Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Hands-on preview from E3 2019

We've seen the demo. Now Shacknews goes hands-on with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the anticipated single-player adventure from Respawn.

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With a busy E3 2019 week already underway, this past weekend's EA Play event already feels like an eternity ago. However, there was one major moment from that show and that was the first reveal of gameplay footage for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The viewers at home were treated to a demo on YouTube, while attendees got to watch an extended theater demo. However, opportunities to actually go hands-on with the game were few.

Fortunately, Shacknews was among the outlets to get a chance to try out Respawn's single-player Star Wars adventure. During a closed door demonstration at E3 2019, Shacknews got to know the game's characters much better, especially Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis and his trusty droid helper BD-1.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

To kick off our hands-on time, I was given a chance to get accustomed to the game's controls. The YouTube demo shown over the weekend was done by an expert, while the theater demo was done by someone with less expertise, but still overly familiar with the game, nonetheless. This was a test of how this game would feel to a relative novice. The first thing I noticed was that Cal has his share of Force abilities available to him.

Cal's lightsaber attack was attached to a single button, with the option to target a single enemy. However, more often than not, he's going to be surrounded by multiple foes. Targeting was something I used rarely. RT/R2 is tied to the Force Push function, which should be familiar to anyone who follows the Star Wars series. Force Push works well on lower end Stormtroopers and can be used for cool finishes, but doesn't quite get as much distance on high-tier enemies. Attempting to use Force Push on something like a Purge Trooper will only distract it momentarily. LT/L2 will use Force Pull, which attracts lower end enemies towards Cal, where he can either dispatch them with a killing blow or chuck them at another enemy with Force Push.

Cal may be adept with the lightsaber, but Fallen Order is no hack-and-slash. It can be approached that way on the lowest difficulties, but even that will require Cal to fight defensively. That's where the parry/block function comes in. Using LB/L1, Cal can parry incoming melee attacks or deflect blaster shots. In many instances, you'll wait for the enemy to attempt to strike first. Unlike games like Arkham Asylum, there is no visual cue for when to block or parry. You'll have to trust your instincts and learn enemy patterns in order to recognize when to strike. Stormtroopers will often fall after a single parry, since Cal will smoothly transition into a finishing blow. However, Purge Troopers will take multiple hits and require some more patience. Using the evade function and occasionally getting aggressive will win the day against these higher-end enemies. The greater challenge comes when multiple enemy types try to combine their forces, since Cal can only counter one strike at a time. Cal has a heal function that can help in these types of big fights, but players need to be careful, because it can be interrupted.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
The security droid puts Cal's defensive fighting abilities to the test

Saturday's demo ended when Cal was confronted by a KX-series security droid. While not in that exact setting, Shacknews did get the opportunity to attempt to fight one of these things and this is where things get tricky. The security droids are brawlers and can grab Cal in a bearhug or outright body slam him to the ground. Combos don't quite work, since they can get interrupted quickly. Blocks and parries are no good, either, since these droids are all about grabbing you. Evading and finding openings are the main keys to success here.

After practicing combat skills, I proceeded through the same Kashyyk stage shown off in Saturday's demo. In terms of story, there's nothing new to reveal here. However, when the final version of the game releases, don't expect this part of the journey to be so easy. A developer representative noted that Cal will not have unlocked all of the powers displayed here until later in the game. So when reaching Kashyyk, expect to be slightly behind the 8 ball, both in terms of combat and in terms of platforming. Don't expect to have Cal's double jump at the ready, which is unfortunate, because the double jump is a big help in certain areas.

That segues into another aspect of Fallen Order and that's that Respawn is sprinkling in a few Metroidvania ideas. BD-1 can receive upgrades over the course of the game whenever Cal finds a technician bench. These upgrades will open up new areas in the current stage, as well as in previous stages. Cal can backtrack to any world while in a hub area, where he can put BD-1's new abilities, as well as his own, to good use.

While our demo ended just as Saturday's demo did, with Cal confronted by the security droid, Shacknews came away feeling more positive about Fallen Order and what it looks to offer. It's not Star Wars Dark Souls, at least not on lower difficulties. However, Respawn will offer higher difficulty levels and is explicitly stating that higher difficulty will not mean turning enemies into bullet sponges. Higher difficulty, in this case, will mean amped-up enemy aggression, as well as smaller block and parry windows. Players will need to be skilled fighters in order to progress through the game's amplified difficulty settings.

Having now tried out the game for ourselves, I can now say I have a greater anticipation for the first single-player Star Wars story to come along in years. Where Respawn plans to take this story remains to be seen, though we see a few elements from Titanfall 2's single-player popping up, like the binary dialogue choices. If Fallen Order ends up being anything like the quality of the Titanfall 2 story, Star Wars fans have plenty to look forward to this fall. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 15. Shacknews has much more from this year's big convention, so be sure to check out our full coverage of E3 2019.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    June 12, 2019 5:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Hands-on preview from E3 2019

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      June 12, 2019 7:11 AM

      Extremely excited for this. There was a lot of negativity here during the gameplay reveal and I will say it doesn't look like the game is going to reinvent the genre, but it looks like a SOLID and enjoyable experience! We're finally getting a real single player Star Wars campaign! Plus I'm hopeful that Respawn will come through with some surprises along the way.

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        June 12, 2019 7:19 AM

        They better have some surprises. Good ones too not "Oh no this does not look like a 2019 game" kind of surprise.

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          June 12, 2019 7:26 AM

          Sigh. Guess it was asking too much to expect this to not turn into another thread shitting on the game.

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            June 12, 2019 7:27 AM

            sorry :(
            Feel free to delete my post above, whomever.

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              June 12, 2019 7:42 AM

              Oh don't be silly! It just sucks when you don't have anyone else to share excitement with. I need someone with valcan_s levels of excitement for this game to geek out with haha.

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                June 12, 2019 9:29 AM

                I am excited. I really enjoyed the force unleashed even though the bosses felt unfair/random in some places.

                And I've played df2: Jedi Knight, outcast and Jedi academy. If it plays good and has a decent story, I really don't care if it looks five years old. I just want to wreck stuff with force powers and a lazer sword.

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                  June 12, 2019 12:21 PM

                  I don't really think it looks all that dated.... People keep bringing that up. It might not be the most graphically impressive game of e3, but nothing about it jumped out at me as being aggressively bad.

                  But yeah, most of all it just looks like a lot of fun! Can't wait to play.

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            June 12, 2019 12:14 PM

            I wish I was excited for this but the gameplay looks so generic.. The e3 trailer was more exciting than the gameplay reveal but meh.

            Compare it to games that would play similar like God of war, bayonetta, dmc or horizon zéro dawn and all you have is a shallow game with the star wars franchise.

            I really hope I'm wrong. I want a good star wars games and I also love respawn but so far I'm really not impressed. I'd rather play Jedi knight again honestly.

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            June 12, 2019 2:15 PM

            Worst Walk Animation since I tried to animate a duck-walk of someone else's model.

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        June 12, 2019 7:29 AM

        It does look interesting, I like Star Wars games and the force combat looked cool.

        I just wish it weren't a teenager as the main character. Can't stop thinking of the whiny Anakin in the prequels and "I don't like sand" when I saw this video.

        I'll probably buy it anyways.

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        June 12, 2019 7:50 AM

        I am excited about this as well - but I wonder if the problem so far is all we have seen is controller play. I wonder if they are doing any tuning for m+k yet?

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          June 12, 2019 7:51 AM

          Oh yeah it looks like a controller game for sure. I'll be getting it on PC, but playing on the couch with my XBone controller.

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        June 12, 2019 9:25 AM

        It looked like fun, which is really all that matters.

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          June 12, 2019 1:26 PM

          Agreed. It looks "safe". A predictable style probably easy to pick up, with some fun melee action in the OG trilogy universe. I don't think it's going to revolutionize video games (though, it may revolutionize Star Wars in spite of what EA's been pissing away the license on) ) but it'll be an at-launch buy for me, so long as EA doesn't EA the fuck out of it.

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            June 12, 2019 2:25 PM

            The EA fucking is the most worrisome part. I feel like Respawn knows how to make tight action games, but EA knows how to ruin everything in a game to such an extent that even Respawn's work may not be safe. Eesh.

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              June 12, 2019 2:27 PM

              I may be blindly naïve here, but I feel like EA is going to feel the eyes of the world on them after the Battlefront fiascos, combined with the success of Apex, and perhaps; possibly, maybe even kinda stay away from this. At the outset at least; there will of course be DLC and that's okay.

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        June 12, 2019 1:00 PM

        I think it could be fun if it's anything like the jedi knight games. But not sure about the main character. Who is that guy - the actor I mean. He seems a little whiny. Hopefully you can fall to the dark side.

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      June 12, 2019 12:17 PM

      Awesome, thanks for this. Looking forward to this, I think it will be much better than people think.

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