The Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay reveal on EA’s E3 livestream had plenty of impressive moments, but gave the impression that it would play more like a cinematic but linear adventure with little room for exploration. Developer Respawn’s hands-off demo at EA Play showed what happens in the 15 minutes prior to when Cal Kestis meets with Saw Gerrera, and those more open-ended moments demonstrated how exploration with environmental puzzles and plenty of parkour will be part of the gameplay.
Jedi: Fallen Order is a third-person adventure set after the infamous events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, in which Palpatine issues Order 66 and wipes out the great majority of the Jedi Order. Fallen Order has plenty of Jedi action – like Force pushing a hapless R2 droid into a Stormtrooper for an explosive start to a fight. And even though Cal was just a padawan when his master was presumably killed, it’s clear he’s become strong with the Force. The extended demo starts with him swimming through the shallow waters of the wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk with his trusty droid sidekick, BD-1, perched on his back. He scales the side of a vine- and- mud-covered AT-AT until he finds an entrance, slays three Stormtroopers with his mix of lightsaber and Force powers, uses BD-1 to get a jump on two unsuspecting troops at the controls, then uses it to help the rebels on the ground.
The camera stays in third-person perspective on Cal while he’s driving the giant walking tank, and I like how this both limits your field of view to what can be seen over his shoulder and allowed Respawn to design a firing meter and missile counter that you can see on the control panel dashboard of the AT-AT as Cal drives. Perspectives like this lend a cinematic feel to Jedi: Fallen Order, and brief animations that act as nice flourishes of life in characters beyond your control. For instance, there’s a moment where Cal is sliding sideways through a small passage, and the camera breaks off and follows BD-1 as he jumps off Cal’s back to take the path above before they meet up again on the other side. This isn’t exactly a new thing to games, but the rate at which these moments happened was impressive. I do see how some of the short cut scenes used as transitions to get Cal from one area into the next (a la Tomb Raider) could become a little tedious if they break up the action too much, but they do make the gameplay more fun to watch.
About halfway through the AT-AT excursion, Saw Gerrera swings onto the windshield with his grapple line – which appears to be the first time they meet – and questions Cal’s intentions. Not long after, the AT-AT sequence ends – and Cal doesn’t simply hop out of the AT-AT. Instead, he’s thrown out after an explosive shootout with an Imperial ship that slams into and destroys the AT-AT. With the destruction done, Cal regroups with his allies Cere and Greez at their ship and they state their business on Kashyyyk with Saw. Saw is there to disrupt Imperial supply lines, and Cal is looking for a wookiee freedom fighter for mysterious Jedi business.
After the cutscene, Cal enters the ship and interacts with a Galaxy Map that had at least three planets on it. There’s an implication that you’ll be able to choose your destination (once they’re unlocked – the other two were listed with question marks instead of planet names) and hang out on your ship in some capacity. Cal then quickly talks to Cere (where he’s given a choice between two dialogue options at one point!) Cere reminds him that she was tasked with guiding him on his path, not choosing it for him. We have since learned from other sources that path is a quest to restore the Jedi Order (which doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out super well, given that this adventure takes place between Episodes III and IV). The conversation wraps up with Cal resolved to help Saw free the captured wookiees, and he wanders around the area for a short time before going to meet Saw’s forces (which we see in the reveal footage).
The bridge to get to Saw is down for some reason, which requires Cal to explore the area a little more to find an alternative power source to raise it. This is where we get to see BD-1’s abilities shine. It seems, at least at this point, BD-1 doesn’t engage in combat aside from providing a quick distraction, but the little droid is crucial for exploring because he can scan Imperial technology (and corpses) for information.
Naturally, BD-1 can also learn new abilities as you unlock them with skill points you earn as you play. During the demo he learned Droid Overcharge, an ability that allows BD-1 to power up deactivated Imperial panels. Powering them actively requires you to press a button to choose how long you want to pump it full of juice, and I expect we’ll have to use this a fair bit to solve environmental puzzles. BD-1 also acts Cal’s tool for sliding across zip lines – Respawn’s robots sure do seem to have an affinity for zip lines.
Once the power is back on, Cal crosses the bridge to the public demo we saw on EA’s live stream. Having seen both halves, I’m far more interested in seeing where Cal’s adventure will take us and how we’ll have the opportunity to explore more.
Miranda Sanchez is an executive editor at IGN. She really hopes there’s an Ewok somewhere in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. You can chat with her about video games and anime on Twitter.