MMO Burnout: Exploring EA’s new Star Wars title, Jedi Fallen Order

    
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BD-1

It’s impossible to understate how much cultural influence Star Wars had on kids born in the ’70s. One of my first movie-going memories includes a drive-in theater showing the original Star Wars film (before it was titled A New Hope), the theatrical splendor somewhat muted by the limitation of drive-in window speakers. At recess, we didn’t play cowboys on the wild frontier. We pretended to be Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. (Nobody ever chose to be Darth Vader. Darth Vader was the bad guy, plain and simple.)

We didn’t sit around pointing out plot holes in the latest film; we just enjoyed them. We enjoyed it all: the films, the toys, the made-for-TV Ewok movies, the Fisher-Price 45 RPM read-along record/storybook (yes, I had this, and I had it memorized), even the Christmas special.

Well, maybe not the Christmas special.

I even went to see all of the special edition versions of the original trilogy when they were released into theaters in the ’90s and subsequently purchased the VHS box set.

It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that I’ve experienced my fair share of Star Wars video games. For the Atari 2600, I owned both The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars the Arcade game, the latter of which remains the only Atari game that I ever “flipped” the score on. (If you don’t know what flipping the score means, go ask your parents.)

As the years progressed and consoles were replaced, I also played my fair share of the Jedi Starfighter games, as well as X-Wing vs Tie Fighter on my old Zenith 486 Windows 3.1 PC. I somehow missed out on the classic Knights of the Old Republic series, but I eventually logged a few hours in Star Wars The Old Republic before being turned off by the business model. And that was pretty much the extent of my Star Wars video gaming experience.

Until this past weekend.

Yes, last week, gaming behemoth Electronic Arts released its latest foray into the (somehow, lately) dangerous waters of the Star Wars IP, dubbed Jedi: Fallen Order. Fans have been clamoring for another good single-player Star Wars experience since the final edition of KOTR, after all. And while I admit it’s still early, many indications are that the new title fits the bill.

After some initial difficulties getting my order to go through directly via Origin, I was eventually able to purchase the title through Steam. Launching the game through Steam is still a little wonky because it connects to your Origin account first and even runs the game through the Origin launcher. Hopefully, this daisy-chain of DRM won’t eventually become a problem when relations between EA and Steam inevitably sour once again.

Jedi: Fallen Order takes place five years after Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith. The Jedi Order is thought to have been wiped out by the execution of Order 66, though of course there are still remnants of Jedi, Jedi padawans, and force-sensitives scattered throughout the galaxy that the new Galactic Empire is intent on snuffing out. Our protagonist, Cal Kestis, is one such force-user, and he finds himself on the run with a small band of resistance fighters early in the game.

Cal Kestis

Cal, voiced by Cameron Monaghan, is a fantastic character. He’s still a padawan, so he’s learning his Jedi powers along the way, but he’s not so green that he’s annoyingly naive. The player learns how to execute new powers and moves through a series of flashbacks of young Cal and his Jedi mentor. It’s a method that’s as effective at communicating backstory as it is a teaching tool.

As is the case with all young Jedi protagonists, Cal is joined by a plucky little droid, BD-1, with an important secret, a la R2-D2 in the original series. While he acts like a droid companion in the Star Wars universe, BD-1 shares some physical characteristics with another Disney character, Wall-E. Cal and BD-1 spend a majority of the game together, with BD-1 perched atop Cal’s shoulder like a pirate’s parrot. BD-1 also acts as a practical guide for the player, scampering across the room to point out important game mechanics and providing hints for puzzles if a player appears to be struggling. Together, Cal and BD-1 are an enjoyable pair through whom to experience the Fallen Order story.

I’ve heard the game itself compared to several other titles, and that’s probably due to the fact that it borrows a lot of different elements from various genres. I pre-ordered the game on the premise of an open-world Star Wars single-player RPG. Honestly, though, the game does not seem very open-world in the way that Skyrim or Fallout does. It reminds me a bit more of the Mass Effect games, where missions to various places are very story-centered and progression feels somewhat linear. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think that open-world is a bit of a misnomer.

Other elements of the game seem to have been inspired by Assassins Creed (parkour), Tomb Raider (puzzle rooms), and any number of mouse-mashing-in-combination-with-special-attacks combat games. The story guides the player to planets both new and familiar. In true Star Wars fashion, it feels simultaneously intimate and epic, as we accompany Cal on a journey of personal growth that could have implications on a galactic scale.

AT-ST

I’ve put about six hours into Jedi: Fallen Order, and to this point, I’ve really enjoyed it. The game that EA has created is mostly new material but still feels very Star Wars. The creatures are Star Wars. The sound effects are Star Wars. The music is Star Wars. The characters are interesting and somewhat deep. The timeframe of the story is dark and desperate. The content is challenging. Out of four levels of difficulty, I chose level two and have still struggled in several combat or parkour situations. The visuals are very good.

One idle animation caught my attention in particular: If you leave Cal alone for long enough, he’ll run his fingers through the top of his bright-red hair, almost as if it’s a nervous habit.

Has EA created the next great Star Wars game? While it’s a little early to tell, I think it’s come fairly close. All I know is I can’t wait to log back into a galaxy far, far away.

Are you burned out on MMOs? It happens. But there are plenty of other titles out there with open worlds, progression, RPG mechanics, and other MMO stalwarts. Massively OP’s MMO Burnout turns a critical eye toward everything from AAA blockbusters to obscure indie gems.

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Carlo Lacsina
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Carlo Lacsina

I’m no longer a Star Wars fan, this latest trilogy ruined it for me. I had no intention of buying the game, but when my friend let me have a spin at it and told me it was a Souls like, I was intrigued.

I played on the hardest difficulty and it seemed pretty tame, but I only played about 30 minutes of the game and fought my first boss battle. All of my deaths came from awkward jumps and not knowing where to go during platforming sections. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the game wasn’t super hard though even on this difficulty but regardless I think this was a great decision to go in terms of gameplay. I opted to buy Code Vein instead, but I’ll give that game a try after I finish it… I might just buy a console version. I don’t like too many launchers.

Reader
Sray

I haven’t gotten that far into the game yet, but I’m enjoying it so far. Playing on story mode, which is difficult enough for this crappy gamer: overall I feel like it works at that level for me without being too easy but there are some minor issues for em. My first big issue is that I’m finding that some of the visual queues for puzzle solving aren’t so great: there was a spot in the tutorial where I got hung up for 15 minutes trying to solve a ridiculously easy puzzle because climbing spots are sometimes difficult to spot (and after looking online, I found A LOT of people had the same issue as me at that point). There’s also the mouse and keyboard issue for the PC: just don’t bother with M+K for this game, it’s that bad.

Mewmew
Reader
Mewmew

My Father and Uncle had your same experience. They were kids and saw the original Star Wars movies at drive-ins. Even though I didn’t have that same experience (and never once have been to a drive-in, the ones I hear about my family having gone to were torn down by the time I was born), I still saw the initial ones when I was a fairly young kid due to people playing them for us when we were young.

You know, when you’re young and think that things like Ewoks are cute and it’s awesome that these tiny teddy bears with spears are defeating the Empire. Until you grow up and realize how stupid that actually was and wish everything from the second half of Return of the Jedi on was retconned (nothing beats the ridiculousness of Jar-Jar though).

I will probably get this game one day, though it will be far in the future when it’s on sale or gets put in a Humble Bundle or something. If I get around to playing single player games, I have such a horrible backlog to go through. I’ll probably buy it on sale and then never install it, like literally 90-95% of the games I get.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

I was super excited for this despite it being a linear game, but I caught a stream or two of it first and it turns out this game is a just a bit too much DARK SOULS combat inspired for my tastes and the lack of actual gear in favour if just skins for things was a real let down too and it is pretty force lite from the player perspective too with abilities being more for getting around maps and solving puzzles than helping in combat for the most part (although enemies don’t seem to have that limitation).

That level of frustration is not my personal idea of fun however appealing the i.p. :( kinda gutted.

It IS very pretty though and the sound, music, animations, VO and FX are all top notch

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

I’m trying not to spoil too much, but I saw some gameplay just before launch.

You can use your lightsaber as a flashlight in dark areas. That minor detail alone has me super interested in the game now. It’s always the minor things like this that speak volumes about the rest of the game rather than something like the combat system. Yeah, that’s important, but that’s a key part of the game they’re going to spend a lot of time and resources on. The “small” stuff like this?” That’s usually indicative of a team that’s given more freedom/time to work on the game, and was allowed to have their passion show through with smaller touches like this.

Could have been a generic flashlight, a flare type thing, or your robot on your back acting as your light (that’s what I thought would happen), but nope. It’s way, way cooler.

Reader
DanStewart9

I am happy for everyone who enjoys the game, I truly am. I am a huge SW-fan, so I was looking forward to this, yet didnt get too enthusiastic because I was disappointed by games before.

Anyway… IMO, the devs really nailed that Star Wars-look and atmosphere, they did. You look at this and go “This is Star Wars”. it looks nice. There also are some cool moments in there. And I liked the combat…it was fun for a while.

However, I bought this on Friday, and liked the intro. The story gets to the point quickly.
However, on Sat, I really wasnt all THAT eager to play it, and on Sunday, right in the middle of yet another climb/parcour/mechanism-riddle in yet another tomb, I sighed, quit the game and deinstalled. I was not having fun, at all.

Here’s why:

– Too much backtracking
– VERY VERY strict path to progress through a map. Yes, you can stray away from the main path on one of the sidepaths to open yet ANOTHER box with yet another cosmetic piece for your lightsaber, which most of the time, you woudlnt even see. Your droid jumps in with the same animation every time, you say one of 4 things, and yeah, another cosmetic detail. And I eventually stopped chasing chests, as those items werent that interesting to me.

– It felt like they went “OK, lets throw together the most famous movie franchise with ingredients from popular game franchises. A dose of Dark Souls, a lot of Uncharted and TR, some AC, bam”. This was much more Tomb Raider with a saber than what I was hoping it would be. The riddles werent even hard. It was just too many and stuff. A few in between, ok, but this? Just not my taste.

– The old cliché… oh, on this very strict map where I cant really even explore, there are locked doors. Oh I see… I will soon get a new ability which lets me unlock that door so I can get to the other 50 percent of the same map… the map I didnt like as much.

– Speaking of maps, I didnt like the 3d map the droid provided and found it confusing in some of the multi level areas.

– Boring skill tree. Sigh, more HP. More Force Power. Some strkes, some slight upgrades to your skills. There was NOTHING on there I was looking forward to like “OMG, once I can unlock that skill, I wanna do this and that with that, and it must be so cool”. I eventually stopped spending my talent points.

– I eventually stopped caring about the story, because the game felt SO linear and I was getting tired of it.

– I could list more things that bothered me, but I guess its too long already

So, I think I was like 11 hours in or so, and I just realized I was not having fun at all. That going at yet another riddle, another climbing sequence etc felt just like a chore. That I was, I guess, still playing as I had paid for it.

I uninstalled it, and have no interest in trying again anytime soon. I really think they nailed some things, but all in all, the game felt way too “on rails” for me, too much backtracking, too many riddles/climbing stuff. The vistas were great, but the game, to me personally, wasnt fun. I am glad to hear so many people love it and call it GOTY or whatever, but I regret buying it by now.

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IronSalamander8 .

I was born in 69 so the movies and toys were also huge parts of my childhood. As I grew older I cared less about the IP than others (Doctor Who has been my favorite sci-fi IP since I first saw Tom Baker in the iconic role), but still enjoy the games to a point, I did play a large amount of SWTOR for example.

This game doesn’t seem awful, and some ex-SWTOR friends are playing it and at least like it enough to have a good time with it but for now, I’ll be skipping it. Still, it at least hasn’t been abysmal, so that’s some good news for SW fans.

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Anstalt

Hard pass from me still, it’s from EA.

Even if it wasn’t from EA, still doesn’t sound like a game I’d enjoy. What’s telling for me is that almost every single review I’ve seen seems to talk exclusively about the storyline. I don’t like stories in games, but the fact that this is what everyone is talking about with virtually no mention of the gameplay beyond “it’s got hack-n-slash and some parkour” means that the gameplay is probably pretty generic. Which is classic EA.

So, I’ll sit and wait and hope that, eventually, EA will lose the license and some other studios will get a chance to develop a Star Wars game I might actually enjoy! It’s been a long time, so what’s another few years?

Reader
Natalyia

The graphics and gameplay are, of course, quite dated – but the original “Knights of the Old Republic” is a great story, and I think it’s still worth playing even today.

If you do, one caution. On my very first playthrough I was determined to be a very (very) light-side Jedi. I took no offensive Force-powers whatsoever, not even vs. droids. This… turns out to be a very bad idea at a certain point in the game. Don’t do that. :)

Reader
Zora

I wasn’t thrilled by the amount of backtracking but the plot is functional enough to propel you through it all.

It feels absolutely star wars and reminded me of the classic Jedi knight series (with a much less likeable protagonist than kyle katarn used to be) of the nineties, I just chosen to stop watching streams halfway in because I didn’t want to spoil whatever surprise might be there.

Definitely one more for the bargains bin, a few months down the road when it’s half off or less… which is generally high praise from me.