It’s odd for me to be nervous about a game, but that’s where I was about Fallen Order last week before launch. All the reviews were positive, but they were also comparing it to Dark Souls or Sekiro, games I just don’t enjoy the game play loop of. Dying repeatedly to figure out how to beat an opponent isn’t for me, and it doesn’t fit my idea of what playing as a Jedi should be.
My first few hours with Fallen Order were intriguing, the world of course hooked me straight away, it’s Star Wars and I eat that up all day, but even the character of Cal was intriguing enough to get me into the story. The opening plays out as one large set piece designed to teach you the basics of movement and traversal. It works, and then it escalates to Uncharted levels of set piece. The camera tricks employed in one train sequence are excellent, and the opening ends with you being introduced to the crew you’re going to spend a lot of time talking to over the next 20-25 hours.
From there you travel to planets you’ll vaguely know (or know quite well depending on your level of fandom) and new planets we haven’t seen before. You learn new abilities, and your lightsaber becomes your pride and joy. It’s an odd thing to experience in the current gaming climate, where choice is everything, that you are given a weapon and that is it. The lightsaber is your weapon, the force abilities you collect as you go compliment it, but most of the plentiful combat is done with the iconic weapon.
That icon status helps a lot towards making it feel special, and the customisation you can apply to it is just nuanced enough to make it feel like it’s your lightsaber, and that nobody else will have quite the same one. It’s your lightsaber, and once you’re used to the combat, it feels brilliant. You can bat back blaster bolts from your standard storm troopers with ease, and then the more difficult ones require a little more thought. Late game, you will have to plan your moves in combat, but when it all comes together it looks and feels fantastic. Force Pull someone close to you and you just end them right there and then with one stab of your weapon, then you can deal with the rest of the enemies advancing on you one by one.
The combat feels well balance at the bottom two difficulties, the baby ass baby mode that I notched it down to for most of the game to get through the story provided just enough challenge to stop it being a cake walk, but lets you feel like a badass. The higher difficulties are where it becomes more like a Dark Souls or Sekiro game, relying on you avoiding being hit and picking your times to strike. The lightsaber forces you to need to get close for your most powerful strikes, but just rushing in is never a good idea.
The AI is mostly good, but there are some minor bugs at times when enemies just stand a stare at you for a bit before they remember they’re trying to end you. These things are a little bit annoying because they break the immersion a little, something that’s little but makes a different when you’re talking about the top tier games of this generation. That should give you an indication of how much I enjoyed this game.
Beyond all the game play, the story is what keeps you driving on through the hordes of enemies. Cal is not the most charismatic protagonist, he doesn’t quite have that Nathan Drake or Kratos personality, but the game play means he feels like your own character in the world, and the supporting cast around him are great. The two ship companions have some good banter between them and Cal, and one of them becomes more and more integral to the main plot as the story goes on.
The villain is an enjoyable one, at first seeming like a throwaway inquisitor, but by the end is a fleshed-out character who I almost cared for in a weird way. One character who is introduced later into the game, I found really intriguing from a Star Wars lore point of view, and it did make me wonder if there could be more stories with some of these characters.
All the game play, characters and story combine well with the stunning set pieces at the beginning and end of the game. Without any spoilers, the ending has some of the best moments in Star Wars and adds to the lore in an interesting way. There is one part of it I found myself going “Wtf I just did all that and this what you do with it” but when I thought about it, it made some sense in context of the story.
I have seen Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order described as a greatest hit of this generation and I understand why. It takes elements from Uncharted, God of War, and Dark Souls and combines them in a cocktail shaker to make this incredibly fun experience that I would encourage all Star Wars fans, and most gamers, to try out.
Everything in that shaker gets a little bit diluted by the other parts though, and therefore it feels like all three of those games without being as good at any of what they do. For example, while the set pieces are spectacular, none reach the heights of the Uncharted series. The game doesn’t quite have the polish and attention to detail that made God of War such an intricate, perfectly crafted gem of a game, and the story doesn’t have quite as much impact. The combat is really good, but it feels like a slightly toned-down version of the Sekiro system.
Fallen Order does so much of this very well, but nothing perfectly. It’s a Jack of all trades, Jedi Master of none. The fact I am even comparing it to these games shows you the level its very close to being, but it’s just a little below that tier, and that might push people that come to it for one of those elements decide to jump to another of those games. If you want stunning set pieces, go play Uncharted, and so on. If you want a game that combines elements of all of it though, then Fallen Order is a great game for you.
In a year where there have been very few games that have wow’d me, this is creeping near the top of my game of the year list. It hasn’t been nominated for the game awards because for some reason anything released after October just gets binned off until next year, which makes Fallen Orders prospects a little more ominous when The Last of Us Part 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 are here.
For me the Star Wars-iness covers over the little niggles that keep it behind the top tier games, and whilst I can’t argue it’s better than any, it’s certainly up there near them. What it certainly is, is the most fun I have had on any video game in 2019, and what more can I really want from a game where I am a Jedi.
9/10 – Respawn proves itself as one of the best developers in the business