Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – What I Want From the Game
With the recent reveal of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and confirmation of gameplay coming to E3 this year, I wanted to step back and take a look at a few things I’d like to see in this upcoming Star Wars game.
It’s pretty well stated by this point that it’s a single-player game with no microtransactions. That’s all well and good, but that’s not something that gets me excited. I honestly think it’s ridiculous these days that promises like that are even a selling point, to begin with, but that’s a topic for another time.
For now, I just want to discuss some of the potential gameplay features I’d like from it.
During the reveal, I still can’t get over Stig Asmussen’s claim of the combat being ‘thoughtful’. That thought has plenty of different connotations to it. I wish he had given more detail.
My biggest hope is that the combat is real-time and combo-based. This seems to be its direction, as I’ve stated in my previous article on this game, but nothing is fully ruled out. For all we know, ‘thoughtful’ could mean giving much thought to your next turn in the turn-based combat system.
Going with the combo-based system though, there are a number of options. Let’s take a look at a few significant ones.
In action games that have a strong emphasis on melee combat, the most well-known method of offense is a two-button system. A light attack for quick offense and a heavy attack for a more powerful but slower offense. Many games have used this system with successful results. The God of War series has used this to great effect. Ninja Gaiden 2 created an extensive move list based on this system. Dante’s Inferno, a melee action-focused game published by EA, has also used it.
The use of light and heavy attacks vary from game to game. Some games like Ninja Gaiden 2 and the Bayonetta series offer very deep combo trees that require a fair amount of memorization. Other games like the Dynasty Warriors series, Dante’s Inferno and even something like Nier: Automata offer a more straight forward move list.
Light attacks usually have longer but faster strings while heavy attacks are slower and have much shorter strings. The variation then comes from a mix of light and heavy attacks. To help keep things simple, light attacks can usually combo into heavy attacks and very rarely do heavy attacks combo into light attacks. This is to help the player better remember what string options they have after the first button press.
Some games use heavy attacks as light attack combo finishers while others allow you to continue with heavy moves.
Light combo with a heavy finisher in Nier: Automata
Light combo into a heavy continuation in Bayonetta
This isn’t to say that it’s the only system, but it is a good place to start. The Devil May Cry series takes things in a slightly different direction. Instead of combos being governed by two separate buttons, they’re governed by one. Combos are then executed by the timing of each button press instead of just pure mashing. I like to call these “pause combos”. Pause combos were actually utilized in The Force Unleashed series as well. Pause combos lead to different combo strings by asking the player to take a second to stop pressing a button for a beat before continuing.
This system allows for slightly more streamlined combat. The player’s thought processes become less cluttered with having to remember button combinations and more focused on what buttons execute what actions. It also still gives the player a handful of basic variations so things don’t get stale.
A regular combo and a pause combo in Devil May Cry 5
I imagine that Fallen Order has a good chance to go this route. How The Force Unleashed series handled combat left it so the player still had heavy use of their force powers as well as their lightsaber. One button for lightsaber attacks and a few others for force powers seems like the way to go. On top of that, The Force Unleashed also used the combo-ender system. Every lightsaber combo could be finished with a force-enhanced attack.
Although, I honestly wouldn’t mind a traditional light/heavy attack system. Especially when considering that Cal probably won’t be using force lightning any time soon. This is just wishful thinking though. Either way, I doubt Stig would want to create a God of War clone with the combat.
If the combat truly is ‘thoughtful’, it must also have some thought placed into how the player defends their self. This requires simple yet very effective defensive moves. In addition to the tools above, The Force Unleashed 2 also had a dash and a blocking technique. Blocking, when timed right, allowed you to instantly reflect most projectiles back at your enemies. Dashing was your secondary defensive tool when facing unblockable moves. Dashing also added to your mobility thus strengthening your offense when used correctly.
On the most basic level, the game needs to have the option to deflect blaster bolts back at enemies. This is not up for debate. It absolutely has to be in the game. This could be done either by doing what The Force Unleashed did or by simply pressing the attack button while blaster fire is speeding towards you.
Which option depends on how much blaster fire is flying at you at one time. The Force Unleashed 2 needed a dash mechanic because there are instances in the game where Starkiller will still take damage from blaster fire even while blocking the entire time. Blocking just slightly mitigates the amount of damage taken. Too much blaster fire coming from all sides means that mobility has greater value to the player than simply trying to deflect all of it. Though, when only a few stormtroopers are left, it’s always satisfying to deflect their blaster fire back at them to finish them off.
Regardless, I think a dodge/dash mechanic in any melee action game goes a long way toward good design. It’s almost always more preferable to dodge an attack than it is to block it unless the game rewards the player with a parry or counter-attack mechanic. I don’t think the game will necessarily need that though.
Both above systems also always feature auxiliary tools outside of basic combo strings. This can be options like ranged weapons/abilities, consumable items, and resources like a special meter.
In The Force Unleashed 2, you had a meter that governed how much you could use your force abilities. This meter recharged over time. You also had a rage mode gauge that fills up as you fight. Activating it enhanced all of your abilities.
If there is a meter in Fallen Order, I hope that it doesn’t work like how it did in The Force Unleashed. In the fiction of Star Wars, the force is never really seen as something a person has a limited supply of inside them. The only thing that’s limited is the strength of the force inside a being, not the amount. So, putting an arbitrary cap on something I should usually always have access to in this universe seems silly to me. Although, I don’t expect Cal to be half as powerful as Starkiller was depicted either.
Upgrades and melee action games almost go hand-and-hand these days. In any game for that matter, upgrades always give the player goals and a sense of progression and improvement. I imagine Fallen Order should have no shortage of upgrades to choose from.
During the reveal, the panel mentioned that Cal’s lightsaber changes as you continue through the game. Now, while this might have just been dialogue about Cal growing more attached to the lightsaber and the implication of its supposed history, it could also mean that it gets its own upgrade path. At the very least, perhaps it will receive special augmentations.
Learning new force abilities is also on the table. I’d like to see something like unique techniques, better movement abilities, and power enhancements. While I think the option to acquire full-blown combos as an upgrade is usually a cop-out, in the context of Cal being a padawan it would make sense. Perhaps that would come in the form of leveling up your lightsaber, similar to what Ninja Gaiden 2 did with leveling up weapons.
It was also mentioned that Cal’s companion droid, BD-1, will get upgrades, so I don’t see why Cal himself wouldn’t either. The droid getting upgrades also imply that it will have some gameplay mechanics as well. It would be fun to even give the little droid different paint jobs as well.
It goes without saying that Star Wars has a metric ton of things to explore in its universe. Different planets, locations, people and lore. It’d be pretty disappointing if the game didn’t take advantage of all that in some way. It’d be interesting to explore unique locales while blending in with the rest of the public to not draw any attention. This would make for pretty neat world exploration. Resources, shops, and contacts could all be accessed through underground rings ran by the rebels on whatever planet you’re on.
I don’t necessarily mean a fully open world. Maybe something like a semi-open world. Sections of the game could be split between a sort-of ‘hub’ world where the player can explore freely and then the actual mission levels.
These sections don’t have to be Assassin’s Creed levels of stealth mode. In fact, I’d prefer no stealth mechanics at all. I’d only like these sections to serve purely as hubs to explore, talk to different lifeforms and generally expand the view of the universe Fallen Order gives you.
That doesn’t mean the game has to give up on any sort of linear design it may have either. It would do the game some good if levels rewarded players for exploring it thoroughly. Branching paths in levels that hide secrets, collectibles or other challenges would be a nice touch.
I’d rather not have all levels be exclusively driven by ‘go from point A to point B and then fight the boss’. A little objective-driven variety would be good. One criticism The Force Unleashed 2 received is that it was too short. Though it was really short, I appreciated its expansive level design. Ships felt as huge on the inside as they were on the outside. Levels had depth to them. I think Fallen Order should take advantage of all the huge structures and environments Star Wars gives it when it comes to the levels. They don’t have to be a straight shot from start to finish. Environmental puzzles that heavily incorporate the use of your force powers is also a no-brainer.
These are just a few of the major aspects I’d like to see in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Ultimately, the game is Respawn’s creation. I really do respect the fact they’re stepping out of their mold to tackle a huge IP like Star Wars. There’s a lot of pressure there to do well. I still appreciate the attempt, even if doesn’t meet all of my expectations. Remember that when contributing to the pot in the comments below!
How do you feel about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order? Leave a comment below.
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