Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other Star Wars titles, including the films.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was released in November last year, the first single-player, story-focused Star Wars game on a major platform since 2010’s The Force Unleashed II. While 2018’s much-criticised Battlefront II actually had a creditable single-player campaign, that game was primarily a multiplayer title, so Jedi: Fallen Order is a rare gem in the current Star Wars lineup. Many Star Wars fans had been asking for a title like this for years, and criticism of Electronic Arts’ handling of the brand they’re licensing from Disney had been building in part due to the lack of single-player titles.
This article is going to be the first in a series charting my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order in close to real-time – by which I mean that I’ll write up each section of the game or each play session as I go, rather than offer a review of the whole game at the end. From my point of view, writing this way is a bit of an experiment; a blend between my usual reviews and YouTube-inspired gameplay videos. If it doesn’t work, I guess I won’t keep it up! But if this style proves popular with my readers – and enjoyable to write – perhaps I’ll look at writing up other games in a similar format. At this point I don’t know how many articles will be in this series, nor how long it will take me to complete Jedi: Fallen Order.
I had to postpone playing this game as my computer hadn’t been working right. PC, if you recall, is my main gaming platform these days. I picked up Jedi: Fallen Order on sale a few weeks ago, snapping up a 30% discount. But of course this year’s Steam Summer Sale offered a bigger 50% discount! Sigh.
The Steam version of Jedi: Fallen Order requires a connection to EA’s Origin system, which is a bit of a pain. The initial start-up of the game takes some time: connecting to Steam, updating Steam, updating Jedi: Fallen Order, connecting to Origin, updating Origin, patching Jedi: Fallen Order within Origin… does anyone else miss the days of jamming a cartridge into a SNES and the game just starting? I know I do! But me showing my age aside, when Jedi: Fallen Order booted up, I encountered a simple, easy-to-navigate menu with a few different video and audio settings. Interestingly, Jedi: Fallen Order strongly recommends the use of a control pad, not keyboard and mouse, even when playing on PC. That’s fine for me as a gamepad is my preferred way to play action-adventure titles, but I thought it worth noting. I also adjusted a few of the settings – making sure in-game subtitles were on, as well as increasing the size of in-game text and subtitles. I wasn’t sure at first if doing so would result in comically huge text, but I’m glad I chose to make the text bigger as it would have been harder to read otherwise.
Unlike many games which commence with a long opening cut-scene, Jedi: Fallen Order dropped me right into the story mere seconds after it began. A very short scene introduces protagonist Cal Kestis, who is living on the planet of Bracca. Bracca is a strangely atmospheric place, and Cal lives and works in a ship-breaking yard. Whether the entire planet is just used for this purpose (Star Wars loves its monothematic planets, after all) is unclear. Nevertheless, the rain-soaked planet covered in decaying, broken starships feels like the perfect place for someone to disappear to if they wanted to remain anonymous!
The first level of the game took Cal and I through the junkyard, learning the basics of the game’s running, jumping, and climbing mechanics, as well as showing off the setting. There were a few neat lines of dialogue between non-player characters as Cal darted about the junkyard, but mostly this part of the game’s opening act was combat-free and straightforward.
I don’t guarantee it’ll be combat-free at all difficulty levels though (but that’s probably something I should Google). I usually opt to play games on their easiest difficulty setting. As many of you know if you’re regular readers, my health is complicated. Some of my issues can make gaming at a high difficulty too hard for me, especially in games which need fast reflexes and quick reactions. I’m happy to play a turn-based game like Civilization VI at a higher difficulty level for the strategic challenge, but generally speaking I come to a story-focused game like Jedi: Fallen Order to – surprisingly enough – enjoy the story. Cranking up the difficulty would have made for a more frustrating and less enjoyable experience, and that’s the last thing I want. Some reviewers made note of the game’s difficulty upon release, with it even being compared to the Dark Souls series. I haven’t played those games – on purpose, because again that sounds like an impossibly frustrating experience for me! But I was a little put off by the perceived high difficulty – until learning that a “Story Mode” exists, which turns everything down and makes the game easier to play. That’s the mode I chose to play on, and everything in this write-up will be based on that.
As Cal and his friend Prauf reach their destination, they encounter a rusted Jedi starfighter – it looked to be the design Obi-Wan or Anakin used during the prequel films. Prauf says very pointedly that he doesn’t believe all Jedi could be traitors, referring to Order 66 which saw the Jedi rounded up and killed. I liked the way the game took this short sequence to establish Prauf as someone at least slightly sympathetic to the Jedi before everything else happened – it made his later actions more understandable and sympathetic.
After an accident which sees Cal and Prauf fall – in a fairly neat sliding section which required Cal to slide from side-to-side and dodge obstacles – Prauf is left hanging on the edge of the broken ship. It seemed obvious that Cal would have to use the Force to save him, and I was right – Prauf falls and Cal uses the Force to slow him down, saving his life. Prauf immediately realises what’s happened, and after a short cut-scene in which Cal flies a small craft to safety – which could have made for a fun sequence to play through instead – the two are safely on the ground and headed home.
After a short conversation on the train, Cal falls asleep. When he wakes up, Prauf is missing. And I’m sure some people will say this was obvious as a dream sequence, but I sure as heck didn’t realise it! Cal walks along the train looking for Prauf, when he comes across a locked door. After a few attempts to enter, I turned Cal around to go back the way he’d come, only for the train to vanish – replaced with a Death Star-esque corridor! I was stunned; the transition from one environment to the next was absolutely seamless, and the whole effect was very surreal. I’m sure this worked better because they’re both small, narrow corridors. But even so it was fantastic to play through and a genuine surprise.
After briefly exploring the corridor, and following an R2D2-type droid, Cal sees his former Jedi Master in the dream, and is alerted to the fact that all is not well. As he awakens, the train jolts to a halt. I loved this sequence, it was by far my favourite part of this introductory section of the game. The fact that it wasn’t obviously a dream made the Imperial/Death Star corridor appearing from nowhere a real shock, and seeing Cal’s Jedi Master was great – he’s a character I hope we get to know more about as the game goes on.
The editing and pacing of some recent Star Wars projects has been poor. And this next part of Jedi: Fallen Order unfortunately didn’t do a great job of conveying the passage of time. We saw Cal and Prauf escape the broken ship in the junkyard mere moments ago, and the scene on the train seems to be taking place immediately afterwards. At most, an hour or so has passed. Yet in that time the Empire has been alerted to Cal’s Force use (somehow) and not only dispatched Stormtroopers to intercept his train, but top-of-the-line Jedi hunters as well.
In Star Wars, travel between planets hasn’t always been consistent. But in most cases it isn’t instantaneous, as the scenes on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope conveyed perfectly. Is it the case that the Inquisitors/Sisters happened to be on Bracca already? Maybe – if that’s what happened perhaps it’ll be confirmed later and seal this minor plot hole. But as it is, taking the sequence on its own it seemed as though the Imperials got to Cal almost impossibly fast.
A group of junkyard workers from the train are lined up by the Sisters and Stormtroopers, and the Second Sister promises to execute them all if the Jedi they’re hunting doesn’t step forward. Prauf steps forward and beings to speak about the injustices the Empire has forced on the people of Bracca – only to be cut down in short order by the Second Sister. Prauf fills a role that vaguely reminded me of a character from Knights of the Old Republic called Trask Ulgo – a character who is similarly killed saving the protagonist during that game’s opening mission. While I’m sure this wasn’t intentional, having consistent threads running through the franchise is always a neat thing!
Speculation time! I wonder if we’ll learn that the Empire is using some kind of scanner or sensor that’s able to detect Force powers. While the junkyard wasn’t deserted, it wasn’t exactly crowded either, and it seemed as though Prauf was the only one who knew about Cal’s one very brief moment of Force use. There certainly weren’t any obvious witnesses, so for me this definitely raises the question of how the Empire came to know about Cal – and how they were able to know so soon after what he did. At the very beginning of the game, an Imperial Probe Droid (the kind seen in The Empire Strikes Back) flitted across the screen. Could these droids be scanning for Force-users?
After Cal attempts to engage the Second Sister in a lightsaber duel, he ends up falling onto a moving train, and this marks Jedi: Fallen Order’s first proper gameplay sequence. Cal is armed with a lightsaber, and makes short work of the various Stormtroopers in his path. The game did a great job introducing me to the various combat moves at Cal’s disposal. There’s the standard attack, there’s blocking and parrying, and of course Cal can use his lightsaber to bounce blaster shots back at the Stormtroopers. All of these are intuitive and fun to perform, and within moments I was chopping and blasting my way through the train full of Stormtroopers.
Some kind of ship attacks the train, but before Cal can be killed or injured another ship takes it down – the woman aboard offers to help, but Cal can’t jump to her ship from the moving train. Eventually, after an exciting and occasionally tense sequence, Cal is face-to-face with the Second Sister in another duel. This time I got to fight, and while the Second Sister is clearly invincible in this duel – as I assume she’s a key part of the plot later on – it was so much fun to block and dodge and swing Cal’s lightsaber at her!
The ship from earlier returns, and Cal is rescued by the woman and her pilot: the two are named Cere Junda and Greez Dritus. The Second Sister attempts to bring down their ship, but the two of them manage to shake her off and escape Bracca, jumping to hyperspace. Cal is suspicious of his rescuers, initially thinking they may be trying to cash in on an outstanding Imperial bounty for ex-Jedi.
The journey from Bracca to Cal’s next destination takes some time – re-emphasising my point about pacing earlier – and he’s able to rest a little aboard the ship. I enjoyed the introduction to Cere, who describes herself as an ex-Jedi attempting to put the Jedi Order back together. How exactly one becomes an ex-Jedi, and whether she will be able to use the Force (it doesn’t seem so) or train Cal is unclear, but I like her character.
Cal is revealed to have a special Force sensitivity which means he can touch an item and sometimes is able to sense part of its history – in the example from the cut-scene, he touches an instrument and is able to play a tune on it. I’m sure this power will come in handy later in the game for uncovering some mystery or other, and establishing its existence at this early stage was great – it’ll avoid feeling like a deus ex machina later. And as a Force power that we haven’t seen before, I liked it. It’s suitably magical and mysterious in a way that fits with what we’d expect the Force to be able to do. It’s not overpowered, it’s not even something that could be weaponised, and is thus a neat feature of the game that – so far at least – seems to work well.
The ship travels to the planet of Bogano, where Cere has been working on rebuilding the Jedi Order. There’s a mysterious vault which requires the Force to access, which is why she’s brought Cal along.
Cere leaves Cal to it when they reach Bogano, telling him to make his way to the vault. Apparently there’s someone else on Bogano who Cal needs to talk to; who this mysterious character is, as well as what’s in the vault isn’t clear at this stage. In a sequence reminiscent of a Tomb Raider game, Cal begins to explore the area surrounding the vault on Bogano.
This area is a fairly typical early-game stage, with some aggressive but easily-defeated monster opponents. This series of articles will probably reference Knights of the Old Republic more than once or twice, because those two games on the original Xbox were among my favourites! But here on Bogano, I got a distinct Dantooine vibe. That planet was playable in both Knights of the Old Republic games and was a similar sunlight, grassy world with monsters to fight.
During the exploration of the ruins/abandoned residence on Bogano, Cal encounters a droid. This cute little animal-esque droid is called BD-1, and will join Cal for the rest of the game. If you’re a regular, you’ll know I’m a sucker for cute critters, and BD-1 definitely falls into that category! His (or her) introduction, where Cal patches up a damaged foot, was absolutely adorable, and I’m already in love with BD-1.
Exploring Bogano will lead to several interesting discoveries, including a workbench where Cal can modify his lightsaber. Judging from the number of greyed-out options, there are plenty of customisation elements to uncover! Having got the special or deluxe version of Jedi: Fallen Order I had a couple of different options already, including a really cool orange tone for Cal’s lightsaber. In Knights of the Old Republic II, the orange coloured blade was really hard to get, so having it right off the bat here feels great, and I like that there are a range of aesthetic options. BD-1 also found Cal a different-coloured poncho to wear – and I love that the game refers to Cal’s outfit as a poncho in all the various menus and in-game text!
After Tomb-Raidering my way across the first part of Bogano, killing a few monsters, changing up Cal’s lightsaber, and dressing him in a shiny new poncho, I was ready to take a break.
Jedi: Fallen Order has started incredibly strongly. The story that’s been set up is interesting and gripping, and I really want to find out what’s in the vault, as well as who the Second Sister is. Cere tantalisingly mentioned she knew Cal’s former Jedi Master, and I hope we’ll see some exploration of that relationship too.
Both Bracca and Bogano are interesting planets to have visited, and as far as I can tell, both are unique to Jedi: Fallen Order. In a franchise that can overplay the nostalgia card, changing things up and doing something different is always appreciated. While both settings felt unmistakably “Star Wars”, they are also different to anything seen in the main films, and I think that’s great.
Come back next time and we’ll explore some more of Bogano – maybe we’ll even get into that mysterious vault!
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the copyright of Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts. The Star Wars franchise is the copyright of Lucasfilm and Disney. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.