Supreme Chancellor Palpatine has revealed his true colours and executed Order 66, causing clone troopers across the galaxy to turn on their Jedi generals, wiping out the Jedi population in the process.
Taking place after the events of the third film chronologically – Revenge of the Sith – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sees the Galactic Empire hunting for the few remaining Jedi knights to fully wipe out those that are in hiding. You play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi padawan in hiding on the planet Bracca, working in a ship junkyard scrapping ships from the Clone Wars. An incident forces Cal to use the Force, thus highlighting his whereabouts to those on the lookout for him. This sets in motion a chain of events as Cal tries to find the holocron, a device with the names of all Jedi younglings, and bring back the Jedi Order.
Despite this fitting nicely into the chronology of the saga, Jedi: Fallen Order is still a standalone experience that can be enjoyed by Star Wars fans and haters alike. Fans will appreciate the effort gone into this to make it an authentic Star Wars experience, and those less keen on the films will enjoy the gameplay, as it presents a good mix of some of the best games from the past few years.
The biggest comparison that can be made is that of the Soulsborne games: Fallen Order ‘borrows’ many of those series staples including bonfires, etsus flasks, loss of souls and a more defensive form of combat. It’s not a complete carbon copy however, as these are translated to Jedi meditation points, stim canisters, EXP and lightsaber battles respectively.
Combat is purposefully slow, tactical, and exactly what you would expect when wielding a lightsaber. Gone are the hundreds of enemies on screen at a time from The Force Unleashed – the last major Star Wars single-player game. Here, players must learn attack patterns of enemies and react accordingly. Go in flailing your lightsaber around like a baton twirler and it’ll be a quick death and a trip back to the last meditation point. Though that’s not to say you can’t do that with later unlocked abilities when you are far more powerful…
The writing is also spot on; this is a very personal journey for Cal, and you can feel that in the storytelling and the voice acting. It can be slow at times, particularly when spending long times getting from point A to point B to progress the story, but it keeps players fully invested.
Throughout his journey there are several planets for Cal to explore, some immediately familiar but some more obscure. Each one though is filled with nooks and crannies to jump, swing and slide around to your heart’s content. Fallen Order employs a Metroidvania style exploration but feels closer to 2018’s God of War with return visits yielding rewards for those who go off the beaten track.
Rewards come in two varieties: Chests and Secrets. Chests are far more abundant and contain various cosmetic items. These can change the colours of your poncho, Mantis ship and even your droid companion BD-1 (side note: the true star of this game). Secrets however are far trickier to find but offer much better rewards including additional stim canisters and boosts to max health and force meter. The game reminds you after completing large story sections to go and revisit old areas with your new-found abilities and it is highly recommended that you do so.
Chests also produce lightsaber customisation options, and there are lots of them. You can spend a long time designing your ideal lightsaber even down to the hilt and handle. It’s a great feature but can be difficult to admire when dangling at your side.
Whilst exploration and combat are a lot of fun, they aren’t without their issues. Fortunately most are minor graphical ones, but some are more serious; I’ve had the game crash on me a few times, for instance. The graphical glitches have included a lot of texture issues – much like the Unreal Engine 3 days despite Fallen Order using Unreal Engine 4 – and character models disappearing. Sometimes having to wait for an enemy to spawn to defeat them can really bring you out of the moment.
When things do start to bog down, such as during an extended exploration session, the game will suddenly burst into life with a set-piece that is exhilarating and exciting. Early on in the game you will be trying to climb up a fallen train, feeling very much like Nathan Drake from Uncharted, but other moments have you fighting in mid-air with giant creatures or even controlling an AT-AT against the Empire themselves. It is constantly throwing these moments at you, and between this and the single-player campaign in Titanfall 2 it is showing that Respawn Entertainment have the ability to create brilliant moments in both single-player and multiplayer titles.
Some things don’t work though, and at times Fallen Order ventures too far into platformer territory. Whether that be sliding down ice paths and performing jumps at the right time or using lung plants that propel Cal into the air like a spring would in the Sonic games, these just don’t feel right in the world of a Star Wars game.
There are 39 achievements in total, and due to the nature of the game none are missable. Plenty are related to story progression, and the rest are for using your Force abilities and defeating specific enemies. A playthrough of the story should take between 15-20 hours with just a bit more again for mopping up the remaining achievements.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on the Xbox One is proof that single-player is not dead; it is alive and kicking and here is one of the best examples of it in 2019. It is clear that its inspirations are from the likes of Dark Souls, God of War, Uncharted and other Metroidvania style games, but its melds the parts of those together with a Star Wars lick of paint to create a very enjoyable experience. Some issues exist but for the most part these are graphical and not too distracting.