It’s the little things that help to elevate a game from being merely good to being truly great. Respawn Entertainment are obviously aiming to get Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to drop into the latter category upon its release on 15th November, and having recently spent a few hours playing the game – catch our preview here – we can see some of the ways that they’re adding real nuance to the game.
Here’s seven details that are helping to make Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order something special.
Active blaster deflections
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this one’s been done before. Active parrying that knocks enemies back in melee has featured in previous Star Wars games, but Jedi Fallen Order also makes it apply when fending off incoming blaster fire as well. Holding the block button will simply see incoming blaster bolts spraying off any which way, but if you time a tap of the block button just as the shot gets close, Cal will direct it straight back at the enemy.
It’s something that just feels right. There’s no digging into the skill tree and upgrading a laser parry ability, it’s just based off timing that is as loose or as tight as you want it to be, depending on the difficulty level.
The lightsaber slays, regardless of the difficulty
How do you make an action game more difficult? You give your enemies more damage and bigger health bars, right? Wrong. Star Wars JedI: Fallen Order doesn’t fiddle with the health bars, Respawn’s mantra being that a basic storm trooper dies in one hit. There’s slight exceptions to that rule, as you have to break their guard to deal damage, which is true of troopers with the electrified Z6 batons, but a much bigger deal when coming up against tougher enemies and bosses. A much bigger part of the difficulty jump is the reduced window for reactions and timings, that enemies might be more aggressive or be able to attack you in greater numbers all at once, that kind of thing.
Other Souls-like developers should pay attention, because this would be how you go about making a Dark Souls easy mode.
Dark Souls when you want it to be
There’s more than a few hints of Dark Souls in the game’s inspirations, from the aforementioned combat through the open world to the boss battles, and even the way that the world will reset and refill with enemies when you rest. No, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense narratively, but when Cal kneels down at the meditation points around the world and rests, all those Stormtroopers and the local fauna that you have to fight come back.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to rest and reset. If you’re happy to push on with the amount of health you have and the number of stimpacks kept in BD-1’s storage box, you can simply use the meditation point to redeem skill points without resting. This still acts as a save point as well, so if it turns out you were a bit over confident and do end up dying, then you’re dropped back at that meditation point and the world resets as though you’d rested.
Oh, and beware of dying, because doing so leaves an enemy glowing gold and hoarding all your experience points since you last levelled up! You’ll have to get back to and damage them in order to retrieve your XP.
Metroidvania made more obvious
One of the genres that has been thrown into the melting pot of inspirations is the Metroidvania, as Jedi: Fallen Order steps away from the tradition of Jedi games being linear action adventure games. As you drop onto a planet, you’re exploring the environments more, trying to find the path forward and potentially bumping into areas that you can’t access yet.
To make things super simple to understand is a 3D holomap, with new areas to explore marked in yellow, doors and things you’ve found that you can interact with marked in green, and areas that are off limits marked in red. It’s a nice bit of streamlining for a game that doesn’t want to be a super heavy Metroidvania.
BD-1’s characterful exploration
As droid companions go, BD-1 is more hyperactive than BB-8’s best ping-pong ball impression. As you explore, he’s always chirping away when you’ve downed a new enemy type to scan or some new lore to find, and he’ll often hop off your back and stand next to a point of interest.
That could be a touch annoying, depending on your sensibilities, but Star Wars fans will delight in hearing the utterly authentic droid bleep-blooping, and if you’ve got subtitles on, you’re in for an onomatopoeic treat! Seriously, it’s adorable.
Falling off cliffs is fun!
In your average souls-like, slipping off a cliff-edge will spell your doom and send you back to the nearest save point. It’s death, after all, and you’ll then have to retread your steps to get back to that point. Not so in Jedi: Fallen Order. Death during combat will have the expected effect, but thankfully, given how much platforming there is to do and the lax health and safety regulations of the Empire, falling and similar environmental hazards will simply pop you back on the ledge where you started.
It’s a nice decision that helps keep things accessible and not frustrating, especially when there was one cliff-face walkway where Zeffo’s local beasties were burrowing out of the ground to headbutt me off into the abyss!
Adding to the canon
Jedi: Fallen Order is getting to add a healthy amount of lore to the Star Wars canon, creating new fictional characters, new planets, new ancient races, even a few new enemies, but Respawn are also tying in with some established parts of Star Wars.
The main baddies in the game are the Inquisitors, force users who have turned to the Dark Side. You won’t have seen them in the films, but they aren’t really new, having first appeared in the Star Wars Rebels animated series. With Jedi: Fallen Order set between the prequel and original trilogies, it made sense to draw upon a lot of these touchstones, instead of simply creating new things. Incidentally, that totally makes it fodder for Prequel Memes…
Cal has made up his own lightsaber combat form
Depending on your perspective, we’re finishing on a bit of a downer. The lightsaber combat is all sorts of wrong, by which I mean it doesn’t conform to any of the seven forms of lightsaber combat found in the Star Wars films. Form III, Soresu, for example is all about deflecting blaster fire and defensive combat, as used by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Anyway, as explained to us by Respawn’s Aaron Contreras, Narrative Lead:
“We don’t really talk lightsaber styles at all, and we never define what Cal’s might be. He was trained by a lightsaber master when he was a Padawan, but since then he had a lot of years as a scrapper, so he’s picked stuff up along the way.”
As you go through the game, you pick up a lot of new and extended techniques for the lightsaber, spending your experience points in a branching character upgrade tree. Just don’t expect the fighting to look like it does in earlier films, and also don’t expect to be changing between defensive and offensive stances.
So if you’re a big fan of the prequels in particular and look at the lightsaber combat in this game? You might come away thinking that the Fallen Order bit refers to the lost martial arts of the Jedi. Still, it definitely does the trick.