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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is much more than a lightsaber action game
By Alex Donaldson, Thursday, 17 October 2019 16:00 GMT

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is not the game I thought it was – thankfully, it’s better.

Video game previews are a funny old business. Being thrown into the middle of a game for a few hours of largely disjointed play is obviously not the best way to experience and understand something, but it’s often the best opportunity we have before launch. Sometimes, rarely, a preview crops up that really, properly enhances one’s understanding of a game – and my recent hands-on with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one such occasion. More interesting still, I walked away from the preview with completely different expectations for the final release – and all to the positive.

So here’s the thing: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might be a third-person character action game directed by God of War alumni Stig Asmussen, but there’s quite a bit more to it than that description might suggest. Members of Respawn repeatedly reiterate that the development of the game was undertaken “lightsaber first”, where the number one priority at all times was to ensure that swinging the iconic laser sword feels good. It does. But it’s also one part of a greater whole, and it’s much else about the game that truly excites me.

So what is it? Well, to talk in reductive similarity terms, Jedi: Fallen Order is a little bit like Metroid. It has a dash of Dark Souls, too, and I heard more than a few people at the event muse on the ways in which its combat feels similar to Sekiro. In some moments, the game leans hard into Zelda or Tomb Raider-like puzzles. It also has an open-ended, fun heart that in some ways has echoes of BioWare’s Star Wars and science fiction games. Basically, you will indeed be slicing stormtroopers down in satisfying lightsaber combat, but you’ll be doing a lot else besides. Crucially, that other stuff may serve to elevate the whole experience.

It’s almost unfair to call this other stuff something as reductive as “other stuff”. For me it was the heart of my three-hour hands-on. In it, I guide protagonist Cal across a planet, tracing the steps of a Jedi Master who had been obsessively researching an ancient civilization. I won’t get into the weeds on the story details to avoid spoilers, but the short version is that his research might lead to a macguffin that could be useful in battling the Empire – which is at this point in the Star Wars canon at the height of its power.

This mission starts out in a more typical action game way – you move from area to area, fighting enemies and doing some light platforming and traversal between battles. The combat feels good; it’s weighty, and the lightsaber-prioritized development has clearly worked out well. Basic enemies like simple stormtroopers are downed in one hit, as is appropriate for the dismembering weapon. A well-timed tap of the block button to parry a blaster bolt can send it hurtling back towards a weakly armored enemy to down them in one shot. Others have weapons that are impervious to your blade, which turns the game into a tense back-and-forth of blocks, parries and stamina that resembles FromSoftware’s finest action RPGs.

Also clearly borrowed from those games is the rest system, where Cal can meditate at certain spots to refill his health and his restorative power-ups. It’s at meditation points that you also spend your skill points on an extensive skill tree that’s branches into three key pillars: Force, Lightsaber and Survival. Resting at a meditation point causes the enemies in the world to respawn, just like Souls, and if you die the enemy that killed you must be targeted to get your lost EXP back – that is all very familiar. There’s solidly tweakable difficulty options for those who want to merely experience the story, with the difficulties (Story Mode, Jedi Knight, Jedi Master and Jedi Grand Master) upping the challenge in three primary areas: parry timing, damage taken and enemy aggression.

“A tense back-and-forth of blocks, parries and stamina that resembles FromSoftware’s finest action RPGs”

Quickly enough that combat is intersected with other things, however. There’s exploration across an open-ended zone and a 3D holographic map with colour-coded doors that feels like it’s straight out of Metroid. Scattered across that map are chests packed with optional unlocks for surprisingly deep cosmetic customisation. You’ll use your force powers to manipulate the environment to help with that traversal. The game encourages exploration by straight up showing you a current map completion percentage, plus a counter of how many chests and secrets remain to be found. During this story-mandated visit to this planet you might not be able to get them all, however – you might need a force power or droid upgrade from another planet in order to unlock certain passageways – again embracing that Metroid-style backtracking tempo.

Soon your quest drags Cal down into an actual proper dungeon, and it’s here that the Zelda or Tomb Raider vibes begin to rear their head. Of course there’s still combat – in the dungeon there are cool, ancient automatons you have to do battle with – but the game shifts, becoming primarily puzzle-driven. In this instance the puzzles are about wind and physics, with Cal flicking switches to redirect an air current around rooms in order to push objects around to create a path. Later in the dungeon, he unlocks force push, and that in turn opens up new possibilities right the way across the map, as you can now knock down crumbling walls. The flow of all this feels amazing; there’s no sag or let-up, and no individual element outstays its welcome before it’s given a break for something else to emerge. Obviously maintaining this across one three-hour chunk is easier than across an entire game, but I’m left with great hope that Respawn will nail it.

Jedi: Fallen Order feels slick and expensive. It feels like a Star Wars movie. At one point the game throws me into the cockpit of an imperial walker and has the game resemble a shooter for a moment – it’s a great cinematic story set-piece that also features some player control, but then it’s back to exploration across another, different, equally large map on a different planet. The quality of my first planetary spelunking adventure meant as I began this second expedition just as excited.

Last but most certainly not least comes the narrative. Repsawn talk a big game about this. At the opening of the preview event, members of the development team gush about being privileged to create something that will “live in the lore forever”, fundamentally changing Star Wars in some way. More important than plot beats is tone, however – and it feels like this game is a far better attempt at that than EA’s previous effort.

I enjoyed Star Wars Battlefront 2’s campaign well-enough, but I did find it rather po-faced and serious. It’s a military shooter set in the Star Wars world, and takes the military tone you’d expect. Despite this being set at arguably the darkest point in the Star Wars timeline, Fallen Order is fun; the interactions between Cal and the crew of the ship you planet hop on are great. Mentor figure Cere has a tragic backstory, but it’s often undercut by a quip from alien pilot Greez. All of this feels very true to the Star Wars movies, and in the world of games I’m most reminded of the beloved Knights of the Old Republic – an extremely favorable comparison to make. Indeed, the act of running a quick lap of your ship between missions, taking time to talk to your friends and tinker with your lightsaber feels positively Biowareian, despite this not really being much like a RPG otherwise.

It probably goes without saying that I liked my three hours with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a lot. This wasn’t my anticipated outcome, however. Prior to actually playing it, Fallen Order was a low-priority must-play for me. Maybe I’d wait for a price drop or deal, or wait for it to hit EA Access. After the hands-on, I know that is no longer an option. I want to play it as soon as possible. Of all the possible outcomes from a preview, that is arguably the best possible one. I just now hope the rest of the game can live up to the two planets I played.

Disclosure: This preview took place at an event by publisher EA with travel and accommodation provided.



二、本遊戲有它自己一套的戰鬥動作系統 - 有別於隻狼的系統。格檔的運作原理不同於隻狼,玩家不需要累積體幹值。閃避的系統也不同於隻狼,玩家可以近距離閃避並快速的反擊。然後有隻狼所沒有的系統 - 原力系統,玩家可以使用原力來使敵人暫停(緩速)或是讓敵人的武器(飛彈、雷射等)暫停,讓玩法跟隻狼有更大的區別性。

三、坐火的系統 - 地圖上有一些特定的"點",玩家可以在其上坐下來"冥想",在冥想的時候進行狀態恢復(就是回血之類的),與此同時,地圖上的怪物會重生。而這款特別的地方在於,死掉的經驗值取回是要去"復仇"取回,簡單來說,就是哪個NPC敵人殺了玩家,玩家就要去把他殺了來取回經驗值。(至於有沒有地形殺,我不清楚)

四、地圖探索 - 前面提到遊戲帶有銀河戰士的元素,這主要體現在地圖探索方面。本作有一點半開放式地圖的感覺,玩家可以在進行主線之餘到不同的星球去探索,而探索的獎勵主要是"cosmetic customisation"(可能是造型之類的?)。此外,有些地區在一開始的時候無法到達,需要在故事後面一點的時候拿到新能力,再回去使用新能力才能到達,這也是銀河戰士元素的表現。

五、關於解謎要素 - 記者提到了本作有解謎的機關,並提到了薩爾達傳說與古墓奇兵的概念在此發酵,而我個人覺得實際上應該會更接近於秘境探險的風格才是。(因為謎題不太難而且解謎跟戰鬥會交錯進行)




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