Although Death Stranding is the title many industry insiders are talking about when it comes to Game of the Year predictions, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is receiving some incredibly positive reviews and seeing major sales. The game is sure to be one of the most popular holiday titles and some Star Wars fans seem to feel like it has successfully breathed fresh life into the video game side of the popular IP.
Part of what makes Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order so successful are the mechanics and features that it has borrowed from other successful franchises. A lot of conversations focus on the similarities between combat, save points, and enemy respawns to Dark Souls-like games, but that isn't the only way that Jedi Fallen Order has borrowed from other franchises. The game's narrative story-telling, exploration, and puzzles all feel very influenced by the Uncharted games or the modern Tomb Raider trilogy. That said, there is one key feature from both of those franchise's that Jedi Fallen Order opted to exclude for the most part: Detective Mode.
Detective Mode or heightened senses is a feature that has become incredibly popular in the action-adventure genre. Franchise's like Batman Arkham, Uncharted, and Tomb Raider all use the heightened senses incredibly well to help light up points of interest or pieces of the environment that players can interact with. Although this is helpful when it comes to solving tough puzzles, it can break some of the immersion of the game's world. When someone who is a completionist plays a game like Tomb Raider or Uncharted, it's very hard not to turn on Detective Mode and quickly scan the screen for something to pick up when entering every new room or corridor. Note: The latest Tomb Raider allows players to increase the difficulty of puzzles and collectibles by turning this tool off.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has a very toned down version of heightened senses that allows players to visually identify which items in any area can be manipulated by a force freeze or force push. That said, those are definitely not the only pieces of information needed to solve a puzzle. Most of the puzzle environments require players to really study the room and how objects interact with each other. Lots of times players need to use their droid friend, BD-1, to slice a nearby console or some platforming leaps need to be figured out in order to really crack what is going on. The force vision allow isn't very powerful and really doesn't interfere much with naturally puzzle solving.
Outside of puzzles, the force sense really doesn't provide any help in the massive game - and that is truly a good thing. The game's collectible crates, which are scattered all throughout each world, and spots where Cal can sense force memories are not highlighted using any kind of Detective Mode. This decision forces players to really explore and see the environments as they were designed, rather than through a black and white view with special objects glowing to stand out. This shift from the genre-norm really allows players the opportunity to get lost in these worlds (sometimes literally) and stay fully immersed in each environment.
The level-design was largely built around this organic exploration, as the devs explained in a recent interview with VG 24/7...
"When approaching level design, we just want to make a game that we wanna play from an exploration perspective. I really like exploration in games – I like re-traversing planets that you’ve been to before. We thought that this sort of structure of game really fit nicely with our core tenant of ‘becoming a Jedi’ and this kind of hero’s journey, and growing as a character throughout the game.
When you’re going through the game early, you’re seeing that you’re blocked off from certain areas. You can’t get everything. But as you gain new powers and abilities, Cal can now overcome obstacles that were previously preventing him from exploring fully."
None of this is meant to act as an attack on the way that exploration works in Uncharted or other action-adventure games, but there is something to be learned from the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order approach. Keeping players actively engaged in the environments and placing puzzles, tombs, and collectibles in areas that can be spotted without the help of a toggled heightened senses button is an approach we would love to see some other action adventure games try in the near future.
That said, some players may end up missing the heightened senses that they have grown so used to in prior similar titles. It wouldn't be a bad idea for future games in the series, if there are any, to include more customizable difficulties that separate the challenge level for combat and puzzles/exploration. Have the option to have medium or hard level combat, but easier puzzles (or vice versa) was very popular in Tomb Raider and would likely go over well with the Star Wars crowd as well.
Be sure to check back in the near future for more Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order strategy guides, news, and updates. Until then, may the Force be with you.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.