Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.
We’re making good progress in Jedi: Fallen Order after a couple of longer gaming sessions this week. Last time, we left Cal and the gang on Zeffo, about to depart and head to the Wookie homeworld Kashyyyk in search of a chieftain who was friends with Jedi Master Eno Cordova.
Before we battled the AT-ST last time, Cere had informed Cal on the radio that the Empire had identified him as the Jedi who escaped them on Bracca. I was half-expecting the departure from Zeffo to trigger some kind of attack on Cal, perhaps involving the Second Sister (the Imperial Jedi-hunter who attacked Cal and who seemed to get to Bracca impossibly fast at the beginning of the game). That’s why I ended the last part of the playthrough before leaving the planet! However, no such attack transpired, and the Stinger Mantis was able to depart Zeffo with no issues.
The crew chatted a little en route to Kashyyyk, but nothing particularly important came up. It was nice to see the surface of Zeffo receding from the Mantis’ cockpit, as well as seeing the jump to hyperspace. Being free to move around during takeoff is one of my favourite things about these sequences. The hyperspace flight was very short – and I’m not sure if that’s just because it’s a game and people don’t want to sit through long flight sequences, or if hyperspace flights in general are short. However, in other Star Wars media – including most of the films – hyperspace wasn’t presented as allowing for near-instantaneous travel, so I assume it’s the former. The Mantis emerged from hyperspace and was immediately surrounded by Imperial Star Destroyers!
Cere calmly explained that the Mantis is “transmitting Imperial codes”, and they were able to enter Kashyyyk’s atmosphere with no trouble – though at least one Stormtrooper seemed to look at the ship as it flew in. As I guessed last time, the Empire is on Kashyyyk at least in part to capture and enslave Wookies – we saw this in Solo: A Star Wars Story and also in Knights of the Old Republic. However, there is resistance to this attack, and while the Mantis looked for a landing spot, a group of resistance fighters came under attack by AT-AT walkers. Cal believed he could sabotage one, as he worked with AT-ATs on Bracca, so with Greez bringing the ship in low, Cal jumped out to take on the AT-ATs.
After confirming both he and BD-1 survived the fall intact, Cal set out swimming after the AT-ATs which weren’t too far ahead. They were moving fairly slowly, so catching up to them wasn’t too difficult. One of the AT-ATs was covered in vines, meaning Cal was able to climb up the legs. For the first time, I really got a sense of the scale of an AT-AT. For the most part, we’ve seen these giant machines included in large-scale battle sequences, even in their debut in The Empire Strikes Back. This was the first time I can remember getting up close to an AT-AT on foot, and it really did feel massive and intimidating for Cal to take on by himself with no support. Credit to the way the AT-ATs were designed and included in Jedi: Fallen Order; this section really gave them a sense of scale that I hadn’t experienced before.
Climbing the vines was fun, and after making his way around the outside of the AT-AT, Cal got to the roof. A scripted sequence saw a ship swoop down and kill a Stormtrooper (it may have been the Mantis but it was so fast I didn’t see) and from there, Cal was able to make it inside via a hatch. After dispatching a handful of Stormtroopers, Cal and BD-1 made it to the AT-AT’s cabin (the “head” at the front) and in a moment of slapstick comedy, took out the two pilots by bashing their heads together!
This next section is one of my favourites – not just in Jedi: Fallen Order but in any Star Wars game I’ve ever played. Cal took control of the AT-AT and got to pilot it, using it to attack Imperial forces. The first target was the other AT-AT targeting the resistance fighters, and after that came crashing down in a fireball, Cal turned his attention to ground troops and Imperial turrets. This was so much fun! I’m not sure if this is the first ever Star Wars game to let players pilot an AT-AT, but it’s the first time I can remember having the opportunity to do so. Not only that, but the camera stayed in the cockpit and didn’t switch to a less-personal view outside the vehicle. The AT-AT’s cockpit felt small and cramped, and despite being elevated high above the battlefield, it felt like a vulnerable position when the blaster bolts started firing!
Marching the AT-AT from the lake through the wilds of Kashyyyk was amazing, and despite taking a number of hits, the vehicle held up. Group after group of Imperial troopers fell, and before long we saw a familiar face: Rogue One’s Saw Gerrera, the leader of a group of resistance fighters. I’m using the term “resistance fighters” as opposed to “Rebels”, by the way, because in-universe the Rebel Alliance was formed much closer to the events of A New Hope. While there was resistance to the Empire at this time, it was mostly smaller-scale, like Saw’s band of fighters that we’re about to meet.
Actor Forest Whitaker reprised his role from the film, which must have been a strain on Jedi: Fallen Order’s budget! His presence and performance were amazing, though. Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Rogue One, and having this tie-in to one of the best Star Wars films was absolutely amazing to see. Saw’s band of rebels were attacking an Imperial facility and landing pad, and he asked Cal to lend a hand. This meant more blasting away at ground troops, and I even took the opportunity to destroy a couple of docked TIE Fighters – I was worried if I didn’t they’d take off and attack the AT-AT!
Eventually a large ship took off from the landing pad, and a boss fight commenced. The AT-AT had both regular blasters and some kind of heavier explosive-based cannon at its disposal, and after pounding away at the ship for a while, Cal was victorious. However, the ship crashed into the AT-AT, bringing it crashing down in front of the landing pad. After a cut-scene Cal was fine, and he and BD-1 escaped the wrecked vehicle. Cal said to BD-1 he was “never doing that again” – but I hope he’s wrong because that section of the game was outstanding!
After a dressing-down from Saw for wrecking the AT-AT – the resistance group could have found a use for such a vehicle – the Mantis landed at the Imperial facility with it now being under resistance control. Saw and Cere had a short chat, explaining who Cal was and what their objective was on Kashyyyk. Bad news – Tarfful, the Wookie chief Cal is looking for, is in hiding as the leader of another resistance band. But someone may know where he is – there are a group of imprisoned Wookies who Saw plans to rescue, and one of them knows Tarfful. With the Mantis here, I took this opportunity to go back aboard and use the meditation spot. Cal had several options this time while levelling-up, and I chose to make stims (the health packs BD-1 can dish out) more potent, meaning each stim will recover more health. I also had Cal change back into his blue-and-white outfit from earlier, as well as giving BD-1 a similar blue-and-white paint job that made him look like a cute R2-D2 wannabe. I do love customisation options!
At the landing pad, Cal stopped to briefly talk to a woman who mentioned leaving Zeffo. This was the villager whose partner had been killed during the Imperial attack on the village – Cal sensed echoes of his life and death through the Force while exploring that world. He was able to give her the news of his death, which only stiffened her resolve to fight harder against the Empire. In an area beyond the landing pad, BD-1 received an upgrade at a workbench. Unlike on Dathomir, where Cal found a workbench and silently upgraded his lightsaber, a line of dialogue preceded this, giving it a little more explanation. BD-1 can now “overload” certain types of circuits, which can do things like turn machinery off and on as well as open doors and activate lifts. It will come in handy, as we’ll soon see!
After upgrading BD-1, Cal was immediately attacked by a giant spider-creature in Jedi: Fallen Order’s first jump-scare. And I have to confess, it did make me jump! The creature came out of nowhere, and it had an unblockable attack that required some serious button-mashing to escape from in a quick-time event. Cal was able to defeat it, however, and I then took advantage of the presence of a workbench to make some changes to Cal’s lightsaber. We’d picked up a few different lightsaber pieces on Dathomir and particularly on Zeffo, meaning many more customisation options were now available. I don’t think these have any impact on gameplay; they aren’t upgrades, just changes to modify the appearance of the weapon.
I kept the orange blade colour, because I think it looks fantastic, but I changed almost everything about the hilt, including giving it a new copper colour that I think looks pretty neat in close-up shots. During normal gameplay it’s pretty hard to see the hilt – Cal’s holding it and it takes up only a small part of the screen. Leaving this area and making my way along a clearly-defined path led Cal back to Saw, who is planning his attack on the Imperial facility. Saw is aware of Cal’s status as a Jedi, and the two split up, with Cal being entrusted his own mission to rescue the Wookies while Saw leads the main assault. A little bit of platforming and jumping through the wilds of Kashyyyk led Cal to the Imperial prison.
Kaskyyyk, by the way, looks very different to how I expected. In Knights of the Old Republic the planet was densely forested and very dark – the wroshyr trees were several kilometres tall, with the Wookies living in treehouses in the upper branches. The forest floor was almost devoid of sunlight and was very dangerous. Here, the planet is presented more like a dense jungle – something akin to Vietnam or the Amazon rainforest rather than the tall-treed planet I remembered. While this isn’t a bad thing, I thought it worth mentioning.
Knights of the Old Republic was released in 2003, before Revenge of the Sith brought the mainline films to the Wookie homeworld for the first time – perhaps this explains the difference, as the version of Kashyyyk seen here is much closer to that seen in the final prequel film. After killing a few Stormtroopers, Cal made it inside the Imperial base. A black R2-D2-type droid was the first to spot him, but ran away as soon as he entered. A few more troopers were easy prey for the double-bladed lightsaber, and there was a meditation spot inside at which I was able to further upgrade Cal’s maximum health.
In the next hallway was a new type of enemy never seen before: a Purge trooper. Presumably related to the Jedi purge, this trooper was a mini-boss and was quite hard to take down. He was armed with a melee weapon, and was very skilled at parrying and dodging Cal’s attacks. He seemed to know who to expect, and I think these Purge troopers may be related to the Inquisitors we know to be pursuing Cal. However, after defeating him no entry was added about Purge troopers to the game’s databank.
There was another new type of enemy here, too. Flame troopers – Stormtroopers armed with flamethrowers, whose weapons can’t be blocked or parried, were a pain to defeat, especially in groups!
This Imperial base was large, and there were several indoor and outdoor sections – packed with different troopers – to navigate en route to the prison. Most of these sections were fairly straightforward, but one was rather annoying, and as I’ve said at a couple of other points in Jedi: Fallen Order now, an extra line or two of dialogue would have gone a long way to fixing it. Close to the part of the base where the Wookies are held, Cal comes across a large pit filled with what looks like dirty water or sewage. There’s no indication that stepping in this liquid will be a problem, yet it’s instant death for Cal. A single line saying something like “better watch out for that toxic waste” would have solved this problem, and I don’t really know why no mention was made of this. To make matters worse, I encountered a glitch in this area. Cal has narrow pipes to walk across to get over the toxic liquid, but on one of these pipes, Cal couldn’t find his feet. And no, this isn’t a feature of the game – other pipes and narrow walkways saw Cal find his balance, but this one behaved like it was normal ground, meaning any movement in any direction led him to fall straight into the liquid. I was eventually able to jump across this section, but it was a pain and bugs like that should really have been patched by now – we’re well over six months past the game’s launch.
Cal finally made it to the prison, but before he could free the trapped Wookies, a K2SO-type droid attacked him. This boss fight may have been the hardest so far, as the droid grabbed Cal and would bash him on the ground as well as attacking with its long arms. However, this was another great little reference to Rogue One, so it’s hard to be mad! I was able to prevail against the security droid – though it took at least one stim to survive the fight – and then Cal headed back to the prison console to release the captives.
So far, Jedi: Fallen Order has looked absolutely fantastic. I’m running it on its highest settings on my PC – albeit on a mid-range graphics card in an older machine. But here on Kashyyyk, we got a pretty major fail as far as the game’s aesthetic is concerned – the Wookies. They look horrible! Hair has long been a challenge for game designers (Cal’s hair isn’t the best part of his appearance, for example) and Wookies are covered head-to-toe in hair, so perhaps that was always going to be difficult to get right. But the chosen effect simply doesn’t work on them; the Wookies end up looking like they’re covered in brown string or rope, and while I admire the effort to try to animate some kind of hair, it would have been better to use a flat texture because they ended up looking truly awful. It’s a shame, too, because we’re on the Wookie homeworld and they’re such an iconic race in Star Wars. But when I think back to how older games handled it – Knights of the Old Republic, for example – I really feel that Jedi: Fallen Order didn’t make the right call here. Maybe after trying to get it right but seeing the end result, someone should have stepped in and made the decision to try something else.
While sneaking around the prison, Cal came upon another Purge trooper chatting to a Stormtrooper. The Purge trooper was itching for a fight with Cal, but as the two of them were standing by a ledge, it was too tempting to use Force push to send them tumbling over – so that’s exactly what I did! The base has a couple of unexplored areas that are blocked off behind locked doors, but otherwise, we did what we came to do and Cal then had to make it to the roof to reunite with Saw. On the roof, however, a huge battle was raging. After taking down some troopers, an AT-ST was dropped in by ship, resulting in Cal’s second one-on-one with these smaller walkers! Unlike the last fight on Zeffo, this one was much harder. There was nowhere to pin the AT-ST this time (on Zeffo I pinned it against the Mantis and hacked at it until it died) so it took a lot of jumping and dodging and a couple of stims to survive the fight and bring it crashing down!
Defeating the AT-ST led to a cut-scene in which Saw gave a rallying speech to the resistance fighters and freed Wookies. He offered Cal the opportunity to join his resistance group, saying they could use a Jedi to help in their fight against the Empire. However, Cal declined as he has the mission with Cere to complete – but I don’t think this will be the last we see of Saw! One of the freed Wookies does, as promised, know who Tarfful is, but doesn’t know where he is. I loved that Cal said he didn’t understand the Wookie language here – Han Solo was fluent, of course, but it always seemed like a tricky language for outsiders to learn! I thought we’d be heading off elsewhere on Kashyyyk to find him, but Cere has been on the radio to inform Cal that the Empire is doing something with Project Auger back on Zeffo – so our next destination is backwards to the planet we just left.
There was a shortcut back to the Mantis from the Imperial base, so Cal headed back to see what Cere had to say. For the first time, Jedi: Fallen Order gave me two dialogue options when speaking with Cere – though there’s no reputation or karma system, and I don’t think it made any substantial difference on the story. Cal informs Cere and Greez that they rescued a Wookie who’s now with the resistance. This Wookie and his resistance friends will hopefully be able to track down Tarfful, but for now the gang is heading back to Zeffo.
While Kashyyyk definitely wasn’t a waste of time, I’m not sure how I feel about hopping back-and-forth between levels! We’ll clearly have to come back to Kashyyyk sooner or later – whether that’s immediately after Zeffo or later in the game. And we’ve already seen the Dathomir mission be a total bust, meaning we’ll have to go there for a second time at some point too. As long as the story remains engrossing and fun, perhaps it won’t matter. But backtracking in a game doesn’t always feel great, and a lot will depend on where we go on Zeffo. If we land at the same point and take the same route through the abandoned village and the caves, that might feel like Jedi: Fallen Order is trying to pad itself out. If we go somewhere new and different, or if we find a transformed area with more enemies to fight, perhaps it won’t seem so bad.
I ended the playthrough here, before departing Kashyyyk, and we’ll save the return to Zeffo for next time – I wonder what will happen with Project Auger?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the copyright of Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts. The Star Wars franchise is the copyright of Lucasfilm and Disney. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.