Review

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review - A Good Feeling About This

  • First Released Nov 15, 2019
    released
  • PS4
  • PS4

By increasing difficulty, ratcheting back Force powers, and developing compelling characters, Jedi: Fallen Order delivers a worthy expansion to the Star Wars galaxy.

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Star Wars games often feel estranged from the franchise that spawned them. Video games have gotten very good at capturing the aesthetic of Star Wars--the cold metallic angles of Imperial architecture, the powerful hum of a lightsaber, the electric snap of a blaster bolt hitting home--but can struggle to get beneath the surface. It's the rare Star Wars game that reaches beyond how Star Wars looks to explore what Star Wars is really about.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the latest game in the canon, is one of the better offerings specifically because it tries to look beyond the trappings of Star Wars. It's not just another Jedi power fantasy, although wielding the Force with skill and resolve will certainly make you feel powerful. Like the best Star Wars games, it's one that adds to the ideas of the films and other material, exploring new corners of the galaxy while focusing on the core themes of the franchise: knowing yourself, fighting your own darkness, and braving adversity with the help of friends.

Friendship has always been one of the main drives of Star Wars, especially in the original film trilogy, and it's the core of what makes Jedi: Fallen Order work in both story and gameplay. The primary relationship of the game is between Cal Kestis, a Jedi padawan in hiding in the aftermath of the Jedi Purge that took place in Revenge of the Sith, and BD-1, a droid entrusted with a secret mission by the Jedi Master that previously owned it. Once Cal and BD-1 meet, they become inseparable, working together as partners to solve puzzles in forgotten ruins, navigate alien environments, and beat back the Empire.

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The pair work throughout the game to complete a scavenger hunt created by BD's last companion, Master Cordova. Before he vanished, Cordova locked away a list of Force-sensitive children throughout the galaxy that could be used to resuscitate the destroyed Jedi Order and challenge the Empire. He left clues to how to retrieve that list hidden in BD, requiring Cal and the droid to travel to various worlds, following in Cordova's footsteps to free up BD's encrypted memories.

Functionally, BD is Cal's constant companion as he rides around on the Jedi's back, and Cal regularly talks with the droid as they explore Fallen Order's planets. BD also serves several support functions in gameplay. Most importantly, BD provides Cal with "stims" that allow him to heal himself in the middle of Fallen Order's often-oppressive combat. He can also function as a zipline, unlock doors, and hack certain droid enemies to turn the tides of battle. BD is just enough a part of any given fight or puzzle that you're always aware of his presence and his help, but it's Cal's constant interactions with the little droid that really build out their relationship.

You definitely need BD's help and the upgrades you find for him throughout your journey, because Fallen Order can be punishing. It lifts a number of gameplay ideas directly from the Soulsborne genre; enemies are often tough-as-nails and can deal big damage if you're complacent, whether they're Imperial stormtroopers taking potshots or two-foot rats leaping out of burrows to snap at Cal's throat. Fighting isn't just about wailing on everyone with your lightsaber, but rather relies heavily on blocking and carefully timed parries if you mean to stay alive against even the most run-of-the-mill foes. You and your enemies also have a stamina meter to manage, which dictates how many blows you can defend against before you stagger, and adds a strategic element to duels. To win a battle, you need to whittle down an enemy's stamina while blocking, parrying, and dodging to manage your own. Since every blow you sustain can be devastating, combat becomes an exciting, cerebral exercise in pretty much every case. You'll spend a lot of time not only honing your parrying skills, but also making quick battlefield decisions about how you can isolate dangerous enemies or use your Force powers to even up the odds.

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You can only heal from a limited number of stims or by resting at periodic meditation points, similar to Dark Souls' bonfires, and using them respawns all the enemies in the area, which makes being a smart combatant even more critical. Killing enemies and finding collectibles nets you experience, which accumulates into Skill Points you can spend on new abilities for Cal. But dying costs all the experience you earned since your last Skill Point unless you can find and damage the enemy who bested you.

Though the elements of Fallen Order are Souls-like--it's probably most closely comparable to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, in fact--on most difficulty settings, it's far less brutal than From Software's games. Fallen Order might be considered Soulsborne-lite, making use of the same elements but to a different effect. It's tough, even occasionally frustrating, but not nearly so much as the games from which it draws its inspirations. That balance achieves something that feels essential to Fallen Order's identity: It makes you a powerful Jedi Knight, without turning you into an unstoppable Force-wielding superhero. Ratcheting back on the Jedi powers (and forcing you to unlock them as you work through the story and deal with Cal's past) helps Fallen Order's take on the Star Wars universe feel grounded and believable--a place where people could actually live.

Your lack of overwhelming power also helps make the ever-looming Empire a frightening threat, even as individual soldiers comedically call out their own ineptitude in pretty much every battle. Cal spends the entire game hunted by the Inquisition, a subset of the Empire's forces specifically tasked with exterminating Jedi. Because every fight is potentially deadly, running into the game's specially trained Purge Troopers is always an event, and you're forced not only test your lightsaber skills and timing, but to consider all the abilities at your disposal to make it out alive.

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The rest of the game often has to do with clambering around the environment and solving puzzles, not unlike Tomb Raider, God of War, or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Navigating the world is as much about using observation and problem-solving skills as your Force tools. Respawn's Souls-inspired map design allows you to explore off the beaten path without ever really getting lost, and each planet is richly realized and fascinating to explore. The intricate pathways encourage you to wander off and visit each planet's varied environments to see what you might uncover, and Fallen Order always make sure you're rewarded with a bit of story, a cosmetic item, or even an optional miniboss fight.

When you're between missions on planets, you're spending time with Fallen Order's two other major characters, Cere and Greez. They're the pair who manage to save Cal in the early hours of the game when his Jedi nature is discovered by the Empire, and they put him on the quest to find the list of Force-sensitives before the Inquisitors can get their hands on it. Though the story is a little rough in the early going as Cal is thrown directly into the quest with little lead-up or explanation, Fallen Order's story starts to excel around the halfway point as his relationships with BD, Cere, and Greez really start to develop. Once Fallen Order starts to invest in the interpersonal dynamics and deepening friendships of its cast, it really hits a stride--and its quest feels less like an elaborate series of tasks to fetch a MacGuffin, and more like an essential addition to the ongoing Star Wars saga.

It does take Fallen Order a while to get there, though. The first few planets are a bit on the dull side, rushing to get Cal on his quest through the galaxy without really establishing why you should really care. Until it starts to click later in the game as you unlock more Force powers, combat can be a hassle, especially at certain boss battles or chokepoints, when your last meditation point is some distance away and you have to navigate through the same chunks of the map over and over. And while parrying is an essential part of the game, at higher difficulties, the timing can feel finicky and unreliable.

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The game also loves to throw handfuls of enemies at you all at once, which can be overwhelming, and combat against lower-tier enemies is built to lock you into finisher animations in a lot of cases. Instead of making you feel like a cool, well-trained warrior, these usually just leave you open to some Imperial dork wandering up with an electrobaton and clocking you in the head. It's only after you get enough Force powers to effectively control the crowds that these moments become more exciting than irritating. But throughout the game, there are always times when an enemy you couldn't see because of the game's tight targeting lock system gets in a cheap hit, forcing you to replay a fair stretch of its large, interweaving maps.

But especially as it wears on, Fallen Order becomes perhaps the strongest conception of what playing as a Jedi Knight ought to really be like. It's true that Fallen Order borrows liberally from other action games, but those elements work together with Respawn's combat and environment design, and a story that finds humanity in the Force and in its characters, to hone in on what makes the world of Star Wars worthy of revisiting again and again. Even with some rough edges, Fallen Order represents one of the most compelling game additions to the Star Wars franchise in years.

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Now Playing: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Video Review

Back To Top
The Good
Difficulty strikes a great balance between Jedi power fantasy and feeling grounded
Maps are vast and interesting to explore without getting you lost
Combat is often harrowing and forces you to be intelligent, especially in the second half of the game
Well-rounded characters help explore the most interesting themes of Star Wars
The Bad
Battles can be frustrating when paired with distant checkpoints
Story starts slow and takes time to become compelling
Getting the timing right on parrying can feel unreliable, especially in tough boss fights
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Phil Hornshaw spent about 22 hours exploring Jedi: Fallen Order on Jedi Master difficulty, but didn't uncover all of its secrets. He intends to return to finish his training. Review code was provided by the publisher.
289 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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dani3po

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After the large number of games announced for Game Pass yesterday, I think I'll wait for EA to put this one in The Vault.

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so_hai

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Someone at EA must have got fired if they allowed a game without in-game gouging to be released.

2 • 
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dani3po

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@so_hai: Second game in a week.

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RogerioFM

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Best Jedi game in years? Really, what were the recent option? Having said that, it really looks like a fun game.

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lostn

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Edited By lostn

i'm interested but will buy it used to ensure EA doesn't get a cent of my money.

Rather burn the money than give it to them.

2 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@lostn: Nice, send the message that they wasted their time on a SP star wars.

Smart.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Bread_or_Decide: Look. If we start getting what we want, we can’t keep being petty and mad about it, and we all know that’s what’s really important here.

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boardsport311

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I want to play this but there’s just too many games to keep up with right now. Will wait til it hits $20 or comes to Game Pass.

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Fia1

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now this a game I've been waiting for, love star wars.

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phili878

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@Fia1: and EA loves you

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gargar

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Wow, a single player story driven game from EA. and it's a good one.

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Yams1980

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I wouldn't trust this review as stated above. This is the site that gave Death Stranding a 9 out of 10.

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gotrekfabian

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@Yams1980: Try playing it before you criticise it. Without a doubt, Death Stranding is a contender for Game of the Year.

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Yams1980

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@gotrekfabian said:

@Yams1980: Try playing it before you criticise it. Without a doubt, Death Stranding is a contender for Game of the Year.

I doubt i could stick with the game for more than a couple hours.

I played through MGS 5, great game and I'll likely replay it again soon but the first 1 hr in that hospital was the most boring crap i've ever gone through, and Death Stranding looks like doing that starting hospital level over and over.

Rather kill myself.

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gotrekfabian

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@Yams1980: Then you have proven to yourself to be no gamer. Once you get past the first area the game opens. Your mindset is that this is just a delivery simulator and it is so much more than that.

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gargar

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@Yams1980: If you don't like Gamespot than what are you even doing here?

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Edited By Yams1980

@gargar: I like the forums, although kinda dead. I'm a big fan of the user uninspiredcup, he's almost a god.

The reviews though are mostly terrible, very few of them can be trusted. I like trashing them and seeing the reviewer use their alt accounts to attack me.

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Bread_or_Decide

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@Yams1980: Death Stranding is an amazing game. 9 score is well deserved.

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Barighm

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@gargar: Read other reviews. We're now seeing reviews saying the game has serious technical issues. I also don't trust any review from GS or any of the other top sites that say the game has a good story.

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dcheard2

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Edited By dcheard2

@Barighm: i think the ign video review does a pretty good job at explaining the technical issues (i know... it's ign). there are definitely some framerate issues but nothing that breaks the game. i mean.. it seems to not affect actual battle but it'll happen like right before battle or some during transversal. as far as the story, i haven't played deep enough to know but i can say it feel like it's a common story and i would like to understand what happened or going to happen. im sure there's a twist or two.. i do like all the characters except the main character, cal, ironically enough but always felt star wars does a great job at supporting roles rather than the main character so this my actually be more in line with the movies.. haha.

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boardsport311

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@gargar: from *Respawn

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gargar

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@boardsport311: And EA paid for it.

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dani3po

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@boardsport311: Bad EA games are from EA but good EA games are from his studios? It doesn't seem fair.

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boardsport311

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@dani3po: Respawn works autonomously from EA and this game was well into development prior to EA purchasing them. This is a Respawn game with an EA logo.

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dani3po

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@boardsport311: So Respawn was making a Star Wars game without the license from Disney? I don't think so. And they have the autonomy EA wants them to have.

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stony4cloud

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What happen to the video review

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JustTheTip

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@stony4cloud: No one watches them. That’s what happened.

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siarhei

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What difficulty did you play on?

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gotrekfabian

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@siarhei: It states in the footer that he played on Jedi Master difficulty. I'd take that with a pinch of salt but I suppose it could be true.

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Packer1080

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Pass.

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Vodoo

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@Packer1080: This is the chance to show EA it's not all about live service games, which they think it is. They released a solid Star Wars game and there's really no reason to "pass" unless you just play CoD. This determines if we will see good single player content from EA in the future.

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GamerOuTLaWzz

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@Packer1080: Yeah pass on such a great game and the best Star Wars video game of the past decade.

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Barighm

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@gameroutlawzz: Jury's still out, dude. Score has dropped 10 points since the second batch of reviews started coming out saying the game has technical issues. Remember, this is an EA game.

3 • 

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order More Info

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  • First Released Nov 15, 2019
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
    7.7
    Average Rating123 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
    Developed by:
    Respawn Entertainment
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genre(s):
    Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Mild Language, Violence