Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is hopefully the beginning of a new Franchise. Coming from Respawn Entertainment who made the exceptional Titanfall 2, Fallen Order shows that Respawn isn’t limited to only the FPS genre, but can make compelling games no matter what they are given.
In this case, Respawn tackled the challenging task of adding to the new version of the Expanded Star Wars Universe and developing something fresh for one of the most devoted fan bases, but also one of the most critical if the new Disney movies have proven everything. And yet, Respawn rose to the challenge.
Rather than delve into already established lore or canon, Fallen Order introduces us to Cal Kestis, a Padawan who begins the game in hiding on a planet helping to dismantle space ships for the empire. The game takes place only five years after the end of the prequels and the infamous Order 66 which called for a purge of all the Jedis.
Cal uses the force to avoid death which ends up calling the purge troopers who are hunting down Force users. Cal runs from them and ends up meeting a Jedi who has cut herself off from the force, and a slick pilot who tasks Cal with trying to revive the Jedi Order. From there Cal travels to multiple different planets to explore them, trying to find a list of candidates for a new Jedi Order as well as growing his abilities to become a Jedi.
What’s particularly interesting is that players aren’t given a great warrior but rather a padawan who no longer has a master and throughout the game, Cal grows into a Jedi Knight. The growth of Cal is well done and helps the player to bond with him as a character. Simil arly, the compatriots of Cal are well developed. Cere, the former Jedi, starts by pushing Cal onto the path but over time players learn more of her backstory exploring her decisions to stop using the force.
The pilot of the ship, Greez, is similarly well developed as he starts with his motivation is just doing a job but you can see Greez slowly become a friend to both Cal and Cere. The game also finds ways to explore his experiences and past with vignettes as you travel between planets and it’s remarkable how effortless the characters are fleshed out without stopping the game to force unnecessary exposition.
At the same time, not everything is perfect. While the story is exceptional at times, pieces of it feel missing in the presentation and are filled in by written synopses. There were a couple of critical points that could have been better developed.
While the story of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order works, it’s the gameplay that will be the most important. We’ve had multiple films about being a Jedi but having gameplay that matches that experience will be what matters.
In this Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order rises to the challenge and yet still struggles. Fallen Order focuses on a style of combat similar to Dark Souls, though avoiding the extreme difficulty. Much of the combat is focused on dodging, parrying, and then laying into the opponent when an opening is found.
It works particularly well with the lightsaber combat, with Jedis almost dancing with their opponent, but the issue comes up with the enemy choice in Fallen Order. Battles against other Jedis are exceptionally well done. Battles against the Purge soldiers become intense fights, and while Stormtroopers are numerous they can sometimes get in lucky shots. The problem comes in the numerous fauna found on a number of planets. Players will fight large frog-like creatures or spiders and at some point, I started to think about it.
Jedis in lore are powerful warriors who can turn the tides of battles, they often take on the strongest enemies, and yet in Fallen Order, most of the enemies can drain your life relatively quickly. That’s not to say a creature can’t beat a Jedi, but the level of damage enemies will do to Cal is extremely high, and as a Jedi, it’s also questionable how many of these non-sentient lifeforms I’m slaughtering.
It’s also a little odd to consider Cal is trying to be a Jedi which is always shown as a paragon of peace but does so by murdering hundreds of innocent enemies. It’s not that this is wrong for the game, but it’s a little strange when players consider the concept of what a Jedi is compared to what players are asked to do in the game.
Yet, the final couple hours of Fallen Order started to make me realize how powerful Cal had become over the course of the game, and how much better of a player I was at that point. Fallen Order’s story returns to one of the first planets in the game that originally challenged the player. But at this point in the story, Cal was able to do flips, wall runs, and could fly up a zipline. Cal also had multiple different Jedi abilities to use in combat. Over the course of the twenty hours the game took me, Cal grew into a Jedi Knight, not just in the story, but through his abilities and skills. As I became more accustomed to the battle system, I was also able to handle enemies more efficiently and I could fly through the level, not necessarily because Cal had become physically stronger as a character, but rather enough tools and training were provided that the experience had evolved into something else.
So while the game doesn’t always make the player feel like a Jedi, I can say by the end of the game, players should feel like they are finally worthy of the Jedi moniker and see how their skills have evolved.
Fallen Order also has a number of beautiful worlds, each showing a unique and varied location ready to be explored by the player. Each world has numerous secrets, and enemies exclusive to that planet. These feel like worlds that evolved separately, though the presence of the Empire on most of them help to show the far reach of the Emperor’s power.
The only real issue with exploring the worlds in Fallen Order is that there is a decent amount of backtracking and while the game feels like it’s trying to be an open-world game, there’s a specific order that planets have to be tackled with a number of them requiring players return to them multiple times.
The issue is that when backtracking players will notice how devoid most of these locations are from anything they want to revisit, and completionists will have the biggest problems with this as they’ll have to scour these planets multiple times as most secrets are gated behind ability upgrades.
The secrets mostly involve minor unnecessary lore and chest that contains customizations, but getting most of them will come near the end of the game when the customizations aren’t as necessary.
Fallen Order also has a series of boss fights, and this is where Fallen Order really shines. The number of bosses may depend on what players count as a boss fight, but there are at least five major boss fights, and multiple mini-bosses players will stumble on; each of these are unique and epic fights.
The bosses in Fallen Order are technical fights where players need to focus on using their abilities and skills to battle enemies. It’s where Fallen Order shines the brightest as it’s the few moments where Fallen Order’s difficulty feels appropriate as the player is fighting a suitably big enough enemy to be worthy of the danger of death in a single mistake.
One last piece of Fallen Order’s puzzle is the difficulty system. It feels like Respawn found an excellent approach to making Fallen Order’s combat accessible to new fans as well as offering a real challenge to players who want to excel. Each difficulty changes the damage given and taken by the player, but it also changes the time frame that parries can be pulled off, and with the parries being essential to the combat in Fallen Order this helps new players while challenging those who want the hardest difficulty.
Ultimately, Fallen Order isn’t the perfect game. While the story is solid, taken as a whole experience it feels like it’s not clear on a couple of important points. The combat is fun, but it also struggles to really ascribe to the lore of the Jedis and makes the main character feel far weaker than they should. The worlds are wonderful to explore the first time but become weaker on each return to the same land.
But these become minor issues. There are moments of pure brilliance from Fallen Order, and it’s those moments that stand out. There are not many games where players feel as powerful as Fallen Order does, nor feel as fragile as Fallen Order does. The major battles feel intense and players feel an amazing sense of accomplishment by the end of the game, and ultimately it’s these moments that stick with the player.
The fact is Fallen Order isn’t a perfect game, but players will emerge from Fallen Order focused more on the positives than the missteps made because Fallen Order is able to recover from the mistakes and still create lasting memories. Fallen Order also ends on an absolutely brilliant ending that I will not discuss, but should be experienced by everyone.
As such I give Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a very arbitrary
As a former Star Wars Fan, I can’t wait to see if Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gets a sequel, because this was an exceptional game.
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