Depending on how you look at it, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order could be seen at this year’s last AAA blockbuster videogame. It’s out now for PS4, Xbox One and PC – we played it on a Playstation 4 Pro.
It’s been a long wait for Star Wars fans who are fond of action adventures in the famous sci-fi universe. Recent successes have come from the Battlefront games, but if you’re not a fan of online shooters then you’re looking at an almost 10 year wait since the last Force Unleashed game was released. And although it’s not an action adventure per se, it’s been 15 years since the Knights of the Old Republic games came out. Heck, it’s even been over 5 years since the incredibly promising but ultimately canceled Star Wars 1313 was a thing.
After a few attempts at new games failed to get off the ground, the pressure was on for developer Respawn, but their work on Titanfall 2 did showcase a good ability to craft an engaging single player campaign. With Apex Legends and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order they’re moving away from the Titanfall franchise for the first time, and although I didn’t play Apex it looks like Fallen Order was well worth the wait.
Playing as Cal Kestis, a young Padawan on his way to becoming a full blown Jedi, the events in Fallen Order take place some time after Episode 3 (Revenge of the Sith) wraps up. The Empire is busy purging the galaxy of Jedi, so you’re more or less on the run while the Jedi order tries to crawl back up and regain a foothold. At the same time, you’re rapidly learning about the ways of the Jedi as you become more and more comfortable with the Force, as well as your lightsaber.
The game features an extensive narrative that sees you journeying to a vast array of locations, including some very familiar ones to fans of the series. The same is true for some of the characters you’ll encounter on your way, so even though Fallen Order isn’t directly tied to the events of any the movies and a standalone story, there is a ton of fan service here through the many references to the existing lore that loyal fans will appreciate. The story itself (without giving too much away) can be a bit of a slow burn, but with an extremely lengthy campaign that runs for over 20 hours I can’t fault it for that. The game leaves plenty of room for a sequel at the end though, so I expect that’s coming in a year or two.
Gameplay-wise, Star War Jedi: Fallen Order is a mix of genres just like its story backdrop is a mix of familiar settings and characters. Expect to do platforming that’s a little like the recent Tomb Raider games, while engaging in combat that’s a hybrid of Rocksteady’s Batman series and a bit of Dark Souls. It might feel a bit like a copycat at times, but it works well.
Force energy isn’t unlimited, so you can’t just go about and channel your inner Darth Vader in combat. You’ll have to mix up a force push (which is great when you’re about to get cornered or surrounded) with good old fashioned light saber combat. Timing is important, especially if you want to make the most of the game’s parry and counter systems. This takes practice and time, so that lengthy campaign I mentioned is a welcome way of providing just that.
You can lengthen the campaign by a good few hours if you go out and explore – and in some cases you can also backtrack and revisit locations you can now access due to your new Jedi abilities. Unlockables and collectibles are often not that exciting if you’re not into things like lightsaber customization, but true fans might feel otherwise. And although side quests can require some backtracking, defeating the stronger enemies you find by doing so can also yield a reward like a shortcut that will help you save time later.
While Fallen Order plays like a semi-open world/sandbox adventure that allows for backtracking and exploration, it also has a narrative for you to follow. This means that when it’s time to leave one area and head to the next, seemingly random ‘travel’ sequences are sometimes introduced – like when you’re sliding down a steep slope not too unlike what we’ve seen Lara Croft do. These can be frustrating if you happen to get the timing wrong, but even when you don’t they’re not as rewarding as the combat you’ll see in the rest of the game.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a gorgeous title to look at and play, and it does a great job at conveying that Star Wars look and feel. Most of the game’s a bit darker in terms of tone, but that’s fitting with the time period in which the Empire nearly wiped out all of the Jedi order. Respawn’s pushed the capabilities of the Playstation 4 to its limits though, because even on our Pro we noticed a few instances of slowdown (and that’s running the ‘performance’ setting). Hopefully this is just a case of a release that was pushed out in time for the holidays, with future patches smoothing out the experience. Time will well, but until then this is a great Star Wars game that both casual and hardcore fans should definitely pick up.