With the Titanfall games now securely under their belt with a very respectable reception both critically and from fans, Respawn Entertainment next made room on their belt for something else; a Lightsaber. Known for their First-Person shooter prowess, it could be understood if people were perhaps a little concerned for Respawn’s first romp into third-person adventure, but it takes exactly 10 minutes of play for you to realise that those fears were unfounded. Jedi: Fallen Order is utterly breath-taking.
Star Wars games have lacked in recent years, despite lots of promise surrounding the license being passed around with the likes of EA and DICE, who have shown skill when it comes to making mass-scale war games; the perfect home for the Star Wars license. However, despite outstanding graphics and sound design, the Battlefront games that we have been graced with in the last 4 years came out in underwhelming fashion, despite Battlefront 2 making great strides towards becoming the game it should have been now. Hope for a truly exceptional Star Wars game for the first time in two full video game generations was in short supply, and early images of protagonist Cal Kestis wielding a blue Lightsaber with a curiously long hilt didn’t exactly inspire massive confidence on the back of Respawn’s incredibly shy and understated reveal that they were in fact working on a Star Wars game.
Then we saw the first gameplay, offering nothing significant in the way of story reveal, and suddenly people began to hope. Early impressions were fed back to the masses, and suddenly rumours were growing of it being a Souls-like Star Wars game, and curiosity was well and truly piqued. Now here we are, about to enter a new decade of games and entertainment, finally able to play Respawn’s mysterious Star Wars game. Do we finally have that Star Wars game that we’ve all been craving? Let’s take a look, shall we?
You are a former Jedi Padawan, fresh from the disaster of Order 66. Your master was destroyed, and now you hide in plain sight as the Empire hunts down the last of the Jedi. Your connection to the force is diminished but not broken, so you can still handle yourself, but there is lots to learn and re-learn, and this is where the game truly begins to pull you in. From the word go, you have your Lightsaber, and you have basic training in attacking and blocking. But if you want anything more advanced, you’ll need to put in the time to learn it. As is the case with your connection to the force, your health, and your ability to heal. So is it like Dark Souls? It has a few similarities, yes. You will find places to rest that act like campfires. You will need to go back and strike the enemy who defeated you to retrieve your lost XP. And finally, the game is very, very difficult. Thankfully Respawn have made it possible to lower the difficulty before you break your controller, but it is so very rewarding to figure out how to best your opponent or opponents on the difficulty you started with. Make no mistake, your first instinct will be to rush in slashing (like a Padawan) but you will find very early on that it is the quickest way to drain your stamina, and leave you open to death blows from even the weakest adversaries.
So how is the actual story? There is a fantastic cast, including people that I cannot spoil, and they all do the unthinkable. They make a great Star Wars story that can stand with the best of them. At first you think it’s kind of safe, but after those credits role you will have been witness to a Star Wars adventure with so many twists and turns that it cannot be seen as anything less than cinematic and extremely gratifying. You think you’re about to witness a Star Wars staple, then whoosh, left turn, and your doing something or seeing something you couldn’t possibly have expected. It sets you up for tropes, then smashing them before your eyes. That said, one or two things were a bit predictable. A reveal about a character is so obvious and groan inducing that it does immediately leap to mind when you’re trying to recount the story as a whole, but what is so impressive about the reveal is that you aren’t put off by it because the characters are all so incredibly likeable, diverse, well written, and superbly acted. Is everything in the story gripping? Not quite, as there are a few times on the planet Kashyyyk where you’ll be a little bit bored or frustrated with the never-ending streams of squelchy opponents. But even these moments can be forgiven because of one very important detail; the game is ridiculously fun to play. You don’t avoid encounters, you look for them. Getting better at parrying and timing your death strike can be so rewarding.
Speaking of rewarding, the game is absolutely loaded with collectables, customisable loot, and of course, Lightsaber parts. Every world you travel to, which is already so fun to explore due to its rich design, wonderful feeling of scale, and rich wildlife, is loaded with loot chests for you to find and cut open for those tasty goodies. I’ve worked out that the Lightsaber has 80+ options when it comes to customisation. For those who are good with maths, that means a number of possible combinations that I would never be able to figure out, and if I could it would be a number that would be a shock to the system. In short, everyone who plays the game and spends the time to make the Lightsaber to their liking has a chance of creating a unique Lightsaber, just for them. Changing blade colours is a way to keep things fresh when you get tired of seeing Blue and Orange all the time. How about Magenta? Perhaps Green, or Cyan? Master Windu’s infamous Purple? And if that wasn’t enough, if you have that desire to explore and loot, you will also come across the upgrade to switch to a Double-Bladed Lightsaber. That alone should have you out their checking every corner.
Not everything is instantly accessible. There are many trails and paths blocked by progression. As you become more skilled in traversal and the force, more pathways will open up. You will gain a new ability and suddenly remember that box you couldn’t quite jump high enough for on that other world. Now you can! Go get it! It could be a paint job for your ship, or a new look for your character, or maybe even a new emitter for your Lightsaber! Getting all the loot you can will make the game very replayable. Fallen Order does a great job of letting you know when there is more to find. You could come off a loot hunt feeling full of triumph, thinking you have cleared the entire planet of its goods with your apt loot hunting skills, only to look at the map and find you are still missing more than a dozen chests! What?! How?! I need my Lightsaber to be perfect! I have to find all those parts!
That brings us nicely to Lightsaber combat. It is first rate. On higher difficulty’s you will need to be focused, patient, and alert to hidden dangers. It wont take many hits to bring you down, and your trusty droid companion BD-1 is not so incredible at distributing your health stims that you can just shake off being completely outnumbered. You truly become a Jedi in this game, as you improve your Saber skills not with upgrades and skills from the skill tree (of which there are many) but with actual practice and repetition. Soon those pesky spiders that spam poison at you are easy XP, but again, not because you’ve increased Cal’s strength, but your actual real life skill and reflex for timing. The game will punish you for being headstrong and foolish. You can choose the quick and easy path by lowering the difficulty, but you’ll find that you’ll have to do that more and more often as the fights get more and more ferocious.
Onto the game presentation itself. As I’ve said, the voice cast is faultlessly brilliant throughout. That is accompanied by a rich orchestra that embodies everything that is Star Wars, using only cues from the original Star Wars soundtrack to compliment its fantastic score. There are full pieces from past films that play during certain sequences of the game, but its as rare as it is nostalgic and wonderful. The graphics are first rate, and the attention to detail is wonderful. The sound design is the top of its class as well, and NPC dialogue such as a Stormtrooper begging you to spare him just adds to the living environment you’re occupying, full of feeling and raw emotion. The game has a few moments that were so good and so truly Star Wars that it brought a tear to my eye.
Jedi: Fallen Order is a reminder that Star Wars games can still play with the elite. Respawn have achieved what no company has for what feels like an eternity. They have made a Star Wars game that excels at being a Star Wars game in every way that it would excel were it not a Star Wars game. They have put themselves in a position where I consider them to be proven as some of the finest video game developers working today, and they deserve your recognition for this absolute masterpiece.
Virtually perfect in its storytelling, performances, presentation, authenticity, fun factor, and respect for its unfathomably important and historic entertainment licence, Jedi: Fallen Order stands not only as the greatest Star Wars game of all time, but as one of the greatest games ever made. This is the Star Wars game we were looking for.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.