Until the weekend of E3, everything gamers knew about the Star War game releasing in five months was limited to the trailer unveiled at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year. Fans had very little idea of what to expect about Jedi: Fallen Order. Until Electronic Arts pulled back the curtain with a gameplay demo at their EA Play event and a story-centric trailer that played during the Xbox’s E3 Conference. Members of the media who tried the game for themselves and interview its developers shared even more details. At this point, we have a pretty clear picture of the game, and it’s easy enough to fill in the blanks that are left. Keep reading for an overview of what we know about Jedi: Fallen Order and what we can guess based on who’s making it.
Respawn Entertainment is only nine years old, but it has roots go much deeper. Infinity Ward was responsible for many of the most memorable games in the celebrated Call of Duty franchise. After a messy breakup with its publisher Activision, two of the studios’ senior employees, Jason West and Vince Zampella. The pair co-founded Respawn Entertainment, and 38 of the 46 Infinity Ward employees joined them at the studio.
The developer achieved immediate critical if not commercial success with two Titanfall games, the second of which almost assuredly convinced EA it would be a good fit for Jedi. But in 2019 the studio launched its battle royale Apex Legends, which is a gigantic success. It’s the 12th most viewed game on Twitch, 7 spots ahead of the latest Call of Duty, which also features a battle royale.
This year is undoubtedly the developer’s biggest ever, with the release of Jedi: Fallen Order still to come.
Not everyone associates physics with video games, but they’re intrinsically connected. The physics determine your control over the character and the immersion with the gameplay. If the controls are tight you feel at one with the character. If they’re clumsy it’s much harder to feel immersed in your experience.
We have an idea of what to expect from the physics based on past titles made by Respawn. Respawn Entertainment is acclaimed for its titles’ silky smooth gameplay. It’s the first action-adventure title from the studio, which has its background in first-person shooters. But it’s safe to expect them to maintain their fluid combat swapping guns for a lightsaber.
Game Informer recorded a podcast about its visit to Respawn Entertainment, where employees had an exclusive opportunity to play the upcoming title. The staff compared the gameplay to Dark Souls due to Jedi‘s similar focus on parrying and dodge rolls with its lightsaber battles. FromSoftware titles such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice deliver some of video games’ best third-person gameplay, so the comparison is high praise.
The Titanfall games made by Respawn stand out from other shooters with their focus on acrobatic movement, specifically their signature wall-running mechanic. Fallen Order involves similar wall-running abilities. If it feels half as good in Fallen Order as it does in Titanfall, we’re in for a big treat.
Graphics That Make You Feel Like You’re in a Star Wars Movie
Four years ago, Star Wars Battlefront presented worlds so fully-realized that players felt like they were inside a high-definition Star Wars film. Since it’s arriving four years later, Fallen Order‘s graphics will almost certainly be as impressive or even more beautiful.
Fairly Open Gameplay
Comments from media outlets and developer interviews make clear that the game feels more open than the trailer showed. Though the title isn’t open world, expect Jedi: Fallen Order to give you the freedom to play the game how you want to. Unlike games like Uncharted which follow narrow paths, Respawn gives players more agency to craft their own narrative. Even in the gameplay demo, you can see your the character moves freely through the Wookie camp while attempting to free the prisoners. The video also includes a blink-and-you-missed-it look at the character’s skill tree, which allows players to choose how to level up the character.
EA’s Last Star Wars Title Had a Story to Forget
Star Wars Battlefront 2 included a campaign that managed to be both unmemorable and frustrating
The 6-hour adventure felt tacked on since, well, it was. Battlefront’s developers built a story around the maps and weapons they already designed for the PvP portion of the title. Even cameos from characters like Luke, Leia, and Han only existed because the stars of the movies were already designed as Hero Characters for other game modes. Given that most of the campaign was comprised of reused assets, it’s unsurprising that it feels only slightly more memorable than an equivalent number of hours playing multiplayer.
The campaign’s narrative, meanwhile, frustrated fans expecting something other what they were given. Unlike The Last Jedi, however, the producers deserve some blame for those expectations. EA marketed the Battlefront 2 campaign as a story about an Imperial Commander who believed in the Galactic Empire. This had a lot of fans excited. Even though the Empire would blow up entire planets, it brought order to the Galaxy. When taken that order would inevitably turn to chaos. Maybe freedom isn’t worth the cost. Despite marketing that indicated otherwise, EA wasn’t interested in exploring that argument. Battlefront 2’s campaign told a paint-by-numbers story during which the main character learned the evils of the Empire and joined the Rebels to help destroy it.
Jedi: Fallen Order Will Have a Story to Remember
EA seems to have learned the error of their ways. This time it’s trusting the story to the developers of Titanfall 2, the game responsible for one of the most acclaimed shooter campaigns ever. Plus, there’s so much fertile ground between Episode III and IV, the period the game falls in. Revenge of the Sith ends as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader starts to hunt down the Jedi. A New Hope begins with only a handful left. There’s a big, fascinating gap this game gets to help fill in.
The protagonist of Jedi: Fallen Order is Cal Kestisa, who’s managed to survive by abandoning the Jedi mission. The trailer suggests that something convinces Cal Kestis to stop hiding and fight back. He faces Order 66, the group that killed most of his brothers and sisters-in-arms. While I’m glad the trailer doesn’t give away the end of the first act, it doesn’t leave offer viewers a lot to go on.
The EA Play gameplay demo and the trailer at the Xbox conference show a familiar face. Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One, serves as Cal’s companion for at least a portion of the game. Fallen Order will probably have several connections to the films, it would be foolish for it not to. Game Informer mentioned the appearance of [SPOILERS] a character from both the Star Wars films and animated series who sounds an awful lot like Darth Maul.
This is an Extremely Important Title for Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts (EA) has largely made poor use of the Star Wars license. The publisher signed an exclusive 10-year contract with Disney for the rights. The details of the deal weren’t shared but the license was likely very, very expensive. Six years into the deal, EA has only produced the two Star Wars Battlefront games, the second of which was widely panned for its pay-to-win microtransactions.
EA surely wants to hold on to the license past the initial 10 years. To do so, the publisher needs to knock Jedi: Fallen Order out of the park. Marvel Games’ high standards demonstrate that Disney has expectations of quality from games featuring their properties. The CEO of Electronic Arts reportedly received an unhappy phone call from Bob Iger over the microtransactions controversy. After getting in trouble with Disney over their last Star Wars title, strong sales from Fallen Order in November are a top priority for the company. Luckily, EA hired a studio with skills to make that happen.
Expect Sequels if Jedi: Fallen Order is a Success
I wouldn’t be surprised for the story to end with Cal Kestis cut down by Vader in a heroic sacrifice. That wouldn’t get in the way of a sequel, though. The title Jedi: Fallen Order (note the colon) suggests we might be in for a series of Jedi games. Each can star a different hero from a different era, or maybe Cal will appear beyond Fallen Order. It’s impossible to tell this early. Only one thing is certain: if an EA game sells they’ll make more just like it.
From everything we’ve learned and seen over the weekend, Fallen Order looks extremely promising. Opinions from the Game Informer staff and other games media are very glowing. There’s a strong chance this will be one of the best AAA titles of 2019. Now more than ever, Jedi: Fallen Order looks like something to be excited for.