Release Date: November 15, 2019
Price: $59.99 MSRP
Rated: T (Teen)
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam)
Podcast Discussion/Review (Geek to Geek Podcast)
What’s It All About?
Jedi Fallen Order is one of the only video game entries into the new, Disney-owned Star Wars canon. Its predecessor, Battlefront II (also by EA), set a pretty decent precedent for storytelling, but got marred by a huge controversy around microtransactions and hindered by a pretty terrible game engine.
Jedi Fallen Order, luckily, suffers from neither. The entire game is included with the purchase, no microtransactions in sight. (Though we do hope there’s some sort of DLC — the game is set up perfectly for expansion.) Also, the game engine has been swapped over to Unreal, and it makes a galaxy of difference.
Respawn entertainment set out to tell a Jedi story set between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars saga that makes you feel like you’re a real Jedi. Unlike The Force Unleashed titles, where the Jedi powers were a bit (a lot?) over the top, Respawn went with a more subdued, Dark Souls-like combat that is meant to emulate the nuance of flipping around while swinging a stick of colored light.
The question here, though, is whether Jedi Fallen Order succeeds at these goals, or if it falls to the Dark Side.
On the highest note possible, Jedi Fallen Order tells one of the best Star Wars stories I’ve seen in a long time. Kal, the main character, is kind of a blank slate protagonist, but the rest of the cast and crew are awesome.
The villain is probably the most compelling villain since Thrawn in Rebels, and I won’t say a lot more than that for fear of spoilers. But I was shocked that I ended up becoming so invested in the villain and side characters in the game. Much moreso than the main guy I’m playing with.
Lightsaber cusomization is always fun. Always. I loved being able to open a chest and get a new hilt piece or material. The new materials you unlock give the metal of your saber a lot of personality. You can have red, green, or yellow, matte black, etc. alloys that make your saber incredibly unique.
The best part about that, though, is that they don’t look garish or out of place. It’s just something you made the lightsaber out of.
The combat in the game is great. If that’s your kind of combat. It’s not mine, so I turned the difficulty down to Story Mode, and it became a lot more enjoyable. Still challenging, but not insane. That said, being able to adjust your difficulty up and down mid-game is a fantastic feature that more games need to take advantage of.
You get to explore different planets of the galaxy in this game such as Ilum, Dathomir, and some new ones like Zeffo. For the most part, they’re awesome. I loved being able to go around Dathomir and just see how nasty the place was.
And not to spoil anything, but there’s a character you meet on Dathomir that needs her own spinoff series. Just wait. You’ll see.
And speaking of great characters…BD-1, your droid is absolutely delightful. Droids are easily one of the best parts of Star Wars and carrying BD around on your back like a little robo Yoda is awesome. And the friendship between it and Kal that develops as you play is so sweet and wonderful. I just love it.
The best part, though, for me is the very final area, which is a location we’ve never seen in Star Wars media before. I won’t tell you what it is, but it made me squee when I saw where we were going next.
Now, the game isn’t without fault. You don’t gain anything but cosmetic upgrades from opening chests, and those may be lightsaber parts, skins for your ship or droid, or Ponchos for yourself.
Which brings me to ponchos. Kal has a terrible model and costume. And I don’t care how many skins I get, you can’t make me wear it. Just no, Respawn. Stop it.
No one wants your ponchos.
The combat itself, like I said earlier, is Souls-like. If that’s your bag, great. Keep the difficulty up. If it’s not, turn it down, and it gets a lot more fun. However, be aware that if you keep it up and you die a lot (which is the whole thing about Souls-like combat), there will be reload times.
If you’re on an original Playstation 4 or Xbox 1 like I was and not a Pro or X, you will get a lot of load times. 3-4 minutes per death. Which is more than I was getting of gameplay. So I turned it down to Story Mode and had much less trouble in combat, thus fewer load times. On upgraded machines or higher-end PCs, that’s not an issue at all. YMMV.
Other than that, the only real, true complaint is that there’s no fast travel on any planet. Sometimes, you get very deep in or need to go very deep in, and you have to trek across Maker-knows-how-much terrain and puzzles to get there. It’s annoying af.
And then there’s those parts of the game that are just kinda there. Like the terrarium. I cannot for the life of me figure out why you collect seeds for Greez’s terrarium. It’s cool, and the little trees and plants are neat. But…why? Outside of a trophy/achievement, I can’t figure it out.
The real ugliness of the game, if you can call it that, is that there’s not enough new stuff. Of the planets we see and get to explore, only 2 of them are new. We have seen Ilum, Kashyyyk, and Dathomir before. So Bogano and Zeffo are the only new ones we have. Sure, the actual exploration is new, but seeing places we haven’t at all is part of what makes Star Wars so epic and grand.
Personally, I was hoping we’d go into the Unknown Regions in this one. But hey…maybe next time.
And finally, there’s the lightsaber color crystals. Jedi Fallen Order lets you customize every single aspect of your saber. Including the color. But you get just blue and green to begin with. If you pre-ordered, you can get orange, too.
You have to wait until about 3/4 of the way through the game, however, for the story to open up for you to get the rest of the colors. And they’re awesome. Awesome, I tell you! But they’re too late in the game. I kept expecting every box I opened to be a crystal, and it never was (spoiler: it was a poncho).
However, with as much of a post-game as there is, you still have plenty of time to cut people apart with a purple or cyan or yellow blade as you want.
Just don’t get your hopes up for a red one. You don’t get that. You’re a Jedi, people. Tsk tsk.
Added up, this is one of my top games of the year. I think in all my rankings, the second actually (behind Dragon Quest Builders 2). That’s saying something for a game that I was initially planning to completely pass by.
If you’re a Souls-combat fan, turn up the difficulty and play it on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. You’ll love it. If you like semi-The Force Unleashed combat, Metroid Prime-style exploration, and a delightful Star Wars story, you’ll love it.
Basically, it’s a great game, and it gives me a new hope (ehhh? ehhh?) for what might coming in the future with their licensing agreement.