One of the games that we were most intrigued to learn about at this year’s E3 was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. We’re big Star Wars fans here at Enthusiast Towers and have been very disappointed with how Electronic Arts has handled the license. Since signing the exclusive licensing agreement six years ago, EA has only shipped two Star Wars console titles. Whats more those games, Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefiled II, proved to be incredibly disappointing. The first Battlefront game was a clear rush job with only multiplayer and a handful of maps. Battlefront II rectified this by including a single player campaign and more maps. However, it prostituted itself at the altar of loot boxes by providing pay-to-win mechanics.
To say there’s a lot riding on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is something of an understatement. If this game fails critically or commercially, EA could face a real fight to retain the license. It falls to Respawn Entertainment, then, to rescue the Star Wars brand in the gaming arena. The early signs have been good. It’s a singleplayer-only game. That’s not to say we have a problem with multiplayer games but suggests they’re not succumbing to pressure from Electronic Arts. They have also promised that there won’t be any loot boxes. Mind you, with EA now describing them as “surprise mechanics” who knows if we’ll get those instead.
Finally . . . another Star Wars game
Anyway, Electronic Arts has just released an extended cut of the gameplay demo that they showed during the EA Play stream. So, let’s talk about what we saw. First of all, the game looks exactly like Star Wars Battlefront II. In fact, if you didn’t know, you could be excused for thinking that this was merely an expansion pack for that game. This is particularly impressive seeing as the game doesn’t use the Frostbite game engine. After the horror stories we heard from BioWare about using that engine for Anthem it’s something of a relief to find out that Respawn is using Unreal Engine 4. This is still a bit of a risk, though. It will be the first time that Respawn has used Unreal Engine. (The Titanfall games and Apex Legends were made on an updated version of the Source game engine.)
Enough about the technical side, though, let’s talk Star Wars! First of all, it seems a little weird that there are so many stormtroopers with weapons to combat a lightsaber. I get that this is set after the issuing of Order 66 but did they all suddenly get these weapons and then lose them again? In fact, the first time we see stormtroopers with these weapons is Episode 7 (The Force Awakens). On the other hand, the rather cool new trooper with the double ended staff looks like a human version of an IG-100 MagnaGuard from The Clone Wars. This does make sense, particularly in a post Order 66 Empire.
One man and his lightsaber
Although it’s difficult to get a real feel for the game from a 25-minute playthrough, the lack of variation has us a little concerned. The path that Cal Kestis (your character) goes along feels very linear. He follows a very clearly laid out path until he encounters some enemies. A battle ensues and then it’s back off along the trail. This may work in a short demo but over the course of full game it’s gonna get pretty dull, pretty quickly. Here’s hoping there are some puzzle elements or at least something to keep the experience fresh. Speaking of keeping things fresh, the holotable Cal visits in the demo only has four planets on display. I’m sure that there will be more than just 4 locations in the game but they also require a decent amount of variation to keep things interesting.
Let’s be positive about some of the stuff we saw, though, eh? First of all, the lightsaber combat feels nice and chunky. The lightsaber hits cause injuries and stormtroopers don’t just shake it off. In fact, it appears that whenever you do make contact with the lightsaber, the enemy dies. The challenge is hitting them as they’ll block you. This feels right and is a positive point in our book. It also has to be said that the music feels bang on. Despite having an original soundtrack (though we assume the John Williams themes will be referenced), it really feels right for the Star Wars universe. The swelling string sounds and the rumbling brass truly helps to sell it.
Old friends and new friends
Another good point (in our opinion) is the inclusion of Forest Whitaker’s, Saw Gerrara. This character first appeared in Rogue One but was a little underused there. Hopefully, he will get more of a chance to shine here as it’s an interesting character. Speaking of characters, the new droid BD-1 looks great. The way that he is used to project a map, interact with objects, and open new areas is nice (though, hardly revolutionary). One particular highlight was when Cal used him as a zip line trolley to slide down to a new area. The design also seems fitting with the Star Wars universe and its cornucopia of existing droids.
We still have a ton of questions about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order but at least we do have an idea of what the game will be now. This gameplay demo isn’t enough to get us massively excited at the moment but it does alleviate some fears. It would have been nice to see the skill tree when Cas meditates (around the 16-minute mark of the video) so we could get an idea of the force powers he will have. The dialogue choices also seemed incredibly basic. However, this was never going to be a really deep RPG. Here’s hoping that the combat is deep, though. As it is, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has potential. We just hope that it turns out to be the Star Wars experience that we’re all hoping for.