Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 163 - Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order has us really conflicted. When it's good, it is freaking amazing Star Wars at its best. When it's mediocre, it is really mediocre. There are just some weird design decisions that only get in the way and ruin the fun but they are so incredibly ingrained in the experience that it's like no one noticed they were going to be terrible until it was way, way too late. We still really like Jedi Fallen Order a lot overall, though. Keep reading for more and to watch gameplay.

Jedi Fallen Order is a weird game, to be honest. When we got our first look at it at E3 it looked freaking terrible. The demo they showed just was the absolute opposite of fun. They couldn't have chosen a worse slice of the game to show off to try to get people excited. I went from cautiously optimistic to totally writing off the game after that. Things started looking better during the Fall, though, and positive impressions started coming in and more info on what the game was really like came out, and my interest was piqued again. So I bought it on launch day.

And I've been quite happy with it. It looks and sounds awesome, the story is great and fills in some blanks of Star Wars lore and Jedi teachings fantastically, and the gameplay is generally fun. It has loads and loads of flaws and issues, though. Again, I want to clarify that I really like it. It's easily an 8/10 and one of my favorite games of the year, but the flaws need to be addressed.

1. The Dark Souls-style combat doesn't work very well. For one, it isn't actually all that Dark Souls-y and anyone that claims it is doesn't really know what they're talking about. It's only Dark Souls-esque because there are bonfires and the enemies actually put up a fight. The enemies not just being lightsaber fodder is a problem, though, because the parrying and dodging doesn't feel precise and responsive enough here to really work well. It doesn't feel good. Also, honestly, I don't really want a game where enemies take multiple lightsaber hits to go down and there are all sorts of video game-y caveats to counter your force powers. I'm a goddamn Jedi and I want to slice up fools and toss things around with the force. Giving the combat weight and realism is basically the opposite of Star Wars. Because of all of this I said "fuck it" and turned the difficulty down to easy baby mode and suddenly the game was a lot more fun. Anybody that thinks video games need to be some hardcore difficult dick waving contest as if anyone actually cares how good you are at a game is a loser. 

2. The level designs are obnoxious. The constant squeezing through narrow passage loading sections are putrid. As are the frequent sections where you slide down a slope. Seriously, those sliding down slope sections are the goddamn worst and I can't believe they used it so freaking often. Once or twice would have been exciting and OK, but they use it multiple times in every level and it sucks. 

3. The Metroidvania aspects don't work well. If there was fast travel this wouldn't be a problem, but the backtracking through boring awful sections of levels just to find some pointless trinket in a chest isn't satisfying at all. The levels needed to be bigger and more fleshed out and interesting if you expected us to return to explore. 

4. The unlockables suck. Freaking poncho colors? Really? Ship colors? Outfit colors? Building your own lightsaber is kind of cool, but utterly pointless aside from aesthetics. It really feels like the collectibles were supposed to be more meaty and meaningful but they ran out of time. Letting us actually upgrade our equipment with meaningful gameplay changes would have been awesome. Instead it's all just for show.

Aside from all of that, I really liked Jedi Fallen Order. It might sound like I didn't, but I really do love the game. It does have really big, really obvious, problems, though, that honestly seem weird that no one during development was like "Wait, sliding down slopes freaking sucks!" or "These collectibles are the opposite of satisfying or worthwhile. Why are we bothering?". I'm sure the answer is that EA was pressuring them to pump something out ASAP but, woof.  

I wish it had a new game plus, but since your progression is entirely tied to the Metroidvania-style upgrades that open up new areas of the map, a new game plus seems kind of impossible. I want to keep playing it, but I don't want to start over from scratch and do it all over again. And, apparently, there won't be any DLC or new stuff added to the game, either, so I kind of feel bad that I'm probably done with it for a while if not forever. I tend to play games I really like over and over again, but Jedi Fallen Order just isn't built with that in mind, which is a bummer.