Jedi: Fallen Order Was Not Going To Be A Star Wars Game

TIME magazine has called Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Orderthe first great Star Wars game in a decade“, but just two years ago it was not a Star Wars game!

EA had just secured indefinite rights to become the steward of the Star Wars franchise in the gaming space when it acquired Respawn Entertainment, the studio founded by the creators of Call of Duty, in 2017. At the time, Respawn was already developing a third-person melee action game and when offered the chance to tell a canonical story about Jedi Knights, Respawn seized upon it, said Fallen Order narrative lead Aaron Contreras.

Contreras, who was hired after that decision, quickly became the bridge between the developers and the Lucasfilm Story Group, the Jedi Council-like committee that determines the boundaries of the Star Wars universe under Disney.

“We needed to understand how to work inside Star Wars, and I think they needed to understand what we need to do to make the most fun game possible, and they’ve been with us every step of the way,” Contreras told The Post. “We were throwing ideas out, and they were tweaking them or shooting them down. A thousand dead ideas were left on the side of the road for this game, but that’s a good thing.”

One idea that stuck? Telling an underdog story with an ensemble cast. The last significant Jedi-based video game, the Force Unleashed series from the early aughts, mostly featured the hero sulking, alone.

“People expect a ragtag crew experience from a Star Wars story for the most part,” Contreras said.

The game tells the story of a surviving Jedi Padawan, Cal Kestis, played by Cameron Monaghan. He’s on the run from the Empire, having lost his connection to the Force during the traumatic events of Order 66, the Empire’s directive to hunt down and kill every Jedi. After being discovered, he’s recruited by fallen Jedi Knight Cere Junda, played by Debra Wilson, and her affable galactic chauffeur Greez. Soon they’re off on a galactic hunt for a list of names of Force-sensitive children. Cere’s own trauma becomes a driving force for the narrative.

“Much of the internal change within Cal we show externally through his interactions with his crew members,” Contreras said. “Cere’s story is so important, it was difficult to balance her involvement with everything else going on with Cal, they’re almost like generational mirrors. They’re quite similar and end up being the real vehicle the other needs to solve their own internal trauma.”

Another early challenge: Force powers are too much of a power fantasy and would make the game dull (a problem which plagued the aforementioned Force Unleashed games).

“How does he learn and engage with the Force? It’s unknowable and magic, and we’re trying to distill that into a video game mechanic,” Contreras said. “One of the most challenging things of marrying storytelling and gaming, there’s a very specific way that progress feels good inside a game, and we needed to realize that in a Star Wars story.”

The team eventually landed on a solution that satisfied both the demands of the story and players’ expectations. Cal starts the game having lost most of his powers, suppressing them to conceal himself in the wake of Order 66. The game takes place five years after that event.

Read the article in full here.

SOURCEWashington Post
James is an active member of the Star Wars collecting community, and is the Brand Director for Jedi News. James is also the host of the Star Wars Collectors Cast, and co-host of RADIO 1138 on the Jedi News Network.