E3 Expo is well and truly underway this weekend, meaning we're in for a week's onslaught of video game news, trailers, and other reveals. They'll all be flavoured with mountains of tiresome, over-the-top PR, but underneath that breathless salesmanship, there will certainly be some interesting games to be discussed. Of the major studio presentations, EA was first up, and today saw the first reveal of gameplay from Respawn's new single-player Star Wars game, Jedi: Fallen Order.
Do not watch the full EA Play presentation; just watch the gameplay footage below, and keep scrolling for a write-up that does not feature host Greg Miller frothing at the mouth with dilated-pupil excitement.
So, what we're seeing here looks like nothing less than Uncharted combined with Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, which is basically exactly what it needs to be. Traversal is very Uncharted by way of Respawn's Titanfall, featuring climbing, grappling, wall-running, balance-beaming, and so on. Force powers include push, pull, sabre-throwing, and that thing Kylo Ren does to freeze a blaster bolt in midair. Combat, based entirely around the lightsabre, starts with Jedi Outcast's fairly simple system, but also appears to include a fair amount of post-Souls mechanics, like dodging, a stamina meter, and a health-pack animation that leaves the player vulnerable. There are skill points, an in-game map, cinematic finishing moves, and duels. It all looks polished as hell.
As one of the first Star Wars games released after the Disney buyout, Fallen Order's story is official canon, fitting in with and referencing the movies, comics, and TV shows, while also elevating some other video game elements to canon. Set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, it follows a young Jedi named Cal Kestis, who helps out the Rebellion and grows in abilities over the course of the game - though he does not, unlike Kyle Katarn, have a choice between Dark Side and Light Side powers. Again, if it's canon, it's set.
There's a bunch of interesting Star Wars stuff in the clip: it takes place in an Imperial refinery on Kashyyyk, so Cal fights some spidery Wyyyshokks and pulls a white-human-saviour move on some Wookiees. Like Battlefront II's Iden Versio, Cal carries around a droid on his back named BD-1, who assists with things like hacking, and if Respawn's prior work is anything to go by, will probably become a fond companion. In a nifty twist, BD-1's sound design comes courtesy of longtime Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt. Respawn has added Order 66-enforcing "purge troopers" to the game, which technically appeared previously in The Force Unleashed; the studio has also armed scout troopers with melee weapons, which seems like a bit of a contradiction. Oh well.
All up, a solid showing for Respawn's new game. Given that this is the first purely single-player action game EA has released in an age, it'll be interesting to see how a game that feels this oddly old-school does. Personally, I'd crave slightly deeper gameplay and/or storytelling than what we're seeing here, but this is a small chunk of the game, after all. All one needs to do is examine the key art to see there's much more story to be discovered.
Jedi: Fallen Order releases on November 15th.