Hands on with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

This past week, publisher Electronic Arts, and developer Respawn Entertainment invited members of the press, influencers and Star Wars content makers an in depth look at the latest latest Star Wars action game. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place between Star Wars Episode 3 and Episode 4. The game stars a brand new character in the Star Wars universe by the name of Cal Kestis, a former padawan who abandoned the order after surviving the Jedi Purge. Cal attempted to live anonymously in the populace, but an unfortunate incident revealed his force adeptness to the empire to which Darth Vader and his inquisitors sought to snuff him out. Fallen Order seeks to chronicle Cal?s attempts to remain alive and his attempt to rebuild the Jedi order to take down the Galactic Empire

Situated in the Hilton Anaheim, which is a short distance from Disneyland, the event started with some paperwork. As attendees lined up, it was easy to tell the members of the press from the influencers and content makers. The latter groups wore graphic tees which identified which intellectual property they were here to see, whereas members of the press kept the attire rather neutral. Chatter could be overheard in multiple languages as the invitees appear to come from all around the globe. As I finished signing the NDA, I turned to my bemusement…it appears that there were enforcers silently standing perhaps to ensure that all the proper documentation was filed. For you see, we were graced with the presence of the inquisitor known as Second Sister and flanking her was a pair of purge troopers. Selfies and other photos were taken before the group was shuffled into a ballroom. The set up looked like something out of command center of a capital ship. Rows of workstations and giant screen emblazoned with the logo of the title. I grabbed a seat and introductions were made, including opening comments from a representative from Lucasfilm Games as well as Stig Asmussen the title?s director hailing from Respawn Entertainment.

Before we were to begin playing the title, we were shown a live demonstration of a boss encounter which will occur later in the game by the combat director, Jason De Heras. The combat showcased indicated that the fighting would stylistic match closer to the frenetic action of the prequels rather than the slow proding pace of the original trilogy. Once the boss was defeated, we were informed that the first part of this playthrough will have us going through a tutorial to ensure that we will be adept at taking on the task which lies ahead. Cal has your standard set of Jedi abilities such as wielding a lightsaber, deflecting blaster bolts, and even slowing down objects or enemies. The tutorial also features traversal methods such as rope swinging, wall climbing and even wall running. Once everyone was introduced to the basics the main demo was loaded and players got to meet the crew that Cal will be working with. A choice of destinations was presented.

Zeffo or Dathomir were our options. A representative stated Zeffo will probably be an experience which will be the lengthier and showcase more of the game?s features, while Dathomir will provide a challenge for those looking to get into harder combat situations. Me, remembering that Darth Maul hailed from Dathomir opted to go the route with more combat. Upon charting a course to my desired destination, there some banter between Cal and the crew until ultimate I was prompted to sit in the cockpit as we arrived to the planet. Dathomir which orbits a red sun, looked extremely inhospitable and within earshot of my ship?s landing zone my first combat encounter was with a small Rancor. Needless to say, it?s not probably the best type of enemy to face when you first pick up the title, but somehow I persevered. However I had expended all of the stimpaks that were available to me. After some exploring I encountered a Nightsister who was not happy with my presence on the planet and she sicc?d two nightbrothers to ensure my trip would be cut short. It is there where I noticed that enemies will say contextually relevant quips, in this case the nightbrother noticed that I was low on health and would be easy prey. Little did I know how right the nightbrother was, as I was struck down shortly after the encounter began.

Death is dealt with in the same way it is in the ?Soulsborne? titles. The player is temporarily punished by having their exp points ?banked? in the enemy that killed them. Recovering this experience will require the player to find this enemy(which is made easy to identify as they are glowing gold) and simply strike them. Doing so will recover all the exp lost as well as refill your health. So tactical players can use this to their advantage if they died in a situation with numerous enemies, they can simply attack all of the non-glowing enemies and simply hit the glowing one if they need a health boost.

Ultimately my romp in Dathomir had to be cut short as I reached a point that I did not have the appropriate ability unlocked, which helped drive home the metroidvania-ness that the title had. So it was off to Zeffo I went. Zeffo is a complete juxtaposition of what I saw on Dathomir. Lush greenery with patches of snow. It was more occupied than the barren planet as the empire has taken hold on the surface. Fighting stormtroopers after fighting the nightbrothers reminded me of what a power fantasy the Jedi are. Picking off troopers with relative ease, I eventually made it to a temple where my object was. There I was confronted by ancient automatons which moved slowly but packed a heavy punch, but like everything could be taken down with enough saber strikes. However what can?t be solved with saber strikes were physics based traversal issues such as getting a hanging fixture to swing so one could grab onto it to cross a chasm as well as using wind powered to clear explosive fauna to knock down weakened walls. Eventually Cal unlocks the Force Push ability, make his way out of the temple, unlocking wind vents on Zeffo which will open up other areas of the planet to explore.

Sadly due to my initial detour to Dathomir, I was not able to fully explore Zeffo, but my experience did solidify my excitement for the title. An unintentional gaffe of visiting Dathomir first was that I actually discovered campfires on the planet?s surface and was perplexed as to why I could not rest at them. As it turns out while the team did utilize the concept of resting at designated spots, their iteration of this mechanic was more subtle, but just as effective. However due to my misadventure I did manage to unlock the initial set of abilities Cal has and saw a preview of the second set of abilities. It would appear that as his adventure continues, Cal is going to have access to some extremely viable skills.

I originally came into this event with a wait and see stance. It?s hard to tell stories that exist between two fixed points. It will be easy to dismiss Cal?s journey as fruitless and inconsequential, given that the Jedi Order is not restored in Episode 4 nor has the galactic empire been toppled. But after getting hands on I certainly do want to see do want to see how things fare for Cal and what adventures he will embark on. Shortly after the event concluded, the team at Respawn Entertainment tweeted that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has gone gold and will hit it?s November 15th, 2019 release date, which could only mean one thing…It looks like I?ll have something to look forward to in November besides cranberry sauce and cheap TVs.

Note: Travel and Accomodations for this event was provided by the publisher Electronic Arts.