to guide the way.
There are “bonfire-esque” save points for you to take a breather, tick a checkpoint and upgrade your abilities with skill points, just like SoulsBorne games.
There is a big spaceship that our hero, Cal Kestus, calls home, allowing you to travel between planets to progress the story, explore hidden secrets and customise your lightsaber, just like Mass Effect.
Big set-pieces and epic cutscenes are interspersed with exploration of deeply complex levels full of hidden treasure and deadly enemies, just like the Uncharted series.
However, Fallen Order doesn’t just copy these mechanics but builds on them. It moulds them into a Star Wars shape that feels familiar and balanced. We are but Padawans, eagerly learning all the Force powers to explore our true potential, which is why Cal is such a perfect character to take us through the journey.
We are one with the Force
The combat is heavy and feels quite a lot like the visceral fighting seen in God of War, but without the blood. While the lightsaber itself doesn’t feel like a wooden stick with which to hammer those poor Storm Troopers into the ground, it also will not be chopping off limbs any time soon – this is a Disney property after all.
However, don’t let that fool you into thinking this game doesn’t have savage lightsaber battles. Each swing feels like a real swing, and Cal is a pretty majestic duelist when you get the rhythm of fighting down.
Weave in dodges, rolls, Force abilities and a healthy dollop of lightsaber swings to make a perfect combat system that feels familiar and fluid.
Fallen Order requires you to learn patience and parrying to become successful. Wait for the perfect window to break your opponents guard with a parry before instantly killing them with a swift Jiu Jitsu throw, or a straight slam to the dome.
You underestimate your own power
Fallen Order is a game that caters to casual players who just want to enjoy the universe as well as all you hardcore gamers looking for a gruelling challenge. Before you grab your pitch-forks and start a march to complain that EA is pandering to the filthy casuals understand that this game is for all levels of gaming experience.
There are several difficulty settings for you to power through, from scrub level to Dark-Souls-on-steroids, which changes the number of enemies in certain instances, their aggression, how much damage you take and also the parry window when fighting.
However, enemy health will stay largely the same, which helps maintain the illusion of reality and removes the sensation that your sword of white-hot burning light is suddenly resembling a broomstick.
Storm Troopers will still die to one hit regardless of which difficulty you choose, but you will need faster reflexes and more skill to get through the harder versions of the game.
Enemies who are a little beefier will require multiple parries in order to break them down, and they will be much more aggressive in their play if you decide to go for the try-hard mode.
While we played through the story, we got a chance to talk through Respawn’s Narrative Lead on Fallen Order, Aaron Conttreas, who explained that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a game for all fans.
He told Digital Spy “Lucas Film worked so closely with us to make a game that fits right into the universe and we wanted all kinds of players to be able to experience Cal’s journey. These difficulty settings make it so that gamers who are looking for a really difficult challenge will still enjoy the game, while those who just want to absorb all the Star Wars content and come from somewhere where they don’t play games, they can play too.”
You can also make your own adventure completely unique with a massive array of collectibles to change how Cal and your cute little droid BD-1 looks like. Search for crates and chests to find upgrade materials, paint jobs for your droid-friend, and even different coloured ponchos – you can even make your lightsaber glow different colours, depending on your preference.
Grand (level) Designs
While this game might impress you with its stunning graphics and tight combat, it is actually the level design and puzzle-solving aspects that interested us the most.
Early on, we discovered doors that remained shut to us, tugging at our gamer-curiosity-sense to a point where we just couldn’t let it go.
We were told we needed a special ability to unlock that door and find out what lay behind. Reluctantly, we played on through another path, slicing our way through some Troopers with an easy confidence before coming to a mini boss that first tested our parrying capabilities.
Several frantic minutes of button-bashing and cursing resulted in a victory for Cal and the ability we had been craving to unlock the door. So we gleefully rushed back to unlock it to find out that it now opened up a shortcut back to our ship at the beginning of the level.
We’d spent a long time exploring this alternative path which twists and turns around the map much like in previous Dark Souls games, and the welcome relief of that shortcut meant we could now go back and take our time to explore the area we had rushed through, safe in the knowledge that we could skip right through to the next section without the headache of the previous area.
This also allows for super-secret hidden areas that could have deadly enemies or useful items lurking among the puzzles.
We were helpfully guided down one path by the developers that looked hidden behind a waterfall. Easy to miss to the untrained eye, but after some jumping and a bit of patience, we stumbled on a chest that contained an upgrade to our precious healing resources, extending the amount of health boosts we could use in a fight.
We also found a red paint-job for BD-1 so it was well worth going out of the way to spruce the little fella up.
You are encouraged to go out and look in every corner of the galaxy to help you find these items and upgrades, and none of it feels repetitive, so completionists will be able to check off all hidden secrets without mentally checking out for a few hours just to get it done.
Is this the game for you?
Honestly, we fell in love with this game the moment we first took a swing at a Storm Trooper, and we don’t think that love will dissipate the more we keep swinging. Fallen Order is a true Star Wars single-player game for the franchise fans and gamers alike, and is a tonne of fun to just get lost in.
We only got an hour or two of game time, but we managed to explore two planets, kill dozens of Storm Troopers who had surprisingly good aim, and we got a mere glimpse at what this game has to offer.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice scratched an itch that many gamers needed scratching for a long time earlier this year, delivering fast-paced gameplay that was punishingly hard, yet wonderfully rewarding.
Fallen Order is the balm that finally cures us of that pain we have experienced for so long. There is so much to this game and you’ll be constantly reminded through your own gameplay of exactly how good a game Star Wars can be with a bit of care and attention from EA and Respawn.
Fallen Order is a triumph, and will easily take the crown as the best Star Wars game ever made. Consider history, rewritten.
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