As excited as I was for Jedi: Fallen Order leading up to its release, I could still say I was cautiously optimistic, being burned one too many times. I hadn't truly enjoyed a Star Wars game Since The Force Unleashed series — Yes, I know they're not great. Yes, I still love them. But after Disney bought Lucasfilm, any ideas for The Force Unleashed 3 never came to fruition, and even the much-anticipated Star Wars 1313 never saw the light of day.
After practically squandering the Star Wars license, EA needed a win. That's exactly what Respawn provided. A game that isn't mired in controversy. A single-player game that actually released, unlike Visceral's project, which was thrown in the metaphorical trash compactor after the studio closure. A game without microtransactions or loot boxes that finally takes full advantage of the universe that Star Wars has to offer. It could have easily missed the landing, but it didn't.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gave me everything I wanted from a Star Wars game and more.
At a glance
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Bottom line: This is the Star Wars game we've all been waiting for. It takes the best elements of Tomb Raider, Metroidvanias, and a dash of souls-likes to create a memorable and fun experience with amazing combat that makes you feel like a true Jedi.
- Beautifully crafted environments
- Immaculate combat
- A worthy Star Wars story
- Fun, layered characters
- Multiple difficulty options make it accessible
- Some performance issues (Xbox One)
- Lightsaber collectibles grow stale
- Would have liked to see more planets
Jedi: Fallen Order Story and characters
This story was sold as a young Padawan on the run and becoming a Jedi after Order 66, and that's exactly what we got. The Order may have been wiped out, but its teachings and the Force persist. Respawn crafted a story that stands strong on its own and fits perfectly within the Star Wars timeline. It can't be easy working under the restrictions it has, knowing that decades of lore afterwards is already set in stone.
A story that fits perfectly within the Star Wars timeline.
Logically, Cal is looking for the next generation of young Jedi to rebuild the order. There are only a few ways the story could end without us wondering how and why we haven't seen its affects in the films. When all's said and done, part of my journey almost felt like it was for nothing in the end, but the way Respawn frames it makes sense, especially given Cal's new understanding of the Force. Like people say, it's about the journey, not so much the destination.
Cameron Monaghan presents a solid performance, but I'm a bit disappointed that Respawn decided to go the route of having yet another human for the starring role. Star Wars has such a diverse universe, and to settle on another human character seems needlessly limiting. Instead of creating an alien Jedi and offering us a deeper look into another Star Wars species, Respawn decided to play it safe; a decision that was purposeful as to not alienate players.
That said, I do love Cal. It helped to understand his character and personal journey when we received insight into his past through flashbacks. Despite all of that, I found that Cere and Nightsister Merrin stole the show. Both were much more compelling than Cal was in my mind. Even the Second Sister was given plenty of character development. And for a tiny little droid, BD-1 was surprisingly emotive. It's definitely in the eyes. Think WALL-E but for Star Wars.
Jedi: Fallen Order Gameplay
As old as it gets to compare this to Sekiro or Dark Souls, the comparisons are appropriate. It does feel as if a souls-like and Star Wars made a baby. It's certainly easier and more forgiving, but if you play on normal, the combat requires precise timing, parries, blocks, and dodges. You can't get away with just going on the offensive. Everything about the combat feels tactical and purposeful. You're not overpowered; even regular Stormtroopers pose a threat in small groups. And yet it doesn't feel like Respawn "weakened" a Jedi, so to speak.
Everything about the combat feels tactical and purposeful.
If the combat gets too frustrating or not challenging enough, you can change the difficulty options at any time between Padawan, Jedi Knight, Jedi Master, and Jedi Grandmaster. I know games like this can turn people off people they're intimidating and not accessible to people of all skill levels. Because the difficulty can be changed at any time, you can bump it down to Padawan during a particularly hard boss fight and then adjust it back to Jedi Knight, or vice versa if you want boss battles to be difficult.
The timing issues I mentioned in my preview when it came to jumps and platforming seem to have been rectified to an extent. They're still not perfect, and I found myself missing more jumps than I should have, but it felt much better than before. This made its grand puzzles all the more satisfying to complete. To further heighten the comparisons to Tomb Raider, several of these puzzles are even in locations called tombs.
Save points can be found sparingly throughout levels, but should be used strategically. If you take the opportunity to rest at one and refill your Life and Force meters, all enemies will respawn. The game will save regardless when you meditate in these locations, just be careful of when you actually rest to restore your health. This is also the only time you'll be able to upgrade Cal's abilities, which are tied to his Force powers, lightsaber attacks, and survival skills. Should you meet an untimely death, you'll lose all XP gained since your last skill point. You'll need to damage the enemy that killed you in order to regain any lost XP. These are denoted with a gold glow.
This type of gameplay may not be appealing to everyone though Respawn did a good job implementing it without it smothering the experience.
Jedi: Fallen Order Visuals and performance
Respawn designed iconic Star Wars locales along with entirely new ones made just for the game. Each has its own unique flora and fauna, and Kashyyyk is especially beautiful. No two planets feel the same. There's such diversity in their environments, and this can effect how you approach exploration.
For as amazing as the maps are, I would have liked to see more planets. As it stands the only ones that are fully explorable are Bogano, Dathomir, Zeffo, and Kashyyyk. I think another one or two would have hit the sweet spot for me, but beggers can't be choosers. I'm still holding out hope for DLC on a new planet. I think that's just a testament to how well Respawn crafted the planets. I can't get enough. The planets that are there are meticulously detailed with multiple areas to explore and secrets to uncover.
I played on PlayStation 4 Pro while my fellow Windows Central colleague Asher Madan played on Xbox One X. We both encountered frame rate drops but I saw significantly more freezes and texture pop-in, both during gameplay and cutscenes. The freezing tended to happen more often on Kashyyyk, and it only appeared to occur when the game would auto-save. As for the texture pop-in, that was a prevalent issue throughout the entire game. One time on Dathomir, a Nightbrother even T-posed its way out of frame and into the middle of the screen before taking an offensive stance. Another time, my game crashed to the PS4 home screen.
Do I feel like any of these made it unplayable for me? No. But I know many people who will. It's important to note that a lot of these problems did not occur on Xbox One X.
This is the Star Wars game I've been waiting for, and I hope Respawn is allowed to use its playground again. I'd love to see the developer tackle a Sith storyline and how that would affect combat. The combat is immaculate and the supporting characters really stood out as strong personalities. When you add in beautifully crafted levels with encouragement to go back and explore once you have new abilities, it's hard to put the game down.
It's not perfect, but despite all of its imperfections — and sometimes even because of them — I can't help but love it. To everyone who wanted a good single-player game in the Star Wars universe, look no further. The type of game by default won't appeal to some people, but the game that Respawn crafted is amazing for what it is.
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