Electronic Arts kicked off E3 today with the gameplay reveal of its first big Star Wars game since Battlefront II – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. And now that we’ve had a good look at the game, we can start to decide how we feel about it. And after almost 15 minutes of gameplay, I’m taking away three things: It looks beautiful, it’s definitely a Respawn game, and boy is it conservative.
There are a lot of fun hooks to dig into in this demo. The most exciting part, honestly, isn’t the combat. As young Jedi Cal navigates the Kashyyyk Imperial encampment, we see him using his force abilities to pull vines to himself for swinging, knocking stuff over, opening doors, and running on walls. This is a game from Respawn Entertainment, the makers of the excellent Titanfall 2. That game featured heavy use of wall-running and exploratory puzzle solving, and once again that looks like the most interesting part of Fallen Order.
And like Titanfall 2, one of the most appealing parts is the main character’s robot buddy. Cal has a small droid named BD-1 that hangs out on his back, jumping off to do things like unlock doors and scan things. Droids have always been one of the most enchanting parts of Star Wars, and BD-1 has tons of character. One really neat moment has Cal slipping through a tight space, as so often happens in video games, and as Cal slips through, BD-1 jumps off and the camera sticks with him through the tight squeeze. It’s a little thing, but a neat touch.
But for all the fun I’m seeing in the exploration, the combat looks surprisingly rote. While this is clearly a great-looking game, it looks quite similar to something like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Right down to the character being a pretty forgettable white Jedi and the creators talking about how exciting it is to be working on Star Wars canon, which TFU once was.
It’s not that the combat doesn’t look cool – moments like Cal blocking blaster shots with his lightsaber look great. But it’s hard to tell from the video how satisfying the combat is. Right now it looks a little chunky and there just isn’t much that feels specific to this game. I’m hoping Respawn is keeping its cards close to its chest and giving us just a little bit to go on, but it also seems like a pretty disappointing way to debut the game if that’s the case.
Another thing I would have liked to have seen is an inkling of what we’ll be doing with all those skill points the player collected throughout the 14-minute demo and how collecting skill points will affect the game. Are we actually making choices about what abilities we’ll have or just what order we get them in? Will it affect how we solve puzzles and provide multiple paths through the game, or will we have all the puzzle-solving tools we need for a strictly linear path through the game?
I want to remain optimistic because Respawn has made excellent games so far and, honestly, I’m itching for a good Star Wars game. I hope Respawn has more up its sleeve for when Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order releases on November 15, 2019 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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