Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order first proper Star Wars video game since the 2013 franchise was taken over by Disney. Video games, especially when dealing with a licensed property like Star Wars, are complicated and expensive to make. Fallen Order pulls it off, creating an entertaining Jedi simulator that can tell both a compelling story and offer action-packed gameplay
The explanation of why Fallen Order succeeded is Creator Respawn Entertainment. The developer behind Titanfall two and Apex Legends still has to make a bad game, but their games have not guided as narrative as Fallen Order. Swinging a lightsaber is interesting, but what kept me playing was the story of the rogue Jedi Cal Kestis and former Jedi Junda. I wanted to know what those characters would be. I was worried about them. It’s rare in a video game for me.
Aaron Contreras’s role is to get the player to care about the character of a video game’s success and failure. He was Fallen Order’s narrative leader, and— with a team of other writers including The Clone Wars veterans and Rebels cartoons — Conteras set out to tell a story that would connect with the audience. “Good stories present the viewer with a particular question in the production of games,” says Contreras. “Fallen Order asks ‘ What does being a Jedi mean now that the Jedi order is no longer there? ‘
Fallen Order place after the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Order 66 when the Jedi were wiped out by Emperor Palpatine. Cal was a padawan of a young age. He survived, but his education never completed. He’s a character traumatized by the Order 66 events and coping with the remorse he couldn’t save innocent men. “Trauma is a gigantic game theme,” says Contreras. “Trauma and failure the answer we have to fail, the choices we make when we fail is in the emotional heart of the game right there.”
Video games have a remarkable ability to tell a story of frustration and defeat, according to Conteras. “They’re going to fail as the player plays the game, they’re going to lose a fight, going to miss a jump, and they’re going to have to step back and get back on the horse and try again,” says Conteras. “And we hope there’s a real synergy between the player and the character … in any other art form, it’s hard to do that. I think games are particularly suitable to include that failure element.”
It would be challenging to communicate grief and loss issues in a large-budget video game set in the Star Wars universe without excellent writing and acting. If the player doesn’t care about character they control, their tribulations won’t matter to them. “I think the hiring of Cameron Monaghan and casting him as Cal was a major ingredient,” says Conteras. “The quality of Cameron and his perception of what we were attempting to derive much from Cal’s life and personality and complexity.
Monaghan, probably known for his role as the Joker on Gotham, says Cal’s past trauma influenced his portrayal. “It caused [ Cal ] to create a barrier. He hesitates to become close to others,” says Monaghan. “That hesitation drives Cal’s early story, but we see him building relationships with Cere and the droid BD-1 who make up this team of outcasts and outsiders who form a rebellion against the Empire.”
The characters of the Fallen Order, characterized by defeat, directly related to the Empire’s rise. “I thought it was a beautiful thing,” says Monaghan. “It’s a concept of universality. It’s not just pain, and it’s how you choose to treat it. Will you ruin it?”
Star Wars has always been a tale of the light-dark struggle. It’s about a war against powers on a galactic scale, crippling the world.However, its latest success, The Mandalorian, is an insignificant story concerning the relationship between a faceless bounty hunter and the pretty baby Yoda.
Star Wars is a vast universe that can tell stories that not based on resolving problems in the world. Fallen Order succeeds, in part, like The Mandalorian, because it is a small story about personal relationships among characters. “[ Star Wars ] is an epic story,” says Monaghan. “I thought it was a perfect way to tell the story and take it to a specific position of the notion of trauma. I’m giving the authors on that one full credit.”
According to Conteras, when Electronic Arts, the company that owns Respawn, and LucasFilm approached them about creating Fallen Order, Respawn was already working on their single-player action-adventure title. A demo of the game of Respawn had floated around the agency. “Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm looked at it and thought,’ Oh, this team might be able to pull from the perspective of a single Star Wars game,'” says Contreras. EA and Lucasfilm asked Respawn if their original IP was to be set aside and made into a Star Wars game. Respawn took a vote and decided to tackle the beloved franchise unanimously.
It was a bold choice. Baggage comes with trying to make a match for Star Wars. Disney granted EA exclusive rights to make Star Wars games in 2013, and since then, Battlefront I and II have been published by the publisher. Progress in Battlefront II was tired of buying in-game loot boxes. Fans and critics opposed the use of loot boxes by the game so much that a global conversation started to control in-game purchases.
It’s a hard act to follow. “The development team has a sense of responsibility from everyone. We want to make it truly Star Wars, “says Contreras. “For us, a big goal is to load the game, take a step into the universe we’ve discovered, and it’s Star Wars right away.”
It was the success of Respawn. Fallen Order’s lightsaber fight is a delight and a great way to spend your free time exploring the Star Wars galaxy worlds. But what distinguishes Fallen Order, what makes it unique and puts it in league with other classic games like Old Republic’s TIE Fighter and Knights, is its story. It’s the kind of personal, small-scale narrative that Star Wars is just beginning to explore.