Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has received criticism for how it uses the iconic lightsaber weapon in combat since gameplay debuted at E3 2019. Lightsabers have historically been highly dangerous weapons, often killing or maiming opponents in a single hit. Yet Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's lightsaber is more akin to a traditional video game weapon, doing damage to invisible hit points over time rather than one-hitting enemies. But in comments since E3, Respawn has committed itself to ensuring the lightsaber feels powerful.
Today Jason de Heras, lead combat designer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, posted to Twitter his aspirations for lightsaber combat, with respect to how it changes going into higher difficulties. Heras states straight away that his "#1 rule" is to not increase enemy health at higher difficulties. This rule is in place, he says, in order to "retain the feel of a lightsaber." In other words, increased difficulty in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order won't simply increase enemy health. The lightsaber should be just as impactful at low difficulties as it is at higher difficulties.
de Heras provides a handful of examples regarding how he and his team are increasing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's difficulty without increasing health. One example is by making parrying more difficult. Parrying, which allows the player to counter an attack, will be much harder to pull off at higher difficulties. Higher difficulties will also make enemies more aggressive, rather than waiting for players to attack or regain their cooldowns. Their damage will also be much higher. de Heras also hints at some challenging surprises in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's Grandmaster difficulty setting.
Nothing de Heras is saying implies that Respawn is otherwise changing combat compared to what's previously been shown. Early impressions of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order reaffirms that combat retains its action combat. However, those impressions also continue to compare Jedi: Fallen Order to Dark Souls and Sekiro. Beyond Star Wars: Jedi Academy, where every lightsaber shot can be a 1-hit KO, a Sekiro style of action combat may be as close as you can get to authentic.
It’s been my #1 rule not to up enemy health when playing on harder difficulty modes to retain the feel of a lightsaber. Aside from the parry window being tiny, enemy aggression / damage being high, grandmaster difficulty also has a few more tweaks :) #JediFallenOrder #StarWars— Jason de Heras (@jasondeheras) October 17, 2019
With less than a month until Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order launches, Respawn still has plenty of time to display its efforts when it comes to preserving the authenticity of lightsaber combat. de Heras' tweet is certainly persuasive, but a trailer showcasing the difficulty changes in either the same area or with the same enemy would also go a long way with fans. While there will certainly be a lot of fans who play just to experience the epic Star Wars story, many more will be looking for a uniquely challenging action game.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order releases November 15 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.