It might be an unpopular opinion, but Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks alright. It’s a Respawn Entertainment game, so it’ll most likely run pretty swell from day one and the Star Wars license looks like it’s finally being put to good use in a game that would have been far more welcome four years ago than a retread of ye olde Battlefront game.
At the same time, there’s nothing that I saw that really grabbed me, held fast and shook some excitement into me. I’ve got some hope for the end result though. If what EA showed was just an early taste, then I’m ready to dig into a game that looks like it’ll deliver on at least one promise: Cinematically charged lightsaber action.
Respawn Entertainment is promising a new spin on how they’ll make a more elegant weapon from a more civilised age feel hefty, dangerous and powerful, as lightsaber combat is clearly a priority for the studio currently. “You’re not just going in and mindlessly hacking down enemies,” game director Stig Asmussen said to GameSpot.
Every enemy has a weakness, maybe several weaknesses. Every enemy has a way to exploit the hero as well. And there’s synergies between the different enemy types, so they act in different ways depending on how you combine them. So every time you walk into a battle, you really have to weigh how you’re going to go in and take the guys out. We obviously want to have a power fantasy in the game, so as you’re getting stronger, your abilities are getting greater.
Enemies you found early on aren’t going to be as much of a challenge, but we’ll be introducing new enemies that will challenge you. And once you take those and you combine that with the fact that now you have several different types of entities together, and then you have your new Force abilities that you’re picking up along the way, new skills that you’re learning, the lightsaber–we’re encouraging the player to do more than just press a button.
If it sounds like Fallen Order is taking a page out of the Dark Souls and Bloodborne book of action, you wouldn’t be wrong. But that’s not the only game that has inspired Respawn’s thoughtful approach to combat. “Well, God of War is great because yeah, you can mash in the game, but there also wasn’t a steep curve for skilled players because you can unlock an insane amount of moves in that game and you can change the combos in different ways,” Asmussen explained.
When we started this new combat system, we were looking at Wind Waker. We wanted to have kind of a Metroidvania style, which Wind Waker has a little bit of in there as your abilities unlock gates across the whole map.
And we were also looking at Bloodborne and Dark Souls, and immediately I was like, “I want the game to have Z-targeting.” You can turn it on and off, and it plays really well in the free mode as well. But it was really kind of like, we don’t want to be as whimsical and quite as accessible as Wind Waker but Zelda does have like enemies that you kind of unlock in different ways. So we wanted to have that. That’s where we started thinking about “thoughtful.”
You have to learn how to use the different abilities, you know? We knew it couldn’t be as punishing as Dark Souls, especially since it’s Star Wars. We needed to find something that was more accessible. So, yeah, those were our touchstone.
Which I reckon, is going to help Fallen Order stand out. Take a look at two of the more notable examples of lightsaber combat in Star Wars games, such as Jedi Outcast and The Force Unleashed. Jedi Outcast’s system was weird but acrobatic once you got the hang of it, while Force Unleashed was a button masher of note that allowed you to run wild or throw a few combos around.
If Fallen Order makes you approach each encounter with planning, a more methodical pace and it makes you weigh every press of the attack button? That could result in a game that feels closer in style to the original trilogy of films as well as the more raw power of the latest series, while completely forgetting about the over the top action of the prequel films. I’d be down for that in November.
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Last Updated: June 10, 2019