Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release Date: 11/15/2019
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There have been many Star Wars games over the last three decades. While some have been fan favorites, there has probably been a Star Wars game in every single genre imaginable. Even with the successful games, there has been one thing lacking from every game that hasn’t been done correctly until now: Jedi battles and lightsaber gameplay. Some of the other Star Wars games may have done it decently, but never as flashy or well done as Fallen Order, but that’s not the only quality this game has.
Fallen Order takes place during the timeline of the original movies when Darth Vader was still alive. You play as Cal Kestis, a fallen Jedi who is on a mission to retrieve a Holocron containing the location of every single Jedi child left. Like every Star Wars story, there is a Sith lord after you and in this case, the Second Sister of the Inquisitor Order is after you. Cal rides around with his Jedi pal Cere and pilot Greez. They use Greez’s ship as a hub area in which you can customize your lightsaber (more on that later) and travel around the four planets that the game offers. Each planet is a large open area that you are free to explore, and while you explore these planets you acquire Jedi abilities and new tech for your Droid, BD-1.
The main focus of Fallen Order is the fantastic combat system put into place. The game is incredibly responsive, has beautiful animations, and you really feel like an actual Jedi for the first time ever. You can light attacks that are used the most, and heavy attacks use up your Force meter. As time goes on you acquire the double lightsaber and then eventually the dual lightsaber becomes a powerful force ability. Parrying and dodging are key to staying alive because you can’t just wail on enemies and spam attacks. Each enemy is unique with its own attack powers. From regular Stormtrooper riflemen and shock troopers to powerful Purge Troopers that have heavy plasma swords, rocket launchers, and flame throwers. You can knock back energy blasts with your lightsaber and throwback projectiles which are awesome. There are even a few occasions where you get to take down AT-ATs.
Once you acquire more force abilities they can be used in combat such as Force Push, Pull, and Slow. These are key to clearing rooms or knocking enemies off of cliffs, but are also used in puzzle solving. There are only a few large puzzles in the whole game, but they are fun and require a bit of thinking and mastering the Force abilities. As you progress you can use these new abilities to access new areas such as pulling down ropes, blowing down weakened walls, slowing down fan blades, and more. You can access new areas to open chests that have customization items such as lightsaber parts, ponchos for Cal, and skins for BD-1 and your ship, the Mantis. You can also find Force Echo spots to add to your XP to level up.
So while exploring is completely optional if you just want to enjoy the story sections, there are several bombastic scripted events throughout the game that are incredibly enjoyable. Fighting a giant bird on Kashyyyk, or even running from Tie Fighters on another planet. The scripted events are worth playing alone and I was highly entertained. This also leads to some amazing boss fights that put your skills to the test in which you need to time parries and dodge perfectly while learning their attack patterns. While you travel through planets you can unlock shortcuts, but I found it annoying that you couldn’t fast travel between meditation spots.
As you gain XP and skill points you can acquire new combat moves and increase your health and force meter. These are also increased by finding parts of three throughout the game. This is where Fallen Order takes a page out of Dark Souls’ book as when you meditate it saves your game there, but if you restore your health all enemies in the world respawn. This can be quite annoying when you’re backtracking through an entire level to get back to your ship or something since there is no fast travel feature. I also found that you must master the combat system in order to get through this game, especially at higher difficulties, as you can’t fast travel or move around easily throughout the game besides running away.
There is lightsaber customization in which you can choose the blade color, and the design of the switch, hilt, and various other parts. Sadly, you don’t get more colors until towards the end of the game, but all those chests you spend hours finding contain mostly lightsaber parts. Is it worth spending hours on? Not really, but at least the chests are completely optional and won’t make you feel guilty for skipping them. Likewise, customization is cosmetic only and there aren’t any ways to add abilities this way or change the actual shape of the lightsaber or anything, but it’s the most detailed customization we’ve ever had in a game.
With that said, Fallen Order scratches every Star Wars itch I have. The story is great and feels like it could fit into a Star Wars film. The characters are memorable, and likable, and the satisfying conclusion at the end of the game makes the short playtime worthwhile. The usual plot twists and turns in a Star Wars film are present here and it’s just good enough to make you surprised when a new event unfolds. I did feel the game was a bit slow in the beginning especially if you’re fully exploring the planets and may spend an hour or two trying to find all the paths on the map and the chests. Speaking of the map, this is by far one of the best video game maps ever made. If you aren’t sure where to go a yellow wall will appear on the map showing you need to go in that direction still. Shortcuts are green, red objects mean you need to acquire that ability to advance past it and it just feels so useful and I constantly referred to it.
The game also looks gorgeous with some amazing vistas, especially at the beginning of the game on Brakka, and this just feels like a high-budget Star Wars movie. With amazing lighting effects, fantastically done motion capture, and voice acting, it has it all. I loved exploring the few planets in the Star Wars universe up close and personal, and the game is definitely memorable for that. I don’t have too many complaints about Fallen Order outside of the tedious backtracking and the combat can be very difficult to master due to perfectly needing to time everything, but it’s challenging and just satisfying enough. I also wish the story were longer and there were more planets to explore, but that’s only because I enjoyed the game so much that I wanted more.