Jedi: Fallen Order Is The Game Star Wars Fans Have Been Waiting For [Hands-On Preview]

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I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order when it was announced during last year’s E3. While I had absolute confidence in the abilities of Respawn Entertainment’s talented developers, the lackluster Force Unleashed series and the controversies surrounding Battlefront II‘s microtransactions had temporarily soured me on the idea of tie-in video games. Thankfully, that’s all changed. After going hands-on with a near-final build of Jedi: Fallen Order for a few hours, it’s clear that the future of the series is in good hands.

While past Star Wars games might have played fast and loose with the franchise’s story, Fallen Order has been crafted to fit right into the official timeline, taking place sometime after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Having escaped the Jedi purge that was Order 66, former Padawan Cal Kestis has been laying low on Bracca, finding work as a rigger with the Scrapper Guild. While trying to save a friend from a deadly workplace accident, Cal openly uses the Force, outing himself to the Empire. Before long, he becomes the target of a manhunt led by the Inquisitors, Force-sensitive soldiers who serve Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader.

This kicks off a galaxy-trotting journey across a handful of planets, some of which (Kashyyyk, Dathomir) will no doubt be familiar to longtime fans. That being said, Respawn and Lucasfilm have been working together to flesh out the franchise’s ever-expanding universe, so expect a handful of new locations and species along the way.

Of course, the real draw of Fallen Order is the chance to play as a Jedi, or rather, a Jedi-in-training. Project lead Stig Asmussen explained that the game will follow Cal’s journey as a former Padawan – the tagline “Becoming A Jedi” seems to be the central focus of some of Electronic Arts’ marketing. At the onset, you won’t have access to every single Force ability, with only Force Push and Slow unlocked during my play session. Granted, Respawn smartly takes advantage of Cal’s moveset – in combat, you’ll be able to slow down enemies and knock them back. Outside of battle, Force Push is closely tied into solving environmental puzzles, and Force Slow can be used to navigate fast-moving hazards.

Seeing as how Fallen Order marks Respawn Entertainment’s first outing into the world of third-person action adventures, it’s impressive how well they’ve nailed the lightsaber. Unlike past games that allowed players to mow down Stormtroopers with reckless abandon, combat feels infinitely more grounded this time around. Cal is no slouch when it comes to sword fighting, but enemies are equally as capable. A stamina gauge prevents players from auto-blocking indefinitely, and the same goes for your Force abilities. Light and heavy attacks can make quick work of less-experienced Imperial soldiers, but a well-timed parry will be crucial for taking on more formidable foes.

While your instinct might be to simply spam the attack button over and over, Fallen Order‘s combat system really shines once you approach it with a bit of patience and strategy. After learning the ropes, I was slicing Stormtroopers, deflecting blaster shots, and parrying attacks all within seconds of each other. Needless to say, it’s an absolute blast to play, and it’s backed up by an impressively fluid animation system.

Jedi Fallen Order Galaxy Map

I’m always wary of making comparisons to other genres, but it’s clear that Fallen Order has been partly inspired by the formula made popular by FromSoftware’s Dark Souls. Aside from the aforementioned stamina gauge and parry, Cal also has a dodge roll and evade at his disposal. Outside of combat, designated save spots (a stand-in for bonfires) are the only areas where you can restore your life and Force, as well as refill your Estus Flask stimpacks.

If you die, you’ll lose any XP you collected since you last unlocked a Skill Point, though you’ll be able to recollect it once you damage the enemy who killed you. It does wear its influences on its sleeve, but calling Fallen Order a Souls-like would be a tad misleading. At most, I would go so far as to say it’s a “Souls-lite,” especially when you take into account how Respawn has injected their own DNA into the project — it’s by no means on the same level of Titanfall 2, but Fallen Order does have its fair share of wall-running and platforming.

While it’s certainly a departure from the running-and-gunning seen in DICE’s Battlefront series, Jedi: Fallen Order is a bonafide Star Wars game through and through, one that (I’m sure) fans will be ecstatic to get their hands on. Not unlike how Disney is remaining mum on The Rise of Skywalker‘s plot, I have a distinct feeling that Respawn has plenty of surprises and secrets in store for us, and with a November 15th release date, we won’t have to wait long to find out. Personally, my money’s on a final showdown with Darth Vader himself.

Hands-on time with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was conducted at a preview event in Anaheim, California. Lodging and transportation were provided by Electronic Arts.

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