Jedi: Fallen Order’s Glitches Hold It Back From Greatness

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Jedi: Fallen Order’s Glitches Hold It Back From Greatness

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order combines the DNA of various games into its own unique blend of action and exploration. When it comes to combat, that means pulling lessons from games like Dark Souls, like pattern heavy bosses and resting points for upgrading abilities. As I explore distant planets there’s a sense that something feels off.

Dark Souls and games that have followed in its footsteps have a reputation for difficulty. In these games, enemies hit hard, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Combat is a combination of focused duels where you lock on to dangerous enemies and more freeform battles where you attack with wide sweeps to take out groups of disposable minions. The ebb and flow of these games, which Fallen Order often emulates, involves running into pathways of enemies that test a player’s ability to swap and move from one form of combat to another. A large clearing with a singular monster will lead to a tight corridor with one dangerous melee foe and a few blaster-firing goons. Fallen Order gives players plenty of tools for dealing with these types of enemy arrangements. You can use the Force to slow enemies down, or you can parry at the right time to then counter with a powerful strike, or you can block incoming laser bolts or even send them back at your enemies. You have more tools in Fallen Order than in a game like Dark Souls or Nioh. Yet, playing last night, I felt oddly disadvantaged.

Some of this is certainly due to the fact that I’m still learning the combat’s quirks. Some of this is because I played late at night after having a handful (read: like, I dunno, five cocktails worth) of drinks at a bar. Some of this is because I went to Dathomir first, which I was told is the “hard” option of your potential planetary sojourns (I wanted a challenge). But as I played, a defining problem began to emerge: Fallen Order lacks consistency. You cannot rely on its world, or in the efficacy of your tools, in the same way that you can rely on these things in a game like, say, Sekiro.

While playing Fallen Order, I’ve seen a considerable amount of delay in enemy spawning. This means that I can enter an area or leave a safe point, travel down a path, and then have enemies spring into existence behind or around me. Fallen Order’s combat works best when you’re locked onto enemies, a design choice that makes it much closer to Nioh or Sekiro than Dark Souls. Finding yourself suddenly surrounded by poisonous bug-mite beasts or cudgel-swinging Dathomiri Nightbrothers is a problem, and one that’s made worse by the fact that optimal parrying only can happen when you centre yourself and focus on what’s in front of you. I’m sure some readers might quibble, since Fallen Order’s actually really good about letting you block laser blasts from every direction, but I stand by this assessment. Overall, the game’s combat encourages locking on, which requires a consistent world wherein you know where enemies will be, even if you die and respawn. Fallen Order, in my initial experience, doesn’t have that.

In the clip above, I’ve just died to an enemy ambush after a few baddies popped in around me. Dismayed and a little inebriated, I moved from the respawn point up to the stairs where I knew the enemies ought to be. I waited, as it took a few moments for them to spawn in—I’ve been playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro—and I responded by gracefully flailing about. As I attempted to turn and lock on to an enemy, pressing the right stick in instead forces my character to turn around to inspect a locked door. I cannot cancel this animation, so when I eventually try to dodge away, I am smacked in the head and die.

Dathomir eventually proved conquerable with some persistence. If you go to Dathomir as soon as it’s made available to you, you can’t really explore too much, except to gain access to your double-bladed lightsaber. Again, what made the process of exploring unbearable was how inconsistent the world was. I’ve played all sorts of “hard” games for Kotaku from Cuphead to Nioh and other games. While I’m unsure if they’ve ever been as difficult as some people seem to claim, they do provide challenging encounters. But these experiences feel fair because fights and exploration are repeatable under largely the same conditions, even if you die a few times. You can learn an enemy’s tells; you can understand when you’ve done enough damage to move into the next phase. Fallen Order’s lacked that in my experience. Enemies spawn randomly, a stray button press may or may not initiate an interaction that you didn’t want, locking onto targets might snap you to a monster on the other end of the room instead of the one in your face. When everything works, it’s an amazing experience. But because it often breaks in unpredictable ways, it somehow feels less “fair” of a challenge than even supposedly difficult games.

I adore Star Wars. I love Respawn Entertainment. Fallen Order is often a match made in heaven, the sort of Star Wars game I’d been craving since the halcyon days of Jedi Knight and Jedi Academy. Still, I’m not convinced that it’s delivered the sort of action it might have if all the pieces were working neatly. Instead of working through repeatable challenges, enjoying incremental but steady progress, each new room and encounter feels like a gamble. Will something break? How much can I rely on my memory of the last attempt? I can’t trust my experiences. I guess I’ll just try trusting the Force.

Comments

  • Articles like this may be valuable if they list what the writer was playing on, since I had zero spawn lag issues through my playthrough and enemy locations and timing was incredibly consistent and that was with playing it at launch on PC on an SSD. My issues with going to Dathomir first had more to do with my skill level for these kinds of games as the rancor-light at the start would consistently kick my butt. Once I got into the rhythm, which may have taken a while, I consistently kicked butt in return.

  • I bought the game for Xbox One on launch day, and I can’t remember playing a game that was so buggy.

    I absolutely love this game. But on several occasions I found myself falling through unloaded sections of levels, sometimes on a loop that only ended when I closed the game (and unfortunately lost some of my progress).

    With the latest update it’s definitely a lot better. But still far from perfect.

    • This has been my main issue (along with enemy spawn lag and some intense geometry and texture pop-in — the game constantly freezes itself as I watch everything sequentially appear on screen. Playing on a regular PS4). I wanted desperately to play on Grandmaster to have that real Souls experience but the load times killed it. Turned it down to Master just so that I could spend less time in a loading screen. Apparently there was a patch since launch that improved them, but I still find them absurdly slow. Can’t imagine what it’d’ve been like on launch if this is the case.

      • I only just started playing and the loads are painfully slow on my ps4 pro, if these are improved since launch I would have canned the game if I was playing it back then

      • About 1 min each time I died on a pro before the patch, hopefully a future patch addresses this and I might pick it up again

  • I played on Xbox One X. This game was soooo buggy for me. At one point you don’t have a lightsaber, but somehow i was able to draw out my double blade light saber and do NOTHING with it. He then holstered it and it stayed turn on. If we were going by how the movies make you think that one hit and your dismembered, i would’ve been just a pile of gibs as it continued to flail about trying to take my feet and head off at the same time.

    Like i’ve said to my friends….. It’s a “meh” game, but for a star wars game it is great.

  • Didn’t have the same issues on PC apart from one instance (not a respawn) I’d killed the enemies in an area then on leaving and returning immediate to that area the enemies had respawned. Although some of those issues are pretty well documents in funny moments on the tube, the only issue I’ve had consistently from launch is CTD’s every hour or so and random frame stutters.

  • Never had an enemy loading issue on regular PS4. The issue was more slow down and a janky frame rate on occasion. I also didn’t have many issues with the controls not doing what I wanted except when I button mashed.

    Blocking works from every direction against standard melee attacks as far as I remember and I rarely locked on to enemies when there were multiples on the screen. I did only play on the second hardest difficulty level though and I never got my parry time perfect on every enemy. Dual-baton purge troopers and the final boss battle did feel a little bit cheap but everything else was very manageable if I slowed down.

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