Review – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
I would be lying to say I wasn’t skeptical when I heard that Respawn Entertainment was making a new Star Wars game that was a third person action adventure. Their track record has been FPS games since they branched away from Call of Duty and made Titanfall. Not only were they not proved in the third person action adventure genre, but this was another EA game after all. The initial development also had me worried when they first announced the title, but didn’t even have a trailer to show at E3 2018. However, I did hold out some faith as Respawn made a fantastic campaign in Titanfall 2. Then news came out that it would also not be using the Frostbite Engine, feature no microtransactions, and be single player only. Well, with a very relieved and happy heart I’m here to say that Respawn nailed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and it is a must play.
Fallen Order‘s story begins five years after Revenge of the Sith; you take control of a Jedi named Cal Kestis. Cal was a young Padawan during the Order 66 purge and with some help from his Master, Cal was able to escape. Forced into hiding and trying to forget his connection to the Force in order to stay alive, Cal takes up a job as a scrapper. After Cal has to use his Force powers to save his friend, he is exposed and the Empire begins to hunt him down. With the Empire hot on his heels, Cal escapes with the help of a former Jedi Knight, Cere Junda, and pilot, Greez Dritus.
With some hesitation, Cal joins Cere and Greez on their mission to rebuild the Jedi Order, which will take them across the galaxy on an epic quest. Cal will team up with various Rebels in his quest to fight the Empire. He also teams up with an adorable robot friend named BD-1, who may be the actual star of Fallen Order. I was actually impressed with the story and character development of this title. Surprisingly, it feels more cohesive and fleshed out than any of the new movies. There is a great cast of villains, heroes, and side characters that kept me going and wanting to see what happens next.
Cal not being able to complete his training and having to go into hiding, he is not a powerful Jedi at first. With having to try and forget his training in order to survive, Cal will need to go through trials that will challenge his physical and mental skills. He isn’t incompetent, but he certainly isn’t an instant badass like we saw with Starkiller in Force Unleashed. You’ll start off with the ability to slow enemies down and work your way through the typical Jedi powers like push, pull, and saber throw. You will also unlock some extra lightsaber moves and abilities. With Cal being untrained and still barely a full Jedi, it makes sense he is a bit weaker and doesn’t have as large of a Force power understanding. I do wish there were more powers to unlock as well as saber combos, but there is enough here to have a good flow of unlocks throughout the game.
Cal may be untrained, but Respawn does a good job in making you still feel powerful and acrobatic like a Padawan would still be. The general gameplay is kind of a smörgåsbord of various games, and while it doesn’t transcend the titles it borrows from, it is still extremely competent. The general lightsaber combat takes a lot from the Dark Souls series with unforgiving combat that requires timing, as well as a sprinkle of Sekiro as you need to wear down enemy’s guards. General Stormtroopers can be dispatched quickly with one hit from the saber, bolts from blasters can be easily reflected back at their shooter, and the Force powers can make quick work of most enemies. There will be a steady stream of more difficult troopers as well as the planets own unique creatures and even vegetation.
You will checkpoint as Force sensitive locations where you can refill your health and stims, at the cost of respawning all enemies. These are also the locations where you level up. Exploration is a bit like Tomb Raider where you’ll have large map areas to explore, find upgrades, and collect cosmetics. With a bit of the Metriodvania feel you will need to come back after acquiring certain skills or powers to get all the upgrades and collectibles. Don’t worry too much about the comparison with Dark Souls if you aren’t a fan of the kind of punishing challenges in those games. Fallen Order is much more forgiving still and also features four different difficulties. With that being said, if you are at all familiar with the Souls games then I recommend playing it on no less than the hard difficulty.
While I absolutely love the gameplay loop because it kept me engaged and always challenged, there are some minor complaints I have. The majority of the collectibles available are cosmetic, from your BD-1 droid, ship, outfit, poncho, and various saber hilts and parts. I’m not complaining about the cosmetics themselves, but more so they don’t effect any of the gameplay elements. I would be much more eager to find all the saber hilts if it modified my strike speed or damage. There are also some issues with the animations. While Fallen Order may take some notes from Uncharted, it certainly lacks the total polish in the smoothness of movement and animations. Nothing that will ruin your enjoyment, but it can be noticeable.
Visually, Fallen Order impresses with great looking character models, detailed environments, and varied worlds and enemies. There are truly some impressive set pieces where the camera pulls back and lets you absorb just how epic the scene is. It actually reminds me a lot of how God of War sets up some of its bigger scenes with great use of background details. Each world has its own distinct look and feel to it and it generally oozes high production values. However, there are some texture inconsistencies as well as a big issue with texture pop-ins. Respawn tries to hide loading with linear crevices that Cal needs to squeeze through which is pretty typical, but even with that there are still initial texture loading issues. This also leads to inconsistent framerates even with the performance mode on the Xbox One X. The loading screens after a death is also brutally long as well.
Sound design is just about flawless giving a very authentic Star Wars vibe. The various sound effects from the lightsabers, blasters, AT-AT’s, AT-ST’s, Stormtrooper voices and their armor sounds, are all perfect. The quality here in the sound effects, voice acting, and soundtrack easily pulls you right into the Star Wars universe. Each character performs and delivers their lines really well. Cameron Monaghan as Cal, Daniel Roebuck as Greez, and Debra Wilson as Cere all do a fantastic job in their scenes, and its all brought together with a great soundtrack from Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order surprised me a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It may not do anything unique with its gameplay systems, but it competently barrows from great games and wraps into a very tight Star Wars package. It also tells one of the better Star Wars story lines that I feel is better done than the recent movies outside of Rogue One. If you’re a Star Wars fan or even a fan of epic space adventures, Fallen Order is a must have game. With this impressive title, I feel Respawn has shown they can excel at all types of genres.
Some inconsistencies in texture quality is noticeable as well as texture load times. Overall it is a gorgeous game with plenty of beautiful vistas and enemy designs that catch the eye.
Lightsaber fights feel authentic and fun with a bit of Souls and Sekiro mixed in there. Exploring and puzzles are reminiscent of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted titles.
Fantastic voice acting is met with an equally fantastic Star Wars themed soundtrack. All the ambient sounds in the world: blaster fire, lightsaber clashes, wildlife etc. are all very well done.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Surprisingly great story that keeps you interested the whole ride through. I would have enjoyed some additional Force powers, lightsaber stances, as well as more unlockables that aren’t only cosmetic.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox One X.