In 2013, EA Games signed an exclusive agreement with Disney to develop Star Wars games. This agreement has drawn much controversy for EA Games, who up until now only released two Star Wars: Battlefront titles; one of which faced criticism due to its loot box system. A single-player game was also cancelled twice, first at the now-closed Visceral Games and then later at EA Vancouver, who took over the project. It’s taken six years for fans to get a proper single-player game – Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – and thankfully the wait has been worth it.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is set a few years after Revenge of the Sith. Having survived Order 66, former Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis must keep a low profile to evade the Galactic Empire. One day while salvaging a Star Destroyer, an accident occurs where Cal must use the Force to rescue one of his friends from falling into a pit. The incident is witnessed by a Probe Droid who transmits the footage to the Empire. Now aware of his existence, the Empire dispatches the Second and Ninth Sisters, two Inquisitors trained by Darth Vader, to find and eliminate Cal. During his escape, Cal encounters a former Jedi Knight named Cere Junda and her pilot, Greez Dritus. The duo hope to restore the Jedi Order by using a Holocron which lists every Force-sensitive being in the galaxy, and they need Cal’s help to retrieve it.
The plot feels like a game of cat and mouse. As Cal’s journey takes him across the galaxy the Inquisitors are always close behind and regularly appear for a confrontation. There’s also a lot of character growth – without spoiling too much, players are treated to flashback sequences which show Cal’s training with his former Master, and you’ll watch as the young Jedi develops his abilities and confronts his past regrets. There is also plenty of Star Wars references littered throughout the game, including events that took place in the Clone Wars TV series and some of the more recent comics. Star Wars fans are in for a real treat as the game is faithful to its source material and further expands on the overall lore.
The way Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order plays comes down to its difficulty settings. If you want something more akin to The Force Unleashed where you’re a powerful Force wielder and can go a little crazy with your lightsaber swings, then choose the Story difficulty. Enemies are weaker and don’t cause as much damage. Higher difficulty settings dramatically change the experience, and it’s here where the game’s deep combat systems become important. In addition to attacking enemies with your lightsaber and Force powers, you also have the ability to dodge, parry and counter. On higher difficulty settings you’ll need to observe your opponent’s movements and time your response accordingly; any mistakes and your opponent will make quick work of your health meter. For comparison’s sake, think of it as an easier version of Dark Souls. It’s pretty amazing how varied the experience is based on the difficulty settings alone, tailoring the game so that it’s accessible for all players. Better still, you can change the settings completely on the fly, so it’s worth checking out at least once during your playthrough.
Initially, players will only have access to a couple of combo moves and select Force powers. Through the course of the story, however, Cal unlocks new abilities including Force Slow, Force Push, Force Pull, Wall-Run and Double-Jump. Every enemy you defeat will give you experience which is tallied to unlock a Skill Point. These can be used to further enhance your Force powers, increase your health meter and unlock new combo moves and abilities such as the Lightsaber Throw. For those playing on higher difficulty settings, your hard efforts will pay off about half-way through the game as this is when you’ll really start to have a full arsenal of tactics at your disposal. Getting harassed by a rocket trooper? Fire that rocket right back at them using Force Push. Low on health and don’t want to attack an enemy head-on? Use a Lightsaber Throw to attack from a distance. Each ability has a strategic use in combat and it’s genuinely fun to discover how best to use them in different scenarios.
As fun and satisfying as the combat is, a large focus of the game is exploration. Environments have branching linear paths to discover; some will progress the story while others are optional. Like Metroid, the paths are full of puzzles and obstacles to overcome. Some areas will require you to activate switches by using the Force to position large spheres, others will see you navigate mazes by climbing walls and swinging from vines. You will also encounter enemy ambushes and boss battles. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order constantly throws new challenges at players and there is never a dull moment from beginning to end. One minor cause of frustration is sometimes it is unclear how to navigate certain areas, even when you look at your mini-map. This is particularly true for when you’ve reached the end of a pathway and it’s not obvious how to get back to the entry/exit.
Hidden throughout the environments are chests which contain cosmetic items. These include new outfits for Cal, colour schemes for the Mantis (the ship that takes you across the galaxy) and different lightsaber materials. You can customise your lightsaber hilt’s appearance, the blade colour and whether you fight using a single-blade, double-blade or two separate sabres at once. This also influences your fighting style – a double-bladed sabre, for example, is great for crowd control. It’s good practice to get a feel for each style and, again, learn which scenarios they are best used for.
Accompanying Cal throughout his journey is a droid named BD-1. The droid assists players by opening doors, opening locked crates, has limited health packs which can heal Cal and can also take control of Probe Droids and have them attack enemies. BD-1 also scans the environment, offering bits of information about points of interest including enemies, plant and animal life, and ruins.
Unfortunately, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order does have several technical issues. There are a lot of frame rate drops, particularly on the Planet Kashyyyk, that seems to occur whenever the game begins loading the next area. Apparently, this is more noticeable on the base PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Users have also reported random crashes, falling through floors, opened chests not being counted towards completion and some players have even been able to access areas they weren’t supposed to until later in the game (and subsequently getting stuck). I was fortunate to not experience too many of these issues, but given how often they are being reported it’s worth being prepared to encounter at least a few during your playthrough. The game would have benefitted from an extra few months of developed time to iron out these kinks. The good news is, EA and Respawn are working diligently to release patches so experiences should become smoother over time.
Visually, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a gorgeous game. The environments are varied, showcasing the snowy mountains of Illum, jungles of Kashyyyk, wastelands of Dathomir and tombs of Zeffo. Dynamic range lighting is also highlight when playing in 4K; there are plenty of moments where you see the sun shining brilliantly through cracks in the ceiling. The music has thoughtfully been put together as well, particularly during action sequences where the tone becomes dramatic and inspirational. During regular exploration, the soundtrack is usually calmer and takes a backseat.
Despite some technical issues Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a great game for Star Wars fans. The game has a deep and engaging combat system, the experience can be tweaked to suit the type of Jedi game you’re wanting to play, and there’s plenty of references to other cannon Star Wars material. The wait has finally paid off for EA Games.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on an Xbox One X system. It is also available on PS4 and PC.
- Deep, engaging combat system - Difficulty settings completely change the experience - Fun environments to explore
- Can occasionally be difficult to navigate environments - Frame rate issues - Several glitches and bugs