Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.
Welcome back to the adventures of Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Last time, after being unable to progress on the planet of Dathomir having been thwarted by a metre-wide gap in a bridge, Cal and the gang flew away and ended up on the Zeffo homeworld. After exploring the landing zone and a village the Empire forcibly evicted, we left Cal at a meditation spot near a dark and mysterious cave.
Before I started playing properly, I decided to have a bit of a look at Jedi: Fallen Order’s photo mode. By opening this mode the game pauses, and I have free movement of the camera to set up and take screenshots. This has potential advantages over just taking screenshots during regular gameplay, as many different aspects can be controlled – extra lighting, changing angles, changing what’s in or out of focus, etc. I’ve played games that had photo modes before – albeit not many – but this was my first real time messing around with the options and settings. While it may be useful at certain points in Cal’s adventure, I don’t see myself using it for every screenshot, as it’s rather fiddly to use. That’s no criticism of Jedi: Fallen Order, I think that’s just the nature of this kind of free-camera photo mode.
After my photo mode experiment, Cal headed into the cave to see what was inside. The darkness meant he had to once again use his lightsaber as a torch, and after finding a crate with another customisation option or lightsaber part (I forget which, we picked up several of each this time) Cal eventually managed to jump, climb, and tiptoe around the cave to find a switch that illuminated it. Exiting the cave – which was fairly small – led to a path overlooking the village we passed through last time. Here I felt there was some influence of the Himalayas on the design of Zeffo. The long flags, the mountaintops, and the ancient village seemed to give it a Tibetan or Bhutanese feel.
A lone Scout trooper on the path – who ignored Cal while I spent ages lining up the perfect screenshot – was no match for the double-bladed lightsaber. After defeating the trooper, I encountered a glitch. A mountain goat-creature charged at Cal, but fell partway through the path before it could reach him. At first I thought this was something scripted – perhaps a patch of quicksand to be avoided – but it was actually not intentional. The mountain goat remained stuck, and Cal was easily able to kill it as it had a hard time fighting back.
There have been a few bugs in Jedi: Fallen Order so far, and I’ve documented them as they’ve cropped up. The only really significant one was the camera getting stuck in that narrow hallway on Dathomir, the others – like this one – have really been quite minor. But minor issues can stack up in a game, and Jedi: Fallen Order is certainly not as polished as I might’ve expected it to be. Further along this mountain pathway, and after jumping across a couple of obstacles, Cal stumbled upon a group of oblivious Stormtroopers.
I suspect that if I cranked up the difficulty to one of the higher settings, Cal might’ve been spotted by the troopers sooner – it seems like that’s how the game should work anyway! The troopers put up a fight, but Cal got the better of them in the end and was able to progress further along the path. This section featured several rotating platforms that Cal had to use the Force on in order to jump on them, making this section of the game – and indeed Zeffo in general, as we’ll see later – much more akin to a 3D platformer than a standard action game. I mentioned in one of the earlier parts that the game is clearly inspired by titles like Tomb Raider, and I think this hits that point home.
Beyond the platforms were more mountain pathways (without the Force, how can the Stormtroopers get from place to place? Hmm…) and after a short walk, Cal stopped to look at a statue carved into a nearby mountain. This is supposedly a representation of a Zeffo – though I would’ve said it looked at least somewhat similar to the Prothean character from Mass Effect 3, particularly in terms of the shape of the head. Cal noted that the statue must indicate that he’s going the right way – and in a game which has occasionally been unclear about which way to go, confirmation I was on the right track was nice.
After a little more jumping and climbing, Cal battled a handful of Stormtroopers and a couple of monsters before sliding down an icy path to the next part of the level. The sliding feature seemed really fun and innovative when we first saw it on Bracca, but it’ll be used several more times on Zeffo (as well as at least once on Bogano) and as fun as it was that first time, it isn’t my favourite element of the game. Variety is good, but as we’ll see more acutely later, some aspects of Jedi: Fallen Order’s controls can feel very clunky and ham-fisted – pushing a stick a fraction of a centimetre should send Cal a short distance or make a minor adjustment, but both Cal and the camera swing around wildly, making aiming during some of these sliding sections difficult. Several of the sliding sections end with a sheer drop, requiring a perfectly-angled jump to hit the next path or to grab a vine, and with the clunky, inaccurate controls it’s too easy to mess up and see Cal fall to his death multiple times in the same place.
Beyond the ice slide, and past a few more hapless Stormtroopers, Cal witnesses an Imperial ship departing a facility. I liked the design here, it was reminiscent of the base used by Galen Erso in Rogue One. The Star Wars franchise has always been good at keeping a similar aesthetic across its titles, and this base could easily have been lifted from that film. Cal also passed a wall that had the same glowing red aura as the bridge we had to bypass in the last part of the playthrough – I was certain by this point that Cal was en route to a place where he could learn a new Force power!
Over the radio, Cere tells Cal that the ship is carrying “artefacts” bound for the Imperial capital of Coruscant. There’s a very ominous line in this conversation about the Emperor potentially being involved, though whether we’ll actually see old Palpatine appear in person isn’t clear! The level so far has been a fairly linear path, sending Cal more or less in one direction – culminating in the scene where the ship departs. On this ledge is a doorway that presumably leads into the Imperial base, but it’s sealed and there’s no way in. After backtracking and getting a little lost, I ended up pulling up the in-game holomap to find where to go.
However, I have to confess that I don’t find the holomap particularly easy to use. It’s necessary, given Jedi: Fallen Order’s large levels, to find some way to represent areas at different elevations, but the holomap is clunky and awkward to use, and its all-blue appearance doesn’t make finding things any easier. I also found out later on that opening the holomap doesn’t pause the game, meaning Cal can be attacked while checking the map.
Map issues aside, the next section of the level was quite fun. There was some more platforming to do, including balancing on a narrow ledge, and a variety of different Stormtroopers have now popped up. In addition to the standard blaster-wielding troopers, there are rocket troopers, who are unsurprisingly armed with bazookas, and heavy troopers, who carry a minigun with a small shield. The minigun blasts come at Cal very fast, but luckily only in short bursts. I found it was possible to deflect or block most of them most of the time. The rocket troopers were harder to avoid, however, as not only can their shots not be blocked or deflected, but they explode on impact, and even if they don’t hit Cal directly if they’re close enough they can still hurt him.
After the platforming came another short ice slide, and beyond that was a dark hallway. Inside, Cal found a computer console and played a recorded message from a Stormtrooper. Something called “Project Auger” was mentioned – I’m sure this won’t be the last time we hear about this secret Imperial mission! The story of Jedi: Fallen Order has been great so far, and Project Auger fits in perfectly with what Star Wars fans expect from the Empire. Moments like this make it feel like I’m taking part in a real mission in that galaxy far, far away.
Whatever Project Auger is – for now we still have no idea – it’s bigger than just this one site on Zeffo. If I were to speculate I’d say it’s something connected with tracking down Force-sensitive people, since that’s Cere and Cal’s overarching quest right now. But the trooper mentioned looking for data and artefacts – not people – so perhaps what they’re looking for are ancient relics connected to the Force? Something like a holocron, perhaps? I’m sure we’ll come to know more later, but I like to guess! Theorising is all part of the fun! After listening to the trooper, Cal headed back outside to an area where large platforms were rapidly moving in and out of the moutainside. Cal needed to use the Force to slow the platforms down one by one in order to make it across, but this was a relatively straightforward puzzle.
A meditation spot beyond the platforms made for a nice spot to rest and checkpoint my progress, but I wasn’t ready to stop playing. Cere jumps on the radio again to inform Cal his presence has been noticed by the Imperials – and to be fair he has cut down at least a couple of dozen by this point, so that’s to be expected. A dropship appeared in the area beyond the meditation spot, and a number of troopers jumped out. This fight was tricky, as there were a variety of troopers including two of the stronger Scout trooper commanders, but Cal was eventually able to prevail – and I’m kind of proud of taking on such a big fight without dying once!
Another icy slide after defeating the group of troopers led Cal to an underground area with a few monsters to defeat. Beyond that, we finally found what we came to Zeffo for: an ancient tomb. A storm swirling around the tomb hindered the Empire’s communications, but there were no troopers in sight, just a handful of monsters and a meditation spot. In fact, we wouldn’t see any more Imperials for a long time! The storm raged, swirling in circles around a single point. Cal was able to use his Force power to slow the storm and cross safely into its eye – an area containing a giant metallic ball.
BD-1 scanned some more ancient Zeffo symbols, then Cal stepped on a switch – revealing that the whole platform, ball and all, was a large elevator. The descent into the tomb was slow, but there was plenty to see on the way down, as well as another recording from Master Cordova to listen to. I stand by what I said earlier, though. Despite what Cere said about BD-1 being an “encrypted” droid, I bet a black market hacker could get Cordova’s logs out without needing to visit all of these places to see the recordings! The large ball/sphere in the centre of the elevator platform had the same red aura that we’ve seen several times on Zeffo, indicating it may be possible to interact with it in future.
The tomb was huge! I think it’s fair to treat the tomb and the surface of Zeffo as two different levels, despite them being connected. There was a whole new aesthetic for the tomb, different obstacles, and fewer enemies. Where the surface of Zeffo had some platforming elements and a lot of monsters and troopers to fight, the tomb is a maze of passageways with several puzzles and only a couple of mini-bosses. We could take a break here and split this into two parts, but as I played it all in one sitting I think I’m going to stick with writing up one play session at a time. So refill your drink if you need to, and let’s crack on!
After the elevator touched down, there were two paths. One was a dead-end, but the other had a weird exploding plant thing, which Cal and BD-1 agreed looked disgusting, and a narrow passageway to squeeze through. This led into the first hallway of the tomb. The lighting in this section deserves a lot of credit. We’ve seen pitch-black areas several times in Jedi: Fallen Order, and for short sections that can work well and provide mystery and a sense of danger. But as mentioned, the tomb we’ve entered is so large that despite it seeming logical to make it fully dark, I feel that would have made it far too difficult – some of the puzzles were tricky enough as it is! Instead of total darkness, Jedi: Fallen Order has turned the brightness down a little, giving everything a slightly washed-out blue-grey hue that I think did a good job conveying that this is a dark area but without being too dark to be enjoyable to play through. Things like this can seem minor – who cares about lighting in a game compared to the story, right? But they go a long way to making a level fun to play, and for me, Jedi: Fallen Order did this perfectly.
After a short section of jumping between platforms, Cal ended up going down another icy slide into a large room. There was one of those large metallic spheres that we saw on the elevator, and several switches on the sides of the room. Activating a switch caused a jet of air to shoot out of the wall. If the ball was in the way of the jet, it would roll around the outside of the circular room. The objective was to get the sphere into a clearly-marked cavity in the centre of the room (think like a ball-and-socket and you’re on the right track). The only way to do this was to activate the right air jets in the right order, but there weren’t many and this wasn’t particularly difficult. Cal acquired the second of three “Force Essences” for his trouble – getting the third would give him more Force points, which would mean he’d be able to use more Force powers in combat.
Leaving the circular room behind, Cal headed to a hallway which opened out into a large chamber. Opening another switch caused a jet of air to roll another sphere into a divot, which in turn caused platforms to rise from the floor. Climbing these led Cal into another hallway, and by this point I was getting excited! The holomap seemed to indicate that Cal was perhaps one or two rooms away from the objective, so I thought it would be a hop, skip, and a jump to the end of the level. But that didn’t quite turn out to be the case! Below the raised platforms I could see a statue that resembled the Zeffo carving we saw on the surface, only smaller. It felt like a trap, and I was right! As Cal got closer the golem sprung to life, shooting a laser from its chest and trying to stomp him! After dodging and wildly swinging the double-bladed lightsaber (which still looks awesome in its orange hue, by the way) Cal was victorious.
We’ve been seeing objects with a red glow or aura since last time, and I was sure Cal would eventually be able to interact with them somehow. Finally, in this next area, Cal re-learned the necessary skill: the trusty old Force push that every Jedi should know! After coming upon a wall blocking his path, Cal drew upon an old memory to re-learn the skill.
This took the form of what appeared at first to be a Force echo, but after appearing to get hit by a rock while using his ability to sense what had happened, Cal ended up having a full-on flashback to his time training under Jedi Master Jaro Tapal. We’ve seen one prior glimpse of this training – and I still think more effort could have gone into the training room used for these flashbacks, as it’s awfully bland. The training session consists of Cal using the Force to push a ball into a target, under Master Tapal’s watchful eye.
The flashback jogged Cal’s memory, and he’s now able to use the Force to push objects – even breaking weak walls or damaged doors in some places. And of course he can now push those spheres around too! Force pushing the wall caused it to break, finally opening up the chamber that the map has been pointing us toward this whole time. The chamber beyond contained a single tomb guardian (the golem things I mentioned earlier) who was difficult to defeat, but not impossible.
This chamber is the heart of the tomb, and it’s what Master Cordova wanted whoever came after him to find. BD-1 displays a recording of Cordova talking a little about the Zeffo and the tomb. However, from our point of view the key thing we needed to know was where to go next in this scavenger hunt/wild goose chase that Master Cordova has set up. He looked at the detail in one of the stone carvings and surmised it to be representing a wroshyr tree from the planet Kashyyyk – that’s right, Cal is headed to Chewbacca’s homeworld!
One thing that’s fantastic in any game is when optional cosmetic customisation options are reflected in cut-scenes. While a lot of games get this right – even going back to the early 2000s, where Knights of the Old Republic would show off the player character – some games to this day still have pre-recorded cut-scenes that show the player character sans any customisation. Jedi: Fallen Order shows Cal and BD-1 in whatever outfit and paint job is chosen for them, and the Stinger Mantis is equally represented in its takeoffs and landings, and I really appreciate the little extra effort it takes to make that happen.
You know those games where upon completing the mission or the level you’re taken to the next one straight away, maybe with a cut-scene in between? Or those other games where completing a long and complicated dungeon or level unlocks a shortcut back to the entrance to make it easy to get on with the story? Yeah… Jedi: Fallen Order is neither of those games. After listening to the recording in the tomb (and making sure the giant Zeffo sarcophagus wasn’t, in fact, another golem waiting to attack) Cal must make his way back to the Stinger Mantis from here.
Puzzles in games can be great fun. And in a tomb like this, ancient puzzles that are well-designed can make getting to the objective a challenge to enjoy and take pride in overcoming. But the driving force in a game like Jedi: Fallen Order is its story, and having acquired a new destination for Cal and the gang, I was keen to get on with it and get back to the ship. I didn’t want to spend more time in a tomb that I’d already completed, and if I’d been designing this level I’d have moved all of the next puzzles to before the Cordova recording, and provided an immediate pathway out – I think that would have made it more enjoyable.
Perhaps this is just sour grapes on my part, though! After using a meditation spot outside of the room with the sarcophagus, it took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to get two more of the large metal spheres and move them into the right spots on the ground to open a pathway out – if you recall, the way in was down an icy slide, and Cal can’t climb up those.
This puzzle was annoying in part because, as mentioned, the story on Zeffo (for now, at least) has concluded, meaning the only objective was to get back to the ship and continue the plot. It was also frustrating, though, because of how Cal’s new Force push ability works. In order to get the spheres into the right place (after locating them) Cal had to use Force push as the spheres are too large to do anything else with. However, while Force push is great on things like walls or for pushing enemies, when it comes to fine control and aiming, Jedi: Fallen Order’s clunky controls became a problem for me. The spheres were very difficult to aim and manoeuvre, and while the game allows a little leeway in getting them into place there isn’t a lot of room for error. This whole section felt like trying to play a bad game of mini-golf or something, and I found the puzzle to be more annoying than fun overall. While searching for spheres I found the third Force Essence and increased Cal’s Force points, which was a bonus.
After I did eventually get the balls placed correctly, it was a fairly smooth route backtracking through the upper levels of the tomb to get back to the elevator. After resetting the elevator and riding it back up, Cere jumps on the radio. She and Cal agree to go to Kashyyyk to speak to a Wookie chief who was a friend of Master Cordova. The elevator emerges back at the entry to the tomb, which is now crawling with Stormtroopers – has Cal led them there? And if he has, will they learn the secrets of the Zeffo too? It’s hard to see how the Empire can learn very much without BD-1 and the recordings from Master Cordova, but it’s possible that they’re looking for something else in the ruins, something connected to this Project Auger. It’s also possible that they’re hunting Cal!
After defeating the troopers, I was expecting to go back through the level and perhaps take advantage of one or two points where Cal could use his Force push ability to create shortcuts. There were also the shortcuts from the village to the hangar that we found last time. However, I’m not entirely sure whether I took a wrong turn or if this is the way the game sent me, because Cal ended up riding an Imperial cable-car thing into an ice cave where an excavation is taking place. There was another meditation spot here, and at one of these (I forget which) Cal was able to level up and learn a new skill.
This ice cave featured a very annoying ice slide. Most of the others have been fairly straightforward, even the one where Stormtroopers were shooting at Cal! But this one had a jump, a U-turn, and then a second jump that required perfect aiming to hit an updraft and a perfectly-timed button press to avoid Cal falling to his death and having to replay the whole slide over again. It took several attempts to complete, and all the while I was reminded of the snowy mountain level in Super Mario 64. Only the ice slide there was more fun.
In addition to a couple of Stormtroopers, the ice cave had a large monster to fight; another mini-boss. Though each of its attacks did a fair amount of damage, Cal was able to defeat it, and even severed one of its limbs with his lightsaber in the process. I’d seen Cal’s lightsaber bisect monsters before but this was the first time I’d seen it specifically take off a limb. Though it may be fairly gruesome, I felt overall it added to the immersion, as we know lightsabers should be able to do that, and we’ve seen it in the Star Wars films. I understand why they chose not to let this happen to human opponents, though!
While riding the next cable-car out of the ice cave, Cere tells Cal over the radio that the Empire has identified him as being the Jedi they encountered on Bracca. I felt sure this would mean the Second Sister – the Imperial Inquisitor who tried to kill Cal at the start of the game – would make an appearance, so I hot-footed it back to the Mantis. A shortcut opened up, finally allowing Cal to emerge from the caves near to the landing zone. However, there was a pretty big obstacle between Cal an the ship: an AT-ST walker!
The walker was attacking the Mantis, and I was reminded of the episode in The Mandalorian where the protagonist and his mercenary ally must similarly take on an AT-ST to defend a group of villagers. With the usual caveat that I’m playing the game on its easiest difficulty, I found the fight wasn’t as tricky as I expected. The AT-ST could shoot and also drop explosive charges, all of which had to be dodged as they cause major injuries to Cal. But I was able to basically pin the AT-ST against the Mantis, and after dodging the explosives, hammer away at it with the various attacks Cal has learned. Repeating this a few times brought the walker crashing down. I thought that was it, but its pilot then got up and started blasting at Cal! Luckily he was easier to defeat than his machine had been.
With the AT-ST being the final boss of the level, it didn’t seem as if we’d get to face off against the Inquisitor. Cal boarded the Mantis and a cut-scene triggered as he talked to Cere and Greez about what he’d discovered in the tomb. Going to Kashyyyk was what both Cal and Cere wanted, but Greez was nervous, telling them the area is crawling with Imperials who have been trying to suppress the Wookies. Though I think the film is set a little later in the timeline than this, we saw in Solo: A Star Wars Story that Wookies would be taken by the Empire for slave labour – I wonder if we’ll see some aspect of that when we get to Kashyyyk.
After the cut-scene, there was nothing left but to head to Kashyyyk. Cal’s Force push ability still won’t help him jump that small gap on Dathomir that he can’t get over, so Kashyyyk is the only destination we have right now. I retired to the Mantis’ rear cabin to use the meditation spot, and that’s where this section of the playthrough finally ended.
This was a long session, so thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end. We basically completed two levels here – the surface of Zeffo and the tomb. However, I think we’ll be coming back this way in future, even if only to access that Imperial base and see what’s going on inside. The Zeffo are beginning to remind me somewhat of Knights of the Old Republic’s Rakatan Empire – both are ancient, supposedly-vanished races that were powerful millennia ago. Are we going to encounter some surviving Zeffo? I wonder.
I had a great time in this section of the playthrough, despite the frustrating puzzle section in the tomb. Jedi: Fallen Order has an engrossing story, and that goes a long way to covering up any minor imperfections in its gameplay, at least in my opinion. It’s always going to be more enjoyable for me to play a game with occasionally frustrating gameplay and a great story than vice-versa!
So that’s it, join Cal and I next time for our excursion to Kashyyyk. This is a world I visited in Knights of the Old Republic, so I have some idea of what to expect! I wonder if it’ll match my expectations?
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.