Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review
(Next-Gen Update Jan. 2021)
On January 13th, 2021 Respawn Entertainment released a colossal update for Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order promoting that the 2019 action-game would introduce next-generation features on both Playstation 5 & Xbox Series X. Fallen Order would now have two separate visual modes, Fidelity mode which would introduce 4K visuals and some ray-tracing capabilities, and Performance mode which would allow the game to run at 6o frames-per-second but with a standard HD picture. The update was also said to help with the overall performance and presentation of the game as well, as shortly after its 2019 release, the game became known for its glitches, long load times, and persistent game crashes. Now let’s see if this update is a broken promise or if it introduces “A New Hope’ to the experience. (Get it? ‘A New Hope’ that was… one of the… like, like the mov- never mind. Let’s just talk about the game)
When the game first released back in 2019, critics praised it for its gorgeous visuals, and this mechanic was improved even more in the next-gen update, as the rock band Spinal Tap would say, “it was cranked up to an 11”. The graphics do a very good job of showing photorealistic depictions of human characters, while also inserting a life-like look at science fiction elements like spaceships and alien races. The environments look even better in this version as well, with each location having its own distinct look & biome adding lore to some of the Star Wars planets. Probably the most notable parts of the graphics are the use of lighting in this game, especially regarding the lightsaber. Combat is flashy with bright, vibrant sparks flying each time the lightsaber makes contact with something. The use of color is used wonderfully in dark corridors where players can use their lightsaber as a makeshift torch, and the surrounding environment is filled with the bright (and varied) shades of the lightsaber. Also, the score/soundtrack is incredible, but I mean it’s a Star Wars game, I probably didn’t have to tell you that. That’d be like saying “Wow, that Metallica concert sure was loud!” Like, yeah, that’s a given.
As stated earlier, the original release of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order became quickly infamous for its performance issues. With agonizingly slow load times, game crashes and the most common were the persistent (yet sometimes hilarious) glitches. This next-gen update shows that Respawn Entertainment has taken these issues very seriously, as almost all of the hiccups in the game’s performance seem to have been ironed out. The game doesn’t crash nearly as much as it used to (during roughly 15-20 hours with the game, I only experienced one crash) and the glitches are few and far between. The glitches are far less annoying in this version than in the original release, as in 2019, a lot of the glitches would result in falling through the map or getting caught on a surface and being completely stuck, resulting in having to refresh to the most recent save. These were a total pain, and thankfully these types of glitches seem to be hard to find. What felt like a total glitch fest has now turned into a standard playable experience, way to go EA! All jokes aside, there were some glitches found in the game, but these were almost always pretty harmless, like an enemy getting knocked four-hundred feet in the air, or the main character, Cal Kestis not retracting his lightsaber before holstering it, resulting in an armed lightsaber flailing around while Cal did hardcore parkour. Personally, the most welcome change in performance was the reduced load times, as these used to add insult to injury in my first playthrough. Fallen Order has been described as a “Dark Souls-esque” type of game, which means its combat is very strategic and punishing at times. Even though Cal is a Jedi, he can’t take too many hits in combat, so dying is just part of the learning curve in this game. With that being said, if a player just got their butt handed to them on a silver platter, then they are forced (hehe force-d) to stare at the same loading screen for upwards of three minutes, it can be a real pain in the butt, especially if the player keeps getting killed at the same spot over and over again. Now with the update, these load times are much more bearable and took roughly anywhere from 20-45 seconds to get back into the action. Having these fast load times really helped build upon the high-risk style of combat.
Now outside of the glitches & performance issues, the gameplay of Fallen Order is still just as great as it was a year or so ago. Combat is fast and aggressive as Cal has a variety of lightsaber and force moves that he can use to fight off the empire. The game becomes very rewarding in combat as the player continues to level up, they can purchase more combat moves to help make combat even more engaging and creative. Combat focuses mainly on knowing when to block, when to attack, and learning what weaknesses each enemy has, to take them out quicker. Such as, some enemies attack very quickly, so it’s hard to block their attacks, but they have a weakness to Force abilities, so the player can incorporate those into the fight to come out on top. This style of combat is something that’s been seen in quite a few games (as the aforementioned “Dark Souls-esque) but this works wonderfully with the Star Wars universe, as the Jedi are powerful, but not invincible warriors.
The narrative takes place between Episode Three & Episode Four of the Star Wars saga, and centers around a young Jedi taking on the evil Empire as he and his friends try to re-build the Jedi Order. This storyline… is way better than it had to be, as the game was already going to sell well based on the fact that you got to play as a Jedi and swing around a lightsaber. The game's narrative literally could’ve been complete recreation of Harold & Kumar go to White Castle and the fans still would’ve bought it. Respawn Entertainment completely blew everyone anyway as their awesome Jedi action game actually had a sweet storyline that was so good, that it's now canon to the Star Wars Universe! Without giving anything away, what makes Fallen Order’s story so good is that it’s something that is brand new, yet also feels familiar to the fans. The player gets introduced to several brand-new characters and villains and also bringing in small little nods to famous Star Wars characters. The storyline also works great if you aren’t a huge Star Wars fan as well, everything that’s really important is explained very well so that newcomers won’t be completely lost as to what the heck is going on. Also, BD-1, the droid companion in the game, is wonderful and I’m not afraid to say he’s the best droid in Star Wars lore.
Fallen Order was already set up for having a great personality with it being set in the Star Wars universe, but yet again, Respawn took it farther than they had to. Tons of new characters are introduced, most impressive are the new kinds of enemies/hostile creatures the player encounters. Lots of memorable Empire soldiers make an appearance in the game, but they don’t take up the main focus of the combat, as the player will mostly be fighting these new hostile creatures. A lot of personality was given into the new crack-pot team of protagonists alongside Cal on his quest. BD-1 is the aforementioned droid companion that rides on Cal’s shoulder and offers a healing stim to Cal in combat, and a series of charismatic “beeps” & “woos”. Cere is a rebellion fighter with some deep battle scars and a past she tries to run from, then there’s Greez who is a four-armed alien pilot of the ship Cal uses to travel, the Mantis. He carries himself as rough and bitter yet has a sweet spot for Cal, Cere, and of course his garden he keeps on the ship. These characters all play off each other well, and each one brings their own unique aspect to the team, especially you BD-1, you little adorable scamp.
The main storyline offers a lot of content to keep the player happy, as Cal’s journey takes him all over the galaxy (the one that’s far, far away). But outside of the main story, Fallen Order has a lot of content to have the player coming back to after the main questline. There are four mini-boss fights to engage in across the galaxy, a whole collection of action skills to level-up and unlock but what’s most abundant are the collectibles. There are several types of collectibles the player can hunt down, including Echoes that give small flashbacks/backstory to certain story moments, finding all the enemies to fill out Cal’s Databank, several seeds to find to grow Greez’s garden but most importantly are the stim packs and the crates. The stim packs are a little upgrade that allows BD-1 to carry more canisters that Cal can use to heal himself in combat, so collecting these are a must on the higher difficulties. The creates scattered throughout the game, offer all kinds of cosmetics the player can choose. Cal’s outfit & poncho can be changed, BD-1 & the Mantis’s paint job but most exciting are finding the different kinds of lightsaber parts, to assemble your signature weapon. Of course, what is probably more likely to keep bringing the player back is all stuff you get to chop up with a lightsaber, as it never gets old.
In conclusion, the next-gen update for Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order goes and fixes all the major issues that overwhelmed the first game. What is left is a wonderful game with great combat, an engaging story, gorgeous & smooth graphics, and of course, BD-1. This next-gen update is truly the best way to experience this game, whether that be in a second playthrough or a brand-new attempt. Respawn Entertainment truly seems to have perfected their creation with this most recent update. This is a journey that no one should miss, Star Wars fan or not, it’s truly a great game.
And that’s the Borderline Bottomline for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Review Written by Dan Lasure