STAR WARS JEDI – FALLEN ORDER [EA Play 2019]: Uncharted Territory.

Travis Moody

STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts – X1/PS4/PC – November 15, 2019) – Now we know why that Amy Hennig-led, formerly Naughty Dog-slash-Visceral Star Wars thing never happened.

There was no need.

Following this morning’s EA Play livestream with Kinda Funny‘s Greg Miller, I was able to sit behind closed doors and witness an extended gameplay session of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — with 10-minutes of footage not shown at the initial reveal. Early summary? This is the “UnchartedStar Wars adventure you’re looking for — a rivetting third-person, single player experience entirely in the spirit of Star Wars. Just listening to the stream’s authentic beeps, chirps, whistles and score from the EA Play stage felt special; but it’s safe to say that there isn’t a “dark” side to taking in SWJFO up-close and person thus far yet either. The game looks awe-some.

Wonderful Warsian aesthetic aside, Fallen Order‘s combat struck me instantly. Cal Kestis’ lightsaber weilding felt heavy, as it should; our padawan protagonist (played by Gotham‘s Cameron Monaghan) is a deft striker, but no instant Obi-Won; yet while gameplay sadly wasn’t hands-on for anyone at EA Play, there’s no question that it’s going to take skill, patience, and well-timed parrying to fend off stronger foes and.. giant spiders. Other skills saw Cal darting his ‘saber like a dagger, haulting time ala Max Payne — which helps as much with parkouring through puzzles as it does with mixing it up — and force strikes that seemlessly combo with Cal’s other Jedi abilities. Respawn also recognizes that this is Star Wars and there’s plenty of comical moments to be had during combat with the enhancement Strormtroop talent.

The footage showed Kestis butting two Trooper heads together, alley-doofing an Imperial R2 bot into his far-far dummer pals, and “bullet-time” force-heaving one poor bastard into his own red laserbeams. Yeah, people in the demo room definitely popped for that. Besides the incredibly varied fight-game was the surprising appearance of a familiar face: Rogue One‘s Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker!) Not only is the veteran actor great in his film role, he also appears to have the best in-game performance too. If you’re a fan of Monoghan’s especially, our protagonist definitely has a cool look; but nothing about the character in these early stages has me clamoring for a Kestis animated series appearance, novel or action figure (think: the incredible Darth Revan). Cal’s mainstream appeal is definitely a wait-and-see.

You see, The Way of the Samurai…

As for the demo, there was a lot to take in. As I mentioned Uncharted earlier, you could definitely compare Cal’s linear progression, traversing (zip-lining and vine-climbing), and environment scaling to the esteemed Naughty Dog series and Crystal Dynamics in their recent Tomb Raider trilogy. Fallen Order definitely has that game genre down pat, including the best parts of Titanfall as well. For those who slept on that series’ superior sequel, Respawn is thankfully bringing some of TF2‘s sensibilities to Fallen Order, such as wall-running and surprise vehicular combat. Just minutes into the demo, Kestis gets behind the command of a camouflaged AT-AT with his trusty –and ultra cute droid companion– BD-1, who reminds me of a blend between the Corebots in ReCore and, of course, BB-8. Respawn does an admirable job keeping the game focus on the current struggle-at-hand (in this case, an exploding AT-AT and heavy-fire Imperial ship battle), while still presenting the adventure in gorgeous cinematic detail with huge, dynamic action sequences.

Not everything appears to be linear in Jedi: Fallen Order either. Once the initial firefight was over, Cal has a homebase ship ala Mass Effect (although far smaller than the Normandy) complete with a holomap selection of planets to see and places to be. And, not unlike Bioware’s infamous sci-fi saga, there are even dialogue choices to boot. Motherfucking yes. The rest of the demo you can watch in the gameplay reveal footage above, but one particular bright highlight included the ability to upgrade the BD-1 droid’s.. adroitness. Gimme this game now! 4.25/5 Bibles.

-Travis Moody

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