The long wait is over. At last, it is time to become to embrace your destiny. It is time to become a Jedi. This is our review of Star Wars – Jedi: Fallen Order.
After Respawn and EA invited us to participate in a preview event last month, I shared this thought with you:
Jedi: Fallen Order has all the trappings (so far) of a classic “tale as old as time” Star Wars story – a coming-of-age story… While this may be an old formula, it works in the same way any other Star Wars power fantasy does: it puts you in the driver’s seat, steering Cal toward his destiny.
That same experience holds true in more ways than I realized at the time of writing it. Let me share with you a portion of this journey while avoiding as many plot spoilers as possible. The main story (with a minor amount of side exploration) took me around 20 hours to complete. Strap yourselves in because there is a lot to cover!
In Star Wars – Jedi: Fallen Order, you follow the journey of Cal Kestis. Beginning on an unassuming planet of Bracca amongst a company of scrappers, Cal works salvaging and repurposing technology for the Galactic Empire. While there are many other places in a galaxy far, far way hidden from the prying eyes of the Empire, Cal has largely closed himself off to the Force. But Force powers find their way of manifesting when emotions are high and situations are dire.
After the incident is discovered by the Sith Inquisition, the 2nd and 9th Sisters find themselves on Bracca and quickly identify the Jedi fugitive as Cal. Completely out of his depth, Cal runs, ultimately to be discovered by a pair of rogue entities: Cere Junda and Greez Dritus. Greez, as a pilot for hire with a gambling debt to pay, has been shuttling Cere around to find her quarry: a Jedi.
An old mentor of Cere’s believed that he had discovered clues to- and legends of a long-gone race that could restore the Jedi Order to prominence in the galaxy. However, it would take a strong connection to the Force as well as the wits and will of a Jedi to uncover the mysteries surrounding its location. This object? A Holocron containing prophecies of Force-sensitive children. There is just one problem: this Jedi they found is still a padawan.
Cal is unskilled in the ways of the Force and untrained with a lightsaber. His training was cut short, along with the life of his master when the Emperor invoked Order 66 – the wholesale destruction of the Jedi. With the remaining Jedi exiled in hiding, Cal must repair his own connection to the Force.
His journey is one of restoration and it would begin with a touch… the reawakening of a rare gift of Force-sensitive empathy. Cal can sense an object’s past, feeling what the item’s owners felt in a moment. And this empathy expands throughout his story. Whether it’s interactions with his soon-to-be companions (and one of the greatest characters in the game) BD-1, moments of personal insecurity, or in his dealings with the Inquisition, the delivery of both voice acting and motion capture combined with this gift gives Cal a layer of humanity that is both cinematic and captivating. We will come back to this point because it isn’t just Cal carrying the rest of the supporting cast.
The settings of Fallen Order are simply breathtaking. From the forests of Kashyyyk to the inhospitable wastelands of Dathomir, each one of the eight environments you will explore captures the scale and wonders of a Star Wars adventure. The beauty of these environments is that you will get to travel back to them as both Cal and BD-1 grow, gaining access to new areas, cosmetic rewards, and lore for your databank.
Progression feels very well-paced with the skill tree expanding as Cal repairs his connection to the Force. It does slow down a bit near the end as some of the higher-level skills require multiple skill points to unlock them. Considering that Jedi: Fallen Order is both an open world Metroidvania-esque experience and that resting at a meditation circle restores both your health as well as enemy troops, there is no shortage of beasts and baddies to fight in order to progress further.
When it comes to controls, keyboard and mouse controls are available, but the use of a controller is recommended by Respawn and I have to agree. Combat mixes a combination of lightsaber slashes and Force abilities with dodging, blocking, parrying, and the occasional Quick Time Event. Add in visual cues and patterns from enemies and it won’t be long until you gain mastery over how an enemy will behave.
All of that being said, many of your abilities are dependent on Force power to execute. This means that you will largely be dependent on your normal attacks, dodges, and parrying to regain enough power to pull off your more satisfying moves. If you need hints, once you defeat an enemy, BD-1 can scan it and store information in your Tactical Guide.
From a technical standpoint, I reviewed on Jedi: Fallen Order on PC via EA Origin. In my system is a Ryzen 5 2600X CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA RTX 2080. All graphics settings were set to Epic at 1440p with frame rates locked at 60 FPS. Not quite the setup that I previewed it on last month, but no slouch either. I did experience some of the same performance stuttering that I did at the event and a funny graphics glitch or two, but all of that was before NVIDIA released their GameReady drivers. The jury is still out on whether or not these new drivers improve performance.
I want to return to an earlier statement about the character building. Respawn has done something magical and wonderful with Jedi: Fallen Order that is worthy of note: they have created a single-player epic with no microtransactions or live service, but with characters that grow and develop as the story progresses… and it is truly beautiful.
There are many moments throughout Fallen Order that capture a broad spectrum of emotion. Even BD-1 has human-like quality and charm that grows through this tiny bot’s beeps and boops. These relationships between Cal, BD-1, and the whole crew of the Mantis are so wholesome that you watch this ragtag band of failures, outcasts, and misfits become a very real family, scars, conflicts, and all.
With gorgeous settings in canon Star Wars locations and surprise cameos of characters from the catalog, the experience I had with Fallen Order brought me back to the Jedi Knight and Outcast days (minus the first-person aspects). It captured the magic of growing as a Jedi, overcoming insurmountable odds through fellowship, and the power of hope in the midst of despair. If Respawn’s delivery of Jedi: Fallen Order is the future of the Star Wars franchise out of EA, the franchise is in incredible hands. The Force is strong with these ones.
A review copy for Origin on PC was provided for this review by PR.
COMPARE TO: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Breath of the Wild