Push Start Reviews: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten a true story-driven Star Wars game.  Sure, there was Battlefront and Battlefront 2, but neither of them lived up to expectations and one didn’t even launch with a single-player campaign. In fact, single-player Star Wars games have been mired with development issues for the past several years, most notably, EA canceled projects dubbed 1313 and Ragtag deep into their development. 

The cancellation of the later drew much ire from the community at large and after the loot box debacle in Battlefront 2, many hoped that LucasArts would allow the license to move from EA to other developers. 

But then in 2018, EA subsidiary Respawn Entertainment shocked the world by revealing a new single-player game at E3. At the time, the announcement was a big surprise considering the developer was mostly known for shooters Titanfall and Apex Legends. 

As a Star Wars fan, of course, I was excited about the announcement. As a dad, even more so. My gaming time is fairly limited, both in time able to play and when I’m able to do so. After trying to play Battlefront, and completely ignoring Battlefront 2, I was more than a bit hopeful that Fallen Order would scratch the old itch to jump back into a galaxy far, far away. 

Set in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, players are introduced to Cal Kestis. Kestis, a young padawan who survived Order 66, begins his adventure as a Jedi in hiding. Through an unselfish act, Kestis is discovered by the Empire and the hunt is on. Early on we meet one of the main antagonists, Second Sister, who along with Ninth Sister have been trained to hunt Jedi across the galaxy. 

Cal manages to escape and begins a galaxy-wide hunt for an ancient artifact, in hopes of keeping it out of the Empire’s hands. 

While the game offers multiple difficulties, trophy hunters should be aware that none of them require a specific difficulty. I embarked on my journey under the story difficulty, which was still difficult at times depending on the enemies in your path. It wouldn’t be the Star Wars universe if it wasn’t populated with gorgeous backdrops and strange creatures, both of which there are plenty in Fallen Order. 

I hesitate to compare one game to another, but the gameplay is very reminiscent of the Uncharted series. Throughout the game, there are sequences of platforming and combat that do enough to offset each other so that neither feels like that’s all you’re doing. One unique feature within Fallen Order is the ability to reset an area while at a save point, giving players chances to grind experience without having to leave the planet and return. The experience gained doesn’t level up Cal himself, but allows players to obtain new abilities and upgrade them. 

When it comes to combat, I was wholly expecting this game to be a button masher with no real skill involved. I was pleasantly surprised that there were some interesting nuances to it. The controls are very simple, and you can certainly hack and slash your way through the game, but by taking advantage of the subtleties of the combat abilities, players can develop different tactics. Being a Jedi title, the combat is styled around the lightsaber, which as the game progresses becomes customizable. Despite the various different looks available, this portion of the game felt lacking.

The story itself is well-paced and guides the player through Cal’s journey to uncover his past and different Jedi abilities taught to him. Even with the linear progression of the game, players are not prevented from exploring other planets to uncover all of their secrets. In fact, they will all need to be revisited at different times, either through the story or in an attempt to unlock all of the customizations or lore items. While Cal receives plenty of exposition, we learn very little about other characters in the game. There were times where I wished there were more interactions or the ability to use other characters in order to explore their back story. 

Fallen Order succeeds on many levels. From world design to story, it was beyond my expectations. That being said, there are some issues that would pull me out of my immersion with it. 

The first of those issues is the game controls. There are sequences within the game that require jumping, but when attempting to do so, the game would read the input as a double jump, or not at all. The jumping also felt unreal at times due to Cal suddenly changing direction in midair. 

The more prevalent problem is the frame rate dropping. Throughout the game, I found several locations where the game would freeze, sometimes for up to 30 seconds or longer. I’ve done some research and some folks have put out anecdotes supporting the theory that older model PS4s can’t run the game efficiently. Other folks have anecdotes stating that even with the PS4 Pro, they suffer through the same problem. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. I have enough technical knowledge to understand the underlying arguments for each, but not enough to determine for myself what causes it. It seems to me that the game struggles at times to prerender the potential areas that could be traveled and when changing areas it bogs down the system until it can load the resources.  

If you’re playing this game just to play through it and experience the story, the issues above are about the only negatives you will encounter. But if you’re a completionist like me and try for the platinum, there’s another quirk that will be encountered.

Without spoiling the game or the trophies you will unlock along the way, in your quest to complete everything you will do a lot of backtracking to each planet. The problem here is more of an annoyance than anything else. There is no way to fast travel and the map design can be confusing at times. So, fair warning to anyone attempting this. It won’t stop you, but you may get frustrated at times. 

Fallen Order is a very good addition to the Star Wars universe and helps fill in a gap where not much is known outside of the Skywalker Saga. Even with the issues discovered while playing, I can’t recommend Fallen Order enough. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Replayability: Moderately Low