That’s Not How The Force Works, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

That’s Not How The Force Works, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
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I’m enjoying Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a lot. It is filled with references to the Clone Wars, nods to past games and movies and it looks and feels like a playable Star Wars film. But one part of the game irks my inner Star Wars nerd. It’s how the game handles The Force.

I understand that Fallen Order is a video game and as such some things are just unavoidable. For example, rewarding players with XP and power for killing things does seem to be the opposite of what the Jedi teach and preach. But this is a big-budget action game. It needs combat and levelling up. So I understand why Cal is a murder machine that gets stronger as he kills. There isn’t a great alternative that also lets players enjoy being a badass Jedi.

But the way Fallen Order handles The Force feels like a missed opportunity to shake things up and bring in more elements of Star Wars lore.

When you start playing Fallen Order you are quickly told that the way to earn more Force power is to attack and kill enemies. This caught my eye as strange. First off the Force isn’t some power you fill-up. But again, this is a video game, so I get having powerful abilities tied to a metre that drains. But why is that if I want to use The Force, I have to kill or attack something? I haven’t beat the game yet, so maybe, later on, this isn’t entirely accurate, but so far the only way to earn more Force “juice” and fill up my metre is to fight things.

This feels wrong. I guess you could say, I have a bad feeling about this… (Sorry.)

The Force, as described by The Jedi in the films and recent canon comics and books, is not some super-powered juice that you earn more of for doing certain things. It is an energy that binds all living things together in the universe. It is a very hippy idea. Which makes sense. Think about the era in which Lucas created Star Wars, the 70s. Think about who Lucas was and still is, a person who never liked war. Lucas has explained that Star Wars was in many ways a protest of the Vietnam War. So it feels odd to directly connect The Force, a cosmic energy that seeks to balance and guide the universe, with how many space bugs you have killed.

Yes, Fallen Order is an action game, but there had to have been other ways to limit players from spamming Force abilities. Maybe players could earn more Force metre by blocking and dodging attacks, which feels a bit more in line with the teachings of the Jedi. Or your Force metre could be limited during fights and only after a fight when you rest and meditate, does your connection to The Force strengthen. Or award players with Force metre after avoiding combat with smaller animals and weak enemies.

For all I know, these and other ideas were tested during development and Respawn, the developers behind Fallen Order, found none of these methods really worked well with playtesters. I could see that. Still, the current way The Force works in Fallen Order feels out of place for a character who is a Jedi.

Now Jedi aren’t the only people who have deep connections with The Force. The Lasats, Zeffo, Sith and many others have their own connections to both The Cosmic and Living Force. (Though they refer to The Force with their own names.) And some of these relationships with The Force are very different than the Jedi’s connection to The Force. But Cal, the main character of Fallen Order, isn’t a Sith or Nightsister. He is a Jedi and it seems odd that he becomes more connected to The Force through sheer violence and death.

I understand that I’m overthinking this stuff. I get it. But I’ve always loved the idea behind The Force in the Star Wars films. One of my favourite lines from all of Star Wars is found in Empire Strikes Back and is said by Yoda.

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

The Force isn’t some power you have. It isn’t a thing you earn more of. Everyone in the Star Wars universe is connected to The Force. Everyone is more than just a body and in turn, everyone matters. Even those who have lost the light inside them and have fallen to the Dark Side. And the idea that cutting down creatures and people is how Cal is able to “recharge” his Force metre goes against the original ideas of what The Force is.

I’m not claiming Respawn doesn’t understand The Force or that Fallen Order is a bad game. I get it. Games are hard to make and games, especially bigger games, have to be fun and filled with action. But as I play, a small part of my brain keeps shaking its imaginative head. I really think there could have been a better way to handle The Force.

But I also am having a blast cutting down enemies with my lightsaber. So maybe I’m just a Sith and I need to stop thinking so much.

Comments

  • Kotor 2 had an ingame explanation that worked well – you absorbed the force from others, rather tan drawing from it, and this game mechanic explanation was a major plot point too.

    It was awesome in hindsight.

    Kotor 1 was a little more rough, but build around you recovering the force skills through experience rather than developing it.

    Respawn has missed a lot of the mythos around the force that they could have used narratively.

    The fact the force is sentient and literally gives people plot armor for its own purposes is a cool idea, and an old one.
    It is actually something that explains a lot of the nonsense in Rogue one and how they died just after completing very specific tasks.

    It ties in to Darth Treya’s motivations to “free” everybody because they truly have no free will.

  • Seems a hell of a lot easier to just make a game where you play a Sith Lord/Apprentice. Raw power is the name of the game, there, which would suit a video game very well. Be the fucking bad guy for once. And I mean properly. Starkiller joined the rebels eventually and so did Iden Versio. Let us go full, proper Sith. Play a bad guy who’s just not part-timing it until they eventually grow sympathetic to the Rebels’ virtue.

    • You can in KOTOR I remember a quest where a woman and child were trying to leave a planet but lacked the funds so she asks you to sell a skull or something that her deceased husband had taken as a trophy, the thing is you need a hunting licence too sell that particular skull and the owner of the hunting lodge won’t give her one for whatever reason.

      You have a quite a few options here, me playing light side gave her the credits and told her to keep the skull as a memory of her late husband, reward a handful of light side points, hooray.

      My friend who always plays dark side, threatens her into giving up the skull or he will kill her and possibly her child, after that she is so distraught that the last possession she had left is gone and her life has become hopeless, he then uses force persuade on her and tells her to walk into the desert with her child and die, after that he sells the skull for a large sum of credits and gets a massive dark side gain ..ho..oray I guess.

      • The choices in that game were fantastic.
        My favourite quest line was infiltrating the Sith Academy.
        There was something hilarious about going back and forth between the evil master and his old apprentice, not only telling each of them the others evil plans but also telling them you were revealing their plans to the other.
        Once I got to the end where each thought I was going to help them ambush the other in the ruins, I revealed I wasn’t going to help either of them and bolted back through the ruins where I had laid a bunch of mines.

        • Yeah, you were the big baddie of the galaxy but the Jedi erased you memory and had Bastila moniter you to see if you could begin good again and to find The Star Forge.

          • Holy …… – you just described Rey from the force awakens. I’ve played Kotor but never realised they could be doing the same thing with the new triology. Let’s hope all the leaks are wrong and Rey is evil after all. It’s just it’s disney and Rey is the good female role model and so on…. so I have a bad feeling about this.

          • There’s been a ton of theories popping up about the next film pulling a lot of stuff from KOTOR.
            The Star Forge, Rey being Sith/Darkside character who had her memories tampered with and even some weirder ones theorising Rey is a Shan, is a clone of or even Bastila herself.

            In worried too, my biggest fear about them throwing out the EU was them turning around and selling it back to is as a cheap knock off.

        • Yes, in the events prior to the game. But following their amnesia and the events of the game, the player character canonically returns to the light.

      • This is the main title I was specifically thinking of when wishing they’d make more games that let you go proper dark side. TIE Fighter was the best of its kind, and a big part of that was working your way through the Emperor’s secret order.

    • TIE Fighter is the only game we’ve gotten where you’re fighting for the Empire against the Rebellion. It’s written well, and while the game hasn’t aged at all well its story has.

    • I suppose in today’s political climate, making a game that glorifies an unrepentant space Nazi would be seen to damage the brand.

  • The force meter is more like a force STAMINA meter. By using the force you are not draining some wellspring, you are tiring yourself out both physically and mentally. The way to recover isn’t necessarily to kill foes, you just need to be doingsomething else. For example, leaving the fight allows you to recover force, and so does dodging. And yes fighting does recover it, but that doesn’t mean that in universe fighting restores force, its just taking a break from it.

  • Having finished the game, I’d say that the Force mechanics make more sense thematically if you think of them as tied to how “confident” Cal’s mental state is.

    His arc is deeply tied to his guilt over his (perceived) failure(s) and his connection to the Force has been damaged by his past trauma. He explicitly says that meditating – the “traditional” way Jedi center themselves and reinforce their connection to the Force – is a traumatic, dangerous experience, and the slightest slip has him reliving his trauma. In this sense, success in combat is his coping mechanism that restores his faith in himself and the Force.

    Living with trauma and failure is a recurring theme in the plot, and I think the mechanics ultimately reinforce this, even if their in-game names don’t really help.

  • “Or your Force metre could be limited during fights and only after a fight when you rest and meditate, does your connection to The Force strengthen.”

    That way would have worked just fine, and fits in quite well with with Jedi lore…it would represent the fact that Cal doesn’t so much ‘use up’ all his force, but more that he can only safely use it for violence so much at a time before risking some level of dark side influence. As the game progresses and his self-control improves, the bar extends and it’s recharge time drops.

    They could even have tried a cool ‘dark side’ gameplay option, where once the meter was empty, you could actually go into negatives and choose to still use the force, but this then fills a dark side meter that if it gets too full, means the Cal can’t use the force until he fully meditates.

    Seems like they were more worried about shoehorning in some wall running than actually learning the lore.

    I’m enjoying this game a bit so far, but overall it seems really over-rated…lots of technical problems and rough edges on the PS4 Pro version at least….

  • I’m a big fan of the universe too so I get where you’re coming from but at the same time its a game and they have to balance it somehow. Mechanically they’re only really building on what other Star Wars game have done in the past, in that they limit how much force energy you can use at a time. It’s not the best solution but for balancing its the best solution to the problem they can see.

    Difficult to balance the force is

  • Like @falkirion001 mentioned above, I too am a big fan of Star Wars and its universe, so I can also relate to where the author is coming from, but at the end of the day, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a video game and it needs balancing mechanics to try and create challenge and adversity for the player.

    The game also needs to deliver a practical method of progression to the player, so the further they play the game, the more abilities they are able to unlock. If they had everything right from the get-go, it might make things a bit boring.

    So… kill everything, get XP, get skills… it’s not exactly the Jedi way, but it is the tried and tested RPG way, really. Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel The Sith Lords (and even The Old Republic MMO) do this as well.

    To be fair, I don’t think any Star Wars writer truly understands how the Force works, and it seems to be entirely up to interpretation.

    In the original and prequel trilogy, we see the Force that allows users to jump high, or use it to move objects without physically touching them, telekinesis, including the strangulation of others. We see the Force manipulating the mind and thoughts of others, while a certain individual could summon violent bolts of lightning from his fingertips. In the new trilogy, we see the Force being able to stop (or at least, severely slow down) blaster bolts.

    In video games, comics and novels (the expanded universe), we see the Force being used to do nothing we’ve ever seen on the screen before, like bringing a Star Destroyer down from the sky, or a group of Jedi to share Force energy with one user, to push away an entire Imperial fleet in space. In the Clone Wars cartoon, we also see Mace Windu, by himself, destroy an entire droid army, with his Goddamn fists.

    Off topic, it kind of reminds me of Deadpool. In some comics, Deadpool can regenerate a lost limb within seconds of losing it. In some stories, Deadpool will need a few hours or a full day to regrow a lost limb. He can heal beyond an ordinary human, but the speed of his healing is never consistent.

    I think to conclude, we can all agree that writers of Star Wars tend to write the Force within their own interpretations and constraints, and that they aren’t often that consistent with one another.

  • Let’s just ignore how many people have been killed by Jedi shall we? I mean, in the first movie Luke destroys the first Death Star which would have been housing millions of workers, troopers, prisoners, etc. Ships get shot down, laser battles ensue and the number of corpses created by the Jedi mount but hey, as long as it’s the good guys killing bad guys it’s cool with the Force.

    • well the bad guys were on a station that wipes out planets. so you know millions of workers or the billions and possibly trillions of people that might be wipe out in the near future.

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