The Emperor has taken control of the Galaxy, the Republic has transformed into the Galactic Empire and the remaining Jedi are being hunted down across the galaxy. Does Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order make this grim setting entertaining, and is it a return to form for Star Wars games?
After some mixed releases with Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is as fresh as the Force Awakens was after the prequel films (well, except Revenge of the Sith… that one was great). If you’ve been paying attention to Star Wars: Rebels then the story of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will seem familiar. You play as Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan – Shameless, Click, Gotham), a former Jedi Padawan hiding on scrapping planet Bracca. After using the Force in a life and death situation, the Empire notice and send in the Inquisitors. Shortly after your encounter with the Second Sister, you’ll meet Cere and Greez, who welcome you aboard your ship, the Mantis.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a single player-only experience with no microtransactions, multiplayer or DLC, just like 2018’s game of the year God of War. Combat is similar to God of War and such series as Dark Souls, The Surge and Bloodborne. You’ll need to pay attention to what your enemies are doing and block, parry and dodge accordingly.
“Lightsaber combat in Fallen Order is more realistic (well, for a fictional weapon) than previous Star Wars titles.”
Lightsaber combat in Fallen Order is more realistic (well, for a fictional weapon) than previous Star Wars titles. When the difficulty is set to hard, lightsabers are as deadly as their onscreen equivalent – and gameplay can be as challenging as Dark Souls! Cal kicks off with a single Force ability, and learns new abilities as you progress. You won’t be picking up Stormtroopers like Starkiller from The Force Unleashed, but you will feel the power of the Force when the screen shakes and the controller vibrates with a powerful Force Push.
Unlike previous Star Wars games, once you’ve completed the main mission of a world, you won’t automatically move on to a new level. Instead, you’ll need to make your way back to the Mantis. You can free roam the world looking for chests, which can contain anything from lightsaber parts to outfits and skins. The world traversal is a mixture of Uncharted and Assassins Creed – although you won’t be jumping off buildings into piles of hay or exploring the world like in Grand Theft Auto. There are some invisible walls here and there, and each planet is designed to be a puzzle to and from your objective.
You’ll also find meditation points, which work like campfires in Dark Souls. Here, players are able to spend experience points on new abilities, and also rest. The latter will restore your health and refill your healing stims in your companion droid. But it will also respawn all enemies (except bosses). So, if you just fought off a roomful of Stormtroopers before resting, be prepared to do it all again!
The companion droid that we mentioned is named BD-1, and it’s more useful than Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings. BD-1 can give Cal healing stims, unlock doors, scan the environment, activate machinery and even provide hints inside Jedi temples (which act like puzzle dungeons). As you further progress through the story, you’ll unlock more Force abilities, allowing you to explore areas on each planet that were previously inaccessible. Here you’ll find chests, as well as some special items that BD-1 will unlock.
You can take your lightsaber to workbenches (either found throughout the world or onboard the Mantis) and customise it any way you want. Change the emitter, handle, switch, wrap, material and yes, even the colour. The attention to detail is outstanding, and fans who’ve been lucky enough to create a lightsaber at the Disney Parks Galaxy’s Edge attraction will recognise some familiar parts. Changing the colour of your lightsaber will even change the ignition sound! Equipping the blue crystal will deliver the iconic light up noise, whereas equipping the green crystal will serve up Luke Skywalker’s unique and sharp ignition.
You can also equip Cal in different ponchos that go over his construction/flight suit, which thankfully aren’t just reskins. On top of this, you can change the colour of Cal’s suit, equip skins on BD-1 and give the Mantis a paint job. The Mantis is not only your main mode of transport for planet hopping, but it’s also Cal’s home. It’s a little like the Normandy from the Mass Effect series, where you can explore the ship, chat to Cere and Greez, and even bring aboard some wildlife.
During our playthrough we only found two small issues. The frame rate would sometimes drop quickly, hindering combat and puzzling. During traversal when jumping and falling, you thankfully return to where you just fell off, with less health. But having the frame rate dip, while surrounded by Stormtroopers and being pushed off a cliff, does get a little annoying. Also, after unlocking a new Force ability, we returned to an earlier planet to explore and found an item that we probably shouldn’t have that somewhat spoiled future gameplay. Mind you, upon discovering this, Cal bugged out by standing still and not moving, forcing a respawn. Upon respawning, the item that we found was gone, as were all records of it in the menus. Obviously these are pre-release glitches that we’re confident will be fixed via an update.
Ultimately, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the game that EA needed to release to keep Star Wars fans excited for the future. No microtransactions, no pay to win, and an outstanding single player experience make for a game that’ll have Star Wars fans both young and old eagerly facing off against the Empire.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.