Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Preview - E3 2019
We get an extended demo for the upcoming single player Star Wars adventure
Electronic Arts has been in charge of the Star Wars video game license for many years now – but the most notable results of this agreement with Disney have been two arguably underwhelming Star Wars Battlefront titles. The publisher is now placing their hope on the team at Respawn Entertainment, who previously succeeded with EA on the Titanfall and Apex Legends franchises. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is coming later this year, and fans got a chance to see the gameplay reveal during EA Play 2019.
The new game takes place after Order 66, an event in the Star Wars lore that started the galaxy-wide extermination of the Jedi Order. In this single player, story-focused adventure, players will assume the role of Cal Kestis, a young man who discovers he has the power of the Force. Even though he gets a lightsaber from his master, he was unable to complete his training and is on the run from Empire forces. The demo that we got to see at EA Play took place about 3 hours into the game, as Cal already had control of his powers, but he hasn’t yet become a true Jedi.
Our demo was hosted by two producers of the game, who were said to be playing through the scenario live. The action took place on Kashyyyk, as we found Cal and his trusted companion droid, BD-1, in one of the rivers of the planet, called River of Origin. We aren't sure how they got there – but that didn’t matter as the more immediate threat appeared. Two huge AT-AT walkers revealed themselves further upriver, engaged in combat with rebel forces.
Cal wasted no time, and swam up to one of the Walkers. He began to climb onto it from the side of its leg, which was overgrown with vegetation. The entire Walker was covered in this greenery, allowing Cal to perform standard platforming and climbing around the side of its body, under its actively firing weapons, and eventually onto the top. From there, he made his way inside the machine, and through a few tight crawl spaces to eventually ambush a trio of Stormtroopers. Having made quick work of those foes, he entered the cockpit. There, a cutscene played with BD-1 distracting the two pilots and Cal knocking their heads together. Such scenes were peppered throughout the demo, along with playful dialog between Cal and his robot pal, which helps maintain the typical Star Wars light humor and charm.
Having taken control of the Walker, Cal blasted his way through a linear action section. Aiming the missile launchers and turrets, he took out the other Walker, and proceeded to blast his way through a series of enemy structures, bridges, and so on. He eventually reached an enemy camp where a large space ship attempted to take off and put up a fight, but it was no match for the Walker's firepower. However, it proceeded to crash right into the Walker.
After getting out from the wreckage, Cal meets up with Saw Gerrera, the rebel leader played by Forest Whitaker in the films, who reprises his role and likeness here. Cal tells Saw that he is on this planet to find a Wookie leader, Tarfful. Saw believes that this Wookie is being held at a nearby Imperial slaver camp, and so their goals align to break into the camp and free those inside. Before setting off though, Cal has a chance to run around the small base, enter his crew's ship and take a look at the galactic map, and chat with other characters. We observe a moment where binary conversation options can be made – the developers clarified that this is not a game with player choices or different endings. It's a canon tale in the Star Wars universe, so it must be set in stone.
When ready, Cal meets up with Saw again. From there, our demo followed the same 13-minute section of gameplay that was revealed during EA's live broadcast. We got to see the game's basic platforming elements, some wall running, and lots of combat. In larger battles, we observed Cal's combat abilities – deflecting incoming blaster fire back at enemies, throwing his lightsaber, and performing finishers on enemies. The troopers would all fall with just one or two hits, as fans of this universe would expect. Cal could also freeze time to deliver a few blows to helpless foes, get through moving machinery, and grab/throw items and enemies with the Force.
Fallen Order looked fairly straightforward in its level design. Players were occasionally faced with a blocked path, and the solution often involved simply interacting with the correct items in the environment, such as switches activated by your droid. Any detours were usually for the purposes of the story – like to get an upgrade for your droid, for the abovementioned overload ability. It remains to be seen just how linear the game is, but based on the demo being shown, it felt fairly rigid for the sake of being cinematic.
If there's one area where all of EA's games have managed to satisfy fans, it would be the authentic presentation. Fallen Order looked and sounded great, as unmistakable Star Wars property. From the visual design to the sound effects and music, Respawn have done a very good job of creating this virtual world and making it feel one with greater universe.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is set to arrive at a time where single player experiences aren't the go-to approach anymore. Online, cooperative, or games-as-a-service models have largely taken over, so there's some risk in creating a big budget purely solo adventure. However, with experienced developers behind it, and with the huge Star Wars license, Fallen Order looks poised to deliver a satisfying adventure for fans of this universe when it arrives this November for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.