Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on PC
EA’s not had the best luck with the Star Wars license since it acquired it back in 2013. Star Wars Battlefront had all the presentation and classic Star Wars moments fans could ask for, but was a multiplayer-only affair. Then came Battlefront 2 which, despite including a campaign (albeit a lackluster one), will likely only ever be remembered for its horrendous monetization and loot box debacle. Now we have Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; a solely single-player experience with no loot boxes, no microtransactions, and just plenty of that good sci-fi stuff like lightsabers, pew-pew blasters, and a rich world that perfectly fits into the lore.
Fallen Order takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and after the events of Order 66 which saw the Clones attempt to eradicate all Jedi from the galaxy. Players assume the role of Cal Kestis, a former Padawan who has been hiding from the Empire, but soon finds himself on the run and tangled up in a quest to save the Jedi race once and for all. As a period of time in the Star Wars world that is so significant, it’s great to see EA and Respawn dive into uncharted territory, rather than opting for some sort of tacky movie tie-in for Rise of Skywalker next month.
In short, Cal must travel to various planets, exploring tombs and passing various ‘tests’ in order to prove himself worth of the Holocron –an item which contains the names of young Force-sensitives across the galaxy that could help turn the tide of the battle in the Republic and Jedi’s favor. He travels to a variety of planets including fan-favorite Kashyyyk, home of the Wookies, as well as Zeffo, Bogano, and even Dathomir, a planet occupied by the Nightsisters, a group of Jedi that use the Force for their own good.
Each of these planets is varied in its environments, making platforming sections feel just that little bit different as you hop from one to the next. Creatures roam these planets as they would in the lore, and there are some simply stunning views. Thin, wispy clouds hanging over the world of Kashyyyk, with the enormous Origin Tree bursting through the cloud cover majestically. It’s all rather pretty and true to lore.
There’s plenty at stake in Fallen Order’s story, and it helps to add some gravitas to Cal’s adventure. Your shipmates, Cere –a former Jedi– and the ship’s captain Greez, are excellently voiced and written and left me wanting more adventures with the group by the time I watched the credits roll.
That being said, Fallen Order’s story is a little cliche and predicatable at points, and there’s a rather annoying beat that feels like it was only thrown in to make players head to a different planet, only to return to the one they were on within an hour, effectively padding the game out a bit. Otherwise, there’s plenty of twists and turns, and even though one or two may be fairly obvious early on, the story on the whole is serviceable and helps give Cal’s adventure and actions some purpose.
To gain access to the Holocron, Cal must first travel to different planets, speaking to different people, exploring tombs, solving puzzles and slicing his way through countless Stormtroopers. It’s here where Fallen Order really starts to shine. Not because it’s doing anything new, but in fact, the contrary.
After a couple of hours with Fallen Order, it’s clear that it’s taken inspiration from some of the most iconic series on the landscape right now. Each planet is a sprawling maze of routes and shortcuts that’ll eventually lead you to your main objective. Meditation Points (or Save Points), act as Fallen Order’s equivalent of Dark Souls’ bonfires, allowing you to invest in new skills, rest to refill your health and Force meter (as well as your healing items called ‘Stims’), and respawn all enemies in the area. Other paths take you to hidden chests or one of a planet’s various ‘secrets’ which can either be a mini-boss battle, a collectible that earns you XP, or Force Echoes that increase your max health or Force when three are collected.
Not all of this is immediately accessible, though. Fallen Order adopts a Metroidvania-style world exploration system. The first time you go to Zeffo, for example, you won’t have access to some areas because BD-1 doesn’t have the ability to Slice through locked doors or hack terminals. Return a little later on once you’ve got this ability, and you’ll find a whole host of newly-accessible areas to explore.
To help you keep track of all of these various paths that either are, or are not yet accessible to you, you’ll want to make use of BD-1’s map. Its color-coding and 3D view make it a dream to navigate your way around these maze-like worlds and find the chests you’re looking for.
These chests are one of the main reasons you’ll venture off the beaten path, but they don’t really hold anything all that interesting. They essentially contain unlockable cosmetic options for you to customize Cal’s underlayers, poncho, BD-1’s skin, your ship’s (the Mantis), or different parts for your lightsaber. Outside of the lightsaber parts, these didn’t feel all that exciting or worthwhile, and even the new bits for my neon blade weren’t all that attractive once I’d perfected its look.
Despite the lackluster rewards, this kind of Metroidvania gameplay just feels right within the Star Wars universe. The vast array of Jedi abilities and skills that your chipper little droid BD-1 can use to reach previously inaccessible areas makes sense, especially within the context of the story with Cal still growing in strength as a Jedi. My only gripe was that these planets felt so satisfying and interesting to explore, that the fact we only got five in the entire game was a little disappointing. Cal was going on a planet-hopping adventure, and while I appreciate why the gameplay required backtracking of the same areas, I just wish I’d had maybe one or two more to explore just as thoroughly.
Even with this Metroidvania-style system of required upgrades to reach new places, Fallen Order’s platforming and general world traversal feels incredibly similar to Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider series. From the way Cal moves about the world, the way the camera follows close behind him as he squeezes through tiny gaps in walls, through to the platforming sections that require precise timing to successfully wall run across four different walls, swing on a rope, to land on a climbable wall all feels very Tomb Raider. And that’s alright by me.
For the most part, exploring Fallen Order’s five different worlds is a joy, and I loved returning to each one to uncover more of their secrets and push that completion percentage that little bit closer to the big 100. There were a few moments where the platforming felt a little too hit-and-miss, though.
At one point, I’d climbed to the highest point I could on a pillar and leapt towards the other one right next to it. For some reason, Cal jumped into the pillar, but despite me spamming LT to climb, he just kinda flailed around and fell to his death. Other times, I’d initiate a wall-run only to fall just short of the landing I needed to make for no other reason than I was simply a fraction too soon on the jump.
Normally, I’d roll my eyes and brush off the ‘Respawn’ screen, but with every failed attempt, Cal’s health bar took a hit, and with limited heals and no Meditation Point in-sight, trial and error suddenly becomes a far less viable option unless I wanted to run through all the enemies between me and my last Meditation Point. These frustrating platforming moments were pretty rare, but were still tedious whenever they did rear their heads.
At the other end of the scales are Fallen Order’s tomb puzzles. These really do feel like Tomb Raider-esque ‘tombs’ that focus heavily on platforming and your use of Jedi abilities to solve different puzzles. One, for example, requires you to use the Force and a series of little paths to move large spheres onto switches on different levels. These help to break up the combat and require an intuitive use of the Force in order to solve.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars game if there weren’t lightsabers and the use of the Force; and good news, Fallen Order has both, and does them incredibly well. Rather than combat being a simple hack-and-slash affair, Respawn Entertainment has taken some inspiration from Soulsborne games this time.
Enemies have a health and stamina bar, and you must deplete their stamina bar to break their block and deal damage. You can do this by constantly attacking them, but the easiest way to break their block and open them up for an attack is by parrying just as they try to attack. When an enemy glows red, their attack cannot be blocked or parried, and so you’ll need to evade.
This can lead to some truly epic lightsaber battles. Neon-hinted dances as lightsabers clashed, sparks flew, and Cal dodged, ducked, dipped and dived out of the way of incoming enemy strikes. A few boss battles in particular spring to mind, but I’m not going to talk about those here for the sake of spoilers. You can also unlock more Jedi abilities for Cal as you progress through the game, as well as awesome lightsaber attacks such as the lightsaber throw, and an aerial attack that pushes enemies back when you land.
It can all be quite overwhelming at first, especially when you’ll so desperately want to button mash, but that’s definitely not the path to being a true Jedi Master. Fallen Order’s combat is a tactical dance that requires precise movements, the ability to read your opponent’s attack patterns, and counter them effectively.
To ensure Fallen Order is accessible to all Star Wars players regardless of video game experience, the game does utilize a handy difficulty system. Harder difficulties increase enemy aggression and the damage dealt, while decreasing the window you’ve got to press RB/ R1 to parry an attack. The lower the difficulty therefore, the easier it is to parry. The difficulty can be changed at any time, too meaning you’re free to fine-tune the experience and up that difficulty as you become more familiar with the parry mechanic.
The problem is, the game doesn’t have a huge number of enemy types to rotate between, and as such returning to the same few planets over and over can lead to combat growing a little bit repetitive by the end. A few Stormtroopers here, a random alien creature there, some Inquisitor Hunters here, an AT-ST there. Each enemy type is well thought-out, with interesting attack patterns and methods for Cal to counter, I just wish there was more of them.
Throughout the story, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will randomly throw some Bounty Hunter mini-bosses at you. One moment I was heading back to my ship, the next Atticus Rex appears, captures me, and forces me to fight my way to freedom in an arena. This was a real highlight for me, and had me feeling like I was Luke taking on the Rancor.
The problem was that further down the line, more named enemies with giant health bars randomly appeared in my way, but if I didn’t beat them the first time (they could be pretty tricky), I’d respawn and they’d have disappeared. Considering these were some of the more intense battles in Fallen Order’s entirety, it’s a shame that these were seemingly random in terms of occurrence.
Cal’s use of the Force isn’t just limited to combat, even though it’s definitely the most satisfying. Force Pulling enemies into you before swiftly thrusting your lightsaber through their chest for a one-hit-kill quickly became my ‘signature’ move, as Stormtroopers helplessly tried to backpedal away from me. When you’re exploring the likes of Kashyyyk, Zeffo, and Dathomir, you’ll need the Force to pull down new walkways, slow down the blades of a fan so you can make your way through the gaps safely, or just Force Push through a fragile wall. Kinda like how Tomb Raider utilizes Lara’s different equipment to unlock new ways of traversing its various environments.
So right now we’ve got the exploration and platforming of a Tomb Raider game, mixed with the combat of Dark Souls. All of this is ultimately wrapped up in stunningly accurate Star Wars presentation to bring the entire thing to life. Lightsabers hum, Stormtroopers pew-pew, and Wookies “ARGHHHHHHHH” just as they did in the movies. Planets look true to lore, collectibles are teeming with little references to the galaxy, and the fact that you can customize your lightsaber with unlockable parts was just the icing on the already excellently-presented cake.
That being said, Fallen Order doesn’t always feel quite as pretty as Battlefront II. Its flora and fauna doesn’t have that same photorealistic look as their Battlefront and Frostbite counterparts. Also, Wookies look kinda weird, like their hair is made out of brown noodles. They’re probably the only instance of character models looking incredibly out of place, which is a shame considering just how iconic they are.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the Star Wars game that fans have been crying out for years now. While it doesn’t do anything new, its clear inspirations from Dark Souls and Tomb Raider have helped to create an epic, sprawling adventure that’ll have you ready for more the moments the credits roll. If only there had been more of it, because once I started, I didn’t want to stop.
Score: 4/5 – Great
- Incredible Star Wars presentation.
- Intuitive use of Jedi abilities for puzzle sections.
- Combat feels tactical while also incredibly badass.
- Epic, sprawling planets filled with secrets to explore, but…
- Only five planets (including the ‘tutorial planet’) is a little light.
- Enemy types do get a little repetitive.
- Platforming can sometimes be a little hit-and-miss.
If you’re a Star Wars fan and are looking for a single-player action title, this is definitely one to check out.
The game releases on Nov. 15 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
It is developed by Respawn Entertainment, the same team behind the Titanfall series.
For more information on how we review games, check out Twinfinite’s review policy here.