Right, so the vibe heading into this game was more of a sleeper hit. No one really expected EA to ever make a good Star Wars game. Especially not one without a stupid amount of microtransactions. Yet, here we are. A good Star Wars game with no microtransactions.
So the meta of this game first. Respawn developed it. The company behind Titanfall and generally super strong in the multiplayer realm. I don’t know how, but they delivered a really solid single player RPG. This while they also launched Apex Legends. Color me amazed. Compared to what BioWare was able to launch with Anthem…I am somewhat confused as to how to address the EA giant in the room. EA bad? They certainly were, for a VERY long time. They said single player games were dead… yet here we are. Is this just an attempt for EA to keep the license? Good attempt.
Fallen but not Forgotten
The game takes place after Order 66 but before Rogue One. So we’re in the buildup of the resistance that lays the foundation for episodes 4-6. You play as Kal Cestic, an apprentice Jedi trying to find a list of other force-attuned people, somehow magically locked away. You visit various planets, fight some imperials and beasts, unlock some lore, and re-learn some lost powers.
The story line is ok. You travel with 3 NPCs. BD1 is a robot on your shoulder who beeps like you’d expect. Cere is a renounced Jedi, who’s actions kick start most of the quests (and bad guys). Geez is the scoundrel with a heart of gold. So pretty much exactly what Ep 4 and 7 brought to the table. The general story line explores planets that were only seen in passing in other stories. A new force-sensitive race from thousands of years ago is the backstory. It’s best to think of this as an excuse to explore and not think too hard on it. I won’t spoil the last companion to join, but that one is the real wild card and the facial expressions are simply stellar.
Exploration is a mix of metroid, uncharted, and dark souls. There’s a lot of interconnected maps that require upgrades to access. There’s rope swinging, unlocking, puzzle rooms, and combat set pieces. There are save points that cause enemies to respawn, and limited healing. It’s certainly not required to go back to previous locations, but you do get a lot of cosmetic rewards for doing so. They aren’t exactly stellar, since customising the grip on a lightsaber isn’t exactly something you’re going to notice moment-to-moment. But they are there all the same, and the completionist appreciates it.
Combat is based on being reactive rather than offensive. I will say the parry/dodge controls are well tuned, so even at the hardest difficulty, it’s possible to have near-perfect clears. That said, there are times where the camera is your worst enemy. Here’s the rub when it comes to lightsaber combat – this thing is supposed to saw through metal and rock yet a basic grunt can take 2-3 hits. You can’t really argue realism in Star Wars, but it really does feel like a piece is missing. I do feel like Dark Forces hit this one proper or even KOTOR, where you’d generally find a hard time against other lightsabers. Meh.
The above video of Dathomir best exemplifies the exploration and combat mix, as it’s full of enemies that excel at lightsaber defense.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable game and one that succeeds mostly because expectations were so low in the first place. I realize that’s a backhanded compliment, but after having played something like God of War, you quickly conclude that the bar for single player RPGs is very, very high. It makes for an odd recommendation to purchase this from EA, but that singular act will hopefully show that this genre has more than enough gas in the tank left to remain sustainable.
And let’s be honest. This game is likely going to be better than Ep 9.