A year later, have I softened my tone on The Rise of Skywalker?

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and for the entire Star Wars franchise.

You can find my original review of The Rise of Skywalker by clicking or tapping here.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker premiered in December 2019, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2020 that I was able to see it. As I’ve explained on a few occasions, my health now prevents me from taking trips to the cinema, so I had to wait until it was available to watch digitally. It’s now been a year since I published my review (or should that be tear-down?) of the film, so I thought I’d revisit it and see what, if anything, has changed in that time.

Attitudes can soften with the passage of time, and a film or series that was once considered dire can find a new audience later on. The Star Wars franchise itself contains great examples of this: not only can we point to the growing popularity of the prequel trilogy, especially among fans who first saw those films when they were children, but even Return of the Jedi, which was once considered the weak link in the trilogy, is now held up alongside the original film and The Empire Strikes Back, with most fans not differentiating between any parts of the Original Trilogy.

Remember when everyone hated and derided the Ewoks?

Part of this is to do with age and when fans first encountered Star Wars, of course. And one year isn’t a lot of time to allow passions to settle, so perhaps I’m entering this with too high hopes! But despite that, I hadn’t re-watched The Rise of Skywalker since I first reviewed it until a couple of days ago, and if nothing else I was curious to see if I still found the film to be as bad as I did then.

Here’s my basic summary from last time: The Rise of Skywalker has problems with pacing and editing, with the film rushing from story beat to story beat never allowing the audience to catch a breath and process anything that’s happened. That makes it feel like nothing more than a mindless action film on par with the worst parts of series like Transformers or Sharknado. Then the film went out of its way to overwrite basically everything that happened in The Last Jedi.

Promo art for The Rise of Skywalker.

Whether you like The Last Jedi or not – and I do respect that there are strong feelings on this – you have to accept that, in a three-part trilogy, the third film simply cannot waste time doing this. By trying to overwrite The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker ended up having to condense two films’ worth of story into one title – something which goes some way to explaining the awful pacing issue noted above.

Then there were story beats left unexplained or unseen. Palpatine’s message to the galaxy informing them of his (incredibly dumb) plan. Where was it? Surely we needed to see that on screen for ourselves instead of just seeing the reactions of other characters or reading it in the opening crawl. Oh, that’s right: Palpatine’s incredibly important message that set up the entire story of The Rise of Skywalker was only available to players of battle royale video game Fortnite. You read that right – Palpatine’s message was recorded, but thanks to a marketing tie-in with Fortnite it could only be heard in that game.

You could hear Palpatine’s message – the driving force behind the entire plot of the film – but only if you played Fortnite.

How did Lando Calrissian, making his return to the franchise two films too late, manage to recruit literally the entire galaxy for a mission to attack Palpatine? He just turns up at the end with the biggest fleet the film franchise has ever seen at his back, with no explanation given and not even a single frame dedicated to how he managed to convince everyone to join him. That might be a film worth watching.

The decision to get rid of the backstory established for Rey in The Last Jedi was fan-servicey and dumb. It was as if writer/director JJ Abrams spent twenty minutes looking at fan-fiction online and said “that’ll do,” then ham-fistedly inserted it into the script. Palpatine’s plan to launch a huge fleet of starships from his hidden base might make sense… but announcing it to the galaxy before the ships are in position and while they’re still vulnerable to attack doesn’t survive any degree of scrutiny.

Rey’s backstory was overwritten in The Rise of Skywalker.

I could go on, but this summary is already too long. In short, I considered The Rise of Skywalker to be an irredeemably bad film, the worst film I saw in all of 2020. So have I changed my mind now I’ve seen it again? Spoiler alert: no.

I won’t be all cliché and tell you it was worse this time around, but as I re-watched the film that was supposed to conclude the “Skywalker Saga,” the disappointment I felt a year ago is still there. The passage of time has not magically made bad storytelling good.

To provide some context, I also put myself through the torrid chore of re-watching The Phantom Menace, the film I considered Star Wars’ worst prior to The Rise of Skywalker. It’s been a while since I saw The Phantom Menace, and I likewise wondered if my attitude had shifted any. Both films are unenjoyable, but they fail for fundamentally different reasons. The Phantom Menace has a story that was carefully designed from the ground up. The problem was that story was disappointing and unnecessary fluff. The Rise of Skywalker has no real story, with the plot being made up of a cobbled-together mix of side-quests, failed twists, and fan-fiction.

I re-watched The Phantom Menace as well. It’s been a shit few days for films, to be honest.

Having re-watched both films, the one thing I would say has probably changed since last time is this: as much as I don’t enjoy The Phantom Menace, and indeed the prequel trilogy overall, The Rise of Skywalker is probably worse.

One thing I commented on last time that I definitely want to bring up again is the Sith dagger maguffin. This one prop is arguably the most important in the entire film, being the driving force behind a significant portion of what we’ll generously call the “plot.” But it just looks awful. The blade looks nothing like metal at all, not even old rusted metal. It’s made of some kind of plastic or foam rubber, and that’s incredibly obvious every time it’s shown on screen. In a film which otherwise manages to nail the visual effects, this prop should have been done better. And when it became apparent to the producers how bad it looked, some digital effects could have been added in post-production to smarten it up, at least in frames where it’s clearly visible on screen.

I have a second monitor which is a different make to my primary display, and I tried looking at the dagger there to see if it looked any better; perhaps it looked uniquely bad on my screen for some reason. I also tracked down still images and photos of the dagger to see if the Disney+ version of the film had some kind of weird visual quirk. But having investigated as much as I can (or can be bothered for a film this crap) I have to conclude that the Sith dagger, a maguffin integral to the story of the film, for whatever reason looks bad on screen. Other weapons in Star Wars look fine, and even in The Rise of Skywalker practically all of the other props were inoffensive. But this one, the most important one, manages to look like a cheap child’s toy; something you’d pick up in the bargain bin of a discount supermarket to keep a kid entertained for a few minutes.

For such an important prop, the Sith dagger looked awful.

Finn and Rose were both unceremoniously dumped by The Rise of Skywalker as its focus shifted to trying to mimic Luke and Vader using Rey and Kylo Ren. Both characters had potential in their first appearances, yet nothing ever came of that. Rose was the mechanic who lost her sister to the war and wanted nothing more than to do her bit to fight for freedom, yet she was insultingly given a few seconds’ worth of screen time and chose not to accompany Finn and Rey on their series of side-quests.

Finn was the first Stormtrooper we’ve spent much time with in Star Wars’ main canon. There was scope for his story of overcoming indoctrination and fighting back to turn into something genuinely inspirational, but he was relegated to a minor role that seemed to mostly consist of shouting at Rey – so much so that it became a meme. Finn was one of the “big three” – the three main characters of the trilogy, or so we were told. Yet while Poe and Rey got some attention in The Rise of Skywalker, Finn was essentially sidelined for the entire film. He played third fiddle to Rey and Poe, never really able to come into his own. It was a waste of a character – but that could be said of many characters across the sequel trilogy, really.

“Rey!” shouted Finn, repeatedly. For two-and-a-half hours.

John Boyega, who plays Finn, has been vocal about this, suggesting that Star Wars wasn’t sure what to do with his character. And I sympathise with that, because while Finn had some degree of character development, it all happened in the first few minutes of The Force Awakens, much of it wordlessly, and after that he just felt like a spare part.

The treatment of Rose was frankly just offensive, though, and it’s this decision that deserves the most criticism. Kelly Marie Tran, who plays the character, had been subjected to an absolutely vile torrent of abuse online in the weeks after The Last Jedi premiered, all of which came from complete morons who are incapable of separating their feelings about a fictional character from the actress who plays her. Though director Rian Johnson stuck up for Tran, as did some of her co-stars, Star Wars as a whole was largely silent. The decision to give Rose such a minor role was clearly the franchise pandering to those sexists and racists who went after the actress, and honestly that’s just appalling. Almost everything else wrong with The Rise of Skywalker concerns plot, characterisation, and so on. But this is something that actually affected a real person, and whatever you may think of Rose’s character in The Last Jedi, the decent thing for Star Wars and its producers to do would have been to take a stand in support of their actress. Cutting her from The Rise of Skywalker is nothing more than pandering.

Rose was entirely sidelined.

For some reason, The Rise of Skywalker needed to have a “shocking twist.” And this played out in perhaps the dumbest, most obvious way possible. General Hux was the First Order zealot we met in The Force Awakens. He works alongside new character General Pryde, and the film clumsily sets up that there’s a spy in the First Order. Naturally, the audience are supposed to think it’s Pryde. But no! In a truly stunning turn of events, Hux is the mole, feeding information to the Resistance because of his hatred of Kylo Ren.

Not only was the setup for this poorly handled in a jam-packed film that simply didn’t have enough time to set up a “mystery” of this nature, but the absolute stupidity of Hux being the traitor leaves me at a genuine loss for words. Seriously – ever since I first saw the film I’ve had a piece in my writing pile tentatively titled “General Hux,” with a vague plan to talk about how truly bizarre and stupid this character betrayal was. But every time I start it I genuinely cannot get more than a few lines in. The decision to go down this route is staggeringly dumb in a film that’s already overflowing with ridiculous character and storytelling decisions. I don’t even know where to start or how to unpack this utter nonsense.

Hux’s character betrayal was awful and didn’t even achieve its purpose as a “shocking twist.”

Hux, more than any other character in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, was steadfastly loyal to his cause. Even if we can accept the premise that his personal dispute with Kylo Ren had soured him, surely the arrival on the scene of Palpatine offered a better way out for Hux than betraying the entire First Order. And betraying the organisation to which he had dedicated his life when it was on the brink of victory makes no sense. It’s a “lesser of two evils” situation, from his perspective. Kylo might be someone he viscerally hates, but the First Order is more than just one man, and Hux’s desire to impose “order” on a chaotic galaxy is his driving force.

And so we come, inevitably, to Palpatine.

Even if everything else that was wrong with The Rise of Skywalker went away – and that would be no mean feat considering how much of an abject failure practically every aspect of the story was – Palpatine’s insertion into a story that was clearly never meant to have anything to do with him would ruin whatever remained. There’s no getting away from that.

Palpatine ruined the film.

Palpatine was not part of The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, and the sole reference to him in the latter film was a throwaway line. JJ Abrams and others involved with the production of The Rise of Skywalker absurdly tried to claim that Palpatine’s return was “always the plan,” but that simply is not true. If it was the case, it was set up so badly across the previous two titles that everyone involved with writing, directing, and managing Star Wars should resign in shame and never try to tell another story again. But it wasn’t true. JJ Abrams arrived on the scene after The Last Jedi, and with Snoke dead and Kylo at the head of the First Order he clearly had no idea what to do or where to take the narrative.

Abrams was obviously in love with the idea of re-telling the basic story of Return of the Jedi, just as he’d re-told A New Hope four years previously. Rey was substituted in for Luke, Kylo Ren for Vader, but there needed to be a “big bad,” another villain at the top to make Kylo’s redemption and return to the light possible. In Abrams’ original vision for the trilogy – if such a vision existed, which is debatable – that villain was Snoke. But with Snoke dead and Kylo having assumed the mantle of Supreme Leader, the sequel trilogy’s story had already gone in a radically different direction. This was not something that could be halted or renegotiated; it had already happened.

Snoke’s death and Kylo’s elevation to the role of Supreme Leader could’ve led to The Rise of Skywalker going in a very different direction.

Instead of trying to tell a new story, or adapting the existing one to make it work with new or existing characters, the disastrous decision was made to bring back Palpatine. I can’t emphasise enough how utterly stupid this is. The one thing any fictional universe needs to have is internal consistency. It’s fine to have the Force, a magical power to move objects, perform mind tricks, etc., but when it’s been established roughly what’s possible, internal consistency kicks in and future stories have to be constrained by what’s already been established. This is a basic tenet of storytelling and of fiction in general.

Palpatine died. At the end of Return of the Jedi he was absolutely 100% dead. Not only that, but his absence in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, coupled with the rise of Snoke and the First Order instead of some continuation of the Empire, emphatically and solidly confirmed that Palpatine was dead. Say it with me folks: “Palpatine was dead.”

This moment in Return of the Jedi clearly and unambiguously showed Palpatine’s death.

Not only does The Rise of Skywalker bring him back, his return is not explained. Did he survive the Death Star’s explosion? Was he reborn? Is he a clone? All we got is an ambiguous line that isn’t even new for The Rise of Skywalker – it’s a word-for-word copy of a line spoken by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith: “the dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” The Rise of Skywalker can’t even be original with its shitty dialogue.

The worst line in relation to the Palpatine clusterfuck was spoken by Poe: “Somehow, Palpatine returned.” That line encapsulates how The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t care one bit about the detail of its story, and how the film is content to treat its audience like idiots. Rather than lingering over this point, the film skips ahead and then races through the rest of the plot. Perhaps the writers and producers knew that no explanation for Palpatine’s return could ever make even the tiniest modicum of sense, so they just opted not to add one. I would say that’s bold, but actually it just compounds how dumb the original decision was. If even the writers can’t find a way to explain or defend this awful story point, then it’s an awful story point.

“Somehow, Palpatine returned.” A contender for the title of worst-written line of dialogue in the franchise.

As I mentioned earlier, Rey’s backstory had been established in The Last Jedi. It wasn’t to everyone’s liking, perhaps, but considering the other sources of controversy that film generated, I think most fans were at least tolerant of it as the first stage of explaining her power and origin. The idea of the Force trying to balance itself by elevating Rey to match the growing power of Kylo was a theme present in both prior parts of the trilogy, and when Kylo explained Rey’s parents were “nobody” in The Last Jedi, that settled things.

That explanation worked very well, and it meant that Rey was in a unique position in Star Wars. Though we’ve known many Jedi characters, the main ones we met were Anakin and Luke, and the familial relationship between them demonstrated that the Force can be passed down from parent to child. But not every Jedi has to be the offspring of another Jedi, and there was something powerful in “Rey the nobody” that The Rise of Skywalker trampled in its mad rush to fetishise and copy the Original Trilogy.

Kylo Ren delivered the shocking(ly awful) news to Rey – and to us as the audience.

Rey’s background as the daughter of nobody special meant her rise and her skills were her own. She achieved the position she was in – and her status as a Jedi – on merit. By removing this key part of her character, The Rise of Skywalker throws away something incredibly valuable: the message that anyone can be a hero. For young people – and especially young girls – sitting down to watch the film, the idea of Rey as a heroine to aspire to, someone who came from nowhere and saved the galaxy, was stripped away, replaced with the laziest and most clichéd of all fantasy tropes: destiny.

Rey’s inheritance as a descendant of Palpatine explained her power. That was it. The Force in Star Wars’ cinematic canon functions like an aristocracy, with power passed from Anakin to Luke and Leia, then from Leia to Ben Solo, and from Palpatine to Rey. Gone is the concept, embodied in the “broom boy” scene at the end of The Last Jedi, that the Force can be present in even the most lowly individuals. What replaced it was fate, destiny, and the power of bloodlines – an amazing and powerful message cast aside for a cheap fan-fiction theory.

Rey learns her true origin… for the second time.

The climactic battle involving Palpatine’s fleet and Finn and Poe’s Resistance forces is incredibly dumb and makes no sense. Not only was the idea of fighting on the exterior hull of a starship so phenomenally stupid, but the very concept of a fleet that doesn’t “know which way is up” and has such a patently obvious weakness was ridiculously poorly handled.

Star Wars has previously introduced us to forces and machines that seem overwhelming, only to offer a “million-to-one shot” way to destroy them; at this point it’s almost a trope of the franchise, being present in two of the three original films and The Force Awakens. But in all prior cases – even with The Force Awakens’ Starkiller Base, which was a patent rip-off of the Death Star – it was handled so much better and made more sense in-universe.

A moment of brainless action designed for the trailer and pre-release marketing material.

Palpatine’s fleet is the only fleet ever seen in Star Wars to require some kind of external navigation aid; this concept is just plain dumb for a technological civilisation. Not only that, but the idea that without this maguffin the ships will be trapped and unable to move is awful. Really, irredeemably awful.

What this all means is that Palpatine’s fleet looked superficially large and intimidating, especially in the film’s trailer and other marketing material, but was ultimately incredibly easy to defeat; cardboard cut-out opposition for our heroes. What could have been a satisfying victory over seemingly overwhelming odds felt incredibly cheap and hollow as a result.

The Sith fleet was clearly designed to be easily defeated.

As mentioned above, Lando’s last-second arrival with half the ships in the galaxy at his back was designed to be a feel-good moment; “we the people” rising up against tyranny. But because we didn’t get to see any of Lando’s recruitment efforts, nor understand why the galaxy would turn out to help him when they ignored Leia at the end of The Last Jedi, it was nothing but an incredibly hollow moment that felt more like a deus ex machina than a rousing victory.

Given the lukewarm reaction to the sequel trilogy, Disney’s roadmap for upcoming Star Wars projects seems to be putting this era on hold. But if they ever do choose to revisit the sequel era in future, one story I think would be absolutely worth exploring is Lando’s mad rush to bring the galaxy together and lead them to Exegol – of all the things in The Rise of Skywalker, that might be the one story worth digging into.

How did Lando manage to get so many people to back him? Might’ve been worth showing a bit of that on screen, no?

I’ve already written far more than I intended to for what was supposed to be a short revisit to a crap film, so I think we’ll wrap things up. I didn’t even touch on the ridiculous Force healing power that Rey developed, nor how the plot seemed to take our heroes precisely where they needed to go by completely random chance. We also could talk about the dumb limitation imposed on C3PO and how he couldn’t translate the dagger, Palpatine growing Snoke-clones in a tank, and the fake-outs of Chewbacca’s death and C3PO’s memory wipe. There are so many ridiculously poor elements of The Rise of Skywalker that they don’t all fit in a single essay.

In summary, then, the film is still just as bad as it was first time around. Though visually impressive most of the time, especially when compared to the shoddy CGI of the prequel trilogy, and with a couple of successful moments of comedy, the film is a complete and total narrative failure. It was an appalling and disappointing end to the so-called “Skywalker Saga” – which should really be called the “Palpatine Saga,” apparently, since he’s been manipulating everything from behind the scenes and is thus the only character who has been able to act of his own volition.

Despite some adequate performances from its lead actors, The Rise of Skywalker remains a truly dire film and an unenjoyable watch from beginning to end.

In 2017-18, when some Star Wars fans were vocal about their hatred of The Last Jedi, I was pleased that I was still enjoying Star Wars. But The Rise of Skywalker threw a wrench into the whole sequel trilogy, and was so bad in the way some of its storylines unfolded and concluded that it makes both of its predecessors – and to an extent the Original Trilogy as well – significantly worse and less enjoyable to go back and watch.

Even though I’m not a big fan of The Mandalorian, there are some Star Wars projects on the horizon that seem to have potential, despite the fact that the franchise is still very much living in the shadow of its Original Trilogy. I’ve expressed on a number of occasions my wish to see Star Wars break away from that and try something new, and I remain hopeful that it will happen one day. Even though The Rise of Skywalker was a disappointment and a complete narrative failure, there’s still life in Star Wars as a franchise. I recently enjoyed Jedi: Fallen Order, for example, and I’m very much looking forward to its sequel. And at Christmas last year, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special was good fun on Disney+.

Despite the failure of The Rise of Skywalker and my disappointment in the film, I remain a Star Wars fan. Having returned to the film to give it a second look, I’m now content to put it back on the shelf and concentrate on what comes next for the franchise. There’s no need to revisit this film again, and this will probably be the last time I ever watch it.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is available to stream now on Disney+. The film is also available on Blu-ray and DVD. The Star Wars franchise – including The Rise of Skywalker and all other titles listed above – is the copyright of LucasFilm and The Walt Disney Company. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Electronic Arts seemingly loses its exclusive rights to Star Wars

For almost a decade following Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm, only one company has been able to make Star Wars video games: Electronic Arts. A deal between Disney and EA gave them exclusive rights to the Star Wars license, and in the years since there have been four mainline Star Wars games, one Lego tie-in, one VR game, and a handful of mobile titles.

Both 2015’s Battlefront and of course 2017’s Battlefront II proved controversial and divisive; the former being disappointingly threadbare and the latter for its aggressive in-game monetisation. 2019 saw Jedi: Fallen Order, which I played through last year and was a fun title, and finally 2020 saw Star Wars: Squadrons, which I’ve also been enjoying. However, four games in nine years is perhaps less than many fans were expecting, especially with two of them having serious issues.

2015’s Battlefront was disappointing to many fans.

Calls for Electronic Arts to be “stripped” of the Star Wars license began after Battlefront’s release in 2015, but reached fever pitch in the weeks after Battlefront II’s launch. There was even a petition that hundreds of thousands of folks signed to ask Disney to revoke EA’s exclusive arrangement. That went nowhere, of course – fan petitions never achieve anything – but is indicative of the strong feelings over EA holding the rights.

The well-received Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons, combined with updates and patches which greatly improved Battlefront II, led to a cooling-off period, and as of early 2021 cries for the Disney-EA deal to be somehow undone had largely abated. It was a surprise, then, when LucasFilm announced a new Star Wars game… published not by EA but by Ubisoft!

“A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.”

Ubisoft has been honing its style of open-world games for years, with franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs. It seems, from the teaser announcement made yesterday, that the new title will be an open-world game in a similar style, though no mention has yet been made whether it will be a single-player title like those in Ubisoft’s other open-world series, or a multiplayer “live service.” From my point of view I’m hoping for the former!

The game itself may be several years away, though Star Wars does have a recent track record of announcing games closer to release – that’s what happened with Squadrons last year, for example. No release window has been suggested as yet, and in fact we know precious little about the game itself beyond the publisher responsible.

Star Wars: Squadrons.

The upcoming game is just one part of this story, though. Most industry watchers agreed that Electronic Arts had a couple of years remaining on their deal with Disney, which raises the question of how and why this Ubisoft game has been able to enter development. It’s possible that the original contract was incorrectly reported, in which case it may simply have run its course. Or there may have been clauses regarding a number of titles, profit made, etc. that Electronic Arts didn’t live up to, allowing Disney to open up Star Wars to other companies. We don’t know the details – and unless someone senior breaks ranks to tell us, we likely never will!

Exclusivity arrangements can be difficult, and the Disney-EA deal over Star Wars is pretty much a textbook example of why. An exclusive contract like the one Disney offered EA effectively gives that company a monopoly over the license, and anyone who knows anything about basic economics can tell you why monopolies are a bad idea in practically every industry.

No, not that kind of Star Wars monopoly…

Having a monopoly meant there was no threat of competition, and this allowed EA to sit on the Star Wars license, cancelling titles that senior executives didn’t think would bring in “recurring user spending” and not feeling under any real pressure to develop or release anything. They could afford to be complacent because no one else was contractually allowed to even pitch a concept for a Star Wars title.

This attitude was changed when Electronic Arts saw the scale of the backlash to Battlefront II. The effects of that debacle are still being felt, and the game opened the eyes of parents, journalists, and even politicians to the shady practice of in-game gambling. But we’re off-topic. Too late, EA shifted focus away from cash-grabs, putting out the single-player Jedi: Fallen Order and following up with the space-sim Squadrons.

2017’s Battlefront II controversy may have triggered a change in thinking at EA – and at Disney.

Fans had been clamouring for a single-player story-driven Star Wars game for years, and while Battlefront II had a creditable single-player campaign, it wasn’t until Jedi: Fallen Order’s release in November 2019 that the single-player itch was truly scratched for most fans. By then the damage had been done for Electronic Arts, though, and their earlier complacency and attempts to swindle players with truly awful monetisation came back to bite them.

Though Electronic Arts will continue to work on Star Wars titles – most significantly the upcoming sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order – they will no longer be the only company Disney trusts with their incredibly expensive, incredibly lucrative license. The Ubisoft game may be the first of several upcoming Star Wars projects to be taken on by other companies, and hopefully what results will be a broader range of genres and styles of game.

Protagonist Cal Kestis in Jedi: Fallen Order.

In December 2020, LucasFilm announced half a dozen or so upcoming Star Wars films and television shows. There will be a lot of Star Wars content to come over the next few years at least, and while not all of the shows and films will be suitable for a video game adaptation, some may be. Disney and LucasFilm need to ensure they have access to the broadest possible range of talents in the video game industry if they hope to make the most of Star Wars.

I wasn’t especially excited by the film and television announcements made last month, to put it politely. Too many of them seem to be spin-offs, prequels, and deep dives into uninteresting side-characters rather than expanding Star Wars beyond its original incarnation. But even so, several of these projects seem ripe for video game tie-ins, and the end of the Skywalker Saga of films coupled with this expansion into new films and television projects may have been a contributing factor to Disney ending or not renewing its exclusive arrangement with EA.

Could a game based on the upcoming series Rangers of the New Republic be in the works?

For my two cents, I see the ending of this kind of exclusivity deal as a good thing. Monopolies are problematic for consumers for precisely the reasons the Disney-EA arrangement shows, and in future it could even be used as a case study for why these kinds of deals are a bad idea. Opening up Star Wars games to other companies allows for different points of view, competition, and hopefully what will result at the end of the day will be better games. Not necessarily more games. But better ones.

It is worth noting that Ubisoft is a company that hasn’t exactly escaped controversy recently. There have been serious problems within the company, including sexual harassment accusations against senior executives, and the accusation that the company itself tried to cover this up and cover for abusers. Company culture and institutional problems count against Ubisoft, and while Star Wars fans are rightly excited to learn that the franchise will be moving away from the EA exclusivity deal, it’s worth noting that Ubisoft has issues – and Disney should also be aware of this. The last thing the Star Wars brand needs right now is further controversy, yet a team-up with Ubisoft risks precisely that.

So that’s it. The end to Electronic Arts’ monopoly over the Star Wars license. Now if only someone would make a Star Trek video game…

The Star Wars franchise – including all titles mentioned above – is the copyright of Disney and LucasFilm. Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Star Wars: Squadrons were published by Electronic Arts. Some screenshots and promo art courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Final Thoughts

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the entirety of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, including its ending. There may also be spoilers for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

At the end of July I completed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. If you missed it, I documented my playthrough of the game, and you can find the entire series by following this link. However, that won’t be required reading for this piece, which will serve as a review/summary of what I thought of the game as a whole. So let’s get started!

My recent history with the Star Wars universe has been complicated. Due to disability, I haven’t been able to go to the cinema in person for several years, meaning that the most recent Star Wars films had been spoiled for me, and I was aware of their basic storylines before I could sit down to watch them. The last film I got to see unspoiled was 2016’s Rogue One. I enjoyed that film a lot, and at the time I enjoyed the first and second parts of the sequel trilogy – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, despite its controversial nature. Solo was okay, I guess I’d call it average. But I didn’t enjoy The Rise of Skywalker at all, and I found The Mandalorian to be bland and uninteresting, as well as a show that struggled to break away from the franchise’s past.

The Rise of Skywalker was a visually impressive film let down by a truly awful story.

Enter Jedi: Fallen Order. I’d been very much looking forward to the game since Electronic Arts announced it at E3 2018. It had actually been a long time since I played a Star Wars game when I first heard of Jedi: Fallen Order – though I would subsequently play the Star Wars Battlefront II campaign in late 2018 or early 2019. The only thing I was concerned about with the game before I played it was its difficulty; any time something is described as “Souls-like” (a reference to the Dark Souls series) I tend to think it probably isn’t something I’ll enjoy. However, the subsequent revelation that the game features an easier mode made me feel better. I bought Jedi: Fallen Order when it was on sale on Steam in the spring of 2020, a few months after it was released. Unfortunately around that time my PC was having issues, which meant I couldn’t play it immediately. I ended up replacing my graphics card – though the whole machine needs an overhaul at some point soon – and I was finally able to sit down and play.

I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from a game described as a “linear, story-driven, action-adventure” title, and from a gameplay perspective Jedi: Fallen Order was more or less what I was expecting. Cal had a lightsaber that he used as his only weapon, and a handful of Force powers that could be used both in combat and for puzzle-solving. As strange as it sounds when discussing a video game, I wasn’t particularly interested in the gameplay side of things. I wanted it to function correctly with no major bugs, and of course I wanted it to be an enjoyable and not-frustrating experience, but my real reason for playing the game was its story. As long as the gameplay didn’t get in the way of that I expected to be at the very least satisfied with the way Jedi: Fallen Order played.

Protagonist Cal Kestis.

My playthrough lasted 19.8 hours according to Steam – though a few minutes of that was taken up with the first-time setup, connecting to Origin, and a couple of updates that needed to be downloaded before I could play the game. Having looked it up online, the average seems to be around 20 hours, so I think my 19.8 hours is pretty much bang on what you could expect. I only died a handful of times (thanks in part to playing on the aforementioned easiest difficulty setting), so players who go for the hardest difficulty and end up having to respawn a lot more frequently than I did may find the game takes a little longer.

In my 19.8 hours I feel I accomplished as much as I could. I completed the game’s story, and there weren’t really side-quests of the type that many modern titles have, so the only things I could have done that I didn’t were collecting more cosmetic items and finding a few more “secrets” on each of the levels. These secrets mostly seem to be Force echoes – Cal can use the Force on certain objects or at certain locations to sense the past, and this would usually play out in an audio clip and perhaps an entry in the game’s databank. In short, as someone who isn’t a completionist who has to visit every last cave and open every single chest, I got as much out of the game as I reasonably could have. Backtracking simply for the sake of a few short audio clips and perhaps an extra outfit or lightsaber hilt colour doesn’t hold much appeal to me – so I didn’t.

Lightsaber customisation was a small part of the game – but a fun one.

Let’s talk about backtracking, because this is one of the few complaints I’d have about Jedi: Fallen Order. The game consists of seven planets – each planet forms one “level” for the purposes of our discussion. The first planet, Bracca, is a tutorial level, it’s very scripted, and within the first hour or so, Cal has left and there’s no option to return. Two of the other levels, Ilum and Nur, are relatively linear and compact, and may only be visited once. That leaves four levels: Bogano, Dathomir, Kashyyyk, and Zeffo. These are where the bulk of the game takes place, and they’re larger levels with some degree of exploration required to progress. However, the game’s story takes Cal from one planet to the next… then back to the previous one. This formula plays out for each of these four worlds, and frankly it got repetitive. I’m not averse to the idea of Cal revisiting the same planet – in the context of the story it made sense. But what I think would have worked better is if the levels had been broken down into two smaller chunks, with Cal visiting one location each time. This would have avoided the feeling of repetitiveness while still allowing the game to make use of many of the same assets for terrain and the environment.

The downside of bigger levels is that they can be confusing to navigate. Jedi: Fallen Order does provide an in-game map, but I found it difficult to get the hang of, especially on those bigger levels where a map would’ve really come in handy. The map is 3D, it’s entirely in shades of blue which made identifying any features difficult, there was no way to see the entire level all at once without completely losing my bearings, and generally the map was unhelpful most of the time. It was useful for seeing things like blocked doors and unnavigable passages, as these were usually highlighted, but for finding my way around a level and getting from point to point I have to give the holo-map a failing grade.

The holo-map.

Because Jedi: Fallen Order didn’t offer many shortcuts or ways back to the beginning of the level (i.e. where Cal’s ship was) after completing the level’s objectives, having a good map would have been very helpful when it came to backtracking through each of the levels. This was definitely something I found to be frustrating – with the mission over, I was keen to get on with the story and having to spend twenty minutes or more finding my way back through a level I’d already completed wasn’t a lot of fun. I can’t think of many games that do this – at least, not ones I’ve played – and it feels like padding. With the objective complete and the mission over, having to waste time going back through an already-completed level can hardly be described as anything else.

At a couple of points, Jedi: Fallen Order felt as though it was trying to present itself as a game that offered me a choice of things to do when really no such choice existed. In the worst example, after completing the tutorial level and visiting Bogano for the first time, Cal had a choice of two planets to visit. I chose to go to Dathomir, as I thought it may contain a side-mission and I didn’t want to miss out on it if the story moved on too quickly. The game didn’t make clear that there was absolutely no point in going there – Cal would be unable to progress in any meaningful way on that planet until far later into the game. This fact wasn’t even acknowledged while at the section of the level where Cal was blocked from progressing. In short, Cal needed to jump across a gap in a damaged bridge, but the gap was too wide. After trying and failing once, he says to himself something like “it’s too wide to jump.” After saying that once, that was it. It took me looking up a walkthough online to realise that there was no way at all to progress further on that level, and that’s just something which shouldn’t happen.

The impossible jump.

This ties into a much bigger theme that was present throughout the game – there were many points where an extra line or two of dialogue would have gone a long way to improving the story. In the case of Cal failing the jump on Dathomir, we needed more explanation than a single ambiguous line, something to make it clear the way was shut. But at numerous other points the same issue was present. While I wouldn’t say the story was confused as a result, there were a number of places where it wasn’t as clear as it could’ve been. I pointed these out as I found them, and it’s something I seemed to say often in my playthrough posts!

While Jedi: Fallen Order had one main story – Cal’s quest to find a Jedi holocron – it made an attempt to introduce a B-plot involving the Stinger Mantis’ pilot Greez and a faction of bounty hunters. But this storyline was not properly developed and seemed to be abandoned toward the end of the game with no conclusion. A sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order is in the works, and it’s possible it may come back at that point. But the storyline didn’t feel like it ended on a cliffhanger. One minute Cal was captured by bounty hunters, a few minutes later he’d escaped. For the rest of the game bounty hunters would periodically show up – even in places where it seemed illogical to find them – but they never said anything or did anything of consequence. They were just slightly annoying enemies to fight. The storyline just fizzled out, and as of the game’s finale felt like it had been abandoned; it wasn’t even mentioned once during the final couple of hours of the game.

Cal speaks with the leader of the bounty hunters. The character was seen only once in the game.

There were a handful of moments which I felt were immersion-breaking, where Jedi: Fallen Order stopped feeling like an unfolding Star Wars adventure and started feeling like just another video game. I looked at these moments as they happened, but the worst one was the escape from Ilum. After Cal retrieved his lightsaber crystal from the old Jedi temple, it was a race back to the Stinger Mantis with Imperial reinforcements on the way. Cere jumped on the radio to tell Cal to hurry – Star Destroyers were inbound! But when Cal made it back to the ship, Cere and Greez just stood there. And I had to walk Cal over to the galaxy map to choose the crew’s next destination. What should have been a daring last-second escape turned into a horrible anticlimax and completely robbed what had been a great part of the story of much of its dramatic effect.

As a whole, however, I liked Jedi: Fallen Order’s story. The idea of chasing a hidden holocron in what was a kind of archaeological/historical puzzle felt like something Jean-Luc Picard would have done in Star Trek: The Next Generation! As a history buff myself, I felt that the galactic history angle was fascinating and added a lot to the story. As far as I know, the Zeffo are new to Star Wars; they were certainly new to me. And in that sense, the story really did feel mysterious much of the time – I was never quite sure, especially early in the game, just was I was going to discover.

One of the Zeffo tombs.

The characters all felt real and added to the story, too. Cal himself is perhaps the least-interesting of the main characters, but as someone who has to be the “everyman” protagonist that’s fair enough. And he did have a backstory – a padawan who survived Order 66. Cere and Greez were interesting too, though as mentioned part of Greez’s story – his gambling debt and the trouble with the bounty hunters – feels incomplete. But perhaps my favourite character was Trilla, the Second Sister.

When she was first introduced near the beginning of the game, Trilla felt rather flat. Slightly over-the-top and leaning into being evil meant that there didn’t seem to be much depth to her character; she felt like she could’ve ended up being one-dimensional. But the subsequent revelation that she had been Cere’s padawan, and had turned to the dark side after being tortured by the Empire, was not only a fascinating story twist that rivalled some of Star Wars’ best (and far exceeded some of its worst), but one which transformed her into a character who was complicated and even sympathetic. Her death at the end of the game – when she seemed on the cusp of forgiveness and perhaps even redemption – was heartbreaking.

Trilla was a great character.

Though it worked well for me, I can understand why some players may have felt that the ending of the game wasn’t its strongest point. We can set aside the accusation of Darth Vader being a “deus ex machina”, because in the context of the Star Wars universe I feel it worked. But Cal and Cere’s mission, for the entirety of the story, had been to retrieve the holocron for the express purpose of using it to track down and train the Force-sensitive kids. The setup of the story strongly implies that this has been Cere’s quest for a long time – perhaps even years. Cal’s decision to renege on that, and to destroy the holocron instead, didn’t exactly come from nowhere, but it was a story point that was less developed that it could’ve been. His motivation for doing so comes from Merrin, but they only had two very brief conversations on the subject before the pivotal moment – one of which was an optional conversation that would have been easy to miss. So I can understand why some fans will have felt that the ending was unsatisfying.

However, I’d like to explain why it worked for me. Firstly, Cal changed a lot over the course of the game. He came to realise that putting Force-sensitive kids through Jedi training would lead to them being hunted by the Empire. He lived much of his life since Order 66 in hiding, and having experience the Empire’s Jedi-hunters firsthand was not content to see other kids go through what he went through. Secondly, the vision on Bogano showed him how training the kids could go wrong and lead to them being captured or killed. And finally, the conversations with Merrin were what pushed him over the edge and convinced him to destroy the holocron rather than keep it. For me, he has more than enough motivation from his background and his recent experiences to feel that destroying the holocron makes sense – and from out perspective as the audience, keeping the kids safe from the Empire is still a huge victory.

Cal destroyed the holocron at the end of the game.

Finally, let’s look at a couple of minor things that I didn’t like in terms of gameplay. Firstly, Jedi: Fallen Order was not as polished as I would have expected from a major release. There were a number of bugs and glitches, which mostly consisted of the environment or characters behaving incorrectly – characters would float in mid-air, stand on an invisible ledge, fall through the scenery, etc. The worst two glitches involved Cal getting stuck in the environment. At one point he was unable to cross a narrow beam because the game didn’t register where he was stepping correctly, and on another occasion he got stuck in the scenery after climbing an invisible wall. If I found these issues in a standard playthrough, QA testers must have spotted them during development. Between the game’s release and when I played it there were eight months in which a patch could have been rolled out; it’s a shame that these things were there in the first place but there’s been more than enough time to fix them.

Climbing an invisible wall.

There were a couple of gameplay features that I wasn’t wild about either. Both of these were creative decisions and not glitches or bugs, so I respect the decision to include them. But from my point of view, they didn’t work very well. The first is the checkpoint system. I haven’t played a game since the ’90s that had fixed checkpoints instead of allowing players to save freely, and even though it wasn’t something I had to make use of all that often, it’s not my favourite way to play. In the past it was a limitation of computing power that games had to get around because there was no alternative; in 2020 that isn’t the case. It’s a creative decision, one which aimed to bring Jedi: Fallen Order in line with titles like the Dark Souls series, and I respect that. I just don’t like it.

The second point wasn’t something I disliked per se, it’s just a feature that got old pretty fast: sliding. In the first level, the brief sliding section was wild and very fun. But the feature was repeated multiple times throughout the game and honestly it lost its appeal. Where it felt unique and fun the first time, after several mandatory sliding sessions the novelty wore off. Not to mention that several of these sections required milisecond-perfect button presses which could be very difficult.

Jedi: Fallen Order.

On the plus side, Jedi: Fallen Order gave me what might just be my favourite ever experience in a Star Wars game: piloting an AT-AT. Unlike the sliding feature, which was reused multiple times, the game only gave me one shot at this, but it was so much fun. Cal and BD-1 stayed in the vehicle’s cockpit, and over a fifteen-minute section blasted their way through other AT-ATs, ground forces, and even Imperial ships on the surface of Kashyyyk. It was undoubtedly the most fun section in the game purely from a gameplay perspective!

Speaking of Kashyyyk, it was fun to revisit a planet I’d played through years ago in Knights of the Old Republic. Though on my first visit the level looked quite different to the Kashyyyk I remembered from the older game, the second mission to the Wookie homeworld definitely brought back memories, and at points felt like playing an upgraded version of that classic from the original Xbox era.

Wookie chieftain Tarfful on Kashyyyk.

There were some great scripted moments in Jedi: Fallen Order. When Cal is dreaming while on the train on Bracca, there was a moment where the train was suddenly replaced with an Imperial ship. It was seamless and perfectly shocking. I liked the voice acting performances that the characters gave – at no point did I feel they misspoke, over- or under-acted a scene, or were anything other than competent throughout. BD-1, Cal’s droid, is absolutely adorable and I love him. There were some genuinely emotional moments in the story, such as where BD-1 encouraged Cal not to give up in the crystal cave. But above all, Jedi: Fallen Order was fun to play. I enjoyed myself most of the time, and came out of it with a renewed appreciation for the Star Wars franchise after the disappointment of the most recent film.

I’m not going to give Jedi: Fallen Order a score out of ten. Metacritic and others have plenty of numbered reviews if you need to put a score on it. What I’ll say instead is that I enjoyed the game, and it’s one I would recommend to anyone who either likes Star Wars or who likes Tomb Raider-esque action/adventure titles. Even non-Star Wars fans who like that style of game would find something to enjoy here, but obviously for a fan of the franchise the game offers a lot more.

Cal and Merrin.

Having completed the story, I’m in no rush to play Jedi: Fallen Order again. It isn’t a game which offers branching storylines or even a light/dark system to increase its replayability. However, I enjoyed my time with the game and definitely recommend it to anyone who’s on the fence about trying it. If you’re playing on PC and you’re on a budget, the game was recently discounted during the Steam summer sale, so I think there’s a better than average chance that in December, during Steam’s holiday sale, you might find it at a steep discount. I don’t think there’s any real advantage to be gained from buying the deluxe edition – it seemed to offer a couple of customisation options and nothing more, and given how many customisation options are picked up just from playing the game, unless you desperately want an orange lightsaber or yellow skin for BD-1, I’d say skip it and save the few pounds/dollars.

It was fun to document a playthrough in this way. I’ve already started a much more casual playthough of a second game – Disneyland Adventures. That series is ongoing and I’ll be updating it occasionally as we go through August and into the autumn. I haven’t decided what game in the style of Jedi: Fallen Order I might play next. I was initially considering Control, but after my recent bust-up with the Epic Games Store that’s not an option right now. I do have several other titles I’m considering, though, both modern and retro.

I hope you’ll check back regularly for more game reviews, gaming discussion, and articles about Star Wars, Star Trek, and the wide world of geekdom. Until next time… May The Force Be With You!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 12

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as well as for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome to the final part of my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order. Yes, that’s right – this session was the last one as I made it to the end of the game! This won’t be the final piece I write about Jedi: Fallen Order, though – I plan to write up a conclusion/review of the game as a whole at some point soon, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for that. Last time Cal had finally acquired the Zeffo Astrium in the tomb on Dathomir. He defeated Taron Malicos and brought a new ally – Night Sister Merrin – aboard the Stinger Mantis.

Merrin and Cal aboard the Mantis.

After loading into the game, I chose Bogano from the galaxy map on the Mantis and the ship took off. I wasn’t sure what to expect; it didn’t seem as though Bogano would be the immediate end of the game – though the story was approaching its climax – so I was wondering if something might happen en route or upon arrival (this is why I’ve usually been saving before setting course for Cal’s next destination!) Choosing to go to Bogano triggered a cut-scene between the Mantis crew. Cal set the Zeffo Astrium on the table, and Merrin, Cere, and Greez all had something to say.

The Zeffo Astrium.

The moment with Greez was very sweet – Cal and Cere both expressed their appreciation for getting them safely from place to place, and Greez seemed genuinely overwhelmed for a moment. Merrin piped up and offered her opinion on the holocron – is it fair to the children to force them to become Jedi when that will mean the Empire will hunt them the way they’re hunting Cere and Cal? Definitely something to ponder, but at the very least Cal says he needs to keep the holocron out of the Empire’s hands.

Merrin, Cere, and Cal discuss the holocron.

The flight was uneventful, as was landing on Bogano. After disembarking, Cere, Greez, and Merrin were all standing outside the ship, and optional conversations with each of them had a definite finality to them. “We’re in this together” was a phrase that came up a couple of times with Greez, and Cere warned Cal that there may be unexpected dangers in the vault. Merrin’s conversation was the most interesting, and in light of what happened later I think should have been a mandatory cut-scene instead of a chat which players could easily have missed or skipped. She asked Cal a very pointed question – whether the children whose names are in the holocron would have even been in danger had he and Cere not intervened. Merrin sowed doubt in Cal’s mind about what to do with the holocron and the children, and also suggests to Cal that taking them away from their families to fight as Jedi may not be their choice.

The crew of the Mantis socially distancing on Bogano.

I liked these optional conversations, but they definitely had an air of finality to them, which led me to believe that the game might end soon after Cal arrived at the vault. Crossing Bogano to reach the vault was no issue, as practically all of the hostile creatures were once again absent, as they had been when we revisited Bogano in search of supplies. The only monster was the large three-eyed mini-boss near the entrance to the vault, but I chose not to fight it this time (that fight was annoying, and I felt Cal was already as levelled-up as I wanted him to be). It only took a couple of minutes, using the unlocked shortcuts and with abilities like wall-running and double jumping, to arrive at the vault.

Cal scrambles up the hill that leads to the vault.

One thing that surprised me (though it really shouldn’t have, since Cal is the only one who’s been here) is that no one bothered to re-seal the vault after Cal first opened it. Though it’s a tight squeeze to crawl inside, given that Trilla and the Empire are trying to get the holocron too, it might’ve been prudent to lock it down after Cal’s first visit. Inside the vault I was aware of how this large circular room would make for a perfect boss battle arena! I’d been half-expecting Trilla or a squad of Purge troopers to have been there, but to my surprise it was empty. I did take a moment to look around, just in case there was anything I hadn’t seen or any loot to grab, but aside from a spot in the centre of the room to interact with, there was nothing. Pressing the button led to a cut-scene in which Cal seemed to put the Astrium in a spot on the floor. This in turn caused the vault to move – Cal described the vault itself as being akin to a large holocron. Now this is something I don’t understand – for the first time while in the vault, Cal looked up, and there’s no roof! Cere made a huge fuss about accessing the vault, which appears to be just inside the door/crawlspace on the hilltop. Yet once inside, apparently it has no roof!

The roofless vault.

At first I thought the lack of roof may have been connected to the vault moving when Cal used the Astrium, but looking back that isn’t the case – it had always been open. Given that, I wonder why Cere needed Cal to access it in the first place. The entryway to the vault didn’t seem to be transporting Cal to anywhere other than a couple of metres along inside the hill, so presumably near to the vault entrance it should be possible for anyone to just jump into it from above. I guess I just found this to be confusing, and aside from Cere at the beginning of the game saying it needed the Force to open, there’s no real explanation of how the vault works. Is it cloaked somehow? Or hidden to anyone other than a Force user? Considering the Zeffo placed a record of their civilisation inside that they wanted someone to find, why would they hide it instead of putting it out in the open? Not for the first time I’m left thinking we needed a little more explanation of part of the game’s story. The vault’s movement opened up a mirror on the far wall, and Cal walked over to it.

The mirror in the vault.

Touching the mirror caused Cal to have a vision. Initially he was spoken to by a member of the Zeffo race, who briefly explained that they created the vault to serve as a record of their people, who for some reason were going extinct. I actually interpreted what this Zeffo leader had to say as being cult-like: he said his people had become decadent and strayed from “balance”, and that he would lead them “into the great unknown”, which sounds an awful lot like a metaphor for mass suicide to me. Did the Zeffo drink the proverbial Kool-aid? It wasn’t explained any further. I stand by what I said about the Zeffo looking at least somewhat similar to the Protheans from the Mass Effect games, though.

The Zeffo leader who created the vault.

This vision was similar to the one Cal had of Master Tapal – it was very dark and cloudy, with characters and the environment being blurry and out of focus. This gave it an incredibly creepy feel throughout, and I was constantly expecting to be ambushed and attacked by someone – or something – hiding in the shadows.

The vision. Note the blurriness, shadows, and how Cal can’t see more than a few feet in front of him.

Though the Zeffo leader only spoke for a moment, Cal’s vision wasn’t over. Progressing through this level led to Cal seeing the children he hoped to train. Initially he saw their progress as they called him “Master”, but the next section saw their home under attack by Stormtroopers. If this was a premonition of the future, it was bleak. But Cere had warned Cal that he would be tested, and perhaps this was part of the test. None of the characters could be interacted with, and none of the enemies could be battled; these scripted sequences played out as Cal walked through each area, but even if he wanted to he couldn’t do anything.

Cal sees a vision of the children he hopes to train.

The vision grew bleaker as Cal progressed. I liked one section which saw him climbing up a wall – the scenery was designed to make it look as though, rather than climbing, Cal was crawling through a trench. It was very well done. Eventually he was confronted by a vision of Trilla, who drew her lightsaber. If Cal surrendered she promised to spare the children’s lives, so he knelt before her. Surrendering saw Cal fall into an Imperial facility of some kind, where the vision showed him the children imprisoned and a very dangerous-looking machine.

One of Cal’s padawans in the vision.

Walking further through the Imperial facility saw visions of Stormtroopers and other Imperials, and in this section Cal would walk toward an open doorway only for the door to slam shut. It happened several times, yet still managed to make me jump each time! Ultimately Cal ended up in a small hallway where the lights went out, leaving the screen black for a moment. Cal ignited a red double-bladed lightsaber, and had a vision of himself as an inquisitor, dressed in the same black uniform as Trilla.

Cal the inquisitor.

After seeing himself in the inquisitor’s uniform, Cal was in a long hallway. At the end of the hallway seemed to be the mirror in the vault on Bogano. I approached it cautiously; there had been no enemies to fight in the vision yet, and I was expecting something at any moment. However, Cal made it back to the mirror, and seemed to stare at his reflection in a cut-scene. One thing that Jedi: Fallen Order has done that I really liked has been to always show Cal in whatever outfit I chose for him, even during cut-scenes. Yet at this moment, for some reason Cal was in his original outfit from Bogano, with no poncho. It kind of detracted from this moment a little, as it was supposed to show Cal – our Cal in the real world – confronting the dark vision of himself. Yet without those customisation elements it didn’t quite feel like our Cal, and the fact that the original outfit was a dark navy colour didn’t provide a great contrast with the black inquisitor uniform either. I would have liked to have seen Cal in the outfit I’d chosen for him in this moment, and because Jedi: Fallen Order has done that in every other cut-scene, I don’t know why it didn’t happen here.

Cal vs. Cal.

Despite anticipating a boss battle of some kind during the vision, as Cal confronted his dark self the vision came to an end. Cal had apparently cracked the mirror, perhaps from hitting it or pressing on it while he experienced the vision. Behind him in the centre of the room, above the spot where he’d placed the Astrium, was the holocron. Cal approached it to pick it up… but this seemed too easy!

Cal approaches the holocron.

It was, of course, because the moment Cal collected the holocron, Trilla revealed herself. How long had she been here? Had she just been standing there watching Cal as he completed his vision? Seems a little voyeuristic… Regardless, she ignited her weapon and, in true villain style, thanked Cal for doing the hard work for her. She believed the holocron would “win her the Emperor’s favour”, presumably elevating her position among the inquisitors. A duel was inevitable, and compared to the earlier fight against her on Zeffo, I felt it wasn’t especially difficult.

Trilla and Cal duelling.

Trilla had a few moves at her disposal, and as with the fight against Taron Malicos, the hardest part was getting her guard down long enough to land a blow. Cal’s Force powers were mostly useless – Trilla was immune to pushes and pulls, though some of the fancier moves, like the lightsaber throw, did work against her. I wouldn’t rank it as one of the game’s toughest boss battles, though – which certainly should’ve been an indication that this wasn’t the end!

Crossing lightsabers during the duel.

Eventually I was able to grind Trilla’s health bar all the way down. I rather naïvely thought that the fight was over and that Cal could leave with the holocron! A cut-scene triggered which showed Cal knock Trilla’s weapon from her hands. He picked it up – at which point it was clear the fight was over. But Cal has the ability to sense Force echoes from places and objects, and touching Trilla’s weapon caused him to have a vision of what she experienced – all the pain and rage that her weapon had been through had left a powerful impression in the Force. Cal couldn’t control it, and while he was temporarily incapacitated, Trilla stole the holocron.

Cal holds Trilla’s lightsaber and experiences a Force echo.

The Force echo – which we got to see in full this time, not just hear – was interesting. Cal witnessed Cere attempting to draw the Empire’s forces away from Trilla and another young Jedi, as well as Trilla’s capture and torture by the Empire. This culminated in her becoming an inquisitor, putting on her mask for the first time in front of Cere. The vision also showed the beginning of Cere’s escape from Imperial captivity. One thing that was interesting was Trilla’s helmet – it doesn’t allow a very wide field of view (as we might’ve guessed from looking at it). While aesthetically that might look “cool” (if the Sith care about coolness/intimidating looks) it’s hardly very practical to purposefully limit the vision of some of their top soldiers. In addition, the mask seems to give everything she looks at a red hue, which may be useful in dark environments but again can’t be practical most of the time.

This is what Trilla could see with her mask on.

When the Force echo was over, Trilla was nowhere to be seen, having fled the vault. After Cal regained his composure he headed back outside, as there was nowhere else to go from here. I took advantage of the meditation spot in case another big fight was looming, and while there was a squad of Stormtroopers outside, they were very easily avoided as Cal retraced his steps to get back to the Mantis. The Stormtroopers were busy anyway; the large monster had also spawned and as Cal snuck past the troopers were engaged in a fight against it.

The Stormtroopers battled this monster while Cal escaped.

Once again this had a very “video gamey” feel to it, and the story didn’t seem to have a natural flow. The Mantis was sitting a few hundred yards away, out in the open, yet no Stormtroopers were bothering the ship and crew. In fact, the small squad immediately outside the vault were all the troops that the Empire had bothered to send to Bogano. Trilla had successfully got the holocron, but if the Empire still wanted to capture and/or kill Cal and Cere, they missed a golden opportunity. As it is, Cal was able to gently stroll back to the Mantis, and talk to those on board before taking off.

Cal returns to the Mantis. An unobservant Stormtrooper can just be seen in the upper-right.

Despite the fact that Cal had fought Trilla again, and that she had stolen the holocron, the Force echo seemed to be another hint at her possible redemption – a theory I’d been tossing around since she was given a name and backstory when Cal faced her on Zeffo. Upon returning to the Mantis Cal apologised to Cere, not only for losing the holocron but for not understanding what she’d been through.

Cal explains what happened in the vault to Cere, while holding Trilla’s weapon.

Cere told Cal that Trilla is her responsibility – she still felt responsible for allowing her to be captured and turned into an inquisitor. She knew where Trilla would take the holocron – the inquisitor’s home base: Fortress Inquisitorius. To me that name sounds like it comes right out of the Warhammer 40K universe, but that’s okay! The fortress was where Cere escaped from, and is where the inquisitors take Jedi and other Force-sensitives to turn into more inquisitors. She was very anxious about going back, but seemed to snap out of it pretty quickly. She used the Force to pull Trilla’s lightsaber to her, and in a scene reminiscent of the knighting of Brienne in the final season of Game of Thrones, knighted Cal, making him officially a Jedi.

The knighting ceremony.

This was a real emotional moment in the story for me – Cal had come a long way from hiding out amongst the scrap and dead ships on Bracca. Even though the Jedi Order was all but gone, he had managed to become a Jedi Knight. Cal had been a great protagonist thus far, definitely channelling some of the same energy as Luke Skywalker in the original film. Cal’s journey in some ways parallels Luke’s – a young man from an out-of-the-way planet, thrust into a galactic adventure by events outside of his control. Yet at the same time, Cal’s background as a padawan, his deliberate decision to stay in hiding, and his willingness to confront his own guilt and past make him very different from Luke – and taking steps away from the original films is something Star Wars as a brand needs to do if it’s going to survive and be successful. But we’ve strayed off-topic! After the knighting ceremony, to my surprise I had control of Cal again. At the holotable on the Mantis, all the previous planets – Dathomir, Zeffo, Ilum, and Kashyyyk – were available to travel to. There was also a new destination: Nur.

The galaxy map.

Nur had two Star Destroyers in orbit on the galaxy map, which looked pretty intimidating! But there was no point going anywhere else. The story had reached its climax; Nur was surely the game’s final level. The galaxy map shows as a percentage how much of each planet has been explored, and how many secrets and hidden chests have been discovered. For every planet I was between 85-90% explored, which I think is pretty good, and I’d found over half of the secrets and about two-thirds of the hidden chests (which contain cosmetics like lightsaber parts, Mantis and BD-1 paint schemes, and ponchos for Cal). As someone who isn’t a 100% completionist, I consider all of that to be pretty decent, especially for the first run through a game. With all that in mind, I selected Nur and the Mantis headed out.

The crew of the Mantis assess the situation on Nur.

Upon arriving in the system, two Star Destroyers were present in orbit of the moon. Greez told the crew that their usual methods of avoiding detection would not be good enough, and worried about how they’d be able to get to the surface safely. Merrin had a solution – using a spell to cloak the ship. Despite Greez’s initial unease, this worked perfectly, and the ship disappeared from view.

Merrin performs the ritual…
…and the Mantis vanishes.

With the ship safely cloaked, approaching the moon wasn’t an issue. Cere and Cal would both be going; Cere planned to disable the fortress’ scanners and defences while Cal retrieved the holocron. This reminded me of Luke and Obi-Wan splitting up during their mission aboard the Death Star, and I didn’t expect Cal to see Cere again. However, it also felt like Cere had finally overcome her fear of using the Force and had embraced her Jedi nature once again, which has been a very satisfying character arc to see play out.

Cere and Cal part ways.

After using the Mantis’ escape pods to land on the moon – which is covered by an ocean, at least in the vicinity of the fortress – Cal was on his own, though Cere would check in by radio. After Cal’s pod splashed down, the area immediately outside the pod was not well-laid out and was confusing to swim through. There was no obvious path through the water, and no landmarks to allow me to get my bearings. Cal also couldn’t swim to the surface, despite the surface being visible only a few metres above his head. And finally, during swimming sections the holo-map can’t be used, all of which contributed to a very confusing few minutes of blindly swimming around.

Swimming near the fortress.

The fortress itself is apparently constructed largely underwater – the idea being that sections or even the whole thing could be flooded if necessary to prevent Jedi prisoners from escaping. In the aftermath of Order 66, this is the facility the Empire used to hold Jedi, torture them, and turn the survivors into inquisitors. As a concept I quite liked it; it definitely seems like a tactic the Empire might have used. Though it raised the question of how Cere was able to escape a facility with such a permanent and deadly failsafe!

Fortress Inquisitorius on Nur. Most of the facility, including its prison, is underwater.

After eventually figuring out where to swim to, Cal made it into the fortress via one of its underwater airlocks. This section contained a few Stormtroopers and little else. In fact the base as a whole – except for the latter areas that we’ll come to in a moment – was mostly uninteresting. There were a few hallways, some of which had windows to the outside underwater environment, but aside from a single puzzle (one of those connect-the-power-cable ones we’ve seen quite a few times) there wasn’t much of note.

Cal uses Force pull to drag a Scout trooper to him.

Over the radio, Cere made contact to tell Cal she’d succeeded in disabling the fortress’ shields. Cal flooded this section of the base and then swam to the next – fortunately this swimming section was less of an issue than the first. After entering the next dry section of the base, Cal found himself at a training dojo where a couple of Purge troopers were practicing. This room would soon become a battle arena, with several waves of all kinds of Stormtroopers and Purge troopers to defeat – by far the largest fight in terms of numbers in the whole game.

One of the many waves of Stormtroopers to fight in the training dojo.

One part of the floor of the dojo opened up to reveal a pit, and though the troopers weren’t hard to fight one-on-one, as with the zombie Night Sisters back on Dathomir, in numbers they were a challenge. The pit in the middle of the room created an additional danger, but was also useful for Force pushing troopers into – a favoured tactic of mine throughout the game! Eventually Cal prevailed, and a meditation spot emerged as a reward. I checkpointed my progress here before heading further into the fortress.

Sending a Stormtrooper to his demise in the dojo.

The next room was the prison – though it was lacking any prisoners, as presumably there are fewer and fewer Jedi for the Empire to hunt down these days! Cal also had his first run-in with Cere since arriving at the base, opening a blast door for her and seeing a pretty cool scripted sequence as she defeated several Purge troopers using Trilla’s lightsaber.

Cal watches from behind glass as Cere takes out a squad of Purge troopers.

Cere was able to unlock a route for Cal to leave the prison and get to the holocron, which was being kept in the heart of the fortress – the interrogation chamber. For some reason – it wasn’t clear why – the fortress was built atop a lake of molten lava. Makes you wonder why the Empire is always doing things like that! It gave this part of the level a weird aesthetic: a mixture of Star Wars’ Empire with a Bowser’s Castle level from Super Mario! One thing I thought as we arrived on Nur was that the fortress (or the part of it above the water, anyway) vaguely resembled Darth Vader’s castle in Rogue One – his castle is similarly built above molten lava on Mustafar, the planet where he lost the fight against Obi-Wan.

The fortress is built above a lake of lava.

The route to the interrogation room was eerily deserted. Cal noticed a turbolift and suggested to BD-1 it could be an escape route. Otherwise he was walking across a long, open-sided bridge that led from the prison room to the interrogation chamber, but there were no troopers or enemies of any kind. Two large, intimidating gun-turrets were silent too; I wondered if Cal would have to battle them on the way out!

One of the gun-turrets near the entrance to the interrogation room.

After entering the interrogation room, Cal was confronted by Trilla. He made an admirable attempt to get through to her, offering her a chance at redemption and a return to the light, but she attacked him and a duel began. This was the hardest battle in the game, no question. Trilla was 10x stronger than she had been in the earlier fight on Bogano, and landing even a single hit on her required jumping, dodging, parrying, and split-second timing.

The duel in the interrogation room.

Trilla was a difficult opponent, and Cal needed to use most of his stim-packs to survive the fight. The duel also included a couple of quick-time events, which involved mashing the X or B buttons to survive as Cal and Trilla locked blades.

Trilla during the duel.

Eventually, however, Cal was able to grind down her health bar, defeating Trilla and ending the duel. As the fight ended, Cere arrived. She spoke to Trilla, telling her that the fight was over and to try to let go of her pain and anger. For a moment, it seemed as though she’d got through to her former apprentice, and Trilla listened, expressing her regret for holding onto her hate for Cere for so long. Before the two could fully reconcile, however, Trilla was paralysed. Out of the smoke behind her, a familiar mechanical breathing could be heard…

Cere reaches out to the defeated Trilla.

I couldn’t believe it at first! Surely we weren’t going to see Darth Vader himself! In a way, it makes a lot of sense that he’d make an appearance. Not only for the story, but because it’s a Star Wars game and players love to face off against one of the biggest villains in the franchise. But I wasn’t expecting it at all, so it was a genuine surprise. The mechanical breathing grew louder, and then Darth Vader himself emerged from the smoke. “This can’t be good,” remarked Cal.

Darth Vader emerges.

Unlike Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker, Darth Vader’s appearance here worked very well. It was a genuine surprise – a shock, really – and in the context of the story facing off against a bigger, badder foe makes sense. I can understand why some people may feel that Vader’s arrival at this point in the story seems like a deus ex machina, and perhaps if the game was detached from the Star Wars brand, the sudden arrival of a new supervillain at the last moment could be seen that way. However, this is Star Wars, and given the game is taking place during the years before the original film, when Darth Vader was the Empire’s second-in-command, it doesn’t feel that way to me. Darth Vader, and original trilogy characters in general, can definitely be overused in Star Wars; I would suggest that Vader’s scenes in Rogue One didn’t really add anything to that film’s story, for example. But here it really did succeed, and not just because of a sense of nostalgia. Vader is a terrifying opponent, especially for someone like Cal who barely scraped through the fight against Trilla!

Darth Vader’s helmet.

One point I want to mention just before we go on: there was something ever so slightly “off” about Vader’s appearance. The best way I can explain it is that he looked to have the wrong proportions, being slightly broader and – for want of a better word – chunkier, than how he appears in the films. His helmet, too, seemed slightly different, perhaps squashed or just a fraction different in its scale. None of these factors really bothered me in the moment, nor dragged me out of the story, but I thought it worthwhile to mention. I daresay any such minor issues were a result of the game being, well, a game.

Darth Vader in the interrogation room.

The first thing Vader did upon arriving in the interrogation chamber was kill Trilla, whose last words to Cal and Cere were “avenge us!” I’d like to think that, had she survived, Trilla was on the cusp of redemption and a return to the light. Her conversation with Cere seemed to be moving in that direction, and it will be a tragedy for both Cal and Cere that they never got to find out, nor to save Trilla from Vader’s blade. Cere shouted at Cal to run, before making a leaping attack on Vader. Using the Force, he casually threw her aside and she toppled over the edge of one of the platforms – seemingly to her death.

Cere makes a desperate attempt to attack Darth Vader.

The next part of the game was initially confusing to me, as Vader grabbed Cal with the Force. Though I was in control of Cal, I couldn’t see any way to attack Vader (Cal couldn’t ignite his weapon, nor move) and after being held in the Sith Lord’s grip for a few seconds, Cal was dead. I was initially worried that I’d respawn before the duel with Trilla and have to do the whole thing all over again; luckily this wasn’t the case. On the second go around I figured it out – Cal used the Force to throw a large barrel or tank at Vader, and in the momentary lapse in the Sith Lord’s concentration, made a run for it.

Darth Vader chokes Cal. Trilla’s body can be seen behind them.

Darth Vader was an unstoppable killing machine – Cal had nothing in his arsenal that could even come close to matching the Sith Lord’s power and abilities. All he could do was run – sprinting back along the bridge toward the turbolift as Vader literally tore the bridge itself apart with the Force. This sequence was the most tense in the whole game, as Cal had mere seconds to run and jump across each gap and over each obstacle, lest Vader would catch him and it would all be over.

Cal attempts to flee while Darth Vader gives chase.

Vader gave chase – but at a slow pace, and Cal was able to leap across the wrecked bridge, making it to the turbolift. After bashing the controls to make the lift move, it seemed as though Vader had caught up to him, but despite the Sith’s lightsaber cutting through the doors, the turbolift moved and Cal made it to an upper level of the facility. With the holocron safely in his possession he signalled the Mantis – informing Greez of Cere’s death and requesting extraction. Running down a hallway led to a locked door, which Vader came crashing through!

Surprise! It’s Darth Vader again!

I loved this next part. As Vader and Cal briefly crossed blades, little BD-1 hopped up onto the Sith Lord’s shoulder. Using the skill he’d acquired earlier in the game he tried to slice (hack) into Darth Vader’s mechanical suit! For a second it seemed as if this might’ve worked, but then Vader grabbed the droid. It seemed like the end of BD-1…

Vader grabs BD-1.

Cal, who had been knocked off his feet, tried to use the Force to retrieve his lightsaber. Vader demanded that Cal give him the holocron; Cal of course refused. Using the Force, Vader held Cal’s lightsaber out of reach, but then activated it and stabbed Cal through the abdomen. The wound didn’t go all the way through, and while wounded, Cal wasn’t dead yet. Things looked grim, however. BD-1 beeped at Cal to get up, but it seemed like Vader had the pair thoroughly beaten.

Cal is stabbed with his own lightsaber.

But that just goes to show that in Star Wars – and in these kinds of stories in general – you shouldn’t trust that a character is dead unless you see their corpse! Cere came roaring back out of nowhere, attacking Vader! Though still outmatched by the Sith Lord, her intervention saved Cal and BD-1. Vader told Cere that her strength with the dark side would have made her an excellent inquisitor. The pair duelled for a moment, before Vader disarmed Cere.

Cere uses the Force to slow and block Darth Vader’s attacks after being disarmed.

Cere was able to use the Force to paralyse Vader, using a move that looked like he was being crushed. Cal intervened before she could go too far, and by breaking a window in the underwater facility, the trio were able to escape. Vader, whose mechanical suit is – I assume – vulnerable to water, was left holding the torrent back with the Force, unable to pursue.

Leaving Darth Vader to hold back a flood of water, Cal drags Cere to safety.

Cal gave Cere his breather (the small device that allows for breathing underwater) and attempted to swim to the surface. A combination of his wound and exhaustion meant he was struggling, however. At the last moment, Merrin intervened, diving into the water. The screen went dark…

Merrin arrives in the nick of time.

Cal awoke aboard the Mantis to see Greez looking over him. Cere was fine, he was told, and so was BD-1 (thank goodness!) After struggling to his feet, Cal joined the others in the Mantis’ main cabin. Cal and Merrin shared a hug and a touching moment – a budding romance, perhaps? Then he sat down with Cere to look at the holocron.

Merrin and Cal share a moment.

Cere told Greez that her contract with him was up; Greez said he was planning on sticking around. This was another sweet moment, as the curmudgeon had fully softened after all of his adventures with Cere and Cal. The crew gathered around the holocron, and Cal opened it to access the list inside. Cere reiterated her mission statement from the beginning of the game: they should use this to rebuild the Jedi. She did note, however, that doing so would forever change the lives of the children as the Empire would hunt for them.

The holocron opens…

Cal had other plans. Evidently swayed by what Merrin had said about the children having no choice, and that Cal may have been the one putting them in danger, as well as the visions he had on Bogano of their capture and torture, he suggested that the fates of the children “be trusted to the Force”. Implied in that is that if their destiny is to be Jedi, they would be found and be able to train. If not, they should be left alone. With a silent Cere seeming to give her blessing with a look, Cal destroyed the holocron, preventing the Empire from ever finding the children.

Greez, Cere, and Cal stand over the broken pieces of the holocron.

This was the end of the game. Cal asked the crew where they should go next, and then the credits rolled. I have to say that I liked this ending, and the idea of trusting the will of the Force and not forcing the children into a life on the run. However, I think it will be controversial with some fans. The objective Cal and especially Cere had was to use the list to find Force-sensitive children and raise them to be a new generation of Jedi. Even at the last moment, this was Cere’s hope. Cal had one mandatory conversation with Merrin in which she sowed a seed of doubt, and one further optional conversation. He also had the vision in the vault. Those two things changed his mind, and while it was more than enough motivation from my point of view, and I regard keeping the list out of the Empire’s hands as a solid victory, it wasn’t the original mission which had been at the heart of the game for most of its runtime, and for that reason I expect some fans may not have enjoyed the ending.

The final scene before the credits started to roll.

So that was it. Jedi: Fallen Order. As with many games, it took me a little while to get around to playing it – it was released in November last year – but I’m glad that I finally did. After a very disappointing experience with The Rise of Skywalker, it was nice to genuinely enjoy a journey in the Star Wars universe again. And this is also the first Star Wars project since Rogue One that I went into unspoiled. I got to enjoy the story as it unfolded, allowing the surprising moments to be genuine surprises, and that was a good feeling too.

Cal’s journey has been amazing, and it seems as though the ending of the game has been careful to leave the door open for a potential sequel. Rumours abound that it may even be scheduled for a 2022 release – but we’ll wait and see on that! All in all, Jedi: Fallen Order took me just shy of 20 hours to complete – and having looked online that seems about average. I enjoyed myself for most of that time – though there were a couple of frustrating sections and some unnecessary fluff. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’ll be doing a retrospective/review of the game at some point soon, before my memories fade too much, so I hope you’ll come back to see that. For now, all that’s left to say for those of you who’ve been following this playthrough is thank you! I hope you enjoyed this format of a written playthrough illustrated with screenshots; I certainly feel like I learned a lot since I made my first entry in this series, and I’m keen to try again with another game. I already have several possibilities in mind!

So until next time… May The Force Be With You!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 11

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as well as for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome to the next part of my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order. I had a couple of other things I wanted to write about over the last couple of days, including Star Trek’s Comic-Con @Home event, so I apologise to those of you who were waiting for this! After the last play session had some interesting story elements, but was let down by frustrating gameplay and a long section that felt like it was simply there to pad the game’s runtime, I was hoping for something different and exciting – and I definitely found it! After Cal broke his lightsaber in the tomb on Dathomir following a confrontation with a dark vision of his old Master, Cere took him to a strange snowbound planet – the first truly new location since our first visit to Kashyyyk way back in Part 6 of this playthrough. Cere handed Cal her own lightsaber, and he was ready to set off into the snow in search of something to repair or replace his broken weapon…

Cal prepares to head out into the blizzard.

Speaking with Cere aboard the Mantis revealed that this planet was called Ilum – a name I vaguely recognised from the Star Wars galaxy. After looking into it, it turns out that Ilum was the planet that the First Order would ultimately convert into Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, though in this era (remember that Jedi: Fallen Order is taking place about fifteen years before the original trilogy) there was no sign of the famous laser! Ilum was a wintry environment, similar in some respects to Zeffo but with much more snow and ice. After being initially excited at the prospect of visiting a wholly new planet for the first time in ages, the terrain was actually quite samey. If you’ve ever been in a strong blizzard you’ll know it can sometimes make the environment seem like it’s monochrome – and Ilum definitely had that feel to it as Cal set out from the Mantis.

The monochrome environment of Ilum.

Ilum has a Jedi Temple, and getting there through the blizzard was Cal’s objective. It felt like the task he was to complete was a little vague at first – yes he had to fix his lightsaber, but how? And what did he expect to find on Ilum to help him with that task? A few extra lines of dialogue would have fixed this – and it’s not the first time I’ve said that during my playthrough. With the new climbing ability that he’d acquired on Dathomir, Cal was able to scale ice walls, and climbed to the top of a large frozen area. In this section was a Force echo of a former Jedi Master. It turned out that the Jedi came to Ilum as part of some kind of trial or ritual, as well as to gather kyber crystals – the mysterious objects that power lightsabers, and which would later be co-opted to power the Death Star’s weaponry.

Near the entrance to the Jedi Temple.

Inside the entrance to the Jedi Temple – which was little more than an icy cavern, really – was a puzzle to complete. The archway leading further inside had iced over, and there were three doors that had to be opened letting in “magnified light” which had to be refracted through a large crystal in order to melt the ice and gain access. This puzzle wasn’t too hard, but it took me a moment to realise that the doors – which had to be opened by pulling a chain – didn’t need to be permanently opened; Cal simply needed to hold the chain long enough to melt the ice.

Using the giant crystal to melt the ice.

I don’t think the giant crystal in this area was supposed to be a kyber crystal (which I always want to spell Khyber, with an H, like the mountain pass and region of Pakistan) if it was, Cal could’ve just broken a piece off and been on his merry way! Cere made a big deal of giving Cal her lightsaber, so I expected to be traversing this region armed. However, Cere’s lightsaber doesn’t work – another thing that a line or two of dialogue should have explained – so Cal remained unarmed despite carrying two weapons. The in-game databank said that Cere sold parts of the weapon to pay for Greez’s gambling debts, and I guess that could also explain how she’s been able to keep him on the payroll for what seems to be a long time, which was a question raised earlier in the game for me.

Cere gave Cal her lightsaber last time… but could’ve mentioned that it doesn’t work! (Or maybe it’s Cal’s turn to sing during karaoke night on the Mantis)

Melting the ice wall let Cal explore further into the Temple, and as I said this was really just a cave with a few statues in it. It seems like the Jedi offered up some pretty tough challenges – this cave was meant to be traversed by apprentices and children, but it seems like a difficult task for them! There were a lot of sheer drops, and several places where it took a moment to figure out what was the right path. Just inside the entrance to the Temple was a meditation spot, and I’d been saving up Cal’s skill points – spending three meant that BD-1’s stim-packs now totally refill Cal’s health no matter how low it gets, which seems like it will be a very useful upgrade! The ice cave on Zeffo – which is actually fairly similar to this section in appearance – contained a number of monsters to fight, and with no lightsaber I was wondering what this cavern would throw at Cal and how to avoid it. So far, though, there had been no enemies at all – just silence. Cal came upon a section of water to swim through to access the next part of the cavern.

Swimming in the icy water on Ilum.

This was quite cleverly done – there were several hydrothermal vents which obviously explained how there could be areas of liquid water in an otherwise-frozen environment. But Cal must’ve got very cold swimming through this water! The next area of the cavern contained a shocking and ominous revelation – probe droids were present on Ilum! Luckily BD-1 had acquired the skill to hack into them some time ago, and Cal was also able to use Force pull and Force push on them to defeat them – but how had the Empire found him here? A radio call to Cere and Greez led to the two of them worrying that the Mantis was being tracked.

A probe droid in the cavern on Ilum.

There were a number of statues in the cavern, and these were kind of creepy – hooded and faceless figures in Jedi robes. They reminded me of the statues seen on Jedha in Rogue One, which similarly had a ghostly vibe. Perhaps this is because – as Cal says at one point – knowing that the Jedi are gone makes it feel like being surrounded by ghosts. Any hooded figure with a shrouded face plays on deep-rooted cultural and historical fears of figures like the Grim Reaper, or even the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I think that’s part of why they felt so haunting and eerie in this section of the game. Credit to the developers for achieving that sensation – it made progressing through the caverns very tense indeed, something that married well with Cal being essentially unarmed and defenceless.

Ghostly statues in the cavern.

After heading deeper into the cavern and defeating another couple of probe droids, Cal spotted a glittering object. While making his way through a narrow crevice, the ice below him gave out and he fell into another pool of water. Clearly freezing cold (and suffering from hypothermia) he had a vision of his younger self leading him out of the water in what was a very strange, ethereal moment in the game.

Cal has a vision of his younger self.

Inspired by the vision, Cal forced himself to climb out of the icy water and collapsed – but the kyber crystal was close. He stumbled his way toward a large crystal formation and plucked the tip from one of the pointy shards – this was the glimmer that he’d seen that led him to this part of the cave. As he held the small piece of crystal in his hand it broke in two. Cal broke down, believing he’d failed and that his quest was over. And at this point perhaps someone knew more about Star Wars’ wider lore or expanded universe (the stuff not included in the films) might’ve known what was happening or why Cal became so dejected… but I didn’t.

Cal approaches the kyber crystal.

There was a line earlier in the level about how the “crystal chooses the Jedi” and not vice versa (kind of like wands in the Harry Potter series, I guess). So perhaps Cal was upset that the crystal that chose him was broken. But he’s sat in a cavern literally surrounded by giant crystals, and with a small amount of effort could have broken off another piece using the Force or even just with his bare hands. So I don’t really understand this moment, and just taking what we know from the game without interjecting with lore from other Star Wars properties, it didn’t make sense and didn’t feel sufficiently explained.

Cal looks at the crystal seconds before it shatters.

Are the other crystals in the cavern not also kyber crystals? What happens if a Jedi chooses his own crystal instead of using one which chose him? Cal has been using Master Tapal’s lightsaber (containing Tapal’s crystal, presumably) very effectively for the entire game up till now, so it doesn’t seem like it’s the case that crystals are somehow bound to one Jedi. If a Jedi is chosen by a crystal but then loses or breaks that crystal, can they come back and get another one? And since Cal is literally still in the cavern surrounded by other crystals, can’t he just take another one – or wait for another one to choose him? I feel like this moment, which was the most emotional in the story so far, needed more explaining. Luckily, what came next washed a lot of that disappointment away and cranked up the emotion.

The broken kyber crystal.

As Cal sat feeling sorry for himself at the foot of the crystal formation, Master Cordova’s voice could be heard. BD-1 had made it to the cavern and Cal was very pleased to be reunited with him – having told BD-1 not to follow him as he fell into the icy water a moment ago. BD-1 played a recording from Master Cordova in which he discusses failure. Master Cordova sensed “the doom of the Jedi Order” – perhaps this was the moment of Order 66. He locked BD-1’s memories with an encryption that could only be broken if the droid made a trusted connection with someone new; BD-1 has chosen Cal, and told him (in beeps and trills, of course) that he believes in him.

BD-1 plays Master Cordova’s final recording.

Inspired by this, Cal gets up. It isn’t over yet! Somehow – and again I’m not sure how – he pressed and squished the two shards of the crystal back together, forming a single, working crystal. This next part was fun – I had eight different colour options for the fixed crystal. I chose pink (or magenta as the game calls it) and after a short cut-scene, Cal had his weapon back.

Choosing the kyber crystal’s colour.

This can be customised later at a workbench, but I see no reason to change from pink. Orange had been fun up till now, though! Cal used parts from Cere’s lightsaber and Master Tapal’s to form the new weapon. In addition to being double-bladed, it can now also be pulled apart and duel-wielded, giving Cal a new kind of attack – one that looks pretty darn cool too. I took this opportunity to further customise the weapon before leaving the cavern, including giving it a shiny red colour for the hilt.

The red hilt.

In addition to blue and green, which are available in the base game, and orange, which I had from buying the deluxe edition, the colours now available for Cal’s weapon are: purple, pink/magenta, yellow, a pale blue or teal, and a darker cobalt colour. The weapon can be symmetrical, looking the same at both ends, or each end can be different. I haven’t unlocked anywhere near all of the options yet, and there must be hundreds of possibilities for how the finished saber can look.

The colour options for the blade.

After tinkering with the saber for a while, I was satisfied and ready to get back to the ship. But of course it wasn’t going to be a simple case of backtracking! The probe droids we’d seen earlier weren’t the only Imperials on Ilum – the Empire had a whole base here with legions of troopers. When the probe droids spotted Cal they presumably scrambled their forces, and on the way out, Cal ran head-first into an Imperial mining facility! There were a number of troopers to defeat here, and more kept dropping in by ship. Cal put his new weapon through its paces, and eventually prevailed!

Cal battles Stormtroopers near an Imperial mining facility.

In this area, the Empire seemed to be digging a long, deep trench. Given that Ilum would later become Starkiller Base, I wonder if this trench is meant to be the beginnings of that. In The Force Awakens, Starkiller Base had a huge trench that cleaved the planet in two, and this was where the super-laser was mounted. I think these two things are connected, and if so it was a great little reference to the sequel trilogy. Beyond the landing pad was a doorway that BD-1 was able to hack. Inside was a whole squad K2SO-type security droids – the ones I’ve had trouble with on other levels.

The room full of droids.

Thankfully they didn’t all attack at once, and after a long fight Cal was able to take them out. Off to one side, in some yellow storage containers, BD-1 and Cal found huge numbers of kyber crystals – the Empire is mining them. He reported his findings to Cere back on the Mantis, and she and Greez got the ship ready for takeoff. The only accessible door in this room led back into the cavern, and from here Cal was mostly backtracking to get back to the ship – though the cavern was now packed with troopers.

A group of Scout troopers in the cavern.

Cal had to battle his way through the cavern, which contained probe droids, K2SO droids, Purge troopers, and a variety of regular troopers too. It was a hard fight, not so much because of any one individual opponent – this wasn’t a boss battle, after all – but because of the numbers Cal was up against. On the radio, Cere checked in to tell Cal that the Empire was bringing in reinforcements, including by Star Destroyer from neighbouring systems. Though this part of the level wasn’t timed (at least it didn’t seem to be) it was still a very tense sequence as Cal raced back to the ship!

Defeating a trooper while racing back to the Mantis.

After surviving the cavern, Cal was back at the archway where we’d melted the ice earlier. There was a meditation spot here which I used before progressing – though Cal had no more skill points to use. Unless more options open up on the skill tree, by the way, I think I’ve chosen all of the ones that seem useful to me. Perhaps that’s just because we’re entering the latter part of the game. Before exiting the temple and getting back to the surface of Ilum, there was a Snowtrooper! These guys were seen in The Empire Strikes Back and it makes perfect sense that they’d be here on another snowbound planet. It was a great little bit of nostalgia.

A Snowtrooper.

Back on the surface, the blizzard had almost fully cleared. It looked like a straight shot back to the Mantis, but from behind a rocky outcrop came not one but two AT-STs. They attacked Cal in tandem, and it was difficult to separate them long enough to attack one without getting blown up or blasted by the second! Eventually I brought the first one down, and from there the second one was less of a challenge.

One down, one to go!

Cal sprinted back to the Mantis – Imperial reinforcements were inbound and if he didn’t get back before the Star Destroyers arrived it might’ve been impossible to leave the planet! All that tension and buildup… was kind of spoilt by Greez and Cere just standing there on the Mantis when Cal arrived. I even had to walk over to the holotable (Cal can’t run on the Mantis) and manually choose a destination. After Cere had been so jumpy, rushing Cal to race back to the ship before they’re all blown to smithereens by the Empire, this was just anticlimactic and completely snapped me out of what had been one of the most exciting parts of the story so far.

Cal sprints back to the ship.

The gang even had time for a chat as Cal boarded the ship. He told them about BD-1’s memory wipe, and expressed his thanks for believing in him. It was a sweet moment – or it would have been had the timing been different. I expected a cut-scene like the escape from Dathomir, with the Mantis pulling away as Stormtroopers chased Cal, escaping the system in the nick of time to avoid the Star Destroyers… but none of that transpired. If Cere hadn’t been on the radio telling Cal to run because of how imminently doomed they all were it would’ve been fine – but the rapid switch in tone from “run, Cal, run!” to “we’ve got loads of time to stand and chat” was incredibly jarring.

There doesn’t exactly seem to be a great deal of urgency to take off and flee the system…

The obvious destination was Dathomir. I saw no point in any more backtracking, and I wanted to resolve the situation there to continue the story. With the course laid in the Mantis took off and arrived at Dathomir moments later. After a short bit of banter with the crew, which included the revelation that they’re on the bounty hunter guild’s most wanted list, Cal headed out. With the climbing gloves, he could climb up the ramp I noticed last time and use that as a shortcut to get back to the bridge leading to the dark tomb. There were a few zombified Night Sisters to battle en route, but nothing Cal and his new weapon couldn’t handle.

Oh look, it’s that meditation spot again.

At the entrance to the temple was another bounty hunter ambush. A hunter and a droid were both present and again this was an annoying fight. Eventually, however, Cal was able to get the better of both of them (apparently Force pushing over a cliff still works if you use it on a guy with a jetpack…) and enter the tomb. There were no enemies to fight inside, and Cal used the meditation spot before re-entering the dark vision he had of Master Tapal.

The dark vision.

Master Tapal began by taunting Cal again, and then the duel was on. Once again I was expecting a difficult boss battle, yet once again I was wrong. Though I had control of Cal during this sequence, he had no health bar and nor did Master Tapal. After a brief duel it became obvious that the only way out of the vision was to take it peacefully – not fighting back or trying to strike at Tapal.

Cal and Master Tapal during their brief duel.

By choosing the peaceful path – which is, of course, the Jedi way – the vision of Tapal relented and ended the fight. Cal told his former Master that he would honour his teachings and remember his sacrifice, letting go of his guilt. The vision of Tapal then disappeared, and the pathway to the next part of the tomb finally opened.

Cal brings the duel to an end.

Having completed the vision-quest, Cal was able to access the rest of the tomb. He had beaten the darkness in the tomb – and within himself. I’m never sure with things like this whether what transpired was taking place in Cal’s head, whether it was something more real, something based in the Force, etc. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, it’s just something to ponder. I tend to assume for a vision like this that it’s in his head, perhaps amplified by the Force, but not something tangible.

Master Tapal walks away, ending the vision.

Beyond the doorway were several Night Brothers. They weren’t particularly difficult to dispatch, and it was nice to try the duel-wielding move on them. Seeing Cal pull his double-bladed weapon apart and use both pieces independently is very cool. It’s certainly not something I’ve seen in Star Wars before. The Night Brothers in this area had a marking painted on their chests – the same one we saw as a scar on Taron Malicos. Interestingly, when I went back to look at screenshots of the previous visits to Dathomir, the Night Brothers all had that same symbol – though many were faded. The paint on those in the tomb was much fresher.

A Night Brother with the painted symbol.

After entering this area, the Night Sister appeared. Her name is Merrin. Instead of just attacking this time, she spoke to Cal, which gave him a chance to reason with her. Malicos lied to her, he said, and the Jedi weren’t conquerors who would have wanted to wipe out her people.

Cal and Merrin talk.

The two realise they have something in common – Cal may be the last Jedi, and Merrin may be the last Night Sister. Malicos had promised her revenge in exchange for sharing the secrets of the tomb, but instead he became corrupted by the dark side. The two formed an alliance (albeit one of convenience) to take down Malicos. Cal didn’t have far to go for this confrontation. Down a wide hallway, Malicos was waiting. He stood on a circular platform which had a sheer drop into red mist on all sides – it reminded me so much of the Bowser fights in Super Mario 64… and that’s the third thing in Jedi: Fallen Order which seems to draw on that game, after the slides and the underwater chests! I never expected to get even one thing in a game like this to remind me of Super Mario 64, let alone three.

Can you say “obvious boss fight arena”?

After crossing over to the arena, Malicos seemed happy to see Cal return. He tried once again to convince Cal to join him, and talked at length about how reviving the Jedi Order would be a waste of time – the Order failed, he said, stifled by tradition and its own past successes. As with Luke in The Last Jedi who said similarly critical things of the Jedi Order in its last days before the rise of the Empire, Malicos isn’t exactly wrong. The whole story of the rise of the Sith in the prequels is on the back of Jedi hubris, believing themselves to be better than they were. Regardless of how I may feel about the Jedi, Cal rejected everything Malicos has to say. And it’s clear, of course, that Malicos’ idea of a replacement for the Jedi would put him firmly in control. He had been wholly corrupted by the dark side after years on Dathomir. A duel began.

Malicos with his weapons drawn.

I said way back in Part 4 of this series, when Cal first met “the wanderer” – aka Malicos – that I was sure they’d end up fighting. It’s nice to be right sometimes! This was a difficult fight – up there with the duel against Trilla on Zeffo. Malicos had a number of Force powers at his disposal, but more than that it was very hard to land a blow on him. He kept his guard up, and hitting him required split-second timing. He was also immune to things like Force push – which of course makes sense.

Malicos attacks Cal with the Force.

Merrin showed up during the duel, and at a couple of scripted moments used her magic to attack Malicos. When Cal had finally ground his health down, Merrin stepped in and used her magic one final time, entombing Malicos in the ground in a cut-scene that reminded me of a horror film called Drag Me To Hell.

Merrin sends Malicos to his grave.

With the battle over, Merrin and Cal had another chance to talk. Interestingly, Merrin is unaware of the Empire – or any galactic affairs beyond what was happening on Dathomir. Cal explained that he’s searching for the Zeffo Astrium, an object which will help him access a list of Force-sensitive children. He told Merrin he wants to save them from the Empire, a cause she can get behind. The Astrium wasn’t far away, and after jumping over a couple more platforms, Cal finally found it.

Cal holds the Zeffo Astrium.

Merrin returned as Cal found what he was looking for. She was very happy for him, as the Astrium may be able to save the children and revive the Jedi Order. But she is still alone; nothing can revive her people the way the Astrium and the holocron might for the Jedi. Cal and Merrin connected over their shared experiences as the last of their kind. Cal also referenced what Prauf said to him at the beginning of the game – in the aftermath of the Master Tapal vision he’s also taking on board what Prauf told him too. To my surprise, Merrin said she would join Cal on his mission. I don’t think she will be a constant companion as Cal goes on quests – Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t that kind of game – but she will perhaps hang out on the Mantis, be available to talk to, and participate in cut-scenes.

Cal shows Merrin the Zeffo Astrium.

Merrin told Cal she’ll meet him back at the ship, leaving Cal once again to backtrack through the level. Fortunately this tomb was small compared to the two on Zeffo, but there were no shortcuts to get back outside. A couple of large monsters had spawned in the tomb, and Merrin sat to one side as Cal took them on alone. In these moments, Jedi: Fallen Order feels like a typical game and not an interactive Star Wars experience, and it can make suspending my disbelief more difficult. However, taking on the monsters wasn’t a huge challenge this time.

Merrin in the tomb.

I like that we can see Merrin’s face now that she’s taken down her hood. It humanises her – despite the ash-grey skin – and we can see her more emotive and expressive. I still think she reminds me of Visas Marr from Knights of the Old Republic II, though! Merrin apparently didn’t tell her zombified Night Sisters that she and Cal are allies now, as several attacked him on his way back to the ship. However, these fights weren’t particularly challenging. Back aboard the Mantis, Cal introduced Merrin to the crew. They were standoffish at first, and they don’t trust her – but they do trust Cal, so Merrin was welcomed aboard. The next destination is Bogano – back to the vault. But I chose to save my game at this point and save Bogano for next time. Exploring two planets is enough for one session!

Merrin sits at the table on board the Mantis with the rest of the crew looking on.

So this was another long one! Repairing the lightsaber was great, and despite Ilum being kind of bland, it was nice to finally get to see a different planet after hopping between the same three worlds for a long while. The emotional moment with BD-1 in the cavern was incredibly sweet, and I’m even more in love with the cute little droid than I already was. In fact the story of this entire section was great – the only part I didn’t like was the kyber crystal breaking and the lack of explanation for why that was an issue.

I feel certain the trip to Bogano won’t go smoothly – but join me next time to find out!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 10

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

This section was a long one, even by my standards, so I hope you’ve got a drink at the ready as we could be here for a little while! Last time we left Cal and the gang on Kashyyyk, having determined that the next destination was Dathomir. Cal had defeated the Ninth Sister, befriended a shyyyo bird I named Buckbeak, and after listening to another recording of Master Cordova, had made it back to the Mantis. Upon loading into the game, Cal was standing outside the ship and got a couple of lines of dialogue from Cere and Greez, mostly just discussing the situation on Kashyyyk. At the galaxy map I was all ready to set course for Dathomir when Greez suggested we backtrack to Zeffo – he thought there might be some loot worth getting in the wreckage of the crashed ship. Despite wanting to get on with the story, the return to Bogano last time proved very fruitful so I decided to go along with it.

The view from the cockpit of the Mantis as Cal leaves Kashyyyk behind.

The flight to Zeffo was uneventful, and after landing at the usual spot, Cal spoke to Cere and Greez again. It turned out that Cere had once been a Jedi seeker – using her skills to locate Force-sensitives for the Jedi Order. Teaching Trilla what she knew led to the latter becoming a particularly successful Jedi-hunter. Cal headed in what I hoped was the direction of the Venator’s wreckage. At one point I got turned around in the ice caves, and it took a little while to find my way out. Another duo of bounty hunters beset Cal near the entrance to the first tomb, and this was another tough fight.

Taking on a bounty droid on Zeffo.

I didn’t go back into the tomb; I’m not even sure if the tombs were still accessible, but even if they were there’s no point. Eventually Cal made it to the wreckage of the Venator-class ship, and to be fair there was a lot we hadn’t explored here. Last time Cal basically looked over about 10% of the ship en route to the Imperial excavation site, and after escaping Trilla and the tomb was captured by the bounty hunters, precluding a return to the crashed ship. This time, I ignored the route that led to the dig site and proceeded deeper into the wrecked ship. The ship is sitting in a large body of water, and now able to dive below the surface, Cal found a hidden chest. An ice slide then led further into the ship, seemingly through one of its engines. The ship still had some power – during the slide Cal had to avoid some dangerous-looking electrical columns and vents.

Sliding into the Venator wreck.

Inside the wreck, Cal spoke briefly to BD-1 about his earlier life. As a Jedi padawan he lived aboard a Venator-class ship with Master Tapal; demolishing them as a scrapyard worker on Bracca was hard for him. There were several Force echoes amongst the wreckage, telling the story of a Jedi Master and her apprentice who were attacked and killed during Order 66. Cal eventually found their remains.

Exploring the wreckage.

Also in the wreck were a number of troopers, including a Purge trooper. Once again, I have no idea how the troopers got to be in the parts of the level where they were. For Cal to get there took a lot of climbing, swimming, swinging, and using Force powers, so it kind of makes no sense that Stormtroopers would be able to be in these hidden areas in my opinion. There was another bounty hunter to fight in the wreck too, and I’m increasingly convinced that the bounty hunter attacks are not scripted and their locations are random. As usual I found the bounty hunter fight difficult, but was eventually able to prevail.

Cal defeats the bounty hunter.

The reward for half an hour’s worth of exploration was meagre – a few customisation options, which were mostly lightsaber parts, and a single new stim for BD-1. Additional stim-packs are useful, there’s no denying that. But Zeffo is a large level and the Venator wreck took time to navigate; I was hoping for something more, I suppose. After collecting the stim-pack upgrade there was also the matter of making a safe return to the Mantis which was all the way on the other side of the level.

BD-1 receives another stim-pack. He can now carry six.

While exiting the Venator wreck I spotted a smaller area off to the side of the main crash site that I also explored. Inside was a holo-recording of a Clone Trooper commander, and another bounty hunter to fight. These guys definitely have it out for Cal! This section was thankfully smaller and took less time to explore, but also contained nothing of value. A couple of Force echoes added to the story of the Jedi Master and padawan, but that was it. I headed back to the Mantis via the ice caves as I remembered that there was a cable-car in there.

The recording of the Clone Trooper.

Aside from one annoying puzzle which involved moving a box, wall-running, and jumping to cross a gap, the Venator wreck was an easy enough level. And it was a nice change of scenery from Jedi: Fallen Order’s previous levels, as well as being somewhat reminiscent of Rey’s exploration of the wrecked Star Destroyer on Jakku in The Force Awakens. After backtracking through the ice caves and fending off a few more Stormtroopers, Cal made it back to the Mantis. Cere piped up, suggesting another diversion back to Bogano, but as I’m fairly confident I got everything worth having last time I decided to ignore her and go to Dathomir this time. I was itching to continue the story – even if I wasn’t excited at the prospect of battling those Night Brothers again!

The Mantis lands on Dathomir.

After landing, Cal spoke to Greez and Cere. Greez was frightened of Dathomir and insisted on staying aboard the ship, but Cere was standing just outside. Greez told Cal to go easy on Cere following the revelation about Trilla, and in this conversation dropped a nice little easter egg about a “castle on Takodana” that makes great cocktails – a reference to Maz Kanata from the sequel trilogy. Outside the ship I spotted a rock formation that I hadn’t seen last time – it looked like it could be a shortcut into the level but there was no way to climb it. Before heading off to get back to the crumbling bridge that thwarted Cal’s first attempt to explore Dathomir, Cere wanted to chat. She basically warned Cal to be careful, and in an optional conversation they spoke about Cal healing his connection to the Force. Despite their differences, Cere appears in this moment to care for Cal and act as his mentor.

Cere and Cal speak outside the Mantis.

The path through Dathomir to the bridge was familiar to me after having spent time here earlier in the game. After that debacle, I was half-hoping that the double-bladed lightsaber upgrade Cal acquired on that trip would prove itself useful at some point. Unfortunately it didn’t; aside from a single special move that Cal could learn (throwing the double-bladed weapon around him in a wide circle) it seems to make no difference, and Cal could have stuck with using the single-bladed variant. That first visit to Dathomir was thus a complete waste of time, and detracts from what has otherwise been a decent story. The wanderer Cal met last time is still standing on the bridge in the same spot, and it’s as if no time has passed at all. As I said previously, I’m happy with a linear game that requires me to take a specific path. Jedi: Fallen Order is clearly this kind of game. But with that being the case, the game should not have presented itself as one with optional routes – pretending to offer player choice where none exists is clearly an attempt to mimic more open titles (like the older Knights of the Old Republic games as well as modern open-world ones) but without the substance to back it up. Instead of Dathomir feeling like an intimidating place to visit at this point in the game, it ended up feeling like yet another backtrack, and the first part of the level’s layout was very familiar as I’d spent a lot of time scouting it out looking for a way across the bridge.

Remember this meditation spot?

I had unlocked a couple of shortcuts on my first visit to Dathomir, and it only took a few minutes to get back to the bridge. The wanderer was still there, but as we’d exhausted the conversation options last time, he had nothing left to say to Cal. Double-jumping across the gap that halted his progress last time led to Cal being confronted by three Night Brother archers, and after taking them out a cut-scene triggered which saw another Night Brother attack a wooden platform on the bridge, sending it and Cal crashing down. This next sliding section has to be the worst in the game so far, and seems to have a major glitch or bug. A short slide after the cut-scene ends with Cal needing to double-jump across a gap to continue sliding, but for some reason this jump proved impossible. No matter how many times I tried, aiming Cal was impossible. He’d end up leaping off to one side, and the rare time he didn’t the double-jump wasn’t enough to clear the gap. At one point Cal even got stuck on a branch above the slide, unable to move or progress further.

Unable to clear the gap despite double-jumping.
Stuck in the scenery above the slide.

This slide was way harder than it needed to be. And the double-jump feature is to blame – for some reason, what was happening was that Cal would jump up from the slide and immediately double-jump, despite the fact that I was only pressing the button once. This meant he lacked the momentum to clear the gap in the slide, and pressing the button a second time did nothing as the game believed he had already double-jumped. I tried switching over to the keyboard and mouse input, but the same issue occurred. I quit the game and re-loaded my save file, but the issue persisted. I was eventually able to clear the gap and continue down the slide, but it took over thirty attempts. Luckily, as I’d seen while stuck in the scenery, there was a meditation spot near the bottom of the slide. After checkpointing, I was tempted to take a break after all the fuss with that stupid slide, but I decided to press on as I was curious to see more of the story and we hadn’t actually done anything of consequence on Dathomir yet. Around the next corner and through a gap in the wall, the Night Sister who confronted Cal last time was back.

The Night Sister.

The Night Sister reminds me of Visas Marr from Knights of the Old Republic II, something about the hooded robes and mysterious Force abilities, I think. But that’s incidental. She is furious at Cal, as she believes it was the Jedi who attacked her people (as I think we covered last time, I think this was something included in the Clone Wars television series, but I haven’t seen it). She said she wants to exact revenge for the attack, and used her Force-magic to raise a number of zombified Night Sisters to attack Cal.

A Night Sister zombie.

These Night Sister zombies weren’t hard to defeat one-on-one, but as is often the case with zombies in video games – and in the wider genre of zombie fiction – en masse they were much harder opponents. The Night Sister is able to raise several at a time, and over the next section of the level Cal would be beset by multiple groups of these non-sentient enemies. Despite the fact that the game’s databank describes them as “mummified”, they absolutely behave like typical fast-moving zombies, so that’s what I’m calling them.

A closer look at a zombie.

This section of the game, as Cal tackled the lower levels of Dathomir, felt once again like the game was being padded out. Nothing in this area contributed to the story; there were no major puzzles and only one boss fight. Cal’s journey across the game has had several of these moments – detours which neither added to his personal story nor the overall story of the game. The entire objective of this section – which probably took a good hour to complete – was to get back to the section of the bridge where Cal fell and thus access the tomb. While it was at least a new, unexplored area and one that didn’t involve a lot of backtracking, it wasn’t particularly interesting, and the enemy types thrown at Cal were the same two Night Brothers – the melee and archer variants – and the zombified Night Sisters.

The lower levels of Dathomir.

I mentioned a boss fight, and this was a big one. Earlier, Cal had spotted a large creature flying around, and after progressing as far as possible through the lower levels, eventually ended up facing a room that was very clearly a “boss fight arena”. It even had a meditation spot directly preceding it! On the far wall was a dead Night Brother and what looked like a section Cal would be able to climb. While investigating, the winged monster Cal had spotted earlier arrived – this must be its nest. The fight was difficult as the monster had a number of moves at its disposal, including unblockable attacks and a screech that could temporarily stop Cal from moving. It could also fly quickly from one side of the arena to the other, and its size meant its attacks had a broad range, making them hard to dodge.

The large monster during the boss battle.

The creature – which I thought resembled a giant owl – was hard to take down. Eventually, when its health bar was around three-quarters depleted, it fled the area and Cal thought he’d won. He’s clearly not a gamer, because if he was he’d know that the monster was sure to be back! The Night Brother that Cal had begun to examine before being interrupted turned out to have special gloves that made it easier to climb walls – but only walls with a certain pattern, of course. Cal was thus able to climb out of the arena and on to the next part of the level. I found these gloves worked very well, but at several points there were glitches where Cal was able to use them to climb invisible walls. One time this led to getting stuck in the scenery and I had to again quit the game and re-load my save.

Climbing on thin air.

The monster did eventually come back, and in a scripted sequence grabbed Cal and took off flying through the air. This section saw Cal and the monster fight in the air, with Cal having to jump onto its back several times – these moments required split-second timing and perfect accuracy, neither of which are my speciality, so this section took multiple tries! Eventually the monster and Cal crashed back to the ground, and the monster was finally dead. As an aside, I often find myself feeling sorry for creatures like this in games – it was just minding its own business when Cal showed up, after all. It’s for this reason that I was never interested in games like Monster Hunter World – I just don’t want to harass and kill monsters for no reason!

Cal diving toward the winged monster.

With the boss defeated, this section didn’t have much more to offer. Cal had to make his way back up to the surface, and some Night Brothers stood in the way, as did a long, winding, and complicated route. There were a couple of Force echoes which seemed to imply that the wanderer had crash-landed here in a ship and was taken prisoner by the Night Brothers. There were also a couple of customisation options in chests.

A Night Brother.

At one point Cal entered what was described as the Night Brothers’ village. This section contained another slide – thankfully an easier one than the one that led here from the surface – and a number of enemies to battle. Presumably being a Night Brother is more fun than it first appears if the way around their village is by slide. Cal was finally making his way up, back toward the surface, when he had a very ominous conversation with Cere on the radio. Apparently Greez, who has locked himself aboard the Mantis, insisted he’s seen something or someone snooping around the ship. This wasn’t an optional conversation; it triggered automatically as Cal made his way through the level. I was sure that this would lead to consequences later! In a chest in this area I unlocked another paint job for the Mantis. Despite enjoying its yellow design, I chose to apply this mostly-black variant just for a change of pace.

The Mantis in its new colour scheme.

The climb up from the Night Brother village overlooked the Mantis, as you can see from the screenshot above. But this was still a long way from where Cal needed to be, and I was beginning to get frustrated with this incredibly long detour. Fortunately, however, Cal did eventually make it back around the level, unlocking a shortcut back down to the lower level (as if I’m going back there on purpose) in the process.

Cal during the climb back to the bridge.

Back at the bridge, the wanderer was gone and the three Night Brother archers had respawned. Defeating them was not particularly difficult, but one of them fired an unblockable shot that, because of where I was standing in that moment, knocked Cal off the bridge and back onto the glitchy slide. Well there was no way I was going through all that again, and after failing to jump back up to the bridge, I re-loaded the game for the third time in this session. Luckily there was a checkpoint in the area just before the bridge – but I’d loaded in here three times now, and the same three Night Brothers appeared each time as the game always loads the same enemies in the same areas. I wondered to myself how many darn times I’d have to complete this one fight! This time I made it across the bridge without falling and to my surprise there were no enemies in the area. It was a straight shot from here to the entrance to the tomb.

Finally made it to the tomb entrance.

There were two paths available, one which led directly to the tomb and one off to the side. Off to the side was only a chest, and after picking up another customisation piece I headed into the tomb. To my surprise, there was nothing in here. In a large room, Cal walked to the back where there was a wall or door that contained carvings – these looked like the Zeffo script we’d seen elsewhere. But as Cal “interacted” with the wall, nothing seemed to happen.

Cal and BD-1 examine the Zeffo tomb.

An audio log from Master Cordova provided a little more information – the Night Sisters allowed him to access the tomb, which he described as hidden and secluded, but he felt it was a dark place. Checking the holomap confirmed that this door was blocked, and with nothing else to see inside the room I turned to leave. There was a meditation spot right by the blocked doorway – strangely I hadn’t seen it on the way in. I decided to make use of it before heading outside to see what I’d missed, though Cal didn’t have any points to use. However, exiting the meditation spot didn’t bring me back to the tomb – it was another flashback of Cal in his youth!

This is what I saw immediately after exiting the meditation menu.

I absolutely love the way this was done. Jedi: Fallen Order has used one of its most basic features – the checkpoint-save – to pull a complete surprise on players. As Cal knelt down to meditate I had no inkling of what was about to transpire! When I got over the initial shock, however, it seemed obvious that in a place of darkness, Cal was going to see a very dark vision – could this be the day of Order 66? Unlike previous flashbacks, where Cal was in a bland grey training room, he first appeared in a cabin aboard a ship, and curiously I could see what looked like a Jedi holocron (just like the one we’re chasing) on one of the beds.

Is this object in Cal’s cabin a holocron?

Where previous flashbacks had been fairly short, designed to show Cal a new skill (or rather, to re-learn an old one), this section was long. It also contained the first difficult puzzle since arriving on Dathomir – in the training room Cal had to use all of his skills from wall-running to double-jumping to get from the ground to Master Tapal’s location in a room high above. And my goodness was this just the dumbest puzzle! It wasn’t bad per se, it was just not at all obvious where to go at one point. Cal had to jump from a floating platform and hang onto part of the wall of the room, but the wall was grey and the hand-hold was also grey, meaning it wasn’t obvious where to jump or what to aim for when Cal reached that point. The jumps between platforms and especially at the wall-running section were also right on the limit of Cal’s abilities, meaning each jump had to be timed perfectly to avoid Cal falling to the floor and having to repeat the whole obstacle course. On the plus side, I got a taste of what it must be like to be a Jedi padawan… suffice to say I would’ve failed padawan school.

The training room.

After eventually completing this obstacle course, Cal arrived in the upper room where Master Tapal was waiting. Here it was revealed that they’ve been on or in orbit of Bracca for some time – presumably why Cal went there during or after Order 66. Bracca had been secured – presumably from forces loyal to General Grievous and the separatists – and the ship was getting ready to move to another destination. However, the Clone Trooper in the room received new orders, and we heard the familiar line from Revenge of the Sith: “Execute Order 66”.

The Clone Trooper and Master Tapal.

Despite being momentarily overwhelmed by sensing the deaths of many Jedi through the Force, Master Tapal was able to defeat the lone trooper. He encouraged a frightened Cal to make his way to the escape pods, promising to rendezvous there after taking care of business. The next section of the game saw Cal make that journey, and he had to fight Clones who had been his friend moments earlier.

Cal with Master Tapal.

The Clones were no harder to defeat than Stormtroopers; despite being young in this sequence, Cal was armed with a lightsaber (blue this time) and just as capable of standing up against the troopers as he has been in the rest of the game. Making it through the ship was thus not an issue from a gameplay point of view – in fact I expected Cal’s youth, and the lack of BD-1 to carry stims – to make it harder than it was.

A Clone Trooper firing at Cal.

A particularly cool sequence saw Master Tapal take out a whole squadron of Clones in a corridor below Cal, who was using the ship’s Jefferies tubes to avoid detection en route to the escape pods. Escaping the ship, while it posed no real challenge from a gameplay perspective, was one of the most tense and exciting in the game so far. It really felt as though Cal had mere moments to get away from the ship and the violent Clones, and his own shock at was happening came through in the animation and voice performance perfectly. At one point Cal had to climb through a turbolift shaft and lost his lightsaber – this explains why he uses Master Tapal’s saber instead of his own.

Cal loses his lightsaber.

Upon reaching the escape pods, we saw Cal witness his Master’s death. A squadron of troopers blasted away at Master Tapal, and though Cal was able to open the escape pod and help him inside, it was too late and he died in Cal’s arms. His last words to Cal were to wait for a signal from the Jedi Council – despite everything that transpired, Master Tapal still had hope that some Jedi would survive and be able to help Cal. The escape pod launched, and Master Tapal had his revenge as the ship exploded – this is perhaps why we see an exploding Venator-class ship on the game’s title screen.

Master Tapal’s final moments.

The escape pod was presumably bound for Bracca, or else ended up there shortly after, as we know the ship was in that system. How Cal came to hide out, where he landed, and other questions are unanswered, but perhaps we’ll learn more later in the game. However, none of that really matters – this moment is the heart of Cal’s backstory. Order 66 led to the death of his Master, and he feels a great sense of guilt. Not only survivor’s guilt, but that he couldn’t do anything to save him, that he wasn’t quick enough or skilled enough. As the flashback ended, a new vision began. In a dark, shadowy arena, Master Tapal confronted a fully-grown Cal, saying that it was his fault he died, and that he was weak and a traitor. Cal duelled the vision of Tapal, and unfortunately this serious moment was somewhat spoilt by a silly visual glitch – Master Tapal’s head seemed to twist unnaturally.

The glitch affecting Master Tapal.

The duel between them was short; I expected a boss battle but it was really just a couple of blows. As Cal struck his Master with his lightsaber a cut-scene triggered. Cal plunged his blade into Tapal, who says that his blood is on Cal’s hands, as it always had been. This is a representation of Cal’s feelings of guilt, amplified by the dark side of the Force – or at least that’s how I interpreted this vision.

Killing Master Tapal in a dark vision.

Snapping out of the vision, Cal realised in the real world that he’d been holding his lightsaber tightly – and crushed the crystal inside in his hands. The weapon was now broken; regular button-pressing wouldn’t activate it. With no way into the tomb, and now unarmed and unable to defend himself, a dejected Cal left the tomb. The wanderer was waiting outside, and revealed himself to be a former Jedi. Just as I was wondering how I’d be able to fight him with no weapon, the Night Sister appeared.

The wanderer revealed.

The wanderer – whose real name is Taron Malicos – seemed to be armed with two lightsabers. Either that or he has a very ornate belt buckle! I wondered if Cal would be able to steal one or might even be given one, but it turns out that years on Dathomir have turned Malicos to the dark side. He even controls at least one faction of Night Brothers. He attempted to recruit Cal into whatever cult he has going on, which angered the Night Sister as she believed all Jedi need to die as punishment for the attack on her coven. After a brief conversation, the Night Sister raised another group of undead, and the race was on for Cal to make it back to the Mantis!

The Night Sister uses her magic.

I didn’t see what happened to Malicos in all the confusion. He may have escaped – and it seems like, from a story point of view at least, Cal will still have to deal with him somehow. My immediate concern, however, was that Cal was unarmed and now being pursued by the largest group of zombies seen so far. These zombies can jump, meaning crossing the bridge provided no safety. More zombies appeared as Cal raced back through the level, barking at Greez and Cere to prepare the Mantis for takeoff. The ramp I spotted before was a shortcut – and I was able to utilise it to return to the Mantis with the zombies in hot pursuit!

The escape from Dathomir.

Cal made it back to the ship in one piece, and though a number of zombies tried to climb aboard, Greez was able to take off and flee the planet. Cere and Cal sat down for a heartfelt conversation, as Cal revealed his broken lightsaber to her. Cal was sure he could have saved Master Tapal – all the guilt he’s felt for years came spilling out. Cere responded by telling Cal that she cut herself off from the Force because in order to escape the Empire she gave in to the dark side. The pull of the dark side is something every Jedi will have to deal with, she says. Learning about the holocron snapped her out of her rage and anger at the Empire and at herself – providing her with hope that there could be a brighter future.

A dejected and defeated Cal aboard the Mantis.

What will happen next is unclear. The Mantis flew to a snowy location that I initially thought may be Zeffo, but now I’m sure is not, and after landing Cere told Cal it was time to build himself a new lightsaber. She offered him her own, and he took it. This planet may be some kind of Jedi training ground – Cere was a former Jedi seeker, after all. After landing on the snowbound planet, I checkpointed my progress and stepped away from the game.

The Mantis lands on the snowy world.

So this was a very long session, with some quite frustrating points but a great story. Jedi: Fallen Order has taken Cal – and me along with him – on a rollercoaster ride so far. Conquering his fears and guilt seem to be the key to entering the tomb – but first Cal will need to rebuild his broken weapon. Hopefully the Zeffo Astrium will be worthwhile when he finally gets it. I’m assuming that won’t be our final visit to Dathomir. Not only does Cal need to access the tomb, but both the Night Sister and Malicos need to be confronted to conclude that section of the story satisfactorily.

Join me next time and we’ll see what happens next – and where we are!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 9

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise. There is also a spoiler for Game of Thrones Season 8.

Welcome back to Jedi: Fallen Order. After avoiding the Second Sister’s forces on Zeffo, and escaping imprisonment by a gang of gambling-obsessed bounty hunters, Cal and the gang got a lead on the location of Wookie chieftain Tarfful. I was all set to head back to Kashyyyk when Cere suggested a return to Bogano in search of hidden caches of supplies. At the end of the last part of this playthrough, we had just landed on Bogano, so that’s where we’ll pick up now.

Cal and the Stinger Mantis at the landing zone. The spire in the background is the vault we’re trying to access.

I haven’t exactly been wild about Jedi: Fallen Order’s style of sending me back-and-forth between the same levels. Returning to a previously-visited level is fine for completionists who have to unlock every last item, but generally speaking I’m here for the story. However, the chance to acquire some new loot was enticing enough to convince me to backtrack, and I’m very glad I did. After landing, Cal spoke with both Greez and Cere – these were basically continuations of the chats he had with them last time. Cere expressed her regret at not telling Cal about Trilla and her past with the Empire sooner. Greez had a line that I found interesting: Cere is the one “paying the bills” for their expedition; he’s literally just a hired pilot, though they have become friends. This raised a question for me that may be wholly irrelevant, but I can’t help wonder where Cere got the funds for all this star-hopping. Though the economy of the Star Wars galaxy has always been suitably ambiguous, Cere must be reasonably wealthy to be able to afford to keep hiring Greez and the Mantis. Yet as an ex-Jedi and fugitive from the Empire, where did she get her money?

Cal and Greez chat near the Mantis.

At the landing site there was a ramp that led down into a small chamber. Inside was a little fox-like creature; Cal rescued it and it will now have a home aboard the Mantis. Also in this area was another sphere-and-socket puzzle, which upon completion opened up an area containing a chest. We’d found one of these chests during our first visit to Zeffo, and inside was an upgrade for BD-1, allowing him to carry one more stim (health pack). This alone made the trip worthwhile, and after thinking I wasn’t going to spend much time here in my rush to get to Kashyyyk, I was suitably buoyed by gaining an extra stim to revisit more of Bogano in the hopes of finding more loot!

BD-1 acquires an extra stim-pack.

Outside of this area were a few more of the fox-creatures, but the hostile enemies that we encountered on Bogano the first time all seemed to have vanished. I used the holomap to try to scout out unexplored areas and places where previously-blocked paths were now accessible. In what had presumably been Master Cordova’s camp – where Cal met BD-1 for the first time – was a surprise, though! A large droid was waiting for Cal, and seemed to speak with a human voice as if being controlled remotely. After defeating it, it turned out to be affiliated with the bounty hunter collective that Cal escaped last time. This felt like a bad sign: was Cal being hunted by two groups now?

The bounty droid.

After collecting a couple of lightsaber components, Cal faced off against another large monster. We fought one of these after exiting the vault on Bogano the first time, and more recently in the bounty hunter’s arena. It was a tough fight, but Cal received a great reward – another new poncho. This one is my favourite: it’s pink! Unless he later finds one covered in sequins or rhinestones I doubt I’ll be changing outfits for the rest of the game. Cal looks like a pretty princess.

Cal’s pretty new outfit.

There were a couple of other things to see on Bogano; at one point Cal and Cere spoke on the radio about her time as Master Cordova’s apprentice. They enjoyed playing holo-chess together, which was a cute little story adding to Cere’s background. There was one final unexplored area left, and to my great surprise when I got there I found another chest with a stim upgrade. This means BD-1 can now carry five stims as opposed to the two he was equipped with at the start of the game. This obviously helps a lot, as a couple of times Cal has run out of stims during particularly difficult sections. After retrieving this second stim I was content that I’d picked up as many of the supplies as I was going to find, so back at the Mantis I set course for Kashyyyk.

Cal and the gang on the bridge of the Stinger Mantis.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on Kashyyyk. Mari – the resistance fighter Cal befriended last time – had said the Empire’s counter-attack led to them taking back control of the facility we attacked last time. It always felt like the resistance was fighting that kind of engagement; expecting them to keep control of an Imperial facility didn’t seem feasible. However, their situation appears grim. With Saw Gerrera having retreated away from Kashyyyk, it wasn’t clear who would still be there, or even where the Mantis would be able to land. As it turned out, the Mantis was able to land at the same Imperial landing pad as last time – though given the Empire is now in full control of this area, I’m not exactly sure how or why that was possible other than “because it’s a game”. As I said before about Zeffo, given that we’re going to be taking a different route this time and exploring a different area away from the Imperial base, I’d have preferred to see the Mantis pick a new landing zone. Splitting Kashyyyk and Zeffo into two wholly separate levels for the two visits Cal had to make to each would have gone some way to making these sections feel less repetitive and less like backtracking.

The fox-creature Cal found on Bogano now lives aboard the Mantis!

There were no enemies to fight at the landing pad, and though both Cere and Greez were stood outside the ship, neither had anything to say. Presumably we’d used up their dialogue on the jaunt to Bogano. There was evidence of a battle on the landing pad, as Cal sensed a Force echo from a discarded resistance fighter’s helmet. Trilla had been here in search of Cal, and had killed the resistance fighter while looking for him. Cal felt very guilty at unleashing the Jedi-hunters on these resistance fighters; while they would have had a hard time holding out against the Empire, they were no match for Trilla and her Purge troopers.

The dead resistance soldier’s helmet.

Also at the landing pad were Mirienna and Choyyssyk – Mirienna was the woman from Zeffo who Cal met; her husband had been killed by the Empire. Choyyssk was a Wookie who Cal freed from the prison; he was the one who set up the meeting with Tarfful, the chieftain we’re here to meet. Tarfful wasn’t here, though, he was at a rendezvous point in Kashyyyk’s Shadowlands. After a brief chat in which Mirienna revealed she too is leaving the planet, Cal wished them well and headed out. I was excited at the prospect of heading into the Shadowlands. I mentioned this area on our last visit to Kashyyyk as I’d played through it in Knights of the Old Republic. Compared to that game, the presentation of Kashyyyk in Jedi: Fallen Order was quite different; less like a massive forest with kilometres-tall trees and more like a dense jungle. However, all that was about to change!

Cal with Mirienna and Choyyssyk at the landing zone.

A cable-car took Cal to the Imperial facility’s rooftop, where last time we’d defeated the AT-ST and listened to Saw Gerrera’s speech. From here, the only way forward was to take an elevator into the facility and find a way out into the forest from there. I had a bad feeling about the elevator – last time Cal rode one the doors opened to reveal Trilla! And this time was almost as bad: Cal arrived in the Imperial facility only be confronted by two bounty hunters. This was one of the hardest fights so far in Jedi: Fallen Order for me. Both bounty hunters had a variety of weapons and stun-gadgets at their disposal, including flashbang grenades which turned the screen white, blinding Cal temporarily. However, after focusing on one opponent at a time (and using a couple of stim-packs) Cal was able to defeat one of them, before a well-timed use of Force push sent the second falling to his death. Thank goodness for enemies who choose to fight on ledges and platforms!

The two bounty hunters.

I can’t tell if the bounty hunters are always in this location, or whether their appearances are somewhat random. However, one thing is clear – having encountered the droid on Bogano and now these two, the bounty hunter guild is hunting Cal. Surprisingly this wasn’t mentioned at all; I wondered whether Cal might’ve told Greez what had happened, but he never did. After this fight there were several Stormtroopers and a Purge trooper to defeat, before BD-1 was able to take down a forcefield allowing Cal to exit the base and head into the forest.

The way out of the Imperial base.

After exiting the base, Kashyyyk finally started to take on a similar feel to how I remembered it from Knights of the Old Republic in the early 2000s. At points, Jedi: Fallen Order’s Kashyyyk Shadowlands felt like a visually-improved version of the level from the older game, and I absolutely adored the nostalgia trip of exploring this dangerous forest floor. Gone were most of the jungle elements that Cal saw on the route to the Imperial base last time, replaced with a dense forest. I have no doubt Kashyyyk’s wroshyr trees are based on California’s giant redwoods, and while I’ve never seen those for myself I’ve seen photos and at least one documentary! A short distance from the base were several Stormtroopers armed with rocket launchers in a treehouse-platform, and credit to the game’s designers here because the platform looked just like the ones seen in Revenge of the Sith. Yoda was in such a treehouse when Order 66 occurred.

The treehouse.

From here a zipline led deeper into the forest, and there were a variety of animal and plant(!) enemies to battle. Tarfful sure picked an out-of-the-way location for a meeting! But that makes sense as he wouldn’t have wanted to get any closer to the Imperial base than necessary. There was a Force echo in this area which showed Saw and Mari arguing – believing Kashyyyk lost, Saw has withdrawn as we already knew. But Mari insisted on staying behind to help the Wookies in their resistance to the Empire. I’m still hopeful Saw will reappear in the game, as Cal’s story with him doesn’t feel complete. This section contained several giant venus fly trap-like plants, which are more than big enough to eat Cal! Luckily there’s a couple of seconds between stepping on one and it snapping shut, which is enough time in most cases to jump off before having a problem.

A jaw plant.

After battling a few more troopers, Cal was able to advance deeper into the forest. Another Force echo saw Cal learn about the resistance’s retreat from the Imperial base; at one point they were overrun and a number of soldiers were killed. After climbing through a cave, Cal dropped down into a body of water called Origin Lake, and was getting closer to Tarfful – whose rendezvous location was marked on the holomap.

Cal learns the fate of many of the resistance soldiers.

There was another Purge trooper to battle in this area as well as the standard troopers and monsters, and Cal had some swimming to do to get out of the lake. Climbing up eventually led to a couple of vines, and after swinging across like a fabulously pink Tarzan, Cal made it to the meeting with Tarfful. For some reason Choyyssyk was there too, having apparently raced there from the landing pad. Having a companion during this section of the game could have been interesting, and it could have been fun for Choyyssyk and Cal to journey through Kashyyyk together. The meeting itself was a complete let-down, as Tarfful basically says that he once told Master Cordova to climb a large tree – the Origin Tree. And that was it. No big reveal or useful information, and the conversation with Tarfful and Mari was over in a couple of minutes. At least there was a reason for Cal to head to his next objective, though; you’ll recall my complaining several times at the game dumping objectives and map markers on Cal with no explanation given!

Tarfful and Mari at the rendezvous.

I was really expecting something more substantial from Tarfful, especially after all the buildup to meeting him. Even if he’d still given Cal the same basic information and quest, the conversation at the meeting could have been so much more than it was. It wasn’t even a cut-scene, as Cal stood there stoically while Mari translated Tarfful’s Wookie growls. Mari gave Cal a breather – the device used by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace – to allow him to breathe underwater, as the way in to the Origin Tree will require a lot of swimming. As an aside, Electronic Arts, who published Jedi: Fallen Order, have an online store/game launcher called Origin. Is it just a coincidence that the Origin Tree and Origin Lake share its name? Probably. An optional extra chat with Mari revealed that before taking up arms against the Empire she was a cartographer, making maps of backwater planets. Little moments like this go a long way to humanising characters and making them feel like real people. While I expect we’ve seen the last of Mari, this moment was sweet and it showed how the rise of the Empire affected people across the galaxy.

Getting the breather from Mari.

After the anticlimactic rendezvous, Cal set off in search of the tree. Equipped with the breather, he can now dive underwater and seemingly spend as long under the surface as he likes. Swimming is something many games struggle to get right, and unfortunately some of the same issues that have plagued other titles are present in Jedi: Fallen Order. I’ve already spoken several times about the game’s relatively clunky controls, and in a three-dimensional underwater environment, Cal controls like a drunk hippopotamus. It was very difficult to get him to navigate even the widest of caves and openings, and the fact that Kashyyyk’s murky water doesn’t allow for great visibility when swimming made these sections of the game frustrating to play at points. However, there were several chests underwater which contained various lightsaber parts, which was nice. And for the second time while playing Jedi: Fallen Order I got a Super Mario 64 flashback – opening the chests while underwater felt so much like it does in that game to me!

An underwater chest. Note the limited visibility.

Surprisingly – and thankfully, given how tricky it was – the swimming sections contained no underwater monsters or aggressive piranha-like fish to fight off or escape from, and after uncovering a couple of chests, Cal made his way to the next area of the level, which was presumably the base of the Origin Tree (though nothing appeared in-game to confirm this). There were Stormtroopers in the area as well as plenty of monsters; the large spiders being perhaps the most difficult to fight as they could immobilise Cal with their webs (think what happened to Frodo in Lord of the Rings!)

Caught in a spider’s web.

The ascent was slow-going in places, and I debated taking a break. But there were no meditation spots in the vicinity, and I wasn’t keen to have to start all over again from the bottom. By the way, how many games in recent years have this kind of old-school “checkpoint” system instead of letting players save their progress on the fly? Though I’ve never played the Dark Souls series, I think this is something those games brought back as a way to increase the difficulty, and it’s something Jedi: Fallen Order mimics. It definitely has the desired effect, and while the ability to freely save would be nice, I can’t criticise the game for sticking to this model. Cal did eventually make it to the point the holomap was sending him to.

Approaching the objective marker.

This turned into an ambush, however, as the Ninth Sister – another Inquisitor who we briefly saw on Bracca – appeared in her ship! I thought she was going to jump down and duel with Cal, but she remained aboard and started blasting at him, triggering a long sliding sequence as he escaped. This was particularly annoying, as the sliding sections have difficult controls and require perfectly-timed button presses and perfect aiming to complete jumps and avoid Cal falling to his death. This was even worse than the ice slide on Zeffo and took many attempts to get right. At one point Cal was propelled through the air by several well-placed bouncy plant-things (I know that’s a horrible description, sorry) in a sequence that reminded me of the barrel-cannons from the Donkey Kong Country games. The Ninth Sister’s ship was eventually taken down by one of Kashyyyk’s huge animals, though it seemed clear that wouldn’t be the end of her.

Sliding to escape the Ninth Sister.

Luckily there was a meditation spot shortly after the sliding section, which I took advantage of. I opted to improve Cal’s Force push ability; it will now affect groups of enemies, provided they’re standing close enough to one another. This has the potential to be very useful, as I’ve found Force push to be one of my most frequently-used powers during combat. As Cal had slid back down to the forest floor, it seemed as though he’d have to climb back up the Origin Tree to find whatever he was looking for up there, but it wasn’t long after he began the climb that he had a flashback to his time training under Master Tapal. This time Cal was able to learn the “Jedi flip” that he needed to get across that bridge on Dathomir, and after the flashback was over, Cal states that he’s finally re-learned the skills Master Tapal had taught him; he’s “back to where he was” before Order 66 and the rise of the Empire brought his Jedi training – and the whole Jedi Order – to an abrupt end. As previously mentioned, the Jedi flip is basically a double jump, allowing Cal to cross wider gaps and stay in the air longer.

Learning to double jump in a flashback.

Re-learning these skills means that Cal unlocks more upgrades when meditating, but of course having just used the only two skill points he had on the Force push upgrade, the next meditation spot was only used to checkpoint my progress climbing up the Origin Tree. A Force echo showed Cal that Master Cordova had been this way – so at least we were on the right track! There was also a Clone Wars/prequel era ship that had crashed partway up the tree, prompting Cal to talk about how the war on Kashyyyk never truly ended, and how the last few years have been rough for the planet and its people.

Cal on his way up the Origin Tree.

The creature that had taken out the Ninth Sister’s ship was back. I hadn’t really seen it clearly earlier, but it turned out to be a large bird with strangely translucent wings – a shyyyo bird. The fight against the ship had injured it, and Cal found it laying down partway up the tree feeling sorry for itself. Like something from an old fable, Cal was able to remove a piece of debris from its wing and heal it with a stim-pack, becoming fast friends with the creature in the process.

Healing the shyyyo bird.

The bird was grateful for Cal’s help, and flew away from the area where it had been resting. There was another chest in this area that unlocked a different colour scheme for the Mantis, but I like its yellow “space banana” hue so I didn’t apply the new one this time. The shyyyo bird was waiting for Cal, and in the most wholesome and adorable cut-scene it let him climb on its back and flew him higher up the Origin Tree. This scene was reminiscent of the final sequence in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry soars through the sky on Buckbeak the hippogriff!

Flying high on the shyyyo bird.

I was in love with the shyyyo bird – and very worried that it was going to be shot out of the sky like Rhaegal the dragon had been near the end of Game of Thrones’ final season! As you may remember I’m easily swayed by cute animals in films and games, and despite its gigantic size, the shyyyo bird definitely qualifies. After the cut-scene Cal dismounted, and the shyyyo bird left. This area was fairly small and contained the remains of Master Cordova’s camp, as well as a workbench. I took this opportunity to customise Cal’s lightsaber once again – you know I like to play with the various customisation options, and we’d unlocked half a dozen or more lightsaber options since the last time I was at a workbench.

The shyyyo bird coming in for landing.

Thanks to the shyyyo bird, Cal was exactly where he needed to be. Just beyond the area with the workbench, BD-1 played the next recording from Master Cordova. When he passed this way he was able to acquire a Zeffo Astrium – the macguffin Cal is chasing that he hopes is the key to accessing the vault on Bogano.

Master Cordova found a Zeffo Astrium here.

Unfortunately the Zeffo Astrium that was here is long gone – Master Cordova will have taken it with him, but who knows where it ended up. However, he gives Cal his next destination – Dathomir contains another Astrium, but this one is trapped in a tomb that Master Cordova described as being “dark”. Surely this means the dark side of the Force, though what exactly Cal will find when he heads back is unclear. Master Cordova had tried to find the Astrium on Dathomir without success; Cal must now accomplish what a seasoned Jedi Master could not. A tough task indeed.

Cal learns where he must go next.

Immediately beyond the area where the recording played was a meditation spot. Then the shyyyo bird returned to fly Cal back down the tree. However, after landing the Ninth Sister’s ship was back and shot the poor bird! It looked like the end for the shyyyo – which was pretty devastating – and then the Ninth Sister herself jumped down for a duel with Cal. And she’s a big lass.

The Ninth Sister. She’s chunky.

Apparently the Second Sister (Trilla) considers Cal to be “important”, though the Ninth Sister can’t figure out why. She’s content to just cut Cal down, and after a brief conversation in which Cal tells her she will no longer be able to terrorise Kashyyyk, the combatants draw their lightsabers – the Ninth Sister’s has a handguard like Trilla’s – and engage in a difficult duel. While the fight against the Ninth Sister was hard, I actually found the battle against the bounty hunters earlier to be trickier. The Ninth Sister has a few tricks up her sleeve, but nothing as bad as paralysing weapons or flashbangs.

Preparing to duel.

The fight went on for a little while, as Cal had to frequently dodge and parry the Ninth Sister’s powerful attacks. At several points the game would jump into a quick-time event, where mashing the X or B button was required to stop one of the Ninth Sister’s strikes. However, after persevering and striking at her whenever possible, Cal gained the upper hand and ground down her health bar.

One of the quick-time events.

Eventually Cal was able to damage the Ninth Sister’s helmet and – in true Star Wars style – eventually cut off the hand she used to hold her weapon. Despite this she tried to continue the fight, but a final strike from Cal sent her over the edge of the platform. Did she fall to her death? Unclear. Cal definitely believes that this was the end of her, but without seeing a dead body I’m not 100% convinced! Star Wars villains have a tendency to pop back up, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Ninth Sister makes a return.

The Ninth Sister loses her hand.

Regardless, the Ninth Sister’s demise ended the duel, and Cal stood for a moment in shocked silence at having beaten a full-fledged Inquisitor. While wounded, the Ninth Sister told him something interesting – she used to be a Jedi! Like Cere, she was captured and tortured by the Empire, and while Cal still hasn’t fully forgiven Cere for not telling him everything about Trilla and the mission, he now has a better understanding of what she must’ve been through. Despite the way it was presented, I must admit I find this a little ominous; if the Ninth Sister and Trilla were both converted, and we know that Cere used the dark side too in that moment, is she really someone Cal can trust? The shyyyo bird – Buckbeak, as I’m calling it – survived the Ninth Sister’s attack and returned to fly Cal back down the tree.

Buckbeak is alive!

After disembarking and bidding farewell to Buckbeak, Cal headed back to the Imperial base, which wasn’t too far from where he’d been dropped off. The troopers had all respawned, but it wasn’t too hard to cut through them and make my way back into the base.

Force push sent this rocket trooper falling to his death.

I was worried that the bounty hunters would have respawned too, but aside from a lone Purge trooper, there were only regular Stormtroopers to worry about as Cal made his way back to the Mantis. En route Cal found the body of a Wookie near an empty tank, and a Force echo over his or her corpse led Cal to realise that the tanks of brown liquid were a toxic byproduct of the Empire’s refinery on Kashyyyk – this would have been great to know on our first visit to Kashyyyk as it would have explained why Cal instantly died if he touched the liquid. But never mind, at least now we know! It wasn’t too difficult to get back to the cable-car, and from there it was a short ride back to the Mantis.

Cal boards the Mantis.

Despite the fact that the Empire is in full control of this area, neither Greez nor Cere seem particularly bothered or on alert. The Mantis is sat on an Imperial landing pad – presumably illegally – and after what happened on Zeffo I have to assume that the Empire knows Cal is using the vessel. Could they be ignoring it on purpose to track it? That’s one possibility. Greez and Cere were sitting down to eat lunch, and Cal joined them to explain what had happened. Neither seemed especially impressed at his defeating the Ninth Sister, but he informed them of their new destination – Dathomir.

Lunchtime aboard the Mantis… despite being in hostile territory!

Cere apologised again for the business with Trilla, but Cal tells her – in a rather standoffish manner – that it’s okay. After his duel with the Ninth Sister he has a better understanding of what it must’ve been like, and was impressed that she didn’t end up joining the Inquisitors even if she sacrificed Trilla. Though there’s still tension between the two of them, they have at least arrived at an understanding, or at least that’s the way it seems for now. When the lunchtime conversation was over, I used the Mantis’ meditation spot to checkpoint my progress before taking a break.

Cal has a well-deserved drink back aboard the Mantis.

So this part of the game was pretty good. The Tarfful scene, which had a lot of buildup, was kind of a miss for me, but I absolutely adored soaring high above Kashyyyk on Buckbeak the shyyyo bird, and returning to a massively-upgraded version of the Shadowlands that I remembered from Knights of the Old Republic was a nostalgic treat. Cal accomplished his mission and seems to have possibly defeated the Ninth Sister to boot, which if true is great news. The Mantis has a new destination – albeit a planet we’ve already visited – so it’s next stop Dathomir! Come back next time when we’ll confront the darkness in search of a Zeffo Astrium.

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 7

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Oh my goodness! This section of Jedi: Fallen Order was tense, dramatic, and incredibly exciting. I’m having a great time with the game so far, and aside from getting to drive an AT-AT last time – which is now one of my all-time favourite experiences in any Star Wars video game – this might be the best section of the game so far. From a story perspective it was a wild ride! Last time we defeated an Imperial force – including another AT-ST – on Kashyyyk and freed a number of Wookies from slavery. However, the tribal leader Cal and Cere wanted to meet was nowhere to be found – though one of his friends promised to get in touch when they located him – and after Cere picked up an Imperial transmission regarding Project Auger, Cal and the gang were about to return to Zeffo.

Cal and Saw Gererra’s resistance fighters were victorious last time.

I haven’t talked about this before (because I hadn’t really noticed) but the game’s title screen depicts a ship that seems to be destroyed or severely damaged. I can’t tell exactly, but this looks to be some kind of Star Destroyer or similar Imperial craft. It clearly isn’t the Stinger Mantis, but I’m not 100% sure what it is. While I doubt it’s some kind of massive spoiler, I’m sure the title screen is depicting an image related to the game’s story.

The title screen shows a damaged or destroyed ship.

Before setting off I took a moment to look around the Stinger Mantis. There are a couple of doors which don’t open, as well as a ladder that looks like it leads to a second deck below the main one, and I’m curious if we’ll ever get to explore those other rooms and areas. I know I bring up Knights of the Old Republic a lot in these playthrough posts, but in that game the player’s ship – the Ebon Hawk – was able to be fully explored.

Two sealed doors aboard the Mantis.

The galaxy map offered Dathomir and Bogano as destinations, but I can’t see any point going to either of those at the moment. While the option still technically exists, Jedi: Fallen Order feels like it’s corralling me down a specific path. I don’t mind games with a linear story, but it seems as though Jedi: Fallen Order is trying to give itself the appearance of allowing more freedom of choice than it really has – in addition to the travel options we’ve seen a couple of optional conversations and a couple of conversations where dialogue choices pop up, yet none of these things really feel like they make a difference. The journey from Kashyyyk back to Zeffo was smooth; with the Empire on Cal’s tail I keep expecting the Stinger Mantis to come under attack, yet nothing transpired. The ship landed in the same spot as before, though this time Greez and Cere were standing around outside on the landing pad.

In its yellow colour scheme, the Stinger Mantis kind of looks like a giant space banana.

The defeated AT-ST was still on the landing pad – though not in the same place as before, but that’s probably just how the game works – so I assumed no one else had been here since the Mantis’ last visit. It isn’t very clear how much time has passed in-game – Cal was rescued from Bracca, and aside from getting some rest on the Mantis while en route to Bogano that first time, he hasn’t taken a break. That would seem to suggest the action has mostly taken place over one day, unless Cal spends hours at a time meditating at the meditation spots. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. During a conversation with Cere on the landing pad, another dialogue option popped up. As mentioned, these don’t really do much as there’s no in-game reputation system nor relationships with characters to build up.

The dialogue options.

Last time I said that the return to Zeffo could be disappointing if there was a lot of backtracking and retreading old ground, and when I saw the Mantis approach the same landing zone I thought that seemed like a bad sign. Unfortunately I was right – in order to get to the new Imperial excavation site, Cal has to follow the same paths as on his first visit. Having previously opened up a couple of shortcuts some of this wasn’t so bad, but with most of the enemies (troopers and monsters) appearing in identical spots to last time, it feels like this back-and-forth planet-hopping that Jedi: Fallen Order has us engaged in is, at least in part, a way to pad the game’s runtime. I don’t think it would have been too difficult to break up Zeffo into two or more smaller levels – most of the same assets could be reused, but in such a way as each visit would feel unique and different, with the Mantis landing at different locations each time.

Taking a previously-unlocked shortcut.

While battling troopers en route to Cal’s destination, I encountered two more glitches. The first one was fairly minor – as a trooper climbed up onto a ledge he seemed for a few seconds to be standing on thin air on the wrong side of the ledge:

The floating trooper.

The second one was worse, however. Cal was engaged in a fight when all of a sudden the trooper disappeared through the floor, before shooting up a couple of seconds later way above Cal’s head in a weird kind of “rubber-band” effect. As I mentioned previously, Jedi: Fallen Order is less polished than I expected; even if these issues couldn’t be fixed before release, there have been months in which to release a patch.

The flying trooper.

Being back in the abandoned village, Cal was able to use Force push on that drawbridge we saw last time – the one with the red “aura” that I thought could be interacted with. Deploying the bridge provided an alternate (and slightly less time-consuming) route through the level. After retreading more old ground, including an ice slide, Cal had arrived at the spot on the map that he’d been pointed towards – a large Zeffo monument. This was an area we passed by last time, but armed with his new Force push, Cal was able to get inside.

The way in to the monument.

At several points in Jedi: Fallen Order so far, I’ve felt that an extra line or two of dialogue explaining what was happening would have gone a long way to filling in some gaps. The story is great – but at several points now, Cal seems to be doing things for no reason other than “game says so”. Inside the monument, the objective was declared complete and the holomap updated with a new location to reach – yet none of this was even mentioned. Was there supposed to be some dialogue here that didn’t trigger because of another bug? Why is Cal suddenly supposed to make his way to a crash site? The crash site wasn’t on the map until now – did Cal even know it existed five minutes ago? It wouldn’t have even needed a cut-scene, literally a couple of lines of dialogue could have played during gameplay explaining what was going on. As it is, Cal found a workbench to upgrade BD-1 further – this had slightly more explanation, as Cal at least acknowledged he’d found a part he could install in BD-1. Obviously BD-1’s new upgrade will come in handy momentarily, which is why Cal was pushed to go to this location – yet with no acknowledgement or explanation it feels so arbitrary and not like a natural moment in the story.

BD-1’s repaired scomp link was almost immediately put to use.

I had expected that entering this area would have marked the beginning of taking a wholly new path through Zeffo, yet after climbing a short way up and defeating a handful of troopers, Cal was back outside. A zip-line took him back to the same area as before, but at least there was a meditation spot; Cal had a skill point to spend, and I chose to allocate it to increasing his maximum Force points – allowing for more uses of Force powers while in combat. With BD-1’s Scomp Link repaired, the way in to the Imperial base that was sealed on our last visit to Zeffo was accessible. It wasn’t too far from the meditation spot, so Cal and BD-1 hot-footed it there and were able to enter the base with ease.

Cal deflects a blaster bolt inside the Imperial base.

After taking out a small group of troopers in the area immediately inside, I stopped to look around. There was an elevator that didn’t work – presumably another shortcut to unlock for later – a room that BD-1 could open with his new skill, and a staircase leading outside to an area that looked like it could be climbed. The room contained a Force echo – something about a lost artefact from the Imperial excavation – and another meditation spot, which I took advantage of to checkpoint my progress. Jedi: Fallen Order has really captured the aesthetic of Star Wars’ original trilogy perfectly, and though it’s a minor detail, I loved the look of the computer screens in this part of the Imperial base. They just seem so “Star Wars”, with their clunky ’70s design and retro-future graphics.

The screens inside the Imperial base.

After leaving this area, the only way to go was to climb up on a series of ledges. Cal worked his way up to the landing pad where we saw the Project Auger ship take off the last time we were on Zeffo, and after making it to the top, one of the large ice monsters we defeated in the caves was on the platform battling a group of troopers. Rather than jump in the middle and battle two kinds of enemy I left them to it and climbed around the outside. At one point there was another visual glitch, as Cal’s body clipped through a hanging hose or cable. After climbing onto the landing platform, there was only one way to go and that was back into the base. Immediately inside the door was another group of troopers, including a couple of the more difficult variants, but they were soon taken care of.

Ice Monster vs. Scout trooper – with Cal as a spectator!

This part of the base contained a few other troopers, and there were a couple of platforming sections and sections where Cal needed to use both of his Force powers (push and slow) in order to make it through. None of it was particularly challenging or noteworthy, until we encountered another Purge trooper! These are the specialist anti-Jedi troopers that are new to me and haven’t appeared in any other Star Wars games or films, but they didn’t debut in Jedi: Fallen Order; apparently they made their first appearance in a comic book series. The Purge trooper was a difficult mini-boss, but a well-timed use of Force push sent him falling to his demise from the bridge where he fought Cal.

The Purge trooper is defeated.

The area beyond the Purge trooper was uneventful and a door led Cal back outside. A short ice slide (these keep bringing up happy memories of Super Mario 64!) led to another meditation spot, and then we arrived at the crashed ship that had been unceremoniously dumped onto the holomap earlier. It was a Venator-class ship – the kind used by the Republic in the prequel films. The sight of the crashed ship, and seeing how massive in scale it is, was comparable to seeing Rey in the Star Destroyer on Jakku in The Force Awakens, and whether intentional or not, I liked that little tie between two different parts of the franchise. These ships are massive, and exploring it will take some time. A couple of monsters near the ship were easily dispatched, and then there was a sweet moment between Cal and Greez as Cal spotted a smaller crashed vessel. He told Greez he appreciated his piloting and how he always got him safely to the surface, and it was a very wholesome conversation between the two of them. Greez has been a little standoffish at times, and seeing the characters get closer together over the course of the story is great. Hopefully this doesn’t mean something horrible is about to happen to Greez!

Cal speaks to Greez on the radio.

Other than the monsters, the main enemies Cal encountered at the crashed starship were probe droids. These floating robots debuted in The Empire Strikes Back, where one was used to find the Rebel base on Hoth, and we also saw one briefly at the beginning of the game. They made the same noise that they did in the films, and I appreciated that! I speculated early on that the probe droid may have been how the Imperial Jedi-hunters were able to find Cal so quickly after his one brief moment of Force use, and I think that seeing them here and having Cal comment about being “watched” may not 100% confirm that theory – but it certainly lends it more credibility.

A probe droid near the crashed starship.

The probe droids are particularly annoying enemies. They fire standard blaster bolts at Cal, which can be reflected back, but when they become damaged they go into a kind of self-destruct mode and chase after Cal in a kamikaze attack. These proved difficult to outrun and dodge, and several exploding probe droids wounded Cal in this section.

Fighting probe droids in the wreckage.

Inside the wreckage, Cal found a Force echo. This one felt very ominous, as it seemed to show a Clone trooper who was aboard the ship being killed by someone with a lightsaber. This could, of course, be something that happened during Order 66 or even earlier, particularly as a Clone trooper was mentioned, but it could also mean there’s a Sith or other Force-using opponent somewhere. Whether they’re still in the wreckage – which has presumably been here for years – is unknown. Cal made his way down a couple of zip-lines, and at the bottom BD-1 received another upgrade – this time allowing him to climb up zip-lines, opening up different areas and allowing for backtracking. This area contained two of the K2SO-type droids, which I find to be among Jedi: Fallen Order’s most difficult enemies. Taking on two at once was a challenge; Cal ended up needing to use a stim-pack.

The defeated droids.

Another Purge trooper was at the excavation site, and this fight was another tough one. These troopers are great at blocking and dodging, and often have unblockable attacks. These mean an instant button-press is required to dodge, and that can be difficult for me to get right! Occasionally, Jedi: Fallen Order shows what I guess I’d call a “finishing move” when Cal defeats an opponent. These stylised death-blows often involve acrobatic jumps or throws, killing an opponent in style – like something you might see in an old-school fighting game! I was finally able to capture one of these using the game’s photo mode, and I think it looks pretty darn cool!

Cal defeats the Purge trooper.

This next section involved a fair amount of platforming as Cal had to jump, climb, swim, and run along the cavern walls to get further and further into the dig site. There were no troopers along the way, which was very eerie! On the way here in the cable-car, Cal said to BD-1 that he had a bad feeling about what he was going to find here, and the music in this area was perfect. It was incredibly tense and ramped up the apprehension. After arriving at a meditation spot, I wasn’t sure where to go next. There was a zip-line, but Cal couldn’t reach it, and there was a locked door. Eventually I found an elevator, and after stepping inside it began to descend. When it reached its destination the doors hissed open only to reveal… the Second Sister!

The Second Sister on Zeffo.

I knew Cal had a bad feeling about this second leg of his journey on Zeffo, but the fact that it was the Second Sister herself – the game’s biggest villain – was a surprise! I was expecting some kind of tomb-related enemy or perhaps to learn who wielded the lightsaber aboard the crashed ship. The Second Sister knew Cal’s full name, but more importantly she knew about Master Cordova. Cal ignited his lightsaber.

Cal and the Second Sister about to duel.

The Second Sister had been unbeatable – by design – in Cal’s first encounter with her back on Bracca, and the reason I was so surprised to see her on Zeffo at this point in the story is that she’s the game’s main villain, or at least the most significant villain so far. Defeating and/or killing her only partway into the story didn’t feel right; this had to be setting up something else! This was the toughest boss fight in Jedi: Fallen Order so far, way worse than the Tomb Guardians, Purge troopers, or even the AT-STs. The Second Sister is a powerful Force user – I assume some kind of Sith apprentice too – and wields a red lightsaber. She can perform many unblockable attacks as well as use Force powers – including the ability to leap great distances and sprint at Cal.

No, that isn’t a bug. She can jump that high!

The duel was long, and every time Cal seemed to get the upper hand or reduce the Second Sister’s health, she’d come at him with a new attack or dodge the next one, making it hard to land more than a couple of blows on her at a time. Her health meter at the top of the screen was slowly ticking down with each strike, but by the time it was hovering around the halfway point, Cal had already used two of his three available stim-packs! I was getting nervous – this was difficult! When the Second Sister had lost a little over half of her health, she grabbed Cal using the Force in what looked like a Vader-style Force choke, before throwing him across the arena.

The Second Sister uses the Force against Cal.

The transition from the duel to this scripted moment was seamless; a perfect blend of gameplay and an inevitable moment, and it seemed for a second as though she was simply using a new Force power that would make the fight more difficult! However, as Cal crashed through the side of the arena, a cut-scene triggered. The Second Sister approached, lightsaber in hand, and it seemed as though Cal was doomed! But in an instant, BD-1 saved the day by activating a forcefield between the two combatants. This undoubtedly saved Cal’s life!

BD-1 puts up the forcefield.

With Cal safe behind the forcefield, the Second Sister opted to try to sway him and break his resolve through talking. And she had a lot to say. She’s looking for the list of names of Force-sensitive children that Master Cordova hid on Bogano. It didn’t seem possible she could know about it, until she revealed something truly shocking – she used to be Cere’s padawan! When Cere was captured by the Empire, she betrayed her padawan so she could escape, choosing to save herself instead of Trilla – the Second Sister’s real name. She removed her helmet revealing a young woman who couldn’t be much older than Cal.

Trilla – the Second Sister.

Star Wars has had some great unmasking moments over the years! Seeing Darth Vader as a scarred, broken man in Return of the Jedi was an amazing moment, and the reveal of Kylo Ren as a young man in The Force Awakens was pretty good too. I liked this moment with Trilla, as it fits a pattern that goes through other Star Wars titles. As I’ve said before, these moments make Jedi: Fallen Order really feel like I’m taking part in an actual Star Wars adventure.

Trilla talks to Cal through the forcefield.

Unable to get past the forcefield, Trilla had a warning for Cal – beware of Cere. Not only did she choose to save herself, betraying Trilla, but she used the dark side of the Force. Though Cal seemed dismissive at first, I’m sure these accusations will stick in his mind and we’ll eventually see him confront Cere with what he knows. I’m positive she knows who the Second Sister really is – but if she doesn’t that could be a shocking revelation for her. This scene, where Trilla accused Cere of being a dark side user, reminded me of the revelation in Knights of the Old Republic II that Kreia is similarly a dark sider. Both characters have taken on similar roles – mentor figures to the protagonist – and both seem to have a dark secret. Though Trilla may not be the most reliable bearer of information, the game wouldn’t bring up something this significant only for it to turn out to be a lie. Right?

Trilla and Cal end their conversation.

After escaping the situation, Cal was clearly very shaken. I was surprised that he didn’t immediately radio Cere and Greez – but perhaps he needs time to process what Trilla told him. Is it true about Cere? Was Trilla really her apprentice? She can’t be telling the whole unvarnished truth – there are two sides to every story, and I think we deserve to here Cere’s side. After all, if nothing else she did save Cal’s life on Bracca. Cal paused to thank BD-1 for saving his life with the forcefield, and this was a touching moment.

The path toward the tomb.

Escaping Trilla has led Cal to the entry to a new tomb, and there was a meditation spot nearby which I used to restore Cal to full health and replenish BD-1’s supply of stims. Though the forcefield stopped her temporarily, Trilla is still on Zeffo, and if her mission is to kill Cal I feel like we haven’t seen the last of her. There must be another way into the tomb, after all. After checkpointing my progress, I decided to step away and save the exploration of the tomb for next time.

The way in to the tomb.

Wow. What a wild ride it was this time! At first I was disappointed to be covering so much ground from earlier in the game – and I still feel this aspect of the game could have been handled better. But when the second mission to Zeffo got going it really got going! The crashed starship was a sight to behold, we’ve uncovered several mysterious story threads, upgraded BD-1, and then of course, the climax of this part of the story was the duel with the Second Sister.

Learning her identity was an amazing reveal, up there with Star Wars’ best. And if what she said is true, that Cere is a dark side user, then that sets up a potentially very interesting and exciting conflict later in the game. At the very least, Cere has some explaining to do! Something about the way Trilla presented herself, particularly the twinge of sympathy at learning what she’d been through – being betrayed by her Master and captured by the Empire – leads me to wonder if she has a path to redemption and a return to the light side. Whether it happens or not, the fact that the possibility seems to exist is enticing. And I absolutely love that the Second Sister wasn’t another standard evil-for-the-sake-of-it enemy. She has a story – a betrayal, a kidnapping, and a fall to darkness. All of this makes her infinitely more interesting than a lot of villains, and I hope we get to explore more of this fascinating character before the game is over.

Sorry that this part took a couple of days to write up! I hope you’ll stop by next time to see Cal investigate the second Zeffo tomb.

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 6

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.

Cal in the cockpit of the Stinger Mantis before takeoff.

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.

Kashyyyk had been added to the map.

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!

The Stinger Mantis with three Star Destroyers over Kashyyyk.

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.

Cal arrives on Kashyyyk.

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.

The AT-ATs are huge.

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!

Cal and BD-1 sneak up on the AT-AT pilots.

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!

AT-AT vs. AT-AT: Cal and BD-1 score a direct hit!

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.

Meeting Rogue One star Saw Gerrera.

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!

Blowing up a ship on the Imperial landing pad.

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!

Cal and BD-1 survived the crash.

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!

One of the resistance fighters by the Stinger Mantis.

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!

BD-1 on the workbench.

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.

The modified lightsaber.

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.

Saw and Cal discuss their plan.

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.

The landscape of Kashyyyk.

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.

This droid looks like someone slapped black paint all over R2-D2!

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.

The defeated Purge trooper.

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!

A closer look at a Flame trooper.

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.

The glitched pipe. Note how Cal’s feel are clipping through the pipe, and how he isn’t facing the right direction.

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.

Battling the security droid in the prison.

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.

A closer look at the raggedy string-like texture used for the Wookies.

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!

The AT-ST arrives… cue a boss fight!

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.

Cal and Saw part ways on the rooftop of the Imperial base.

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.

Back at the Mantis.

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 5

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome back to the adventures of Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Last time, after being unable to progress on the planet of Dathomir having been thwarted by a metre-wide gap in a bridge, Cal and the gang flew away and ended up on the Zeffo homeworld. After exploring the landing zone and a village the Empire forcibly evicted, we left Cal at a meditation spot near a dark and mysterious cave.

Cal at the entrance to the cave.

Before I started playing properly, I decided to have a bit of a look at Jedi: Fallen Order’s photo mode. By opening this mode the game pauses, and I have free movement of the camera to set up and take screenshots. This has potential advantages over just taking screenshots during regular gameplay, as many different aspects can be controlled – extra lighting, changing angles, changing what’s in or out of focus, etc. I’ve played games that had photo modes before – albeit not many – but this was my first real time messing around with the options and settings. While it may be useful at certain points in Cal’s adventure, I don’t see myself using it for every screenshot, as it’s rather fiddly to use. That’s no criticism of Jedi: Fallen Order, I think that’s just the nature of this kind of free-camera photo mode.

Testing out photo mode on this unfortunate Stormtrooper.

After my photo mode experiment, Cal headed into the cave to see what was inside. The darkness meant he had to once again use his lightsaber as a torch, and after finding a crate with another customisation option or lightsaber part (I forget which, we picked up several of each this time) Cal eventually managed to jump, climb, and tiptoe around the cave to find a switch that illuminated it. Exiting the cave – which was fairly small – led to a path overlooking the village we passed through last time. Here I felt there was some influence of the Himalayas on the design of Zeffo. The long flags, the mountaintops, and the ancient village seemed to give it a Tibetan or Bhutanese feel.

Overlooking the village.

A lone Scout trooper on the path – who ignored Cal while I spent ages lining up the perfect screenshot – was no match for the double-bladed lightsaber. After defeating the trooper, I encountered a glitch. A mountain goat-creature charged at Cal, but fell partway through the path before it could reach him. At first I thought this was something scripted – perhaps a patch of quicksand to be avoided – but it was actually not intentional. The mountain goat remained stuck, and Cal was easily able to kill it as it had a hard time fighting back.

The mountain goat-creature stuck in the terrain.

There have been a few bugs in Jedi: Fallen Order so far, and I’ve documented them as they’ve cropped up. The only really significant one was the camera getting stuck in that narrow hallway on Dathomir, the others – like this one – have really been quite minor. But minor issues can stack up in a game, and Jedi: Fallen Order is certainly not as polished as I might’ve expected it to be. Further along this mountain pathway, and after jumping across a couple of obstacles, Cal stumbled upon a group of oblivious Stormtroopers.

Cal was able to get very close to these troopers.

I suspect that if I cranked up the difficulty to one of the higher settings, Cal might’ve been spotted by the troopers sooner – it seems like that’s how the game should work anyway! The troopers put up a fight, but Cal got the better of them in the end and was able to progress further along the path. This section featured several rotating platforms that Cal had to use the Force on in order to jump on them, making this section of the game – and indeed Zeffo in general, as we’ll see later – much more akin to a 3D platformer than a standard action game. I mentioned in one of the earlier parts that the game is clearly inspired by titles like Tomb Raider, and I think this hits that point home.

One of many rotating platforms.

Beyond the platforms were more mountain pathways (without the Force, how can the Stormtroopers get from place to place? Hmm…) and after a short walk, Cal stopped to look at a statue carved into a nearby mountain. This is supposedly a representation of a Zeffo – though I would’ve said it looked at least somewhat similar to the Prothean character from Mass Effect 3, particularly in terms of the shape of the head. Cal noted that the statue must indicate that he’s going the right way – and in a game which has occasionally been unclear about which way to go, confirmation I was on the right track was nice.

The Zeffo statue.

After a little more jumping and climbing, Cal battled a handful of Stormtroopers and a couple of monsters before sliding down an icy path to the next part of the level. The sliding feature seemed really fun and innovative when we first saw it on Bracca, but it’ll be used several more times on Zeffo (as well as at least once on Bogano) and as fun as it was that first time, it isn’t my favourite element of the game. Variety is good, but as we’ll see more acutely later, some aspects of Jedi: Fallen Order’s controls can feel very clunky and ham-fisted – pushing a stick a fraction of a centimetre should send Cal a short distance or make a minor adjustment, but both Cal and the camera swing around wildly, making aiming during some of these sliding sections difficult. Several of the sliding sections end with a sheer drop, requiring a perfectly-angled jump to hit the next path or to grab a vine, and with the clunky, inaccurate controls it’s too easy to mess up and see Cal fall to his death multiple times in the same place.

One of the icy slides.

Beyond the ice slide, and past a few more hapless Stormtroopers, Cal witnesses an Imperial ship departing a facility. I liked the design here, it was reminiscent of the base used by Galen Erso in Rogue One. The Star Wars franchise has always been good at keeping a similar aesthetic across its titles, and this base could easily have been lifted from that film. Cal also passed a wall that had the same glowing red aura as the bridge we had to bypass in the last part of the playthrough – I was certain by this point that Cal was en route to a place where he could learn a new Force power!

An Imperial ship departs the base on Zeffo.

Over the radio, Cere tells Cal that the ship is carrying “artefacts” bound for the Imperial capital of Coruscant. There’s a very ominous line in this conversation about the Emperor potentially being involved, though whether we’ll actually see old Palpatine appear in person isn’t clear! The level so far has been a fairly linear path, sending Cal more or less in one direction – culminating in the scene where the ship departs. On this ledge is a doorway that presumably leads into the Imperial base, but it’s sealed and there’s no way in. After backtracking and getting a little lost, I ended up pulling up the in-game holomap to find where to go.

There’s no way in!

However, I have to confess that I don’t find the holomap particularly easy to use. It’s necessary, given Jedi: Fallen Order’s large levels, to find some way to represent areas at different elevations, but the holomap is clunky and awkward to use, and its all-blue appearance doesn’t make finding things any easier. I also found out later on that opening the holomap doesn’t pause the game, meaning Cal can be attacked while checking the map.

The in-game holomap.

Map issues aside, the next section of the level was quite fun. There was some more platforming to do, including balancing on a narrow ledge, and a variety of different Stormtroopers have now popped up. In addition to the standard blaster-wielding troopers, there are rocket troopers, who are unsurprisingly armed with bazookas, and heavy troopers, who carry a minigun with a small shield. The minigun blasts come at Cal very fast, but luckily only in short bursts. I found it was possible to deflect or block most of them most of the time. The rocket troopers were harder to avoid, however, as not only can their shots not be blocked or deflected, but they explode on impact, and even if they don’t hit Cal directly if they’re close enough they can still hurt him.

The two new trooper types.

After the platforming came another short ice slide, and beyond that was a dark hallway. Inside, Cal found a computer console and played a recorded message from a Stormtrooper. Something called “Project Auger” was mentioned – I’m sure this won’t be the last time we hear about this secret Imperial mission! The story of Jedi: Fallen Order has been great so far, and Project Auger fits in perfectly with what Star Wars fans expect from the Empire. Moments like this make it feel like I’m taking part in a real mission in that galaxy far, far away.

Listening to the Stormtrooper.

Whatever Project Auger is – for now we still have no idea – it’s bigger than just this one site on Zeffo. If I were to speculate I’d say it’s something connected with tracking down Force-sensitive people, since that’s Cere and Cal’s overarching quest right now. But the trooper mentioned looking for data and artefacts – not people – so perhaps what they’re looking for are ancient relics connected to the Force? Something like a holocron, perhaps? I’m sure we’ll come to know more later, but I like to guess! Theorising is all part of the fun! After listening to the trooper, Cal headed back outside to an area where large platforms were rapidly moving in and out of the moutainside. Cal needed to use the Force to slow the platforms down one by one in order to make it across, but this was a relatively straightforward puzzle.

Use the Force, Cal!

A meditation spot beyond the platforms made for a nice spot to rest and checkpoint my progress, but I wasn’t ready to stop playing. Cere jumps on the radio again to inform Cal his presence has been noticed by the Imperials – and to be fair he has cut down at least a couple of dozen by this point, so that’s to be expected. A dropship appeared in the area beyond the meditation spot, and a number of troopers jumped out. This fight was tricky, as there were a variety of troopers including two of the stronger Scout trooper commanders, but Cal was eventually able to prevail – and I’m kind of proud of taking on such a big fight without dying once!

The vanquished Scout trooper commanders.

Another icy slide after defeating the group of troopers led Cal to an underground area with a few monsters to defeat. Beyond that, we finally found what we came to Zeffo for: an ancient tomb. A storm swirling around the tomb hindered the Empire’s communications, but there were no troopers in sight, just a handful of monsters and a meditation spot. In fact, we wouldn’t see any more Imperials for a long time! The storm raged, swirling in circles around a single point. Cal was able to use his Force power to slow the storm and cross safely into its eye – an area containing a giant metallic ball.

Approaching the eye of the storm.

BD-1 scanned some more ancient Zeffo symbols, then Cal stepped on a switch – revealing that the whole platform, ball and all, was a large elevator. The descent into the tomb was slow, but there was plenty to see on the way down, as well as another recording from Master Cordova to listen to. I stand by what I said earlier, though. Despite what Cere said about BD-1 being an “encrypted” droid, I bet a black market hacker could get Cordova’s logs out without needing to visit all of these places to see the recordings! The large ball/sphere in the centre of the elevator platform had the same red aura that we’ve seen several times on Zeffo, indicating it may be possible to interact with it in future.

Ancient Zeffo symbols on the elevator.

The tomb was huge! I think it’s fair to treat the tomb and the surface of Zeffo as two different levels, despite them being connected. There was a whole new aesthetic for the tomb, different obstacles, and fewer enemies. Where the surface of Zeffo had some platforming elements and a lot of monsters and troopers to fight, the tomb is a maze of passageways with several puzzles and only a couple of mini-bosses. We could take a break here and split this into two parts, but as I played it all in one sitting I think I’m going to stick with writing up one play session at a time. So refill your drink if you need to, and let’s crack on!

Entering the tomb.

After the elevator touched down, there were two paths. One was a dead-end, but the other had a weird exploding plant thing, which Cal and BD-1 agreed looked disgusting, and a narrow passageway to squeeze through. This led into the first hallway of the tomb. The lighting in this section deserves a lot of credit. We’ve seen pitch-black areas several times in Jedi: Fallen Order, and for short sections that can work well and provide mystery and a sense of danger. But as mentioned, the tomb we’ve entered is so large that despite it seeming logical to make it fully dark, I feel that would have made it far too difficult – some of the puzzles were tricky enough as it is! Instead of total darkness, Jedi: Fallen Order has turned the brightness down a little, giving everything a slightly washed-out blue-grey hue that I think did a good job conveying that this is a dark area but without being too dark to be enjoyable to play through. Things like this can seem minor – who cares about lighting in a game compared to the story, right? But they go a long way to making a level fun to play, and for me, Jedi: Fallen Order did this perfectly.

Shortly after entering the tomb, with another of the weird plant-things.

After a short section of jumping between platforms, Cal ended up going down another icy slide into a large room. There was one of those large metallic spheres that we saw on the elevator, and several switches on the sides of the room. Activating a switch caused a jet of air to shoot out of the wall. If the ball was in the way of the jet, it would roll around the outside of the circular room. The objective was to get the sphere into a clearly-marked cavity in the centre of the room (think like a ball-and-socket and you’re on the right track). The only way to do this was to activate the right air jets in the right order, but there weren’t many and this wasn’t particularly difficult. Cal acquired the second of three “Force Essences” for his trouble – getting the third would give him more Force points, which would mean he’d be able to use more Force powers in combat.

Puzzle complete!

Leaving the circular room behind, Cal headed to a hallway which opened out into a large chamber. Opening another switch caused a jet of air to roll another sphere into a divot, which in turn caused platforms to rise from the floor. Climbing these led Cal into another hallway, and by this point I was getting excited! The holomap seemed to indicate that Cal was perhaps one or two rooms away from the objective, so I thought it would be a hop, skip, and a jump to the end of the level. But that didn’t quite turn out to be the case! Below the raised platforms I could see a statue that resembled the Zeffo carving we saw on the surface, only smaller. It felt like a trap, and I was right! As Cal got closer the golem sprung to life, shooting a laser from its chest and trying to stomp him! After dodging and wildly swinging the double-bladed lightsaber (which still looks awesome in its orange hue, by the way) Cal was victorious.

Cal vs. the tomb guardian.

We’ve been seeing objects with a red glow or aura since last time, and I was sure Cal would eventually be able to interact with them somehow. Finally, in this next area, Cal re-learned the necessary skill: the trusty old Force push that every Jedi should know! After coming upon a wall blocking his path, Cal drew upon an old memory to re-learn the skill.

About to learn the Force push ability.

This took the form of what appeared at first to be a Force echo, but after appearing to get hit by a rock while using his ability to sense what had happened, Cal ended up having a full-on flashback to his time training under Jedi Master Jaro Tapal. We’ve seen one prior glimpse of this training – and I still think more effort could have gone into the training room used for these flashbacks, as it’s awfully bland. The training session consists of Cal using the Force to push a ball into a target, under Master Tapal’s watchful eye.

Master Tapal training Cal in a flashback.

The flashback jogged Cal’s memory, and he’s now able to use the Force to push objects – even breaking weak walls or damaged doors in some places. And of course he can now push those spheres around too! Force pushing the wall caused it to break, finally opening up the chamber that the map has been pointing us toward this whole time. The chamber beyond contained a single tomb guardian (the golem things I mentioned earlier) who was difficult to defeat, but not impossible.

A closer look at a tomb guardian, courtesy of the game’s databank.

This chamber is the heart of the tomb, and it’s what Master Cordova wanted whoever came after him to find. BD-1 displays a recording of Cordova talking a little about the Zeffo and the tomb. However, from our point of view the key thing we needed to know was where to go next in this scavenger hunt/wild goose chase that Master Cordova has set up. He looked at the detail in one of the stone carvings and surmised it to be representing a wroshyr tree from the planet Kashyyyk – that’s right, Cal is headed to Chewbacca’s homeworld!

Master Cordova with the tree carving.

One thing that’s fantastic in any game is when optional cosmetic customisation options are reflected in cut-scenes. While a lot of games get this right – even going back to the early 2000s, where Knights of the Old Republic would show off the player character – some games to this day still have pre-recorded cut-scenes that show the player character sans any customisation. Jedi: Fallen Order shows Cal and BD-1 in whatever outfit and paint job is chosen for them, and the Stinger Mantis is equally represented in its takeoffs and landings, and I really appreciate the little extra effort it takes to make that happen.

Cal – in his appropriate attire – listens to Master Cordova’s recording.

You know those games where upon completing the mission or the level you’re taken to the next one straight away, maybe with a cut-scene in between? Or those other games where completing a long and complicated dungeon or level unlocks a shortcut back to the entrance to make it easy to get on with the story? Yeah… Jedi: Fallen Order is neither of those games. After listening to the recording in the tomb (and making sure the giant Zeffo sarcophagus wasn’t, in fact, another golem waiting to attack) Cal must make his way back to the Stinger Mantis from here.

I really thought this was going to wake up and be a boss to fight!

Puzzles in games can be great fun. And in a tomb like this, ancient puzzles that are well-designed can make getting to the objective a challenge to enjoy and take pride in overcoming. But the driving force in a game like Jedi: Fallen Order is its story, and having acquired a new destination for Cal and the gang, I was keen to get on with it and get back to the ship. I didn’t want to spend more time in a tomb that I’d already completed, and if I’d been designing this level I’d have moved all of the next puzzles to before the Cordova recording, and provided an immediate pathway out – I think that would have made it more enjoyable.

Moving these balls was hard work.

Perhaps this is just sour grapes on my part, though! After using a meditation spot outside of the room with the sarcophagus, it took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to get two more of the large metal spheres and move them into the right spots on the ground to open a pathway out – if you recall, the way in was down an icy slide, and Cal can’t climb up those.

One of the balls in flight.

This puzzle was annoying in part because, as mentioned, the story on Zeffo (for now, at least) has concluded, meaning the only objective was to get back to the ship and continue the plot. It was also frustrating, though, because of how Cal’s new Force push ability works. In order to get the spheres into the right place (after locating them) Cal had to use Force push as the spheres are too large to do anything else with. However, while Force push is great on things like walls or for pushing enemies, when it comes to fine control and aiming, Jedi: Fallen Order’s clunky controls became a problem for me. The spheres were very difficult to aim and manoeuvre, and while the game allows a little leeway in getting them into place there isn’t a lot of room for error. This whole section felt like trying to play a bad game of mini-golf or something, and I found the puzzle to be more annoying than fun overall. While searching for spheres I found the third Force Essence and increased Cal’s Force points, which was a bonus.

The sphere on the elevator.

After I did eventually get the balls placed correctly, it was a fairly smooth route backtracking through the upper levels of the tomb to get back to the elevator. After resetting the elevator and riding it back up, Cere jumps on the radio. She and Cal agree to go to Kashyyyk to speak to a Wookie chief who was a friend of Master Cordova. The elevator emerges back at the entry to the tomb, which is now crawling with Stormtroopers – has Cal led them there? And if he has, will they learn the secrets of the Zeffo too? It’s hard to see how the Empire can learn very much without BD-1 and the recordings from Master Cordova, but it’s possible that they’re looking for something else in the ruins, something connected to this Project Auger. It’s also possible that they’re hunting Cal!

The exit to the tomb with a squad of Stormtroopers!

After defeating the troopers, I was expecting to go back through the level and perhaps take advantage of one or two points where Cal could use his Force push ability to create shortcuts. There were also the shortcuts from the village to the hangar that we found last time. However, I’m not entirely sure whether I took a wrong turn or if this is the way the game sent me, because Cal ended up riding an Imperial cable-car thing into an ice cave where an excavation is taking place. There was another meditation spot here, and at one of these (I forget which) Cal was able to level up and learn a new skill.

The ice cave.

This ice cave featured a very annoying ice slide. Most of the others have been fairly straightforward, even the one where Stormtroopers were shooting at Cal! But this one had a jump, a U-turn, and then a second jump that required perfect aiming to hit an updraft and a perfectly-timed button press to avoid Cal falling to his death and having to replay the whole slide over again. It took several attempts to complete, and all the while I was reminded of the snowy mountain level in Super Mario 64. Only the ice slide there was more fun.

Welcome to Jedi: Fallen Order… apparently.

In addition to a couple of Stormtroopers, the ice cave had a large monster to fight; another mini-boss. Though each of its attacks did a fair amount of damage, Cal was able to defeat it, and even severed one of its limbs with his lightsaber in the process. I’d seen Cal’s lightsaber bisect monsters before but this was the first time I’d seen it specifically take off a limb. Though it may be fairly gruesome, I felt overall it added to the immersion, as we know lightsabers should be able to do that, and we’ve seen it in the Star Wars films. I understand why they chose not to let this happen to human opponents, though!

Don’t worry, he’s ‘armless!

While riding the next cable-car out of the ice cave, Cere tells Cal over the radio that the Empire has identified him as being the Jedi they encountered on Bracca. I felt sure this would mean the Second Sister – the Imperial Inquisitor who tried to kill Cal at the start of the game – would make an appearance, so I hot-footed it back to the Mantis. A shortcut opened up, finally allowing Cal to emerge from the caves near to the landing zone. However, there was a pretty big obstacle between Cal an the ship: an AT-ST walker!

The AT-ST.

The walker was attacking the Mantis, and I was reminded of the episode in The Mandalorian where the protagonist and his mercenary ally must similarly take on an AT-ST to defend a group of villagers. With the usual caveat that I’m playing the game on its easiest difficulty, I found the fight wasn’t as tricky as I expected. The AT-ST could shoot and also drop explosive charges, all of which had to be dodged as they cause major injuries to Cal. But I was able to basically pin the AT-ST against the Mantis, and after dodging the explosives, hammer away at it with the various attacks Cal has learned. Repeating this a few times brought the walker crashing down. I thought that was it, but its pilot then got up and started blasting at Cal! Luckily he was easier to defeat than his machine had been.

The vanquished AT-ST and pilot.

With the AT-ST being the final boss of the level, it didn’t seem as if we’d get to face off against the Inquisitor. Cal boarded the Mantis and a cut-scene triggered as he talked to Cere and Greez about what he’d discovered in the tomb. Going to Kashyyyk was what both Cal and Cere wanted, but Greez was nervous, telling them the area is crawling with Imperials who have been trying to suppress the Wookies. Though I think the film is set a little later in the timeline than this, we saw in Solo: A Star Wars Story that Wookies would be taken by the Empire for slave labour – I wonder if we’ll see some aspect of that when we get to Kashyyyk.

Explaining to the others what happened, and where to go next.

After the cut-scene, there was nothing left but to head to Kashyyyk. Cal’s Force push ability still won’t help him jump that small gap on Dathomir that he can’t get over, so Kashyyyk is the only destination we have right now. I retired to the Mantis’ rear cabin to use the meditation spot, and that’s where this section of the playthrough finally ended.

Cal hanging out on the Mantis.

This was a long session, so thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end. We basically completed two levels here – the surface of Zeffo and the tomb. However, I think we’ll be coming back this way in future, even if only to access that Imperial base and see what’s going on inside. The Zeffo are beginning to remind me somewhat of Knights of the Old Republic’s Rakatan Empire – both are ancient, supposedly-vanished races that were powerful millennia ago. Are we going to encounter some surviving Zeffo? I wonder.

I had a great time in this section of the playthrough, despite the frustrating puzzle section in the tomb. Jedi: Fallen Order has an engrossing story, and that goes a long way to covering up any minor imperfections in its gameplay, at least in my opinion. It’s always going to be more enjoyable for me to play a game with occasionally frustrating gameplay and a great story than vice-versa!

So that’s it, join Cal and I next time for our excursion to Kashyyyk. This is a world I visited in Knights of the Old Republic, so I have some idea of what to expect! I wonder if it’ll match my expectations?

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 4

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, as well as for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome back to Jedi: Fallen Order! Last time, I came up against my first difficult fight in the game, and it took a couple of attempts to get past some of Dathomir’s Night Brothers. This session didn’t start particularly smoothly, as there was apparently a connection problem with Steam that took a while to resolve. Jedi: Fallen Order is a single-player title of course, but I’m never sure whether playing while Steam is in “offline mode” means things like screenshots are disabled. I waited until whatever problem Steam was having was fixed before playing.

The Steam error message. What a great way to start!

When Steam worked and we’d made it through the various loading screens and updates for Steam and Origin, Cal was back at the meditation spot where we left him on Dathomir. The Night Brothers in the area immediately beyond had respawned too, but were easily dispatched – I might finally be getting the hang of the game’s combat!

The Night Brothers by the save point respawned.

Past the locked door were a series of corridors and rooms – including the corridor where the camera got stuck last time. This go around Cal made it through alright, and having only used one stim-pack to regenerate his health too! In a rather out-of-place space-age crate amidst the rocks and ruins, BD-1 found a customisation option for the Stinger Mantis, giving it a shiny new metallic silver paint job. Though I liked its previous yellow colour, I decided to mix things up and try out the new one for now.

The Mantis’ new look.

Jedi: Fallen Order’s third-person camera has been okay, despite the issue last time. I generally like third-person cameras in games, and especially in an action/adventure title like this it works well. It would make exploring and some of the more complicated jumps more difficult if it were a first-person title – not to mention the combat. The camera can also be used to peek around doorways; spotting enemies before they have a chance to see Cal gives him an advantage. And there were plenty of enemies in these ruins!

Spotting an enemy in the room beyond using the camera.

The hallways eventually led to an open area, where a stone bridge is crumbling. The back side of the locked door from earlier was here, and unlocking it created a shortcut back to the meditation spot where this section of the playthrough began. Cal was able to jump across a gap in the bridge, where a mysterious “wanderer” greeted him. Dressed in old, dark robes, this character gave off a distinctly creepy vibe – I’m about 98% sure Cal will have to fight him sooner or later! He reminded me somewhat of Kreia, the mysterious Force-sensitive old lady who mentors the Jedi Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II. The wanderer talked in very vague terms about visiting Dathomir to study extinct cultures, but not much of what he said was helpful in the short term.

Cal listening to the wanderer.

However, one thing the wander explained was very interesting. He told Cal that others have tried to discover the secrets of the ruin – the one beyond the bridge that Cal is trying to reach – but that something inside it corrupted them. Could this be a hint at something connected with the dark side of the Force? It sounds intriguing… and dangerous! It’s also implied that there may only be one Night Sister, as the wanderer speaks of her in the singular. He then ends the conversation by telling Cal in no uncertain terms to “avoid the ruin”. Cal says he can’t do that… but actually he can, and has no choice in the matter for now.

Cal and the wanderer.

At this point Cal hit the wall… literally. The bridge on which the wanderer is standing is broken, and Cal cannot jump from one section to the next; every time he tried he fell. There was a path below the bridge heading back the way we’d come. After several failed jumps I headed in that direction to see if there was something there to help Cal progress, and found something incredibly exciting! At a random workbench tucked away to the side of the passage, Cal was able to upgrade his lightsaber to be double-bladed – like Darth Maul’s famous lightsaber from The Phantom Menace! Obviously I liked this; the upgrade may very well come in handy! But I didn’t like that Cal worked on the blade in silence, and I especially disliked that no explanation was given as to why he was able to perform the upgrade here.

Upgrading Cal’s lightsaber near the bridge.

A couple of lines of dialogue would have massively improved this moment – having Cal say something like “look BD-1, a new lightsaber macguffin, I bet I could upgrade mine to be double-bladed” would have been all that was necessary to explain what was happening. The databank did lodge an entry about the upgrade, but nothing to explain why it was able to be done, how it could be done here, or what Cal found to be able to make the upgrade. It felt like one of those situations where we were very close to having a great moment in the game, but one element was missing and the result was that it just kind of fizzled out.

The double-bladed lightsaber.

The lightsaber can be switched back to its single-bladed form at any time with a single button press, and I like having both options as it feels like it adds more variety to the game. Whether the lightsaber options are purely aesthetic or whether, as the game suggests, the different blades will be useful in different situations is unclear right now. After going through the tunnel beyond the lightsaber workbench and dispatching a handful of the poisonous spider-creatures, Cal ended up back at the meditation point where we began this playthrough. I debated saving, but doing so would allow all of the Night Brothers to respawn and I wasn’t keen to fight them all over again. However, there was nothing here that would help Cal across the gap in the bridge. Exploring the ruins further yielded nothing either, and I must’ve spent fifteen or twenty minutes trying various methods of crossing the gap or finding a way around, at which point I did choose to rest, though Cal had no skill points to use.

Back at the meditation spot.

Climbing on the wall by the wanderer didn’t work. There was a tiny hole at the bottom of the gap that I thought Cal could have squeezed through, but that did nothing. There were no vines on the wall to climb, and nothing else to hold on to. I mentioned last time that some elements of Jedi: Fallen Order feel less cinematic and very “video-gamey”, and this moment is absolutely one of them. The rough rock that’s supporting the next section of the bridge could be easily climbed – there are a number of potential footholds and handholds, and from its base the rock face can only be four or five metres high. A Jedi – even a trainee Jedi – should be easily able to climb this short, cragged rock face, yet Jedi: Fallen Order makes no such allowance. I eventually relented and headed to the internet in search of a strategy guide. I was careful to avoid spoilers for the rest of Dathomir, but it turns out that this is as far as Cal can go until he unlocks a “Jedi flip” ability much later in the game!

There’s simply no way across this gap until Cal learns a skill much later in the game.

This Jedi flip sounds like it’s basically a double-jump, and will allow Cal to cross the gap with ease. As cool as it was to come to Dathomir and get the double-bladed lightsaber, I’m disappointed with this outcome. Why would Jedi: Fallen Order give me a choice of destinations if one is basically blocked to Cal until he levels up? Despite the amount of time we’ve spent on Dathomir so far, we haven’t actually done anything of consequence yet; if I had to guess based on the size of the previous planet (Bogano) I would say Cal has maybe explored a third of what Dathomir has available, and aside from the monsters and the Night Brothers, all Cal has done is speak very briefly to one Night Sister and this wanderer.

Screenshot of the IGN wiki guide for Dathomir.

I’m playing Jedi: Fallen Order for the first time, and until this moment I hadn’t picked up a guide or searched online for any walkthrough as I wanted to experience what the game had to offer for myself. After completing Cal’s quest on Bogano, it felt as though I had a free choice of destination – two planets were available, one of which said it was the main quest and one – Dathomir – that felt like a side-quest. I’m just a little confused why the game would do this, and why it wasn’t made more obvious that we’d gone as far as possible into Dathomir. Cal makes an offhand remark that he “can’t jump that far” when failing the jump for the first time. But that’s it. There was nothing to say that I should go back to the ship or that this was all I could do on Dathomir for now – but it is, and after reading online that I’d done all I could I doubled back and returned to the Stinger Mantis. The enemies had all respawned, but sprinting and bashing the dodge button repeatedly meant the return journey was fast and Cal took no damage.

Back at the Mantis.

Back aboard the ship I went straight to the galaxy map and selected the Zeffo homeworld – confusingly also named Zeffo. The ship took off from Dathomir as smoothly as before, and within moments we were landing on a stormy planet.

Landing on Zeffo.

It wasn’t a perfect landing – despite what Greez tried to claim – and the storm appears to be interfering with communications aboard the Mantis. I always like this kind of setup, as having no way to communicate with the ship ramps up the tension. The storm on Zeffo provides a good excuse for why communication may be difficult. Cere promises to stay aboard and work on getting them working, leaving Cal to explore the landing zone.

Greez Dritus piloting the Stinger Mantis en route to Zeffo.

There were several things to explore in the immediate area. Near the ship was a large open hangar – it had one crate inside that contained a lightsaber part. Further away from the ship there were two routes, one that led up a hill and one into a larger hangar. Inside the hangar was a locked door and another crate – this one contained a new poncho for Cal, which I promptly equipped. He seemed to approve!

Cal’s new poncho.

With the door in the hangar locked, and nowhere else to explore in the immediate area around the Mantis, Cal headed up the hill and across a damaged bridge, where two animals were chewing on the dead body of a Stormtrooper. That’s right – the Empire made it to Zeffo first! If only we hadn’t wasted all that time going to Dathomir… just kidding, I know that isn’t how it works. After killing the creatures (they were no challenge, like the other monsters seen so far) Cere had managed to restore communications. Cal informed her of his discovery and the Empire’s presence.

Cal standing over the dead Stormtrooper.

Beyond the trooper’s body were two paths – I took one that went off to the right, into a pitch-black cave. Holding the block button means Cal uses his lightsaber as a flashlight, illuminating a small area around him. Aside from a Force echo, the only thing of note in the cave was a crate that contained a stim-pack upgrade: BD-1 can now carry three stims instead of two, giving Cal one more chance to heal in between meditation spots. I knew sooner or later we’d be able to upgrade this, and I’m so glad I came this way or I might’ve missed out! BD-1 did the most adorable little dance when being given the upgrade, and honestly he’s my favourite Star Wars droid right now. Sorry BB-8. You’re cute too, but you’re not as cute as BD-1. If anything happens to BD-1 I’m giving Jedi: Fallen Order 0/10 for traumatising me.

BD-1 receiving his first upgrade in the dark cave.

Exiting the cave meant doubling back to the fork in the road, and after a couple of jumps and ramps up, Cal was on top of the hangars near the Mantis. Going down placed him behind the locked door in the hangar bay; unlocking it provides a shortcut which may come in handy later. There were a couple of monsters along the way, but no Stormtroopers yet… I was sure they couldn’t be far away, though!

The hangar door – a shortcut to and from the Stinger Mantis.

Immediately beyond the door and we got our first group of Stormtroopers. All of them were using blasters, which meant it was relatively easy to hang back and deflect their shots back at them. The Stormtroopers talk during combat, both shouting aggressively at Cal and bantering with each other – but Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t seem to have recorded many lines of combat dialogue for the Stormtroopers, and they very quickly begin to repeat themselves. Perhaps we should excuse that since they’re clones(!) but as with the lightsaber upgrade that had no explanation, a few extra lines would have been nice and would have avoided the sense of repetitiveness, especially as we got further into Zeffo and encountered more troopers.

Putting the double-bladed lightsaber to good use!

The path leads away from the hangar towards a village crawling with Stormtroopers. In addition to the regular troopers carrying blasters, there are also Scout troopers armed with melee weapons – we’d fought a couple on the train on Bracca back in Part 1 of the playthrough. In small numbers neither type of trooper is particularly bothersome, but a larger group, consisting of both ranged and melee opponents is harder to overcome. Regardless, Cal made it through several scraps in the village unscathed.

Battling Scout troopers in the village.

We got our first mini-boss on the far side of the village – a Scout trooper commander, designated by his orange shoulder pad. This guy uses a melee weapon like the regular Scout troopers, but is more skilled and harder to take down. Eventually Cal was able to prevail, however! There were several Force echoes in the village, which combined with the one we found in the dark cave to tell a story of a family forced from their homes by the Empire. An eviction notice was seen pinned to a doorway in the village, too. Are these people the Empire expelled Zeffo? Or are they another race that has settled the ruins of the Zeffo homeworld? I understood from what Master Eno Cordova said that the Zeffo are extinct, so I assume these people were settlers – but that remains unconfirmed right now! Hopefully we will learn what became of these people.

The Imperial eviction notice.

The Scout trooper commander was guarding a drawbridge. The bridge seemed to have a red glow or aura to it, similar to how some objects have a blue glow indicating Cal can use his Force powers to slow them down. However, this is presumably linked to another skill Cal doesn’t yet have, as there was no way to move the bridge. At several points during Cal’s time in the village I heard the distinctive whine of TIE Fighter engines, but unfortunately I didn’t look up in time to see them (and when I waited none flew overhead).

The bridge wouldn’t budge!

There was another route near the bridge which took Cal into what looked like one of the huts in the village. However, this building was cut into the rock behind, and contained a passageway that was another shortcut back to the abandoned hangar near the Mantis – perhaps this shortcut will come in handy as well! More importantly, though, the passageway contained a meditation spot, and I was able to get two new powers/lightsaber moves for Cal, as well as rest and make sure the game had checkpointed. I was tempted to call it a day, but we’d only just got to Zeffo and I wanted to see what was beyond the bridge, so after using the meditation spot and unlocking the shortcut I headed back outside.

Cal prepares to meditate on Zeffo.

The outfit Cal wears under his poncho has been the same since we left Bracca, and I didn’t think it was something that could be customised. But in a storage box here, BD-1 found Cal a different colour for his outfit – there are only five options, but it’s another nice little element of customisation. This one is a brown/khaki tone, and I equipped it to replace the blue/grey outfit he’s worn since the beginning of the game.

Cal’s new threads. Lookin’ good!

The troopers had all respawned due to using the meditation spot (a feature I can’t decide if I like or not) and despite taking Cal on a different path I still had to fight several of them. There was another way across the gap that the bridge should have allowed Cal to cross, by climbing and jumping across a couple of roofs, and on the other side a couple of troopers were no match for Cal’s lightsaber.

About to surprise two Stormtroopers!

This area was fairly small, and aside from a locked storage crate that BD-1 can’t access yet – he still needs repairing, apparently – there wasn’t much to see. I was able to get all the way around to see the bridge from the other side, though. If we have to come back this way later, hopefully Cal will be able to move the bridge somehow and use it to get back to the Stinger Mantis, as I don’t think jumping back the way he came is possible.

The other side of the drawbridge. I wonder what damaged it?

After heading up a ramp, Cal came upon another dark cave and another meditation spot. I decided to take this opportunity to have a break, and save exploring the cave for next time.

Cal uses his lightsaber to see into the mysterious cave.

So Dathomir was a bust! What a waste of time. As cool as it is to get the double-bladed lightsaber, it’s patently obvious that the upgraded weapon can’t be necessary to complete Zeffo, or the game would have made acquiring it mandatory instead of hiding it. I don’t really like that Dathomir was made available to visit but not possible to complete – that’s poor game design, in my opinion. At no point while playing should I need to pause the game and open a guide because the game hasn’t made clear where to go or what to do, yet on Dathomir when Cal couldn’t make that jump I was stumped. It wasn’t in any way clear that this was an absolute barrier to progress, and I wasted time on that world that I could have spent advancing the story on Zeffo further. Not to mention that when Cal finally makes it back to Dathomir later, we’ll have all the same monsters and enemies to fight.

That aside, I think I’m getting better at Jedi: Fallen Order. The battles this time went much more smoothly, and fights I might’ve lost when I first started playing were easily won. Story-wise, aside from the Dathomir dead end not even being acknowledged by any of the characters, I think Jedi: Fallen Order is doing a solid job. I’m curious to see what we’ll uncover on Zeffo and what the Imperials are doing here. It seems unlikely they’re here for the same reason as Cal – unless they saw Master Cordova’s message somehow.

Swing by next time and maybe we’ll find out!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 3

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome back to Jedi: Fallen Order! If you missed the previous instalment of this playthrough, you can find it by clicking or tapping here. Last time, Cal and the gang left the planet of Bogano bound for the mysterious, dark world of Dathomir. I was hoping I’d made a good choice opting to head to that planet, but I ended up losing my first fight in Jedi: Fallen Order so far! Let’s go through how we got to that point.

Cal, with the Stinger Mantis in the background, shortly after landing on Dathomir.

After arriving on Dathomir, Cal was ready to disembark the Stinger Mantis and set out in search of the Zeffo – the race that Jedi Master Eno Cordova tasked him with learning more about. The route from the Mantis’ landing spot into the first area of the level was well-indicated, and I like the deserted, alien feel of Dathomir with its red-tinged stone and rock. Red often makes a good choice for an otherworldly terrain colour. After moving along the path a short way, a section of it collapsed and Cal had to jump and climb along some conveniently-placed vines to access the first area, which contained a patrolling monster. I really thought this was going to be a young Rancor monster (a larger one tried to kill Luke Skywalker during his mission to Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Return of the Jedi) as it looked very similar to the young Rancors seen in the Knights of the Old Republic games. As Cal is still quite low-level, I decided to sneak around at first, seeing what else the area had to offer.

Sneaking past the monster near the Dathomir landing point.

The patrolling monster was easy to avoid, and Cal climbed up to a higher elevation, where several smaller monsters were easily dispatched – though these spider-creatures dissolve in a pool of acid when killed, injuring Cal unless he leaps out of the way in time. Taking on one or two at a time is no real challenge, but here I began to see why a number of reviewers said Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t a walk in the park! One or two of these monsters pose no threat, but on Dathomir there’s a long way to go from the Stinger Mantis to the first save point – save points/meditation spots are where Cal can rest and heal – and each fight against one or two of them adds up, knocking a few points from Cal’s heath, then a few more, then a few more – leading to consequences we’ll see in a moment! BD-1 can heal Cal if asked, but this can only be done twice in between save points (though I suspect that can be upgraded down the line).

If Dathomir is deserted, who lit this fire?

After taking out several groups of these monsters, I came to a somewhat confusing point. A narrow gap in a doorway, window, or crack in the ruins of Dathomir clearly opened out into a room just beyond, and by moving the camera I could see something in that room to interact with. Yet despite Cal previously being able to climb through tight spots, there was no way in to this obvious room. I even tried smashing my way in with Cal’s lightsaber! There was nothing to interact with to allow Cal access to the room; he just ignored it and acted as thought nothing was there. Perhaps it’s possible to gain access via another route, or to come back here later when Cal has learned some new skill or other, but it was very odd.

The inaccessible room.

Beyond the inaccessible room was a bridge; BD-1 scanned an artefact which led to an ominous reference to the Night Brothers – remember last time I asked if there were Night Brothers to go with the Night Sisters? There are! An entry in the databank says that the Night Brothers were second-class citizens in a female-dominated society that once flourished on Dathomir. Count Dooku apparently was responsible for the destruction of the Night Sisters after they tried to assassinate him – something which might have been included in The Clone Wars animated series as I know Dooku was a character there. I haven’t watched The Clone Wars so I can’t be sure, though. After cutting a rope which provides a shortcut to and from the lower part of the level, Cal proceeded across the bridge.

Cal and BD-1 rushing across the bridge.

A cut-scene triggered after crossing the bridge, with cute little BD-1 scanning some markings on the rocks that Cal identified as being evidence of the Zeffo. However, before they’re able to do anything with the markings, a hooded figure materialises out of thin air. Waving her arms and using green “magic”, she summons two shirtless men. Cal tries to talk her down – though telling her he “can’t leave” Dathomir is not what I’d have said in that situation – but the woman disappears and her minions attack. This was Cal’s first encounter with a Night Sister – not so extinct after all!

A Night Sister emerges.

Weakened from battling a number of those spider-creatures en route, Cal didn’t do very well against these two assailants, the Night Brothers. Taking one down felt like a good accomplishment, but the second was able to kill Cal fairly quickly thereafter. I’m still getting used to Jedi: Fallen Order’s combat; evidently I need to work on blocking and parrying, as well as dodging attacks! Getting better at those key skills will help as we progress through the game. Cal respawned at the Stinger Mantis. Being already back at the ship, and with no other meditation spots on Dathomir that I’d seen so far, I took Cal aboard and used the one in the rear cabin. I had two unused skill points; one had been awarded for defeating the first Night Brother, though I’m not sure how long I’d been sitting on the second! I chose to increase Cal’s maximum Force points, which will allow him to use his Force abilities more often and/or for longer. The second point was invested in Cal’s blocking ability, which should reduce the damage he takes from attacks while blocking. A solid use of two points, if I do say so myself.

A Night Brother, as seen in the game’s databank.

Now I had to progress back through the level to get back to the fight, and using the meditation spot meant that Dathomir’s monsters and enemies had all respawned. Luckily Cal had unlocked that shortcut earlier, allowing several of the smaller spider-creatures to be bypassed. I also stopped to take on the monster I misidentified as a Rancor; it is in fact a different kind of creature unique to Dathomir according to its entry in Jedi: Fallen Order’s databank. It also wasn’t nearly as difficult to fight as it looked!

Defeating the monster near the beginning of Dathomir.

I wasn’t sure if I’d need to sit through the cut-scene again after crossing the bridge, but fortunately Jedi: Fallen Order is better-designed than games of the past had been! The two Night Brothers were both back to full health, but after jumping and dodging and a fair amount of hopeful lightsaber swinging they both went down, leaving Cal – to my surprise – still with a fairly full health meter. After swinging, Tarzan-style, across a couple of vines, we finally found Dathomir’s first meditation spot/save point. Cal had been awarded another skill point during the second fight against the Night Brothers, but there was only one option on the skill tree this time, some kind of dash-attack.

The meditation spot.

Immediately after the meditation spot Cal came under attack from another group of Night Brothers, including one who was using a ranged weapon – some kind of blaster in the form of a longbow. Having practiced on Stormtroopers during the escape from Bracca at the beginning of the game, it was relatively easy to bounce the shots back to the archer – though this was made more complicated by a second Night Brother attacking from close range. A second archer was similarly defeated, as was another Night Brother in the next hallway. Cal then came upon a locked door. As with the inaccessible room from earlier, there must be a way in; whether this is something we’ll find as we explore or whether it’s an area we’ll have to come back to later isn’t clear.

The locked door.

I’ve encountered a couple of graphical glitches since arriving on Dathomir. The first one came right at the beginning of the level, while Cal was climbing the vines near the Stinger Mantis. His hands, arms, and part of his head appeared to clip through the ledge he was supposed to be holding on to:

A minor graphical issue.

This wasn’t a big deal, and though I spotted it I wasn’t particularly put out by it. Evidently what’s happened is the game has designated the “edge” of the ledge incorrectly, slightly too far inside the actual texture of the rock. No biggie, and I might not have brought it up but for something that happened later. After defeating the Night Brothers and archers, Cal entered another narrow hallway and was attacked by another single Night Brother. But the camera swung wildly as Cal dodged an attack, and it was impossible to see what was going on:

The camera at this point made it hard to see where Cal and his opponent were.

I couldn’t get the camera unstuck and back into a normal position during the fight, nor could I find a way out of the hallway. I’m not blaming the camera movement for Cal’s defeat in this fight; I was already low on health and hadn’t used BD-1’s stim-pack to replenish it. But it definitely didn’t help, and while it’s the first time there’s been a problem like this I did want to bring it up because this is all part of the gameplay experience for me.

Even though we haven’t got very far into Dathomir or actually done very much, I had to get on with something else so I took a break – we’ll pick up from the save point next time and press on further into the ruins of Dathomir. Hopefully those last two points don’t feel too much like nitpicks; I just want to be as comprehensive as possible in a playthrough like this. I’m not an especially competent gamer these days, and it often takes me several tries to beat a difficult level or hard boss. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I am playing Jedi: Fallen Order on its easiest difficulty setting. I do this as my health is poor, meaning things like button-mashing and millisecond-perfect hits are things I’m just not capable of for the most part. The first fight against the two Night Brothers definitely caught me off-guard – the fact I was able to easily beat them on my second try is, I think, evidence of that! Hopefully the next phase of exploring Dathomir will go smoothly!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 2

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.

Welcome back to my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order! If you missed the first part of this series you can find it by clicking or tapping here. Last time, we left Cal on the planet of Bogano. He’d just met the droid BD-1 and was making his way toward a mysterious vault.

Cal on Bogano.

I’m sure it’s just me, as I’m less used to modern video games with their broader, more open levels, but at points during Cal’s adventure on Bogano I found it hard to know where to go. The scenery is very pretty – but it’s also all rather samey, with white chalk or limestone cliffs and green vegetation. Although there are some identifying features on Bogano – such as an elevator platform – it wasn’t always clear where Cal had been and where Jedi: Fallen Order wanted me to take him next. The level consists of a number of similar pathways and open spaces at different heights; it was very easy (for me, at least) to overlook a pathway that was lower down that Cal had to jump down to.

The scenery of Bogano.

One thing is undeniable, though, and that is that Bogano is a beautiful setting. A lot of care and attention has gone into both locations Cal has visited so far, and even on my PC – which is no longer a cutting-edge machine (if it ever was!) – the environments look spectacular. Though I may have said something similar a decade ago, in 2020 we’re getting very close to photorealism in many aspects of games. I recently took a look at a tech demo that exemplified this. There were moments in earlier cut-scenes, particularly when looking at starships, characters in helmets, or aliens, that could have been scenes from a television show or film. And while my PC doesn’t have that fanciest of new, next-gen technologies – ray-tracing – the lighting on Bogano looked fantastic, as I think this next screenshot demonstrates.

The sun’s rays.

Last time, we left Cal before he’d made his way to the mysterious vault. I wasn’t sure if this quest would take a long time, and after loading my save file (a suitably quick process) there were still some things for Cal to do first. After exploring a cavern and killing a few monsters, we arrived at a dead end. With no obvious way out or any way to go back, the only thing at the end of the cavern was a glowing spot to interact with. Tapping on this led Cal to draw on a memory from his past, during his time as a Jedi padawan under Master Jaro Tapal – someone we learned last time died during Order 66.

Cal by the emblem of the Jedi Order during a flashback.

This flashback sequence shows Master Tapal teaching Cal how to use the Force to run along walls – something Cal remembers how to do and is able to use to escape the dead-end cavern. The wall-running ability opened up new pathways on Bogano, and Cal is able to further explore the cavern, using his ability to sense the past to note that a Jedi had once passed this way. I liked the use of the flashback as a concept, but the Jedi training room that Master Tapal and young Cal were in was incredibly generic; I’d have liked to see more decoration to make it appear even vaguely Jedi-esque. As it is, the grey tones didn’t really seem to fit with anything we’d really seen in the prequel era (when this scene was set). It was a very bland video game tutorial room that could have been from almost any other action-adventure title. It was nice to see Master Tapal again though, and I’m sure we’ll get more flashbacks to this character as the game progresses, not least because his death had a huge impact on Cal. He may have even died saving him – but we’ll have to wait and see if I’m right about that!

Cal’s Jedi Master is seen during the flashback.

Returning to the main section of Bogano, Cal is able to use his remembered wall-running technique to cross to a previously-inaccessible area and approach the mysterious vault that Cere had tasked him with exploring. BD-1 and Cal race each other to the vault, and to reemphasise what I said last time, the little droid is absolutely adorable. The entry to the vault had a couple of optional things for BD-1 to scan, adding entries to read from one of the in-game menus. Other than that, all that was here was the sealed door to the vault, which Cal is able to open with ease thanks to the Force.

While a curious BD-1 looks on, Cal opens the vault door.

The mysterious vault seemed like it would take longer and/or be more difficult to reach; I was expecting Cal not to be able to enter and to have to backtrack or go elsewhere to find a way in. But the door opened at the first opportunity, and Cal was able to squeeze through a narrow passageway into the vault. The vault is a large open room with a wet floor. There isn’t much to say about it, really, other than it looked sufficiently ancient as to be believable! In the middle of the room is a single circular object, and after Cal looks around for a moment, BD-1 rushes over and beeps at it excitedly. Walking over to BD-1 triggers a cut-scene. Jedi: Fallen Order has perhaps the smoothest transitions between gameplay and cut-scenes that I’ve seen, and it makes the whole experience much more cinematic; it feels like playing – and taking part in – a Star Wars film. BD-1 projects a hologram…

The cut-scene in the vault.

BD-1, incidentally, has been given a paint job thanks to having the game’s deluxe edition. I don’t recall why I paid extra for this version, it may have been because it was on sale. Normally I wouldn’t reward a company for cutting content from a game and selling it back, and while Jedi: Fallen Order has hardly gone overboard with its cosmetic extras, they should really be accessible in the base game or unlockable via gameplay as everything else is.

The deluxe edition of Jedi: Fallen Order allows BD-1 to get an optional coat of paint.

The hologram is stored withing BD-1 – not in the vault itself – and is a recording of another Jedi Master. Master Eno Cordova had explored Bogano years prior, and earlier Cere had explained that the planet isn’t present on any star charts; it’s a hidden world. Master Cordova had what he described as a “vision of doom” – presumably foreshadowing Order 66 and the rise of the Empire – and has chosen to hide something of value within the vault. While I like this setup, the fact that the holo-recordings are stored within BD-1 and not the vault itself raises a question immediately, one which admittedly may be explained further into the game. But if all the information Master Cordova has is stored in BD-1, who displays holo-recordings when Cal takes him to specific locations, would it not be possible to simply hack the droid and get the information out? Rather than darting about from planet to planet to get to the right spot for BD-1 to display all of the recordings, if I were Cal the first thing I’d do is shut down BD-1 and take him to a black market droid hacker!

Jedi Master Eno Cordova, whose plan seems like it could be undone with a visit to the Star Wars equivalent of PC World.

Master Cordova has acquired a list of force-sensitive children and squirreled it away in the vault. His plan, now taken up by Cere, is to use train these children as Jedi and use them to stand up to the Empire. Jedi: Fallen Order is set fourteen years before A New Hope, five years after Revenge of the Sith and Order 66. If Master Cordova put this phase of his plan into effect not too long before that, or if he updated the list, it stands to reason these children would still be out there and might be anywhere from ages 5-15 by now. While traditional Jedi teachings – according the prequel films – meant that a child of 9 was considered “too old” to train, Luke Skywalker and Rey both began their Jedi training as young adults and thus Cordova’s plan seems to have mertit.

Cal listens to Master Cordova.

The next part, however, is very “video-gamey”. Cordova insists that in order to gain access to the list of names – which may or may not be stored in BD-1, that wasn’t clear – is to “follow his path”. He tells Cal to go to the homeworld of a race called the Zeffo, who built the vault on Bogano. He’s to learn something there that will allow him to gain access to the vault. Nothing in games can ever be straightforward, eh? After Master Cordova sends Cal on his merry way, Cal chats to BD-1, saying that they have something in common as they’re both alone. It was a sweet moment. The only way forward from here is back out of the vault, and after sliding down the hill he climbed up to get in, Cal faces off against some kind of larger monster. This creature was able to perform unblockable attacks, meaning the fight took a lot of jumping and dodging. I couldn’t tell whether this monster was one of the ones recently seen in The Mandalorian or just vaguely similar.

Battling a large monster outside of the vault.

En route back to the ship – a route which, as mentioned, was easily-overlooked due to the level’s layout – BD-1 stops by a wall painting and another holo-recording from Master Cordova plays. He thinks the Zeffo may have visited the planet of Dathomir – a name that sounded vaguely familiar to me, not sure why – and suggests to Cal that he visit there, despite it being a “dark” place. I’m thrilled that Jedi: Fallen Order – like Knights of the Old Republic before it – gave me a choice of destinations. In a game that’s otherwise fairly linear, some elements of choice are great – as are the customisation options and the game’s skill tree for levelling-up Cal. Incidentally, I invested my first upgrade for Cal into extra health, as it’s something I feel almost always comes in handy in these kind of games!

The skill tree used for levelling-up.

After stopping to inspect the holo-recording, Cal must backtrack through earlier parts of the level to return to the ship – which I forgot to tell you last time is called the Stinger Mantis, or just the Mantis for short. I’m not sure where I’ve heard the name Dathomir, or whether it’s just because the -mir suffix has a Lord of the Rings sound to it, but it really does feel familiar. I wonder what Cal will find there?

The holo-recording which tells Cal about the planet Dathomir.

Upon returning to the Mantis, Cal tells Cere and Greez what he discovered in the vault and what BD-1 showed him on their return journey. He correctly susses out that BD-1 was the “someone” Cere wanted him to meet on Bogano (something which I had kind of already guessed!) They briefly discuss the situation – Cere knew Master Cordova, as she had once been his apprentice. She is also vaguely familiar with the planet of Dathomir, and says it was once home to a group referred to as the Night Sisters. The Imperial Jedi-hunter pursuing Cal is called the Second Sister, so I’m wondering if those two things are related. Were there Night Brothers, too? The information Master Cordova has stored in the vault is assumed to be in the form of a Jedi holocron – we just saw a Sith holocron in The Rise of Skywalker a few months ago, and apparently the Jedi use them too. Cere has one aboard the Mantis, and she shows it to Cal – it plays a short recording of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was a nice little tie to the mainline films.

Cal inspects Cere’s Jedi holocron.

After spending a little time looking around the Mantis – its interior is fairly small – I headed to the map near the bridge. There were two planets available to visit, and as mentioned, it was a free choice as to which one to pick. The Zeffo homeworld was displaying an icon telling me that was Cal’s main objective, whereas Dathomir had no indicators of any kind. I chose to go to Dathomir; whether this was a good call or not isn’t clear yet! There were a couple of reasons why I made this decision, though.

BD-1 displays the map.

Firstly, I’m still not sure why but the name Dathomir is familiar. I’m curious to see if I find out why when Cal gets there! Secondly, if the game is pointing me to the Zeffo homeworld, that’s the main quest line, and if there are side-missions to explore I’d like to see those too. Jedi: Fallen Order is too much fun to skip missions! Finally, sometimes in games, quests or missions become unavailable after a certain point in the main story, and I would hate to miss out on Dathomir because I went to the Zeffo homeworld first. If the Zeffo homeworld is where Cal needs to go to advance the main story, it seems certain that area will still be available after the mission to Dathomir, but it may not be the case the other way around. I could look it up, but I don’t want to inadvertently spoil anything major for myself, as I’m playing Jedi: Fallen Order for the first time. After choosing to go to Dathomir, the Mantis takes off, and this whole sequence, transitioning from being on the surface of Bogano to being aboard the Mantis to heading into space was seamless!

Jumping to hyperspace en route to Dathomir.

I’m used to loading screens and cut-scenes breaking up a story, yet while the Mantis was taking off and headed to orbit, Cal was free to walk around the cabin and even head to the bridge to see the planet’s atmosphere give way to space. I think that might be the closest any Star Wars fan can get right now to being a passenger on board a vessel in a galaxy far, far away – except, perhaps, for the new ride at Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge, aka Star Wars land. The visual effect of the jump to hyperspace could have been lifted from any of the Star Wars films, and it was a really fun, slightly nostalgic moment to play through. Before the Mantis landed on Dathomir, Cal was still able to freely move around the ship. I took this opportunity to visit the rear cabin and upgrade his lightsaber again; I had acquired a couple of lightsaber components on Bogano.

Customising Cal’s lightsaber aboard the Mantis.

The journey to Dathomir was very short, taking only as much time as for a few lines of dialogue, and after taking a seat for landing on the Mantis’ bridge, a short cut-scene plays showing the ship approaching a red, Mars-looking planet. Immediately upon landing the area outside the ship is ready to be explored – there’s no transition between the Mantis and the two planets it’s visited so far, which makes the whole experience a touch more immersive. It was here I decided to leave Cal, and save the exploration of Dathomir for next time.

Cal, about to depart the Stinger Mantis for the mysterious – yet oddly familar – world of Dathomir.

I’m still having a great time with Jedi: Fallen Order. I’m about two hours in now according to Steam – though a few minutes of that was taken up with patching the game and connecting to Origin when I first installed it. Dathomir sounds dangerous and potentially interesting, and I’m also excited to learn more about Cere, Jedi Masters Jaro Tapal and Eno Cordova, and Cal himself. The Zeffo sound interesting too, and perhaps we’ll find out something about them here on Dathomir. But you’ll have to come back next time for that!

I’m experimenting with adding more screenshots this time, as this is supposed to be a playthrough. Hopefully this format is working; it may evolve further as I spend more time on these write-ups!

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.

Let’s Play Jedi: Fallen Order – Part 1

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other Star Wars titles, including the films.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was released in November last year, the first single-player, story-focused Star Wars game on a major platform since 2010’s The Force Unleashed II. While 2018’s much-criticised Battlefront II actually had a creditable single-player campaign, that game was primarily a multiplayer title, so Jedi: Fallen Order is a rare gem in the current Star Wars lineup. Many Star Wars fans had been asking for a title like this for years, and criticism of Electronic Arts’ handling of the brand they’re licensing from Disney had been building in part due to the lack of single-player titles.

This article is going to be the first in a series charting my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order in close to real-time – by which I mean that I’ll write up each section of the game or each play session as I go, rather than offer a review of the whole game at the end. From my point of view, writing this way is a bit of an experiment; a blend between my usual reviews and YouTube-inspired gameplay videos. If it doesn’t work, I guess I won’t keep it up! But if this style proves popular with my readers – and enjoyable to write – perhaps I’ll look at writing up other games in a similar format. At this point I don’t know how many articles will be in this series, nor how long it will take me to complete Jedi: Fallen Order.

Jedi: Fallen Order protagonist Cal Kestis.

I had to postpone playing this game as my computer hadn’t been working right. PC, if you recall, is my main gaming platform these days. I picked up Jedi: Fallen Order on sale a few weeks ago, snapping up a 30% discount. But of course this year’s Steam Summer Sale offered a bigger 50% discount! Sigh.

The Steam version of Jedi: Fallen Order requires a connection to EA’s Origin system, which is a bit of a pain. The initial start-up of the game takes some time: connecting to Steam, updating Steam, updating Jedi: Fallen Order, connecting to Origin, updating Origin, patching Jedi: Fallen Order within Origin… does anyone else miss the days of jamming a cartridge into a SNES and the game just starting? I know I do! But me showing my age aside, when Jedi: Fallen Order booted up, I encountered a simple, easy-to-navigate menu with a few different video and audio settings. Interestingly, Jedi: Fallen Order strongly recommends the use of a control pad, not keyboard and mouse, even when playing on PC. That’s fine for me as a gamepad is my preferred way to play action-adventure titles, but I thought it worth noting. I also adjusted a few of the settings – making sure in-game subtitles were on, as well as increasing the size of in-game text and subtitles. I wasn’t sure at first if doing so would result in comically huge text, but I’m glad I chose to make the text bigger as it would have been harder to read otherwise.

Unlike many games which commence with a long opening cut-scene, Jedi: Fallen Order dropped me right into the story mere seconds after it began. A very short scene introduces protagonist Cal Kestis, who is living on the planet of Bracca. Bracca is a strangely atmospheric place, and Cal lives and works in a ship-breaking yard. Whether the entire planet is just used for this purpose (Star Wars loves its monothematic planets, after all) is unclear. Nevertheless, the rain-soaked planet covered in decaying, broken starships feels like the perfect place for someone to disappear to if they wanted to remain anonymous!

The ship-breaking yard on Bracca.

The first level of the game took Cal and I through the junkyard, learning the basics of the game’s running, jumping, and climbing mechanics, as well as showing off the setting. There were a few neat lines of dialogue between non-player characters as Cal darted about the junkyard, but mostly this part of the game’s opening act was combat-free and straightforward.

I don’t guarantee it’ll be combat-free at all difficulty levels though (but that’s probably something I should Google). I usually opt to play games on their easiest difficulty setting. As many of you know if you’re regular readers, my health is complicated. Some of my issues can make gaming at a high difficulty too hard for me, especially in games which need fast reflexes and quick reactions. I’m happy to play a turn-based game like Civilization VI at a higher difficulty level for the strategic challenge, but generally speaking I come to a story-focused game like Jedi: Fallen Order to – surprisingly enough – enjoy the story. Cranking up the difficulty would have made for a more frustrating and less enjoyable experience, and that’s the last thing I want. Some reviewers made note of the game’s difficulty upon release, with it even being compared to the Dark Souls series. I haven’t played those games – on purpose, because again that sounds like an impossibly frustrating experience for me! But I was a little put off by the perceived high difficulty – until learning that a “Story Mode” exists, which turns everything down and makes the game easier to play. That’s the mode I chose to play on, and everything in this write-up will be based on that.

Jedi: Fallen Order drew comparisons to the Dark Souls series upon release.

As Cal and his friend Prauf reach their destination, they encounter a rusted Jedi starfighter – it looked to be the design Obi-Wan or Anakin used during the prequel films. Prauf says very pointedly that he doesn’t believe all Jedi could be traitors, referring to Order 66 which saw the Jedi rounded up and killed. I liked the way the game took this short sequence to establish Prauf as someone at least slightly sympathetic to the Jedi before everything else happened – it made his later actions more understandable and sympathetic.

After an accident which sees Cal and Prauf fall – in a fairly neat sliding section which required Cal to slide from side-to-side and dodge obstacles – Prauf is left hanging on the edge of the broken ship. It seemed obvious that Cal would have to use the Force to save him, and I was right – Prauf falls and Cal uses the Force to slow him down, saving his life. Prauf immediately realises what’s happened, and after a short cut-scene in which Cal flies a small craft to safety – which could have made for a fun sequence to play through instead – the two are safely on the ground and headed home.

After a short conversation on the train, Cal falls asleep. When he wakes up, Prauf is missing. And I’m sure some people will say this was obvious as a dream sequence, but I sure as heck didn’t realise it! Cal walks along the train looking for Prauf, when he comes across a locked door. After a few attempts to enter, I turned Cal around to go back the way he’d come, only for the train to vanish – replaced with a Death Star-esque corridor! I was stunned; the transition from one environment to the next was absolutely seamless, and the whole effect was very surreal. I’m sure this worked better because they’re both small, narrow corridors. But even so it was fantastic to play through and a genuine surprise.

This moment was a perfectly-executed shock that made me jump!

After briefly exploring the corridor, and following an R2D2-type droid, Cal sees his former Jedi Master in the dream, and is alerted to the fact that all is not well. As he awakens, the train jolts to a halt. I loved this sequence, it was by far my favourite part of this introductory section of the game. The fact that it wasn’t obviously a dream made the Imperial/Death Star corridor appearing from nowhere a real shock, and seeing Cal’s Jedi Master was great – he’s a character I hope we get to know more about as the game goes on.

The editing and pacing of some recent Star Wars projects has been poor. And this next part of Jedi: Fallen Order unfortunately didn’t do a great job of conveying the passage of time. We saw Cal and Prauf escape the broken ship in the junkyard mere moments ago, and the scene on the train seems to be taking place immediately afterwards. At most, an hour or so has passed. Yet in that time the Empire has been alerted to Cal’s Force use (somehow) and not only dispatched Stormtroopers to intercept his train, but top-of-the-line Jedi hunters as well.

A Stormtrooper on Cal’s train.

In Star Wars, travel between planets hasn’t always been consistent. But in most cases it isn’t instantaneous, as the scenes on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope conveyed perfectly. Is it the case that the Inquisitors/Sisters happened to be on Bracca already? Maybe – if that’s what happened perhaps it’ll be confirmed later and seal this minor plot hole. But as it is, taking the sequence on its own it seemed as though the Imperials got to Cal almost impossibly fast.

A group of junkyard workers from the train are lined up by the Sisters and Stormtroopers, and the Second Sister promises to execute them all if the Jedi they’re hunting doesn’t step forward. Prauf steps forward and beings to speak about the injustices the Empire has forced on the people of Bracca – only to be cut down in short order by the Second Sister. Prauf fills a role that vaguely reminded me of a character from Knights of the Old Republic called Trask Ulgo – a character who is similarly killed saving the protagonist during that game’s opening mission. While I’m sure this wasn’t intentional, having consistent threads running through the franchise is always a neat thing!

RIP Prauf.

Speculation time! I wonder if we’ll learn that the Empire is using some kind of scanner or sensor that’s able to detect Force powers. While the junkyard wasn’t deserted, it wasn’t exactly crowded either, and it seemed as though Prauf was the only one who knew about Cal’s one very brief moment of Force use. There certainly weren’t any obvious witnesses, so for me this definitely raises the question of how the Empire came to know about Cal – and how they were able to know so soon after what he did. At the very beginning of the game, an Imperial Probe Droid (the kind seen in The Empire Strikes Back) flitted across the screen. Could these droids be scanning for Force-users?

After Cal attempts to engage the Second Sister in a lightsaber duel, he ends up falling onto a moving train, and this marks Jedi: Fallen Order’s first proper gameplay sequence. Cal is armed with a lightsaber, and makes short work of the various Stormtroopers in his path. The game did a great job introducing me to the various combat moves at Cal’s disposal. There’s the standard attack, there’s blocking and parrying, and of course Cal can use his lightsaber to bounce blaster shots back at the Stormtroopers. All of these are intuitive and fun to perform, and within moments I was chopping and blasting my way through the train full of Stormtroopers.

Uncharted 2, anyone?

Some kind of ship attacks the train, but before Cal can be killed or injured another ship takes it down – the woman aboard offers to help, but Cal can’t jump to her ship from the moving train. Eventually, after an exciting and occasionally tense sequence, Cal is face-to-face with the Second Sister in another duel. This time I got to fight, and while the Second Sister is clearly invincible in this duel – as I assume she’s a key part of the plot later on – it was so much fun to block and dodge and swing Cal’s lightsaber at her!

The ship from earlier returns, and Cal is rescued by the woman and her pilot: the two are named Cere Junda and Greez Dritus. The Second Sister attempts to bring down their ship, but the two of them manage to shake her off and escape Bracca, jumping to hyperspace. Cal is suspicious of his rescuers, initially thinking they may be trying to cash in on an outstanding Imperial bounty for ex-Jedi.

The Second Sister on Bracca.

The journey from Bracca to Cal’s next destination takes some time – re-emphasising my point about pacing earlier – and he’s able to rest a little aboard the ship. I enjoyed the introduction to Cere, who describes herself as an ex-Jedi attempting to put the Jedi Order back together. How exactly one becomes an ex-Jedi, and whether she will be able to use the Force (it doesn’t seem so) or train Cal is unclear, but I like her character.

Cal is revealed to have a special Force sensitivity which means he can touch an item and sometimes is able to sense part of its history – in the example from the cut-scene, he touches an instrument and is able to play a tune on it. I’m sure this power will come in handy later in the game for uncovering some mystery or other, and establishing its existence at this early stage was great – it’ll avoid feeling like a deus ex machina later. And as a Force power that we haven’t seen before, I liked it. It’s suitably magical and mysterious in a way that fits with what we’d expect the Force to be able to do. It’s not overpowered, it’s not even something that could be weaponised, and is thus a neat feature of the game that – so far at least – seems to work well.

Cal and Cere talk after escaping Bracca.

The ship travels to the planet of Bogano, where Cere has been working on rebuilding the Jedi Order. There’s a mysterious vault which requires the Force to access, which is why she’s brought Cal along.

Cere leaves Cal to it when they reach Bogano, telling him to make his way to the vault. Apparently there’s someone else on Bogano who Cal needs to talk to; who this mysterious character is, as well as what’s in the vault isn’t clear at this stage. In a sequence reminiscent of a Tomb Raider game, Cal begins to explore the area surrounding the vault on Bogano.

This area is a fairly typical early-game stage, with some aggressive but easily-defeated monster opponents. This series of articles will probably reference Knights of the Old Republic more than once or twice, because those two games on the original Xbox were among my favourites! But here on Bogano, I got a distinct Dantooine vibe. That planet was playable in both Knights of the Old Republic games and was a similar sunlight, grassy world with monsters to fight.

Cal after arriving on Bogano.

During the exploration of the ruins/abandoned residence on Bogano, Cal encounters a droid. This cute little animal-esque droid is called BD-1, and will join Cal for the rest of the game. If you’re a regular, you’ll know I’m a sucker for cute critters, and BD-1 definitely falls into that category! His (or her) introduction, where Cal patches up a damaged foot, was absolutely adorable, and I’m already in love with BD-1.

Exploring Bogano will lead to several interesting discoveries, including a workbench where Cal can modify his lightsaber. Judging from the number of greyed-out options, there are plenty of customisation elements to uncover! Having got the special or deluxe version of Jedi: Fallen Order I had a couple of different options already, including a really cool orange tone for Cal’s lightsaber. In Knights of the Old Republic II, the orange coloured blade was really hard to get, so having it right off the bat here feels great, and I like that there are a range of aesthetic options. BD-1 also found Cal a different-coloured poncho to wear – and I love that the game refers to Cal’s outfit as a poncho in all the various menus and in-game text!

BD-1 and Cal meet.

After Tomb-Raidering my way across the first part of Bogano, killing a few monsters, changing up Cal’s lightsaber, and dressing him in a shiny new poncho, I was ready to take a break.

Jedi: Fallen Order has started incredibly strongly. The story that’s been set up is interesting and gripping, and I really want to find out what’s in the vault, as well as who the Second Sister is. Cere tantalisingly mentioned she knew Cal’s former Jedi Master, and I hope we’ll see some exploration of that relationship too.

Both Bracca and Bogano are interesting planets to have visited, and as far as I can tell, both are unique to Jedi: Fallen Order. In a franchise that can overplay the nostalgia card, changing things up and doing something different is always appreciated. While both settings felt unmistakably “Star Wars”, they are also different to anything seen in the main films, and I think that’s great.

Come back next time and we’ll explore some more of Bogano – maybe we’ll even get into that mysterious vault!

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.