A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I thought that the Star Wars games had ended with the failure of Star Wars Battlefront 2, and longer ago with LucasArts shutting its doors. Sure, there’s Knights of the Old Republic with its storytelling and history dating back to the oldest of canon, but there was a joy in playing through a story relating to an expanded universe untouched by the new trilogy. A glorious golden age of genre fitting games came from LucasArts; you want a racing game? Why not play Pod Racing? Want a beat ‘em up? The Force Unleashed 1 and 2 are solid choices.
Star Wars: Fallen Order, developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA games, takes small parts of great games and makes it into a Souls-like with major traversal areas, collectibles, combat, and a story that is almost on par with the old movies- as we have seen with new Star Wars media like The Mandalorian.
The story is classically Star Wars; you start on a backwater planet after the Clone Wars and Order 66 happened. You play as Cal Kestis, an ex-Jedi Padawan hiding from the newly established Empire. To save a fellow Ship Scrapper named Prauf, he uses the Force for the first time in a while. By doing so, he alerts the Empire Inquisitors, tasked with killing any remaining Jedi from the Great Jedi Purge. Now, with the help of an ex-Jedi Master, a gambling ship captain, and a scrappy and adorable droid, Cal is set off to help reinstate the Jedi Council by finding a list of all the remaining Force sensitive children throughout the galaxy in a race against the Inquisitors to preserve the Jedi Order.
Unfortunately, Fallen Order doesn’t add anything new to the Star Wars game formula. Here, you are pitted against several tougher mobs of enemies: Empire Stormtroopers, Planetary fauna, or Nightsister zombies, and one tough boss towards the end of the level. If you get low on health, you can when you die, you restart at a save point and go through the gauntlet again to get your missing souls- uh, wait, your Force Energy. (Whoops, mixed up my games there.) You can customize Cal with poncho designs, ship decals, and lightsaber colors, case, and handle. You can use the Force to slow down machinery and enemies, parry blaster bolts or attacks, double jump, or throwing your lightsaber with all the Jedi tricks. Your lightsaber also changes, with a double blade for crowd control or dual wield for Force enhanced attacks. Each planet you explore holds collectible data pads, artifacts, and upgradable Stym-Packs. Even so, the game can be buggy or faulty to a point. Slippery enemies, a reduced processing AI, or even player exploitation can cause major slippage in enemies that’ll drive them off the edge or reduce them to bumbling buffoons. When you play this game, you immediately see the Souls copy and paste with a Star Wars coat of paint.
To be honest, this is EA finally realizing that, for starters, Single player story mode isn’t dead. A well thought out story is what most gamer consumers are looking for: look at God of War 4, Outer Worlds, even Red Dead Redemption 2- you get it by now, right? The point is, EA, you can’t keep churning out Call of Duty reskins all the time. Sure, Zombie mode is fun with friends and online is good, but if you don’t have a single player campaign to back it up, you’re not going to get the right response from gamers. Ironic coming from the company that bought Bioware, the studio that made the award-winning Mass Effect series and equally disastrous Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem, and DICE, who made Titanfall 1 and 2! The point is, EA, don’t diss your writers and independent developers.
Star Wars: Fallen Order may be the closest we can get to a full Star Wars game since LucasArts. While it takes from its betters, EA and Respawn have created a decent game with faults. It lures its players with the old Star Wars lore then gives them a Dark Souls game. Maybe this will be a first step towards creating a truly original and interesting Star Wars game without having to do the copy and paste. Maybe EA can do more than create another Lootbox scandal and make a good game. Until then, I’m playing Force Unleashed.
Star Wars: Fallen Order is rated T for teen. It’s available for Xbox One, Ps4, and PC on Origin and Steam for $59.99.
-written by Johan Wyckoff