One of the more exciting aspects of Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is that it wears its respect for From Software’s Souls series on its sleeve. With combat and gameplay progression that’s similar to the loop found in Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fallen Order is undoubtedly a change of pace when compared to other games set in the prolific sci-fi series. In keeping with the Souls series’ reputation for challenging difficulty and brutal combat, Respawn’s new game even allows you to attempt exploring a world that will make you feel immediately out of your depth.
I recently got to play about three hours of the game and saw what’s in store for Cal Kestis’ journey. Shortly after the opening of the game, Cal Kestis will have the choice of heading to one of two planets–Zeffo or Dathomir. At this point in the game, the Jedi Padawan is on the trail of a missing Jedi Master named Eno Cordova, who’s searching for lost secrets from the Order’s past. On Zeffo, you’ll find an Imperial outpost filled with stormtroopers, though beneath the surface lies a labyrinth of ancient ruins housing ancient Jedi artifacts. However, if you were to choose Dathomir, then you’ll venture to a planet that’s home to dangerous monsters that can defeat you quickly. Fans of the Clone Wars series will recognize this world, which is otherwise known as the Rancor planet. Before selecting Dathomir, Cal’s allies Cere and Breez will actively warn you not to go–but in the end, it’s your choice. Like in other metroidvania-inspired games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Hollow Knight, it can be easy to wander into areas that will make you feel outmatched–but you’re still free to attempt it all the same.
During our recent interview with game director Stig Asmussen, he described their approach to letting players explore the game’s different set of planets, and how it was up to the player’s skills to get through the challenges.
“We give the player the choice between Zeffo and Dathomir very consciously early in the game,” Asmussen said. “Within the cinematic, it’s very clear that Dathomir is a dangerous planet, and you’ve got to be careful if you’re going to choose that. The player is given a warning if they go there, but at the same time though, I don’t want to discourage people from going there because some people might. It’s almost like it’s a difficulty level that’s built-in without actually having a menu in front of you. We saw several people try it today, and they went there and one of the gentlemen got really far in it, but I would rather have that choice for the player than just saying, “There’s just one path and you go down this path until you get strong enough to open up this other one.”
It’s essential to clarify this point on difficulty. When it comes to Dathomir’s challenge, it’s more tied to how sophisticated the enemy’s attack patterns and abilities are on this planet. At this point in the game, players will still be getting used to parrying strikes and using force powers with lightsaber skills. Fallen Order is not an RPG, so character levels or attack power aren’t a factor in combat. As you progress further, you’ll need to use your skills and upgraded abilities in more clever ways to beat your foes.
Even though Zeffo was the safer option at the beginning, I did try my hand at Dathromir during our recent hands-on session. Arriving at the planet will treat you to a quick introductory cutscene showing off the world’s blood-red skies and uneven landscape. It’s an incredibly unnerving world to explore, and the roaming Rancors that come in various sizes didn’t make it any it any easier. After a few attempts exploring the space, I decided to pack it in. Following Zeffo, you’ll unlock access to Kashyyk, so Dathomir can be put off till later. Despite the inherent challenge, it is still possible to make some significant progress early in the game. Though to explore every nook and cranny of the space, you’ll need to have some of the more high-end abilities that unlock later on in the game.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
I saw a lot of what Fallen Order has to offer from my hands-on session, and how Star Wars’ first metroidvania game is shaping up. For more on Respawn’s new single-player game set in the sci-fi universe, check out GameSpot’s latest hands-on impressions of the game.