EA has one of the best licenses in all of entertainment; they hold the right to make Star Wars games. So why then have they not churned out a ton of awesome gaming experiences with the property?
We have the Battlefront games, the Old Republic MMO, a few mobile games of dubious quality (although Ibrahim swears by them) and now…this.
As Han (or Lando or Luke) would say…I have a bad feeling about it.
What is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a single player third person action game done by Respawn Entertainment (the guys behind Titanfall) and published by EA.
It’s available on the PC, Xbox One and PC.
Fallen Order takes place a few years after Order 66 (the command given to the clones to kill Jedi) at the end of the Clone Wars. It follows Cal Kestis, a former Jedi Padawan, now a fugitive in hiding.
Cal’s lost most of his former connection to the Force due to the trauma of losing his master and ekes out a miserable existence as a salvage expert, trying to avoid detection from Empire and the Inquisitors.
You can probably see where this is going, right?
All too easy.
Yup, Cal’s cover is inevitably blown (he used the Force to help his friend) and he has to flee for his life as the Inquisitors hunt him. Cal’s soon rescued by former Jedi Cere Junta and recruited to help her on her quest to find a holocron filled with the names of Force sensitive kids, the next generation of potential Jedi.
What that actually entails is a planet hopping series of expeditions.
Along the way, you’ll meet familiar faces (including a couple from Marvel’s Darth Vader comics), fight oodles of the Empire’s troops (including the new Purge Troopers) and engage in some epic duels with other lightsaber wielding folk…including a certain Dark Lord of the Sith.
You’ll go from the familiar (Kashyyyk, Dathomir and Ilum) to newly made worlds exploring HUGE Metrovania-like levels, which encourage you to return to them as you gain new abilities to unlock secrets and new areas.
The Metrovania aspect of Fallen Order is awesome. I can’t stress this enough. All of the locales are awesome; from the Shadowlands of Kashyyyk to the crumbling (and creepy) ruins of Dathomir.
Like the stages in Dark Souls, they fold in upon themselves and you’ll unlock shortcuts as you explore. The areas aren’t as impressive as in that game though they’re decent enough. Unlike Dark Souls, some parts are gated off until you have the corresponding skill to unlock them.
I love revisiting places in the game that I’ve passed with new skills and seeing where previously inaccessible areas lead to. Some are a disappointment (shortcuts) but some lead to totally new optional areas like the incredible Fallen Venator area on Zeffo.
I really wished that Fallen Order had more of these; the quest is pretty linear and there isn’t much to do outside of it, making what could’ve been a lengthy game much shorter.
Exploring is just 1/3 of the game though.
The next 1/3.
Another 1/3 are the puzzles.
Like the Tomb Raider and Uncharted games, there are huge environmental puzzles littered throughout the game’s planets.
Some are huge, multi-leveled affairs, some are intimate…but all of them are enjoyable. In fact, I got to the end of the game and found myself thinking that the game could use more puzzles, especially in the later parts when you have all your abilities unlocked.
The environmental puzzles could use more thought in a few areas though; the Ilum ice puzzle at the Jedi temple entrance was far less complex than I thought it’d be. It was a massive disappointment as I’d expected more from the game.
Some of the skills you learn (especially swimming) seem sorely underutilized when compared to the early skills you get (like Slow).
I’d have loved for the game to have a water planet (Mon Calamari or Chandrilla comes to mind) and was actually hoping for one throughout the game…but alas, it wasn’t to be.
The final 1/3.
So what’s the last 1/3 of the game?
Here’s where the game stumbles.
The combat’s like Dark Souls in that every single swing has to be considered carefully or your enemies will punish you for it. There’s no stamina bar (unless you’re blocking) but whiffing will usually get you smacked by whatever you’re fighting.
It’s a decent system (and proven to be fun) but I don’t feel that it works well in Fallen Order.
The game tries to marry that slow, plodding methodical combat style with the fast frenetic combo heavy fights of the God of War games, which results in a stilted combat system.
Ranged combat is practically non-existent, making it a chore to fight enemies who rely on blasters or other ranged weapons. All you can do is time your blocks, so you can deflect back the bolts. Impressive to watch, fun to do but ALWAYS relying on it (because the other option, the saber throw, is useless and leaves you open) gets boring.
Melee combat is great…against humanoid opponents. It’s frustrating as hell against the various alien animals you encounter.
They’re usually faster than you, and able to hit you multiple times without you getting your own licks in. I especially hate the poison spewing spiders who don’t seem to flinch when getting smacked by Cal’s under-performing lightsaber.
Speaking of which, I don’t see a point in making games where the quintessential Jedi weapon is neutered so much it’s not even a sliver of its true self. That’s the case here.
In the films, the lightsaber is the ultimate melee weapon.
It slices, it dices, it cuts through anything (except cortosis ore) without much effort. In the game, it’s nothing more than a light baton. You’ll be smacking your enemies over and over with the blade to little effect that you’d start to wonder why Cal never packs a blaster like Cere does.
No dismembered limbs, no decapitations…NOTHING like what you’d expect a lightsaber to do. Well…at least against humanoid enemies. Animals weirdly can be dismembered or sliced in two as finishing moves.
The point is, the lightsaber SUCKS so bad in the game that it’s not funny.
If Jedi Outcast (with the dismemberment command enabled via console) is how a lightsaber should be like in games, Cal’s lightsaber is the prime example of how it shouldn’t.
EA does have some cool ideas (like being able to customize the lightsaber’s looks) but it’s not enough.
It’s a damn shame because apart from the lethality, the lightsaber is AWESOME. Whether it’s single bladed or in its double bladed form, Cal’s animation with the saber is fluid and incredibly cool to watch.
I especially love him batting away blaster bolts with it when he’s running (a skill you can unlock). It looks like something ripped right out of the Clone Wars animated series.
Ironically, playing the game on the easiest setting may be the best way to experience the game, as it makes the lightsaber much more effective.
Cal’s Force powers do liven up the combat somewhat but they’re too laughably pathetic as you only get a handful (Slow, Push, Pull).
Cal Kestis is no Kyle Katarn is what I’m saying.
Plus, environmental interaction with the powers is laughingly inadequate. Forget about lifting crates and chucking them at enemies or using the environment as your weapon.
Cal can barely use the Force, even at the endgame.
Why EA couldn’t give him more powers is beyond me; Force Absorbtion or Healing would’ve been great. Or even Force Speed.
Cal’s limited moveset combined with his pathetic array of Force powers makes him the least fun Jedi to play as in ANY Star Wars game…Yes, even taking into account Yoda Stories on the PC.
Is it good?
The game itself isn’t that bad (other than issues highlighted above) but there are a ton of issues with the framerate.
I’m playing on the Xbox One X, with the option to favor framerate and I’m STILL getting slowdown and stuttering. I’m also playing on the Samsung RU8000 series 4K TV, which is FreeSync capable (the Xbox One is compatible with FreeSync diplays). FreeSync is supposed to help ease stuttering but it doesn’t look like it makes any difference from what I’ve seen in the game.
Loading times for deaths are also insane; I once clocked nearly 30 seconds for a reload after a death on Dathomir. Luckily, messing up with jumps get you an almost instantaneous restart, so that’s something in the game’s favor.
I sure hope EA patches these out over the next few months.
It’s unforgivable to be experiencing them on an Xbox One X, the most powerful console available for now.
The bottom line.
There’s certainly a ton to like about Fallen Order but for hardcore fans of the series who expected more on the lore side of things, prepare to be incredibly disappointed.
I went in with zero expectations and I still was let down in that regard.
Fallen Order barely covers anything that’s not already known or of any real consequence.
Despite Fallen Order’s promise to make you feel like a Jedi, I was disappointed in that too.
There’s a lack of Force powers, the lightsaber is more of a baton and the simplistic (though flashy) combat makes the game feel too watered down, despite its Dark Souls leaning.
In fact, that’s something even more confusing; unlike Dark Souls, higher difficulties makes the game even more frustrating as the enemies become more aggressive, you take more damage and the lightsaber becomes more ineffectual.
If EA’s goal was to make you feel like a Jedi it definitely has a ton to learn, especially when compared to beloved entries like Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy.
Despite that, I’m not saying the game’s not without its merits.
The wide open stages are one of the game’s highlights (the game needs fast travel badly though) and the flashy combat makes fighting look like it’s ripped right out of the films. The open ended gameplay that lets you revisit past stages is awesome and really adds to the longevity.
In fact, I’d say that some of the best areas are the optional ones; I especially love the Fallen Venator area, set inside a ruined Venator-class Star Destroyer. It’s completely optional, requires you to be near the end but is easily one of the best (if not THE best) locations in the game.
Hopefully EA expands on this with DLC and include more post-endgame content.
At the end of the day, Fallen Order is a decent game. Nowhere near perfect but if you’re not expecting something along the lines of Jedi Outcast, you’ll be happy enough with it.
Decent, if shallow action game with impressive visuals. Doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, so instead it chose to be middling.
|The Good||The Bad|
|– Awesome visuals.||– Shallow combat.|
|– Great Metrovania-esque stages.||– Boring story.|
|– Decent puzzles.||– Lack of Force powers.|