You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s a good thing Fallen Order seizes its opportunity. The first single-player only Star Wars video game to be released in almost ten years, Fallen Order had a lot of expectations resting on it. After spending a little less than an hour in the life of Cal Kestis, I’m confident my decision to pay (almost) full price for the game was a good one.
Cal is a ship breaker among a legion of ship breakers. They’re tasked with demolishing hulks of warships from the Clone Wars so that the Empire can use those materials to make new ones. The game, mercifully, doesn’t have a distinct tutorial. Instead, you’re taught the basics of movement as Cal follows his friend Prauf to a new assignment. In addition to showing off the movement mechanics, this opening sequence shows off the stunning visual design of the game.
As Cal winds his way through a hulk, you pass a bunch of other scrappers performing their work. At any moment you can pause to listen to their conversations, watch them work, and see sparks fly from their tools. Droids move large pieces in and out of your field of view. Anything you’d expect to see blow by wind actually moves and flaps around. Rain drops accumulate and drip down surfaces. Rats scurry across piping and away from larger beings. There are tons of fantastic details that help to sell the world as a live place.
Fallen Order is set about five years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The Old Republic is gone, and the Empire is still in its infancy. It’s a difficult time to be a Jedi. Cal encounters a situation that requires him to use his force powers rather conspicuously, and his day gets worse from there. This means the game gets more fun to play as we’re introduced to force powers and Cal’s lightsaber. Oh yeah, and you get into a duel.
At the end of the game’s introduction Cal meets allies Greez and Cere on board a ship called Stinger Mantis. This is the moment that cemented my love for Fallen Order. Sure, we’ve already seen all the requisite Star Wars elements, the Force, Stormtroopers, aliens, lightsabers, and all that jazz; but spaceships are what seal the deal for me. I’ve always been captivated by the idea of boarding a rocket ship, pointing it up, and seeing what the stars hold.
The design of the Mantis, to me, demonstrates the care and love that Respawn put into creating this game. I mean, look at this common area:
You’ve got a kitchen, bunks, and a sitting area. Every wall has switches, compartments, and other details. There are some plants (plants!) under specially designed grow lights. Every surface has just the right look to it. The kitchen is stocked with cups, dishes, and utensils for doling out food. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see; and it’s all evidence of a real spaceship that people use on a regular basis.
The first hour of Fallen Order tries hard to sell you its world. And it works. I’m in.