Another year, another new Star Wars thing. This year includes that one movie with Palpatine and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I finished the game with close to 100% completion on the Xbox One S. When I discuss games with people, I like to talk about the rent or buy aspect of the game, a concept long retired in the gaming world. I will give a final verdict, which includes the answer to the question, rent or buy?
Everybody says this, saying they love the original trilogy or how much they hate the Phantom Menace or how Battlefront II was their favourite PS2 game, but as a Star Wars fan I have read the crap out of Star Wars comics, novels, researched the lore and I am an advocate of the Legends continuity. I mean damn, I love Star Wars so much my 4th grade teacher made fun of me for reading the autobiography of Anakin Skywalker. I don’t want to say I hold more authority regarding my critique on the story, but I did want it to be known I care very much about the story and have read a bunch of different tales from around the galaxy.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place about 5 years after Revenge of the Sith. Cal Kestis, our main protagonist and the guy we play as, was a very young Jedi Padawan when Order 66 occurred, and he now lives as a scrapper on the planet Bracca. Cal, through some series of events, is discovered to be a Jedi and the Empire is now after this dude. Cal teams up with a former Jedi named Cere and a pilot named Greez, who travel to the various planets the game has to offer, to unlock a Jedi holocron containing the names of Force-sensitive children in the galaxy. Basically, the next generation of Jedi. You can travel between the different planets the game has to offer; Zeffo, Kashyyk, Bogano, Ilum and my favourite, Dathomir.
I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free. I don’t think the overall story is anything to write home about, but it is certainly a fitting addition to the Star Wars canon. It shares a similar story structure to games like Mass Effect or the Arkham series, where you have the freedom to go wherever you want, but you have to do quests in a given area to progress in another given area to advance the story.
As a Star Wars story, it is a welcome addition to the collection but it’s far from great. The main character’s arc throughout the game is a common one amongst most young protagonists, feeling doubtful about themselves or suffering from a past trauma, then slowly overcoming it. It’s no secret that you encounter Imperial Inquisitors, which are Jedi hunters trained by Darth Vader. These guys act as the main antagonist besides the Galactic Empire and are pretty menacing, which is something we all want with our villains. Finding the holocron takes you through some convoluted sequences and is the main drive of the story. They really could have been trying to find something else and the story wouldn’t change too much.
I feel kinda indifferent towards the main cast of characters. Cal Kestis is a serviceable main protagonist. He’s your average young video game hero, he wants to save the day, but he has a lot to learn before competing in the big leagues. Cere, your Jedi companion, has a great voice actress and a lackluster backstory. She was captured, tortured by the Empire and was lured to the Darkside. She provides helpful advice for Cal and says Jedi things. Pretty common stuff in Star Wars tbh. Greez is one hell of a guy. All he does throughout the game is being that wise guy who cracks jokes every now and then. Not too much is shown regarding his journey up to when the game takes place, but the bits that are shown are there to tell you what his personality is like. A little droid named BD-1 joins Cal and the crew on the adventure, who provides Cal a buddy while exploring on his own, assistance and makes jokes. There’s also a Nightsister you meet named Merrin, who is troubled and alone after that episode in the Clone Wars where Grievous basically was OP and destroyed the Nightsisters. Mother Talzin, the leader of the Nightsisters, is gone after being killed by Grievous, so yeah, Merrin is pretty lonely. She’s cool, she has a great accent and a fun personality once she gets over all the death and loneliness.
There’s a lot to breakdown for gameplay. But first let’s talk about the Dark Souls sized elephant in the room. Yes, this game’s combat has similarities to Dark Souls. You dodge, you do heavy and light attacks, you have a limited amount of health pots which refill upon saving. You save at mediation spots, just like bonfires, you can replenish full health and resources at the cost of respawning all the enemies back. The enemy that killed you will take all your XP away (NOT SKILL POINTS). Your experience point meter will fill up to a point and acquire a point to put into your skill tree. Dying to enemies does not take away the points, but it will take away the progress toward one point. Hitting the enemy that last killed you will grant back the experience points plus replenishing your health. I think a lot of people are blowing this comparison out of proportion, that’s really where the similarities end. I’d say this game shares a closer resemblance to Tomb Raider or Uncharted, where exploring is heavily incentivized.
The combat does have a harsh learning curve. It is very easy to die, no matter what difficulty you’re playing on. I died a couple of times during the tutorial which does not hold your hand. I absolutely love how you can change the difficulty of the game in the pause menu. No reloading the game or anything, just a difficulty change. The difficulty only affects the damage you receive, enemy aggression and parry timing. Parrying is an incredibly important part of this game. Honestly, if you’re not willing to learn to parry, you’re not gonna have fun and would very much be a deal breaker.
To put it simply, the combat is a ton of fun. Similar to my experience with Spiderman, the combat takes some time to learn, but when you get used to yet, oh boy do you feel awesome. You can do light attacks, you can do heavy attacks, you can dodge, you can parry, you can do some jumping. You can use the Force, like Force Push, Pull, Saber Throws, etc, which are really fun in this game. Over time, you will gain experience points, which will grant skill points you use to improve and learn new abilities. You can upgrade stuff in 3 different trees: Survival, Lightsaber and Force. Pretty self-explanatory. I recommend putting points into survival to not get one shot by a scout trooper. This is important to repeat. You absolutely must learn how to parry attacks, if not for fighting regular enemies it’s a must against bosses. There’s no combo strings, and the combat isn’t as hard as Dark Souls is. But it’s no walk in the park either. You can’t run around like it’s The Force Unleashed and combo the hell out of 50 Stormtroopers. Your fights have to be more strategic and you need to pay a lot of attention, looking for times to parry and dodge attacks. I’d say the combat is at it’s most fun once you are in a one on one fight and you have learned to incorporate more of the Force in combat. It can be frustrating when you’re fighting like 6 guys at once, but the one on one’s make it worth playing through frustrating parts.
This is one of the best aspects of playing the game. There is so much to go around, which you are rewarded for. Exploring gives you shortcuts to different paths, cosmetic items (such as your Poncho colours, Lightsaber pieces and paint jobs for your ship), and hidden secrets that offer experience points and character upgrades. The character upgrades include either increasing your maximum force or health meter, where when you find 3 of each respective upgrade pieces, it will upgrade it. There’s a bunch on each planet so there’s plenty of ways to make Cal a beefy guy. Speaking of planets, you can explore each planet in any order, depending on when you unlock them. Planets will have certain areas you can’t pass through without progressing through the main story to unlock certain abilities. The game encourages you to explore whenever you can, which did deter me from wanting to play more after I finished the game, due to how much I had explored already.
There’s plenty of platforming, which seem like they were designed with a lot of creativity and require some thinking to get through. Your little droid companion, BD-1, will provide hints if you get stuck at any puzzle. I feel that, though the puzzles and platforming are fun, there are so much that it kind of takes me out of the experience of playing a Star Wars game and more like a puzzle game. It in no way ruins the game, just a little annoying. My only gripe with the map design is there is a lot of space where you can fall to your death. This is problematic when many of the enemies in the game knock you back when they hit you, which can result in you falling down a chasm or mountainside. This happens way too frequently, which is annoying as hell and kind of forces you to learn to dodge and parry more often. Falling off doesn’t kill you instantly, you respawn on the last flat surface you were on and some health is lost.
There are a couple of boss fights in the game, and the first one is easily the most wretched thing to have ever been an enemy in a Star Wars game. I don’t think this is spoiler material so the frog boss on Bogano freaking sucks. Especially if you fight him without any upgrades. I think it took me 30 minutes to beat the frog, which was useful for me learning how and when to do parries and dodges.
Boss fights require you to parry. Most bosses have a stamina bar, which depletes when you parry their attacks or stagger them. Hitting them or using the Force can lower stamina, but parrying is the most efficient way. You will die in these fights. It’s pretty much a given. Over a couple of deaths you’ll learn their attack patterns and you’ll get it. All the bosses look really cool and the attacks they do look cool but still look recognizable enough to know when to parry. They are fair, and fun. When you do die, there is a save point you can go to right before the boss fight, to make sure the boss fight isn’t a pain in the ass to repeat.
It kinda sucks that there is no new game +. I finished the game after about 20 hours, and because the game incentivizes exploring so much, I did a lot of that during the main story. There wasn’t much for me to see once I did finish the game and I don’t feel too inclined to play again, at least for a while. I really hope there is going to be expansive DLC. The game ended at a point where I really wanted to see more of the story (it gets so much better after the 2nd half) and leaves me hanging. So for now, I’d say the game is a little short given how much you can explore. I don’t think a multiplayer component is necessary at all, the game is a great single player experience and should stay that way. But yeah a sequel or story DLC is very welcome, sooner rather than later.
The game is awesome, one of the best Star Wars games at launch in a long time. EA’s Battlefront 2 is now a much more fun and richer game, but at launch sucked hard. So I’m very happy and surprised this game worked so well at release. There are frustrating bits, like the difficulty curve or some enemies that are pretty unforgiving.
If you are single player gamer, have liked Dark Souls or Devil May Cry or anything of those sorts, this game will be a very familiar but fun game. If you are a multiplayer player, it might not be your cup of tea, but I insist that you try it for its fun lightsaber combat and intuitive puzzles.
There story leaves much to be desired, building up to something greater and not delivering it, stopping on a dime. That’s fine if the DLC will add more to this story. But the game’s action makes up for the lack of story length I wanted.
I’d give this game an 8/10 as it is at launch. I’m sure over time there will be updates and DLC and possibly a sequel, but until then there are enough flaws to hold this game back from being so much better.
If you are a fan of Star Wars and want to see a more complete story, I’d say buy it so you can just get the DLC and get back into it.
If you aren’t a fan of the series or are just into the combat being like Dark Souls, rent it. As I said, there isn’t too much to do after you finish the game so there isn’t too much merit to owning the game for the full $60.