Watching an extended demo of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order at EA Play was like watching a scene from Star Wars Rogue One or the more recent Solo: A Star Wars Story – not only was Fallen Order’s production quality that immensely high, but the characters and larger universe feel integrated with what we’ve seen on the silver screen in the latest crop of films.
It also doesn’t hurt that the game’s developer Respawn Entertainment, the company behind the massively under-appreciated Titanfall 2, is a company that has mastered the set-piece, a skill that Fallen Order takes full advantage of.
Based on the 25-minutes scripted gameplay we saw, Fallen Order certainly has the look of Star Wars but, like Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars, under the friendly exterior lies a complicated – and sometimes contradictory – story.
Star Wars: The Last Sith … er, Jedi
If you only remember one thing about Fallen Order’s story, it should be the fact that it takes place after the titular Order 66 – i.e. the order issued by Chancellor Palpatine to clone troopers throughout the galaxy to eradicate all Jedi on sight.
While nearly all Jedi were wiped out in the days, weeks and months after the order is issued, Cal Kestis, Fallen Order’s main protagonist, survives by joining a salvage operation in the Outer Rim.
We’re not told how he escapes the clutches of the nascent Empire, but we’re told that he doesn’t finish his training before Order 66 eradicates all the Jedi… or, well, almost all of them: Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke and Leia are still out there in the wider universe.
But, what’s important here, at least contextually, is that he’s not quite a full Jedi Knight. Why that last bit is important, as we found out, is that Cal doesn’t exactly operate like a Jedi – in fact, he acts a lot more like a Sith.
Stab first, ask questions later
In our 25-minute, extended hands-off demo of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order there was not a single point in which Cal Kestis acted like a Jedi. Most situations that could’ve been resolved non-violently were solved by Kestis impaling Stormtroopers with his lightsaber. On more than one occasion, when combat could’ve perhaps been avoided or some troopers incapacitated instead of killed, Cal simply leaps into combat and maims nearly everyone and everything in sight.
And look, don’t get us wrong, that combat looks great. It feels like it has the fluidity of an Arkham game with skillful dodging mixed with stunning attacks, plus the spacing requirements you’d expect to see in a game like Dark Souls. The result is fast and fluid, but still strategic and rewarding in equal measure.
But it’s also pretty brutal, relatively speaking, with some finishers resulting in Cal slicing Stormtroopers – and the newly introduced Purge Troopers – in half. That feels particularly un-Star Wars-y to me, something Cal's Jedi Master should've warned him away from pretty early on.
Speaking of Cal's Master, what’s also strange is that, considering Cal never finished his Jedi training, he’s so adept at using The Force. In the demo we saw, Cal is constantly freezing enemies and blaster fire in their tracks (similar to how Kylo Ren froze Poe Dameron on Jakku in Episode 7) and tossing enemies around like rag dolls.
Unless there’s a very good explanation for this that Respawn hasn’t told us about, Cal’s incredibly adept use of The Force without reaching the end of his training doesn’t make much sense.
It’s not believable, but it’s definitely cinematic
The Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay shown to us during EA Play took place around 15 minutes before the start of the trailer shown off during EA’s live stream. We saw Cal land on Kashyyyk and traverse the side of an AT-AT walker before climbing inside and commandeering the vehicle. This big set piece is the first of many and, while it feels a bit linear in how you go about it, looks like a blast to play.
It’s immediately after Cal takes on an Imperial base with his pilfered firepower that we run into a familiar face – Saw Gerrera from Rogue One. Instead of the grizzled war veteran we saw in the Star Wars spin-off, the Saw Gerrera we see in Fallen Order is younger, faster and a lot less reliant on machinery.
Here lies Fallen Order’s charm. Where some other games loosely weave characters into a plot for the sheer nostalgia value, Fallen Order shapes a game around those characters’ conflicts. Seeing Cal fight Imperial troops with Saw feels like the tightest integration between the Star Wars cinematic universe and the games universe yet, probably even more so than The Force Unleashed that came out back in 2008.
The demo ends with another character reveal (hint: K-2S0 wasn’t always fighting for the Rebel Alliance…) which only further solidifies Fallen Order’s place within the universe. And while that relation feels mismatched at times – see: an untrained Jedi that’s super powerful and has no moral qualms killing everyone, everywhere – it’s still a universe we’re looking forward to exploring for ourselves when the game comes out on November 15.
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