Believe it or not, a new Star Wars game has in fact been released. We don’t need to rehash everything that has happened since the exclusive license was given to Electronic Arts but suffice it to say the deal has been as good for Star Wars fans as the deal Lando made with Darth Vader. A lot of that is simply because there has been Battlefront I, Battlefront II and… well just those.
Well I have good news fellow fans, Fallen Order is as good as advertised and I don’t even need to spoil any of the story for you to prove that. My only comment on the story will be this: I’m engaged. The acting is great and while the animation isn’t best in industry it is more than good enough to connect me with the characters.
Every location I have visited so far has felt authentic and like a genuine part of the Star Wars universe. From the second you start the game, you are surrounded by familiar sights from both the original and prequel trilogies. The game is set about five years after Episode III and it nails that feeling. The Empire feels like it is in full form but it also makes sense that after only five years there are still Clone Wars era sights to behold.
I also like that there seems to be a mix of both new and familiar planets and the developers have done a good job of making each location feel very distinct from one another. It will be very hard to forget which world you are currently adventuring on because each one has their own unique identity. I don’t want to give away too much here because I was awed by some of the set pieces the first time I saw them. Even though they are not part of the story, I don’t want to ruin the sights.
While I appreciate things like story and graphics, the combat mechanics in a game are always the most important to me. This game has received a lot of press for being “Souls-like”. I understand why that comparison is being made but I think that is a better description of the level design rather than the combat itself. I would instead compare the combat in Fallen Order more to Witcher III or any of the big budget third-person action-adventure games.
The pace of combat a bit faster paced than my experience with the Souls games but also still just as punishing if you try to button mash. Instead, it does feel a little more like Witcher III in that if you are on your game you feel like you can take on groups of varied enemies, and you will be asked to do just that. As you progress through the game, the encounters will become more varied in the enemy types within them. The first time you come across a new enemy type it will probably be on its own but soon after it will be mixed into the larger groups as well. It is very satisfying to wade into a large group and be the one walking away.
To survive against your enemies you have all of the standard tools: quick dodge, dodge roll and parry. The parry system has a timing element that you may have seen in the Assassin’s Creed franchise where a properly timed parry can stun opponents. But this is also Star Wars so a well timed parry can also perfectly deflect blaster bolts back to the enemy. Out of all aspects of the game, this has been the most satisfying as a lifelong Star Wars fan.
The Force powers do seem to take a back seat to the lightsaber combat. Your powers support your melee combat and are not going to be how you are regularly taking down enemies. In fact, your Force meter refreshes based on dealing damage with your lightsaber. If you were hoping to be a Force-slinging Jedi Consular type that doesn't seem to be possible.
In addition to your Force power bar you have a health and parry bar. The health bar only regenerages through stims (of which you only start able to carry two) or when meditating. Meditate at the save point will refresh your health, your stims but also the enemies on the entire map. However, this can be a good way to learn how to beat a new enemy type. If you have a spawn location for a tough new enemy near a meditation point you can pretty much farm them with little risk until you get the timing down.
The parry bar is how long you are able to deflect melee or blaster attacks. It seems to refresh very quickly as soon as you stop pressing the parry button so it isn’t a rare resource. One thing I have had a hard time doing is retraining myself that I can parry beasts. All enemy types can be parried, not just humanoid, unless they do their “red flash” attack. These attack types are not able to be parried and instead must be dodged.
If you are worried about the difficulty level, don’t be. I have been playing it on the second highest level and while it is a good challenge I haven’t “lost it” yet. I would imagine that on the easiest level it is still a great Star Wars based interactive gaming experience.
Each map is best described as mostly linear, this is not an open world game. I was initially a little concerned when I heard this but the developers have good a fantastic job of designing multi-leveled maps. You never feel like you are simply going in circles or simply progressing forwards like an old NES platformer. While the maps feel large, you will unlock “shortcuts” that will cut down on the time to traverse back through the map when you return.
But why do you need to return to a map? There is a Metroid inspired aspect to the game where that grants access to new parts of each map as you gain new abilities. As you explore through a map, you will come across side areas and puzzles that generally contain a cosmetic unlock or lore item. But, some of these side paths may be “locked” behind obstacles that you can’t get through when you first encounter them. Each time you unlock a new ability you have the opportunity to go back to a previously cleared area to try to find more of these collectible items. The cosmetic unlocks are cool if you like to chase collectibles but the lore items are more than just database unlocks. Each one gives a pretty significant amount of experience towards a new skill point.
The game also makes this process very easy because of the map set up. The in-game map shows you an area that is currently blocked and inaccessible (red), an area you can now access (green) or a side route you haven’t explored yet (yellow). This has made exploring previously visited areas much more fun because I don’t have to remember every obstacle that I couldn’t previously access.
I recommend this game for any Star Wars fan, even if you do wait for an initial sale. This is exactly as advertised: a well made, single player, story driven game with zero microtransactions. I’ve seen comments around the internet about people still not wanting to buy the game because of EA but I am going to make the case that this is a silly point of view. In Fallen Order we have a game that is exactly what we have been asking for and if you really want to send a message to EA then it needs to be successful. If this game doesn’t sell it is more likely to lead to more loot box filled garbage because they make money. (Fact: FIFA “packs” have generated more revenue than sales of the game itself).
If you like third-person action game play, are a Star Wars fan and don’t mind some challenging combat, this game is a solid buy. After waiting so long for a new Star Wars game, this one hits all of the right notes. With the various difficulty settings, that allow for people of all skill levels to play, this is a great game for any Star Wars fan because you will definitely feel like you are in a galaxy far, far away.
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