Ah, single player Star Wars. Long have we waited to see this work out. Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) had nothing to say and Battlefront II provided Inferno Squad through a single-player campaign, but still relied heavily on multiplayer activity. But Jedi: Fallen Order delivers on the true, story-driven single player campaign. For me, the Force wasn’t necessarily with this one.
What’s It About?
Jedi: Fallen Order follows an apprentice named Cal Kestis surviving on a literal trash heap planet five years after the great Jedi purge known as Order 66. He spends his days as a scrapper, primarily bonded with a lifetime scrapper. When his friend finds himself in massive trouble, Cal risks everything by using the Force to rescue him. Naturally, this gets noticed by the Empire and a pair of Inquisitors, and he’s soon on the run.
He has help, though, from an odd pair. A former Jedi, Cere Junda, picks up Cal. She’s looking for assistance in finding a holocron containing the list of Force sensitive children. Why? To rebuild the Jedi Order. She’s being piloted around by Greez Dritus, who I felt was a Buddy Hackett type. Unsure of how things will shake out or whether it’s the right path to go down, Cal eventually settles into the fight, connecting more and more with the Force to go at it against a burgeoning Empire. Oh, and of course there’s a sidekick droid in BD-1. BD-1 is the real star.
Why Should I Care?
For me, this was a major set of highs and lows that left me in so much frustration among so much intrigue. I wanted to like it more than I did, because at its core, it’s an exciting, lightsaber flourishing game with an interesting story behind it. It’s almost like a family story, not unlike what you can find in Star Wars: Rebels, but on a slightly smaller scale. But, there were just far too many frustrations to be found with the gameplay that it completely undercut the game.
Let’s start with what I enjoyed–the story. It’s not the deepest, but it certainly held my attention and I kept wanting to see where it was going. Cal himself is a little goofy at times, but I felt his connection with BD-1 was genuine, and ultimately, he’s still kind of a kid-like padawan, whose master got taken away from him far too early. Cere and Greez were the right type of odd couple to balance out Cal. The Inquisitors were a great addition, but only one of them really mattered to the overall story. I especially enjoyed the method in which it was told. It’s a fairly linear story, but includes a series of flashbacks through which Cal remembers his training and reconnects with the Force. His relatively unique Force ability allows him to also sense Force Echoes, in which he learns about background and context through his environment by touching it, so that add just a little bit more along the way. I would say my main story issue was that attempting to rebuild the Jedi Order seemed a little grandiose for the relatively small scale of the story. It just seemed like it would be a bit too much for these characters, even if they can connect into the larger world (such as a cameo by Saw Gerrera).
But in between story moments were maddeningly frustrating gameplay situations. They could be so, so good! Especially when you gain enough experience through the RPG elements to boost Cal’s skills, parrying with your lightsaber and connecting combos with the Force. It was beautiful. But at other times, it was so needlessly difficult and horribly inconsistent with that difficulty. Early on, I get it. You’re exposed to certain types of creatures or even Imperial troopers that you won’t have too much success against without boosting skills. A natural part of any game. But, I often found myself dealing with enemies I should have absolutely had no problems with being horribly overpowered. Take the following scenario:
Ahead of me are two rooms. Before I enter the rooms, there is a meditation point, required for saving, skill boosting, and regenerating health/Force/life stims. Ok, now in Room 1, I need to take down two standard Stormtroopers and a Scout Trooper with a stun baton. In Room 2, there’s a Purge Trooper, the newly developed trooper for the game. In attempt one, I miss blocking a blaster shot and take a small amount of damage that shakes off fairly easily, and I’m able to take down the troopers. Onto Room 2, the Purge Trooper kills me. Bummer! I respawn to the meditation point and must re-battle Room 1. Now, I somehow take the same blaster shot again but it counts for 30% more damage, making me stumble slowly and opening me up to a massive melee shot from the Scout Trooper. I take a stim to get some life back before facing the Purge Trooper again, but this time I get a drop on him after sustaining some damage. Ok, so now I’m left with half my life and a single stim. I don’t know where my next meditation point will be, so I go back to the previous one. However, if I want that health and stim back, I can’t do it without respawning all enemies, meaning I have to do it all over again.
I have no idea why I experienced so many damage inconsistencies throughout the game. I had my setting at Jedi Knight, which translated to normal (as opposed to Story Mode, which means easy as hell). At times, I just played worse, but normally, I was playing the exact same but taking more damage. I also found that the camera angles could be absolutely atrocious, which put me at a massive disadvantage and often had me taking more damage and I was normally being attacked by multiple enemies in a tight environment with no great way to see what I could do. The sluggish reactions of Cal after getting hit never helped, and the health regeneration was so bizarre that I grew to hate it. And for a cherry on top, I don’t know how many times I sustained damage from simply falling off the map because even the slight twinge would send me completely off base when traversing, so I had to spend so much time trying to make perfect jumps.
I’m honestly not sure if that will be your experience and I really hope it’s not. I just wanted to be able to progress without getting so bogged down but my experience just simply wasn’t letting me do that.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
To a degree, absolutely. Jedi: Fallen Order is a purely single player, story-driven game set in the Star Wars universe. It capitalizes on some of the solid tropes of the franchise and lets you bop around with a lightsaber. The game can be so much of what Star Wars fans have wanted over the years. It’s fun to upgrade yourself, even more fun to upgrade BD-1, and your crew is a fun one even if some late additions get completely nerfed (seriously, confining a notable asset should be a war crime). But for me, the gameplay experience is just such a drag with its inconsistencies and its difficulty that it’s hard to really connect with it. So in another way, it’s not worth the time. If you want to ensure you get a pleasant experience, I’d recommend going with Story Mode. If you like to roll a chance cube, go with Jedi Knight difficulty on up. Have fun with Inquisitors!