After playing three hours of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, I can say that this is the single-player Star Wars game we’ve been looking for.
While I was at an event associated with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order earlier this week, one of the employees working at the event’s location knew I had played the game that day and asked me how it was. I told him that I couldn’t share my thoughts until later this week due to being under embargo, which led to him asking me, “Well, can you at least tell me if it will have loot boxes?”
This, in a nutshell, is how I think your average video game player has perceived EA titles over the past few years. The stigma of microtransactions and loot boxes has stuck to EA like glue ever since Star Wars Battlefront II launched amid controversy back in 2017. Since then, it seems almost every EA release has been met with either criticism or hesitancy from many in the gaming community, whether warranted or not. Fortunately for Electronic Arts, I think that stigma is finally going to be diminished a bit next month after the launch of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order because the game is truly looking like it’s going to be excellent.
I’ll be honest: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order wasn’t on my radar all that much in this fall release window, which is a bit odd considering how much I adore Star Wars. I think part of that is because we still hadn’t seen a whole lot of the game other than a gameplay demo from earlier in the summer at E3 2019. After going hands-on with Fallen Order for roughly three hours though, it now is likely my most-anticipated release for the remainder of 2019.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order feels like an amalgamation of ideas and gameplay mechanics from other popular franchises, but the way in which they mesh together feels unique. It’s got a little bit of Dark Souls, a dash of Metroid, and the traversal and level design that you might see from an Uncharted game. Fallen Order’s inspirations are worn clearly on its sleeve, but it’s by no means a bad thing whatsoever.
Combat, specifically, feels about as great as I was hoping it would. The blows you deal with your lightsaber are slower-paced in nature, making it a game about knowing when to go on the offensive and when to stay back and wait for enemies to charge or shoot at you. If you played Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice earlier this year, both games have roughly similar baseline combat mechanics. Basic enemies in Fallen Order such as Stormtroopers can be defeated with a single blow from your lightsaber but more powerful foes take a bit more work to take down. A version of the posture system from Sekiro is seen here in Fallen Order as well, meaning that if you deplete the meter above the enemy you’re facing off with, you’ll be able to then deal a decent chunk of damage to them.
While hacking and slashing with your lightsaber is your bread and butter in combat, you do have Force abilities to utilize as well. The section of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that I played, however, didn’t give me a whole lot of these powers to use. Force Push and Force Slow were the only two that I really got to use and while both were fun (I like pushing Stormtroopers off of cliffs) they were relatively straightforward.
That said, I did get to see a battle later on in Fallen Order that showed how these Force abilities will work in boss fights and it was, as young Anakin would say, tense. Seeing Cal Kestis square off against the Ninth Sister, a Sith Inquisitor that has Force powers of their own, proved that boss fights in this game are going to be equal parts difficult and enjoyable. I don’t know how many Jedi vs Sith boss fights there are going to be in this game, but after seeing how one of them played out, I’m hoping that number is high.
By far the aspect of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that I was most impressed by was the game’s level design. As I mentioned before, there is definitely some Uncharted DNA here, not only with how the levels themselves are laid out but with how you traverse the world. There’s a lot more platforming in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order than I would have expected, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
Fallen Order also places a large emphasis on exploration as the more you try to wander around the world, the more you’ll be rewarded with new gear like costume variants for Cal or BD-1 or new lightsaber parts to alter your saber’s appearance. In typical Metroidvania style, not all of these avenues that you’ll find in the world will be accessible at first, meaning you’ll have to return later on with new abilities. I’m a sucker for this style of game, personally, and even in my brief demo with Fallen Order, I was trying to find every possible item in the world to obtain.
I also don’t have an idea of how long Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be (I asked the devs, they didn’t tell me) but from what I played, the game seems massive. The three hours that I played of Fallen Order saw me exclusively traversing around the planet Zeffo and one of the temples that resides on the planet. When I got back to my ship, which is called Mantis, later on, I checked the progress screen on the world map to find that I had only seen 10% of what Zeffo had to offer. I’m not sure if every other location in the game will be as large as Zeffo, but if they are, there’s going to be tens of hours worth of content here.
And for all of you Star Wars dorks like me out there, I have to say that Fallen Order’s narrative seems pretty darn good. Cal is a likable character and BD-1 is set to be the next beloved Star Wars droid. There are also some cool callbacks and appearances from other iconic Star Wars characters in the game that I briefly saw or heard mentioned. I could keep going on about some other awesome things that I saw in my time with Fallen Order, but to avoid spoilers, I’ll just let you see what it has in store on your own.
Everything that I had seen of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order previously had me hesitantly optimistic, but after actually playing it for a fair amount of time, I’m more confident than ever that it’s going to be great. While I specifically might be a sucker for it considering how much I love the franchises that Fallen Order has been inspired by, I really do think this is shaping up to be the best game that EA has put out in years. This is the kind of game that EA has desperately needed in its portfolio for a long time and even though it’s taken what seems to be forever for us to get a single-player Star Wars experience, Fallen Order seems like it’s going to deliver in spades.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is set to launch next month on November 15 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.