1. "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" is a single-player action game with some light puzzle solving — like "Star Wars" meets "Uncharted."
On Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, EA hosted an event called "EA Play" that offered attendees a special half-hour-long closed-door presentation of "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" — the next major "Star Wars" game set to arrive this November.
It was an extended look at the first major gameplay reveal for the game, and it was outright thrilling.
In short, the game looks and plays like a "Star Wars" game set in the trappings of "Uncharted" — a third-person action game with a mix of combat, platforming, and puzzle solving that serve to tell a new story in the "Star Wars" universe.
I watched as the main character, Cal Kestis, snuck up on stormtroopers, solved basic puzzles, and climbed various structures — with the occasional break for a conversation or two with allies.
2. It stars Cal Kestis, a lonely Jedi who's on the run from the Imperial government.
Spoilers for "Episode 3" ahead!
In "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" ("Episode 3"), a very moody Anakin Skywalker — before turning into everyone's favorite cyborg, Darth Vader — sets out to destroy the Jedi Order.
It's part of a bigger Jedi purge, known as "Order 66." Few Jedi survived the purge, but apparently the main character in "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" is one of those few.
This is Cal Kestis, played by actor Cameron Monaghan.
It's not clear how Kestis escaped the purge or how he's related to the more well-known "Star Wars" characters. What is clear is that he'll start out on a planet named "Bracca," which is entirely new for the "Fallen Order."
3. The game's characters are a very "Star Wars" mix of goofy, gruff, and fashionable.
Beyond Cal, there's his flight crew (the two characters in the foreground), an adorable droid named "BD-1," and Saw Gerrera from "Rogue One" — played by celebrated actor Forest Whitaker.
The interactions between these folks was another highlight of the gameplay demo I saw.
As expected, Cal's flight crew are equal parts irreverent and dead serious, and BD-1 offers necessary levity in otherwise grave situations. Saw provides the authoritative adult figure that offsets the youthful, still-green attitude of Cal.
I'm most excited to hear more from the horned alien seen in the lower right, above. He was part of the demo I saw (though he's missing from the footage that EA release), and he was a real delight. He's got four arms and a no-nonsense attitude. He struck me very much as a space plumber.
4. The demo started with Cal outright climbing an AT-AT, taking it over, and wrecking everything in his path.
The image above of Cal on top of an AT-AT isn't just some conceptual thing — in the demo I saw, Kestis climbs the AT-AT using some carefully placed foliage. You can actually see some of it above — the leafy green bits protruding from the hulking AT-AT.
Cal leaps from place to place, in a fashion that's extremely reminiscent of the "Uncharted" series. It's the kind of traversal-based puzzle solving mechanic that's found in the "Assassin's Creed" series as well. "How do I reach the top of this structure?" is the puzzle, and it's your job to solve it.
When Cal did reach the top, he was able to enter the AT-AT and outright take it over. It was a thrilling sequence that demonstrated the type of dynamic moment-to-moment gameplay that we're hoping the game is built around.
5. The game's combat is tactical and methodical — you are not Superman.
"Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" has been compared to the "Dark Souls" series in one respect: Combat. It's not a totally wrong comparison, in that each fight with each character is dangerous and requires tactical planning.
During the demo I watched, the player carefully observed enemies first before jumping in. Some stormtroopers have guns, which demand that you deflect blaster shots or get blasted, and some have electrified staffs, which demand samurai-like parries and perfectly-timed Force moves.
In one instance, Cal outright grabbed a whole stormtrooper using the Force and blasted them into a ravine (presumably to their gruesome death). In another, he deflected blows with his lightsaber before using the Force to push away the enemy and re-adjust the fight.
In general, the combat looked less intense than something like "Dark Souls" — more like a less hardcore version of "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice."
6. BD-1 is a real delight.
Since BD-1 has little feet and big eyes, he's essentially an adorable pet that helps Cal out in a variety of scenarios. The game smartly portrays BD-1 as such, scurrying up Cal's arm or animatedly chirping when he wants to help display a map.
BD-1 gives players a sense of pathos as he acts essentially like a puppy.
I am, admittedly, a sucker for animals, and was immediately enamored by BD-1. He can be seen carefully moving around on Cal's back while he climbs, and holding on for dear life as Cal flips through the air.
7. Cal's mobility is a big part of the game.
Whether he's climbing foliage hanging off of an AT-AT or literally running along a wall like some sort of wizard, Cal's movement is big on speed and agility. He can double jump, and dodge, and attack while jumping.
Like so many Jedi before (and after) him, Cal is an impressive acrobat combined with an impressive swordfighter.
But since this is a video game we're talking about, Cal's acrobatics are a crucial component of puzzle solving and environmental exploration. Being able to run on walls enables him to reach places he otherwise couldn't, for instance.
In the demo I saw, there was a familiar rhythm to the mix of combat- and moving-based gameplay in "Fallen Order" — that mix is the most direct comparison between the new "Star Wars" game and the "Uncharted" series.
8. Using the Force looks fun as heck.
Throughout the demo I saw, the player repeatedly used Cal's Force powers to delightful ends.
In one instance, Cal used the Force to slow time to the point that he could easily maneuver around blaster shots. In another, Cal used the Force to straight up pick up a stormtrooper and throw him off a cliff. In yet another, Cal used the Force to throw his lightsaber and have it return like a boomerang.
It's also used for puzzle solving, such as pulling a distant object or moving a lever.
It's not clear how much of these powers are available up front in "Fallen Order," but the demo I saw appeared to be pulled from somewhere after the introductory segments.
9. There are occasional minibosses that require more determination.
In the 30 minutes of gameplay that I saw, Cal came across at least three miniboss-type scenarios — the last one of which was the large robot seen above.
In each of these instances, the player had to adapt their fighting to the new challenges that the miniboss threw at them.
This should be pretty familiar ground for anyone who plays video games: The miniboss is introduced and the first time you fight them it's pretty tough. But then you figure out how to take them down, and the game introduces new scenarios with maybe several of that miniboss at once.
"Fallen Order" appears to follow that formula, and it should help to keep the gameplay fresh as you dance around another gaggle of stormtroopers.
10. "Fallen Order" features stunning setpiece environments.
Throughout the demo, "Fallen Order" featured massive environments with huge setpiece moments.
Building-sized saws grinding through the planet, Wookiee in prison cells, and trees that tickled the clouds were all highlights — but the demo opened with two mammoth AT-ATs emerging from water. It looked like something straight out of "Jurassic Park," and it was extremely effective at making the game look like something special.
Moments later, Cal was climbing up the side of one of those behemoths. Another few moments later, he's piloting it and shooting down the other one. Another few moments after that, he's charging an Imperial base with the AT-AT.
It was a demonstration of the scale of "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order," and it served that purpose well.
EA released a trimmed down version of the demo that was shown, which you can see below: