Well, it finally happened. Hell has frozen over. As promised before, EA managed to deliver a game without microtransactions, day one DLC content, loot boxes, season passes and any other way to weasel out an extra dime out of a fully priced AAA game. But the skeptic in me said after the first hour of play “surely there must be a catch here”. Maybe not any of the things above, but what if I accepted in their Fallen Order EULA that they can now sell my PC? What if there is a secret ending in the game that I can unlock only after purchasing every other EA game on Origin? These assumptions went on to be more and more ludicrous even after I completed the game. You have to understand they they are a side effect from years of distrust and disappointment coming from EA and that’s just how things have always been. Until now.
The story of Fallen Order is set five years after the events in Revenge of the Sith movie. We play as a young padawan Cal Kestis who is being chased by an Empire as one of the few survivors of the infamous Order 66. Cal is now hunted by a mysterious Inquisitor known as a Second Sister (trained by Darth Vader himself). After a short prologue, we connect with a band of rebels comprised of a former Jedi Master Cere Junda, Nightsister Merrin and a ship pilot Greez Dritus. Our main quest is to find a Holocron obtaining a list of force-sensitive children that might become the next Jedi masters. Of course, such valuable loot is of high interest to the Empire as well, so it’s a race to the finish line for both parties (with Holocron being the winning prize). To not make it all about the main quest, Fallen Order is also filled with plenty of side activities. Notice how I didn’t write “side quests” because, well…..there are none. Instead, you have plenty of unmarked areas to discover on your map, boxes to open, seeds from plants to find for your ship, life and force upgrades to find, enemies and objects to scan and secret bosses to find. Enough to keep you occupied for some 20 or 30 hours, depending on how much of everything you want to complete.
Before I even got the review code, I’ve read some previews regarding Fallen Orders and I haven’t seen two of the most important features of the game. First of all, we have a ship. Our main way of transport from one planet to another and a base of operations where we converse with other characters, tend to our cosmic garden and customize our lightsaber parts. You can also change the visuals of the ship by finding the skins for it in the containers all over the galaxy (aka the planets we get to visit). Second of all, we have glorious lightsaber combat. But not just any combat. Depending on your difficulty level, you can tweak it form just breezing through the story to the difficulty of the bastard child of the Bloodborne and Dark Souls series. On lower difficulties, the parrying window is pretty generous and enemies react way slower. Anything higher than normal difficulty will give you a run for your money. And just like in Dark Souls, parrying is a key to victory when it comes to some encounters (especially boss fights). The RPG angle in the game is in experience points from scanning objects, fighting enemies/bosses and turning that into various Jedi skills. They’re split into the three main categories; force, lightsaber, and survival. Force is reserved for “magical” stuff such as force push, slowing down time and force gripping enemies (that last one sounds like a dark side power). Lightsaber section is reserved for learning combos and deflecting blaster shots with your glowy stick while survival is reserved for improving your health and force related stats.
Fallen Order is a game that pushes the boundaries of what Unreal Engine 4 can do. The result is a game that runs flawlessly on PC and is responsible for one of the most gorgeous collections of screenshots that I took this year. Every planet you visit has its own visual charm, from the snow caves on Ilum to the hellishly looking Dathomir and perplexingly complicated maze planet known as Zeffo. An honorable mention should go to the fantastic motion capture for all the actors in the game. Although the first Star Wars game for Respawn Entertainment, it is clearly filled with lots of love and attention to details from Cal’s chatter with his BD-1 buddy, leaving footprints while evading blaster bolts on snowy Ilum to getting lost in the gorgeous rainforest of Kashyyyk.
While the audio has some flair during boss fights and key moments in the game, it’s like the developers forgot that the rest of the game shouldn’t be silent all the time. Granted, there are some moments where mild orchestral tunes will kick in during the exploration but after you complete the game every further visit to the planets feels desolate, just like the lack of music and overall sounds (unless you want to spam the dedicated key for Cal’s chatter with BD-1). But hey, when it works it sure works like hell. Dying a couple of times while dueling with Second Sister was even more intense thanks to the fanfare of the signature Star Wars classical tunes.
Only after bringing this review to the end, I have to finally get rid of my skepticism for the game and accept that way after Star Wars: KOTOR and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, we finally got a fully-fledged and pure singleplayer game. No catch or anything, what you see is what you get. Considering that this is the first Star Wars game for the devs is making me even more optimistic about the inevitable sequel and what new stuff will it bring to the table. I say “inevitable” because even though there’s no official confirmation of the sequel as of yet, it would be a crime not to release a follow up to it in the next year. Or the next month. Even better if it’s in the next week. Unreasonable request, I know. But understand that finishing the Fallen Order is like getting accustomed to binge-watching TV shows and now a new show came out in a weekly format. The pilot episode is great, it’s all you ever hoped to be but the next episode is a week away and that’s like a small torture. So go get the Fallen Order, enjoy it just like I did and suffer with me together waiting for a sequel.
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