Ever since the Knights of the Old Republic titles released, players have been itching for that single player fix of Star Wars action where the story was at the forefront. When EA announced that Respawn Entertainment were working on one such game, a LOT of people were excited. Still, there were hefty expectations in place as well as the feeling of doubt that it wasn’t going to be anywhere near as good as people had hoped.
Now that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has released though, it’s hard to imagine why anyone had any doubts of its quality – especially when you consider that Respawn Entertainment had already proved their single player prowess with Titanfall 2’s campaign. The thing is, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has proven better than expected by not just being a great Star Wars game, but also one of the best games released in 2019 period.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order puts you in the role of Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who has been in hiding ever since the cull of the Jedi was ordered in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Working on a ship-breaking planet, he has managed to stay hidden from any Sith that are hunting the remaining Jedi – however, after using his Force abilities to save a friend in danger, he soon finds himself on the run. After getting saved by Jedi Master Cere and ship pilot Greez, Cal realizes there’s a much bigger mission for him to complete: the rebuilding of the Jedi order.
Having an original narrative that’s simply based upon the Star Wars lore has given Respawn Entertainment the chance to introduce their own original characters and scenarios that aren’t shacked by the limits of the pre-existing story, and it really allows for some great twists-and-turns and relationships to develop between characters. Despite his fairly generic appearance (that he’s a plain old human, Cameron Monaghan does a good job portraying him), Cal is a great protagonist, whilst the supporting cast are all intriguing and share plenty of fun interactions with you throughout. Plus, there’s a whole new Droid companion to gawp over in BD-1 – what more could you want?
Of course, there are a fair share of references to the movies as well as a few familiar faces to be seen, so fans will get those special moments that’ll bring a smile to their face. Nothing is ever overdone though, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order really does feel like it’s telling its own original tale.
Considering that you’re playing as a Jedi, you’d expect satisfying combat that ties in both entertaining lightsaber antics as well as the use of the Force – thankfully, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers both of these in a VERY satisfying manner.
Combat feels brilliant throughout, with Cal proving to be a dab hand with a lightsaber in both close-ranged battles or when using it to ping the incoming fire of enemies’ blasters right back at them. The sound design manages to feel authentic and captures the destructive vibes of battles perfectly, whilst stringing together attacks is both fluid and satisfying. Whilst you’ve got a good amount of offensive moves at your disposal with your lightsaber, Cal is also able to parry incoming attacks, block attacks, and dodge, so you’re certainly well-equipped when the odds are stacked against you. There is an emphasis of timing in place though, so you’ll have to be on the ball if you want to survive the encounters against some of the game’s more formidable foes.
Using your Force abilities is equally as rewarding, with each one tied to a button-press that allows you to flow them into your combos with ease. Each power is more effective based on the circumstances you find yourself in – the Force Push is great when you want to wipe out enemies quickly when fighting at dangerous heights for example, whilst the Force Hold allows you to stop nimbler enemies in their tracks when you want to quickly land in a hit.
The best thing about combat is that it never feels like you’re simply button-mashing, but instead pulling off precise actions where you have to focus as much on attacking as you do on defending yourself. The majority of encounters with enemies will need some planning to survive too, with the game going for the ‘quality over quantity’ approach by not flooding the screen with enemies that are easy to take down but instead setting up an assortment of combat scenarios that’ll really test your skills – it’s good stuff and makes each success all the more rewarding. That being said, there will be moments where you’ll face off against Stormtroopers that are simply there to be killed and demonstrate Cal’s Jedi abilities, so you will be able to feel like a lightsaber-wielding, force-using powerhouse at times too.
There’s just as much of an emphasis on exploring the game’s world as there is on defeating the enemies in it, with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sending you across multiple planets that host large and open environments to uncover. Some of these planets will feel particularly familiar to those who are fans of Star Wars, but there are plenty that have their own secrets and special sights for players to uncover too.
Actually traversing through these environments is a lot of fun though, with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s platforming mechanics very easy to pull off. It turns out that Cal is pretty nimble, with the likes of climbing, jumping, and balancing all easily performed and strung together fluidly. There are some action-focused set-pieces that are based around platforming where Cal has to use the Force quickly to survive too, but these all feel great and constantly keep you on your toes.
What I particularly liked was the Metroidvania-style twist added to each planet, with the player unlocking new abilities as they progress that’ll allow them to reach previously inaccessible areas. You’ll learn the likes of wall-running and double-jumping as Cal, whilst BD-1 gets in on the action by acting as a zip-line or hacking for you – not only are these vital to progress through the story, but they allow you to access the hidden optional areas that are littered across each world. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is pretty non-linear in its approach, so you’re always able to go back to previous planets to find these little nooks and crannies you couldn’t get to before – they often home some neat collectibles too, so they’re certainly worth checking out.
One thing I’ve got to give a quick shout out to is the game’s 3D map, which not only makes it clear where you’ve been and where you need to go, but also marks areas that aren’t accessible with your current ability set. Not only did it save me from wasting time trying to access them, but it also made it a whole lot easier to know where to go when I finally did unlock the necessary abilities. It’s a small touch that made my experience exploring in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a lot more convenient.
Whilst playing, you’ll come across special meditation points that not only act as a checkpoint, but allow you to level up Cal’s abilities. You’ll earn experience points as you progress through the game and defeat enemies, and these can be spent on things like improved stats or unlocking additional skills. The thing is, when you use these meditiation points, the enemies in the area will all respawn. Sound familiar? You can also recover any lost experience points when defeated by going back to the enemy that felled you and taking them out. It’s a bit Souls-like, right? It’s a tried-and-tested formula that I was surprised to see pop up in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but it actually works quite well so I can’t complain.
What I can complain about though are some of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s issues. You can expect to deal with some long load times, a few frame rate drops, visuals glitches, pop-in, characters getting stuck in the environment, and enemies suddenly spawning during your time in the game. Whilst these issues are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, the amalgamation of them all together and the frequency in which they occur could be quite frustrating. There’s nothing game-breaking, but they’re the difference between Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order being a great game and a close to perfect one. It’s a real shame.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t just a brilliant Star Wars game, but also one of the best games I’ve played in 2019. The combat is destructive and satisfying, exploration is fluid and fun, whilst the narrative kept me hooked in right until the final moments – it really has it all. The only thing holding it back? Some technical issues, though hopefully we’ll see a fix for them sooner rather than later.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers a stellar gaming experience that I’d recommend to both Star Wars fans and those who enjoy a thrilling adventure. Don’t miss it.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC