This week at E3, Respawn Entertainment has finally showed a trailer and a 15-minute gameplay video of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Fans have been following the game’s development with anticipation ever since its announcement, but this was the first glimpse of what it actually looks like. And it is more than just a glimpse.
What have we learned?
1. Firmly Set In The Universe
The first thing that hit me (and probably not only me) was the presence of some familiar faces and places. I am all about continuity, personally, so seeing Saw Gerrera (voiced by Forest Whitaker himself) was a big plus. The gameplay video showed Kashyyyk, a planet that is both beautiful and iconic, despite not being featured much in the films. Obviously, these were featured in order to catch the audience’s eye, but they certainly did – and I hope that there are going to be more familiar faces and places in the story. Nods to other sources, including Rogue One and Rebels in the form of K-X droids and the Second Sister Inquisitor, speak in favour of that.
2. Looks Like Jedi Outcast (With Better Graphics)
Those who remember classic old “Jedi” games from Dark Forces to Force Unleashed are bound to compare. I am pretty sure that the developers wanted the game to be at least as good as all these predecessors, and preferably better. Meaning that one would expect to see everything that has been there before, and more, now that the technology allows it.
Even in the gameplay video, there has been a lot that reminds one of the classics, especially Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. Especially the Force move to “slow time” and quickly run through a dangerous area, or “matrix-dodge” blaster bolts was so evocative that it made me think I was simply watching Jedi Academy video with better graphics.
3. “Leveling Up”
The video showed a way of character progress by achieving “skill points”. The details of the mechanics are unclear so far, however in subsequent interviews, the developers indicated that it these points likely go into bettering one’s Force powers and possibly speed up reaction time of combat abilities.
It has also been mentioned that “Cal’s lightsaber has its own journey to go through”. My prediction? We’ll get to see it upgraded (with more crystals?), or perhaps destroyed (somewhere half-way) and the crystal will be re-used in building a new lightsaber, possibly with the option to make a double-bladed one. Or that’s at least what I would hope for.
4. “Lots of Planets”, Non-Linear Universe And Exploration
One of the things I was afraid of was that the game will be your basic run-the-mill, linear single-player game. The developers, however, say otherwise. According to them, the game is a lot about exploring and playing your way. More importantly, anytime you want, you can use your starship to go to any planet you have already unlocked. (We are told that there are “lots of planets”, some from the films, and some completely new.)
That definitely means non-linear approach and being the kind of person who just likes to roam through places and enjoy their beauty, I applaud this.
5. It’s About “Thoughtful Combat”
It has been obvious from the start that the game will focus on lightsaber combat. The videos only confirmed this. A Jedi roleplay wouldn’t be complete without the possibility to swing lightsaber the way you want.
The devs have confirmed that combat is not only about hitting a single button and watching different animations, but that it is about attacking, blocking, deflecting or parrying, and even throwing, if it comes to that.
6. Variable Enemies
The videos showed only a fraction of what is to see, and already that was a lot of different enemies. We saw classic stormtroopers with blasters, but also stormtroopers with flamethrowers, scout troopers with stun batons and the “purge troopers”. The purge troopers (here armed with electrostaffs) are specifically trained to fight the Jedi and are a sort of forerunners to the Inquisitors (whom we are also going to see, at least in the character of the Second Sister).
On top of human enemies, we have seen a K-X droid and we can also expect lots of localised enemies, like the Wyyyshock spiders of Kashyyyk. I very much approve of this variety, as well as that many of the enemies use melee weapons, allowing for more close-combat encounters even in a “less civilised” era where lightsabers are somewhat out of fashion.
7. Buddy Droid
The last thing we cannot overlook was BD-1, the main character’s trusted buddy (indeed, BD is supposed to stand for “Buddy Droid”). Not only is he really cute (more than BB-8, if you ask me), I like it how his presence adds something more to the game. We have seen that when Cal heals, he asks BD and BD applies bacta (or medpack, or whatever that is); similarly when for example activating some machinery. This tiny detail just gives the basic chores of healing oneself or hacking a locked door another dimension (and provides a good reason for the player being able to hack a computer terminal without making Cal a genius who can do everything).
8. And A Comic
The last game-related news is that Marvel is preparing a comic series focussing on one of the characters appearing in the game, Cere Junda – Cal’s future mentor. The comic’s title is “Jedi: Fallen Order – Dark Temple” and will be published in September 2019, about two months before the game’s release date. It takes place decades before the game events and introduces Cere at the time when she was only a Padawan. The idea is to flesh out the character and show more of her background.
I really hope that means Cere will be an interesting and important character also in the game, because if there is one thing I was looking for in vain in the previews, it was more female characters with their own agency. So far, we’ve seen Cal, Saw Gerrera and about a hundred (male) stormtroopers. I would not bring this up had it not been for the millionth time that we have a story with a male protagonist and majority of male supporting characters.
But perhaps between Cere, the Second Sister, the K-X droids and who knows, hopefully more that we have not seen yet, Jedi: Fallen Order will turn out to be different. The potential is certainly there.
Otherwise, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks very promising. Visually beautiful, the combat looks splendid, the environments and enemies are variable. The only thing we still know very little about are the details of the story – but I assume that will be one of the things we might learn only during gameplay.
We can only wait for the 15th November 2019, when the game gets released. For now, you can watch the trailer and the official gameplay video below: