Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment are months removed from revealing their highly-anticipated single-player Star Wars game. On Saturday, players were treated to a first glimpse of gameplay. Along the way, they also got a better idea of what the game's story will entail. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks to have more for the average fan of the series than anyone might have expected.
Following the big reveal of Saturday's extended gameplay trailer, Shacknews did a little more digging. This includes sitting through a special hands-off theater demo that contained a second look at the Kashyyk stage, as well as footage not seen during the Saturday morning reveal stream. Shacknews is here to share some of what we've learned after this eventful day.
1. Combat may be deeper than it looks
The extended gameplay trailer saw one of Respawn's level designers picking up a controller and breezing through a portion of Fallen Order's Kashyyk stage. The Wookie homeworld is filled with Imperial Stormtroopers, as well as various other levels of Imperial officers. This includes the new Purge Troopers, which were first revealed back at this year's Star Wars Celebration. They were described as special forces tasked with exterminating the remaining Jedi. Lead character Cal Kestis had little trouble dispatching the Purge Troopers, as well as any other Storm Trooper or native creatures that got in his way.
The theater demo saw another Respawn employee take the reigns, one who perhaps was not quite so skilled. This actually worked to the demo's benefit, as the player was seen noticeably struggling in one-on-one encounters with the Purge Troopers. This illustrates that parrying and lightsaber combat isn't such a cut and dry affair and does indeed take a semblance of skill and timing in order to master. This looked to be much closer to the "thoughtful combat" that Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella first described when he first unveiled Fallen Order.
That's not to say the demo had no issues. Several Stormtroopers would act overly passive and not come after Cal until they were attacked first, even when the numbers advantage was in their favor. However, the Purge Troopers had no such issues and proved to be the most fascinating aspect of the game's combat to date. The trailer ended with Cal confronted by a KX-series security droid. Whether the droid will present a different kind of formidable combat challenge and add to its overall depth remains to be seen.
2. Cal will get to pilot at least one vehicle
One item that wasn't shown in the extended gameplay trailer was what preceded Cal's mission on Kashyyk's surface. The theater demo actually kicked off with Cal and companion droid BD-1 emerging from the waters of the planet's River of Origin. From there, they needed to reach the nearby Imperial camp. This is where things got interesting and something that EA and Respawn arguably should have led their presentation with.
Cal finds a pair of AT-AT walkers, embroiled in a conflict with "Rebel" (we'll touch on this in a second) forces. To proceed, he climbs along the side of one of them, making sure to cling to the vines caught on its sides. After executing some well-timed jumps while avoiding fire from the fighters in the sky, Cal enters the AT-AT from the hatch above and makes sure to clear out any Stormtrooper resistance inside. After reaching the cockpit and sending BD-1 to take out the pilots in what can only be described as a slapstick sequence, Cal gets to pilot the walker himself. Players fire upon Imperial forces while making sure to take out any hostiles in the nearby camp. Cal even takes out an Imperial cruiser.
The idea of Cal piloting at least one vehicle is refreshing. Given the Star Wars series' array of military vehicles, fighters, and walkers and with Respawn's pedigree when it comes to giant mechs, it would be incredibly disappointing to not blend these two worlds together. Cal's wild AT-AT ride is hopefully a sign of things to come, because Star Wars vehicles in Respawn's hands should be an amazing result.
3. BD-1 is your new best friend
While Cal is the main focus for Fallen Order's story, it's BD-1 who proves to be the star of Saturday's gameplay reveal. This is Cal's adorable droid companion, who rides along his shoulder for the entirety of his journey. BD serves a myriad of functions over the course of the game, well beyond acting as Cal's trusty right-hand droid.
BD helps bring up the game's maps, giving Cal an idea of where his next objective lies. He can scan nearby objects, offering a good idea of what's useful and what can be picked up for later. And over the course of his adventure, Cal will occasionally find a work bench. If he has the right materials, he can give BD an upgrade that can help him immensely.
For the demo, BD was equipped with Droid Overcharge. This allows the diminutive droid to short out Imperial tech, which can either hinder enemies or slow down dangerous machines long enough for Cal to pass through safely. Remember earlier when I mentioned that the playthrough in the theater demo wasn't quite so "skilled?" This allowed for a demonstration of BD's helpful abilities in combat, as he can heal Cal if he takes too many hits.
Star Wars, both in movies and in games, has a rich history of lovable droids. BD-1 looks to be the latest of them, already looking like he has personality for days. He could be this year's breakout character.
4. Cal might fall in with a different side of the Rebel Alliance
For a long time, the main Star Wars trilogy has been about a black and white conflict between the heroic Rebel Alliance and the villainous Empire. However, recent Star Wars canon has introduced a different sector of the Rebels, one that's a shade uglier than what many are used to. Fans are reintroduced to the face of this side of the Rebels in Saturday's gameplay demo when Cal meets with this man.
This is Saw Gerrera. Long-time Star Wars fans (and even some recent ones) will remember him from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, played by Forest Whitaker. He popped up again, with a greater backstory, in the Star Wars Rebels animated series. Saw is a fierce enemy of the Empire, one who has rallied many to his cause and one with tremendous resources. However, Saw is also an extremist, willing to kill in cold blood to reach his goals. The Rebel Alliance leadership formally distanced themselves from Gerrera and his methods, ultimately casting him out. Gerrera frequently tows the line between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, often crossing it unrepentantly.
Saturday's gameplay demo only offered a peek at Gerrera's presence. The closed door theater demo saw his formal introduction, with Cal meeting him during his wild AT-AT ride. Cal tells him that he's seeking a Wookie fighter named Tarful, with Gerrera offering his assistance. From there, Cal runs through the demo while Gerrera and his fighters cause wanton mayhem.
Gerrara's presence in the Fallen Order story makes the narrative much more interesting, because it means that Cal's path doesn't necessarily lead to the Rebel Alliance. At least, not the Rebel Alliance that everybody's familiar with. Cal teaming up with Gerrera could mean that the main character's path ends with him subscribing to his extreme ideoloy. Or it could end with both characters butting heads and ultimately at odds.
There wasn't nearly enough time to determine where Cal's relationship with Gerrera is heading. There's a chance it might not even last beyond this level. However, the Rebel terrorist having a role in this story at all makes Fallen Order's narrative much more interesting.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 15.