Jedi Fallen Order Part 7: Kashyyyk

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 24, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 132 comments

While we’re in the tomb on Zeffo, we get access to another TikTok from Master Cordova. He rambles about the amazing Zeffo civilization and then mentions that he’s going to speak to some Wookiee leader named Tarfful. 

That’s it. That’s our lead.

I thought we were following him on a pilgrimage to tombs? Keep in mind, Cordova is (presumably) dead and this is a recording he made for an unknown person (us) in the future. And he gives us a lead to talk to somebody? It didn’t occur to Cordova that maybe some people might die in the coming conflict? He didn’t think it might be hard for a random stranger to talk to a Wookiee head of state? He didn’t think to give us more concrete goals? Like, planets are big and we don’t even know what we’re supposed to ask Tarfful if we find him. 

Damn it, Cordova. You are terrible at this. 

Moon Logic

Sir, I feel the need to point out that this is actually a stone engraving, and it could mean almost anything. Maybe the Zeffo just thought it was pretty.
Sir, I feel the need to point out that this is actually a stone engraving, and it could mean almost anything. Maybe the Zeffo just thought it was pretty.

Cordova’s logic makes no sense. “The Zeffo drew a picture of Wookiee trees on their temple, therefore a Wookiee chieftain must know all about Zeffo treasure that was hidden thousands of years ago!” That’s a complete non-sequitur. I once drew a picture of the Arc de Triomphe, but that doesn’t mean French president Emmanuel Macron knows where I keep my prized comic book collection.

Also, I’m confused on the timeline here. As far as I can tell, he had a premonition of some vague coming doom. So he took this holocron of all known Jedi prospects. Then he decided to spend years(?) studying the Zeffo, while recording little travel vlogs for some unknown person in the future, addressing them as “My friend.” Then he hid the holocron and encrypted the memory of his droid so the droid could accompany this unknown person on this pilgrimage and play his vlogs back to them. And then if the pilgrim views enough of the vlogs, they’ll learn the location of the Astrum you need to access the Holocron?

It’s clear from the recordings that Cordova didn’t know if he’d find an Astrum on his journey. He recorded all of these vlogs, expecting us to follow in his footsteps. But he doesn’t know where he’s going to end up. He didn’t have an Astrum yet. Did he know ahead of time he’d be able to use it to hide the holocron?

I don’t know. I feel like this plot has more moving parts than is needed to justify the “Go to tomb, solve puzzle, get plot coupon” story we’re doing here.

Whatever. We don’t have enough information to properly diagnose Cordova’s obvious drug problem, so all we can do is move on and hope for the best. We can go to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, or we can go to DathomirOnce again, this is a false choice. Dathomir is still a dead end.. I’m going to head to Kashyyyk next.

Kashyyyk

I guess it's good the imperials never wash these things.
I guess it's good the imperials never wash these things.

We’re headed for Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, which is lead by Tarfful and is famously the homeworld of Chewbacca. Did George Lucas spill Fanta in his keyboard just before he wrote this stuffOf course not. He hand-wrote it and someone else typed it on a typewriter. It was the mid 70s, and word processing on personal computers was still a ways off.? I mean, was it really necessary to have three consecutive Y’s in Kashyyyk?

As we arrive, we discover that (surprise!) the Empire is attacking the planet. We get a little set-piece where we climb all over an AT-AT, get inside, take control, and then have an on-rails vehicle section where we blow stuff up. 

It’s… fine. I’m not super-happy when a game takes away the strong, polished, interesting central mechanics the game is built on and replaces it with some shallow disposable vehicle crap, but this AT-AT sequence is actually fairly short. The whole thing feels like a corporate mandated vehicle section, but at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome. And climbing around on the AT-AT was pretty cool.

Saw Gerrera

Ew. I got a secondary character stuck to my windshield. Where are the wipers on this thing?
Ew. I got a secondary character stuck to my windshield. Where are the wipers on this thing?

We meet up with Saw Gerrera, who you might remember as Forest Whitaker’s character from Rogue One. In the Star Wars timeline, Rogue One ends just a few hours before the opening scene of A New Hope. This game takes place in the years between the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy, so we’re meeting a slightly younger, less unhinged version of the character.

Gerrera explains that the Empire is here to “steal the planet’s resources”. If that’s not dumb enough, they’re also capturing Wookiees for some reason???

This actually got a laugh out of me. Kashyyyk is one huge forest. What is the Empire here to steal? The TREES? Are they planning on building the Death Star out of wood? And who in their right mind would endure the expense, hassle, and extreme danger of enslaving a Wookiee in a universe where droids exist?

Of course, none of this is new. This Wookiee-enslaving and planet-plundering business goes way back in Star Wars lore. It’s never made any sense to me. Maybe one of the Extended Universe books lays the groundwork for this, but in every story I’ve seen it’s always just this nonsensical battle by cartoon villains who don’t seem to be getting anything out of subjugating the Wookiees. 

But then Gerrera explains that the Empire is here extracting sap from the trees, which has some useful properties that he doesn’t elaborate on.

Hey… you know, I like that idea.

Free the Trees!

There's a huge world Tree kinda thing around here somewhere, because of course there is. At least I don't have dozens of people spamming chat and asking how to find Mankrik's wife.
There's a huge world Tree kinda thing around here somewhere, because of course there is. At least I don't have dozens of people spamming chat and asking how to find Mankrik's wife.

The sap gives the Empire a reason to want this place, which is more than Lucas could be bothered to do in Revenge of the SithKOTOR suffered from the same problem.. Back in RotS, the only reason Kashyyyk was seen as a critical strategic location was because that’s where Chewbacca is from and the audience likes Chewbacca. But now we have a reason for people to fight over this huge untamed forest. Of course the Wookiees would take exception to this sap-harvesting, which creates the cool guerrilla warfare situation we see now. 

Using this information, we can extrapolate even further and come up with some reasons for taking Wookiee prisoners rather than just mowing them down. In this game, the Wookiee prisoners aren’t here to serve as a dangerously disloyal slave workforce. They’re just in cages. Those cages are positioned within the Empire’s various extraction facilities. The game doesn’t go out of its way to point this out, but it’s clear that the Wookiee prisoners function as hostages. The guerrillas can’t just blow up these facilities unless they’re willing to murder hundreds of their friends. This obliges them to come out of the jungle and assault the facilities directly, which is a much more comfortable fight for the entrenched and fortified Imperial Troops.

I’ve said before that Star Wars is drama first, not details first, but this one little detail justifies this entire conflict and even retroactively makes earlier depictions of Kashyyyk less dumb. Even in a drama-first universe, it really is worth the time to fill in little details like this. 

The Traveling Jedi Problem

I'm not totally sold on a design that obliges us to go through twice as many travel cutscenes, but if the game didn't cut all the planets in half then I'd definitely complain that these places drag on too long.
I'm not totally sold on a design that obliges us to go through twice as many travel cutscenes, but if the game didn't cut all the planets in half then I'd definitely complain that these places drag on too long.

Cal joins the resistance, kills the requisite number of busloads of stormtroopers, and frees the Wookies. In return, the now-free Wookiees promise to track down Tarfful, the Wookiee leader we need to talk to. However, it will take them some time. They’ll get back to you.

So here we run into another odd design decision with the game. Like Mass Effect, we’ve got the intro areas, then three main worlds that can (seemingly) be taken in whatever order, then the endgame worlds. Unlike Mass Effect, these planets aren’t designed to be singular self-contained stories. 

We’ve got three main worlds, and we need to visit all of them twice. You need to complete the first half of Zeffo to get the lead to go to Kashyyyk. Once you complete the first half of Kashyyyk, the second half of Zeffo opens up. Once you’re done with that, it will be time to come back to Kashyyyk, which will grant us a new power that will enable us to tackle the first half of Dathomir. And so on.

I’m not sure why this was done. The second half of Zeffo doesn’t need to be on Zeffo. The first area and the second area are barely connected, and could easily have been presented as two different locations. Like, they could have taken the back 9 of Zeffo and stuck it on a different planet. Given the overbearing size of these places, it would actually be really nice to cut them in half. 

On the other hand, creating a whole new planet doesn’t just mean taking the second half of Zeffo and putting it into an empty map. If you’re going to have another planet that matches the others in terms of quality, then that planet needs unique wildlife, unique lighting, and unique dialog to put it into context and explain why the Empire is hereAlternatively: Design model, animate, voice, and explain a whole new class of mooks for us to swordfight.. On the other, other hand, the second half of Zeffo looks very distinct from the first. The first part of Zeffo has a blue ice motif going on, while the second half is warmer and leans more towards a dirty industrial style. 

This game is already really extravagant in terms of production values, so I’m probably being unreasonable by wishing for more planets. Still, I was a little put off by the need to switch planets rather than binging all the way through the one I was on.

Story Beats

This screenshot is unrelated to the article. I just really like how it looks as if Cal is dancing a little jig for the stormtroopers.
This screenshot is unrelated to the article. I just really like how it looks as if Cal is dancing a little jig for the stormtroopers.

The other oddity is how uneven the story beats are. Zeffo is probably the largest planet of the bunch, and yet it has almost nothing in the way of story. There aren’t any locals to meet. The Empire is supposedly digging for treasure in the background, but that doesn’t add up to a “story”. The whole place is one big rat maze filled with stormtroopers and a puzzle tomb. Each half of Kashyyyk is a different (albeit small and simple) story. And finally Dathomir has a full overarching story and even multiple characters with their own arcs. 

So Zeffo is nearly all gameplay and no story, Dathomir is really story heavy, and Kashyyyk falls somewhere in between.

Did the designer want to make all of the planets as story-rich as Dathomir, but they ran out of time / budget? Did they have a story planned for Zeffo that got cut for time? Was the second half of Zeffo originally planned as another world that got merged for whatever reason? 

Okay, I can understand the totalitarianism and the police state. I was willing to forgive the Empire for the oppression, the genocide, the injustice, and the doomsday weapon. But quoting the prequel trilogy? Now you've gone too far.
Okay, I can understand the totalitarianism and the police state. I was willing to forgive the Empire for the oppression, the genocide, the injustice, and the doomsday weapon. But quoting the prequel trilogy? Now you've gone too far.

I want to stress that this isn’t criticism, it’s just curiosity. The overall construction of the game is fine, I’m just curious why the story and gamespace aren’t more evenly distributed. 

Anyway, it’s time to move on from Kashyyyk. We can go back to Zeffo, or we can head to Dathomir. The only planet we can’t work on is the one we’re on now.

(Actually, if you’re playing through the game yourself, then now is a good time to head back to the little tutorial planet of Bogano and pick up a bunch of collectibles that were unobtainable during your initial visit. Specifically, two additional healing charges should now be reachable. By this point in the journey you’ll have acquired Force push and you’ll probably have unlocked the ability to have BD-1 sliceSlicing is just Star Wars for “hacking”. computer terminals. Those are your two main door-opening powers.)

Let’s head to Dathomir and see what makes this place so spooky.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Once again, this is a false choice. Dathomir is still a dead end.

[2] Of course not. He hand-wrote it and someone else typed it on a typewriter. It was the mid 70s, and word processing on personal computers was still a ways off.

[3] KOTOR suffered from the same problem.

[4] Alternatively: Design model, animate, voice, and explain a whole new class of mooks for us to swordfight.

[5] Slicing is just Star Wars for “hacking”.



From The Archives:
 

132 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 7: Kashyyyk

  1. Leipävelho says:

    While I have not played every Star Wars game, it seems that every other one features Kashyyyk specifically for some reason.

    1. John says:

      Two reasons. First, fanservice. People like wookies. Second, the giant trees are video game level designer bait. Gotta have a forest level. If Kashyyyk didn’t exist, it would be necessary for level designers to invent it. (We should all just be grateful that Star Wars doesn’t have a canonical sewer planet full of canonical rat creatures.)

      1. Pax says:

        (We should all just be grateful that Star Wars doesn’t have a canonical sewer planet full of canonical rat creatures.)

        Someone hasn’t played the original Dark Forces.

        1. John says:

          Hey, I played a little of the demo once. My conclusion was “not as good as the Outlaws demo.” (The Outlaws demo is the second level of Outlaws and possibly the best level in that game.) I’ve never been tempted to play the full version of Dark Forces.

          1. Dalisclock says:

            Dark Forces feels very dated these days. It came out not too long after DOOM but with a lot more puzzles. In fact, trying to figure out how to get through each level by finding the right switches and hidden passages was often quite tricky. In fact, some were probably on par with the Sawmill in Outlaws.
            Not to mention item and keycard hunting, IIRC. It’s been a long time since I played it and I felt the all the later games were better the Dark Forces. Jedi Knight felt like a notable step up in every regard.

        2. Narkis says:

          Or Shadows of the Empire.

          1. John says:

            I am fully prepared to believe that various Star Wars video games have or have had sewer-like levels with rat-like creatures. Gotta have a sewer level. That was in fact the joke. But I am not prepared to believe that there’s a canonical sewer planet full of canonical rat creatures, ’cause, y’know, I’ve seen both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy and I think I’d remember something like that.

            1. Henson says:

              Wouldn’t Coruscant technically be a sewer planet?

            2. L'Oremaster says:

              There are no sewers. Starwarsians compact their trash.

      2. Radkatsu says:

        “We should all just be grateful that Star Wars doesn’t have a canonical sewer planet full of canonical rat creatures.”

        *Civvie entered the chat.*

  2. Joe says:

    I’ve always liked the idea of Kashyyyk, I just haven’t quite seen it done right. Maybe the best I’ve seen was Heir to the Empire. In KOTOR, the top level was all walkways and handrails. Then we go down to the forest floor, which is normally portrayed as so deadly no one even gets half way. Furthermore, it’s got all number of other visitors. Great, it’s just another game level.

    In ROTS, we get to see more ground, and even an ocean. So much for the ‘whole planet covered in giant trees’ deal. There are other disappointments.

    As for why the Empire wanted Wookiee slaves, IIRC it was for a combination of strength and technical skills. Yeah. You covered the stupidity of that in your Mass Effect series. Essentially you just have to accept the Empire is cartoonishly evil, and they take whatever action they can to justify that.

    1. John says:

      In ROTS, we get to see more ground, and even an ocean. So much for the ‘whole planet covered in giant trees’ deal.

      This may be the first time I’ve ever heard someone complain that a planet in Star Wars had more than one biome.

      1. Joe says:

        That’s a good point. Yes, I’m complaining that this planet in particular had more than one biome. Guerilla warfare in the trees would have been more interesting than a straight ground charge.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          Maybe it’s a rule-of-cool thing? I don’t like single-biome planets, but I would be disappointed to find out that Coruscant has suburbs.

          1. Joe says:

            Yes, that’s it. Multiple biomes are fine for some planets, but not others.

    2. ShivanHunter says:

      As for why the Empire wanted Wookiee slaves, IIRC it was for a combination of strength and technical skills. Yeah. You covered the stupidity of that in your Mass Effect series. Essentially you just have to accept the Empire is cartoonishly evil, and they take whatever action they can to justify that.

      Star Wars loves its archetypes. The big, evil Empire takes slaves because of course it does. Wookiees have this primitive noble-savage aesthetic going on, so they get taken as slaves. Archetypes in these kinds of stories react to each other like chemicals, not like rational people responding to incentives.

      (This also produces the “dude sets up a quest for the hero to undertake and prove his worth before he can get the thing” plot, which is an old, old story template that works in the context of Star Wars, despite not being logical in the slightest under these circumstances.)

      I won’t say it’s an invalid way to write stories – the popularity of SW shows it clearly works – but it ain’t for me. So here I am reinstalling Mass Effect 1 for the 15th time :V

      1. Shamus says:

        “So here I am reinstalling Mass Effect 1 for the 15th time :V”

        *Nods to a fellow pilgrim on their journey*

        1. Daimbert says:

          I sometimes get an urge to play ME1 again, but then think that that at least should make me want to play through the other games as well, and that’s usually enough to kill the urge. I get the same feeling from the Dragon Age series, but I’ve been able to play DAO and DA2 without being tempted to play DAI again.

          1. Redrock says:

            Me, I’m constantly getting the urge, but usually manage to convince myself to wait for those elusive remasters that constantly keep getting leaked, but never confirmed.

          2. Parkhorse says:

            Nah, that’s easy for me. I don’t enjoy shooters, much less cover shooters. So ME1 was the only one that had gameplay that I could find a tolerable play style for. Accordingly, I feel zero temptation to replay anything besides ME1.

            1. Daimbert says:

              I’m a story gamer. It’s hard to resist the temptation to continue on with the story after finishing one of the games in it.

          3. SidheKnight says:

            I sometimes get an urge to play ME1 again, but then think that that at least should make me want to play through the other games as well, and that’s usually enough to kill the urge. I get the same feeling from the Dragon Age series, but I’ve been able to play DAO and DA2 without being tempted to play DAI again.

            Personally, I’m waiting for the remaster that is supposedly coming soon.

            As for ME2 & 3, I don’t mind playing through those games again. Like Shamus I’m very disappointed in the turn from Details-First to Drama-First (and then to Gameplay-First). But the gameplay improvements, characters and side stories make the other 2 games very enjoyable for me as well (well, ME2 at least).

            On another note: Is DAI really that bad? I just started playing DAO a few weeks ago, and I’m liking it so far (it’s not Mass Effect, but still pretty good). What exactly sucks about DAI? the story? the gameplay? Does it have a ME3 style shit ending?

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              So bearing in mind that this is mostly a matter of taste. The main problem is DAI is bloated. There is a lot of busywork hunting down collectables, and rifts to fight demons from, and things to look at to reveal yet more collectables, this may be more of an issue if you’re the type of player who can’t leave an icon unturned.

              On the other hand if you enjoy the late Bioware formula you’ll find things to like. Most people I’ve seen play it enjoy at least the majority of the companions (specifics vary), there is a bunch of pretty locations and some entertaining dialogue, I don’t feel competent in judging combat but when I played it felt flashy enough to be entertaining.

              To me there is a secondary problem that the game doesn’t deliver on the core narrative it promises (specifics would be getting into spoilers) and relegates crucial story bits to a DLC (which I find a particularly offensive sin) but this is very much a case of varying mileage and truth be told we won’t know if they make any use of these events until DA4 at the earliest.

              1. SidheKnight says:

                The main problem is DAI is bloated. There is a lot of busywork hunting down collectables, and rifts to fight demons from, and things to look at to reveal yet more collectables, this may be more of an issue if you’re the type of player who can’t leave an icon unturned.

                I am exactly that kind of player.. oh boy. It was one of the reasons why I dropped the Assassin’s Creed franchise (that, and the story and gameplay diverged too much from what I used to like in those games).

                and relegates crucial story bits to a DLC (which I find a particularly offensive sin)

                Ahh, just like Mass Effect 3. Another EA-Bioware game.
                I agree, it is an offensive sin of gaming,

                1. Thomas says:

                  You’re definitely best of ignoring almost all the sidequests if you can avoid them. There’s almost no task outside of the main story and companion missions worth doing (but there are plenty of those). And if you get DA:I get a version with all the DLC included because the DLC is pretty much universally more interesting.

            2. Daimbert says:

              I agree with Sleeping Dragon: the game is bloated. It has a lot of large areas and you need to complete at least a certain number of quests in each area to get the points to open up new areas, and it isn’t at all clear how much you need to do to make sure that you’re at a high enough level to do the later missions and areas. So I ended up obsessively completing everything in an area and only at the end ended up overleveled for the areas, which was even MORE boring as I still had to kill things but didn’t get any XP for them.

              Ultimately, it’s a very big game but the things in it aren’t interesting enough for the size of it. It tries to have an open-world model like the Elder Scrolls games, but because you have to open up each area it’s actually pretty linear. At the time, it took me about 80 hours to finish and after that I said that if I never play it again it will be too soon. As a point of contrast, I spent 80 hours playing Persona 5 right after that and immediately restarted after finishing it. I don’t regret playing it, but the grind makes me hesitant to replay it again.

        2. RFS-81 says:

          I still have the savegames from my old PC. The problem with that is that if I reinstall, I have to decide if I want to start fresh, or go for a third run with my engineer and get her to the level cap.

        3. Nimrandir says:

          If I had ever uninstalled it, the failed disc drive on my Xbox 360 means I would never be able to play it again.

          I started an Engineer run but paused when I was about to pass my son on his playthrough.

      2. Gwydden says:

        “This also produces the “dude sets up a quest for the hero to undertake and prove his worth before he can get the thing” plot, which is an old, old story template that works in the context of Star Wars, despite not being logical in the slightest under these circumstances.”

        I am reminded of an excellent and hilarious essay called The Well-Tempered Plot Device, about lazy plotting in speculative fiction. One of the things the author mentions is how many fantasy and sci fi books rely on a collectathon of “Plot Coupons” which have no real link to the story’s resolution other than the author says so.

        1. Cubic says:

          Classic. Ansible itself has its moments too.

        2. Joe says:

          Ouch. I’ve recently written three get the thingy stories recently. In one, it’s pure mcguffin. The thingy doesn’t even do anything, it’s just a motivating factor. Now I’m trying to come up with something a little more original. But I’d rather stay away from that other great cliche, the chosen one.

          1. Syal says:

            I, on the other hand, am working on* two stories employing the eminently original WhoDunnit.

            *(It’s like a sentence a day but words are appearing!)

            1. Joe says:

              Oh god. I just had a terrible thought. What if the chosen one has to collect the plot coupons to solve a murder? Three for the price of one! I’m disgusted at myself for thinking of such tripe, but it makes me laugh anyway.

              1. Ramsus says:

                That actually sounds extremely entertaining and has the benefit of being able to be done “seriously” or for laughs.

                1. Syal says:

                  I feel like Brandon Sanderson has already written that story, or is in the process of writing it.

                  …the plot coupons can only be revealed through the Power of Love.

                2. Cubic says:

                  Three words: Extreme Plot Couponing.

        3. Daimbert says:

          Well, as TV Tropes itself notes, “Tropes are not bad”. Those plot devices exist for a reason. As the essay itself notes, they’re an easy way to get a plot moving and move things along and even to come to a resolution. But because they’re so common, they don’t in and of themselves excite anyone anymore, so it’s not that they’re there that makes a plot good or bad, but how they are used.

          I’m seeing in a lot of modern movies — mostly horror as I write about them on my blog, but The Force Awakens is a prime example as well — that they seem to reference the tropes or elements but don’t get what the tropes are used for or allow them to do. So they lose all emotional context or connotations and come across as just being there to be there. You can definitely make light fantasy/sci-fi works that rely on “Plot Coupons”, but you have to acknowledge that and use them appropriately for the work you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with a light fantasy story that uses “Plot Coupons” to get things moving and keep them moving, as long as it’s clear that’s what it’s trying to do. It’s works that either simply seem to be sticking them in because they feel they need to or that seem to want to pretend to be more than that that are the problem.

          1. Joshua says:

            I see a lot of Tropes used these days that rely upon the audience being familiar with the trope itself for the story to work at all. For example, in the Sequel Trilogy you mentioned there’s the Heel/Face Turn and the Redemption Arc. The movies use these tropes but they don’t make a lot of sense (IMO) from what we’ve been shown thus far: in fact, we’ve been shown pretty explicitly that Kylo Ren has slammed the door shut on redemption several times, but yet he gets that arc anyway because it’s a trope. If you had never heard of this trope before, you might be excused for asking “What the hell is going on here?”

            Conversely, you have stories in ASOIAF/GOT with Theon and Jaime where you can understand why such tropes are being used*, and understand why the characters are making the decisions they do. In short, Tropes Are Tools, but don’t be lazy about substituting them for a story that makes sense.

            *You might actually think that these tropes themselves are being examined, as even with a turn for trying to be better men Theon and Jaime are still pretty flawed individuals.

            1. Retsam says:

              I don’t really think explicit audience awareness of “tropes” really has any effect on whether or not the story works – wether you think Kylo Ren’s redemption arc works narratively or not has nothing to do with awareness that the concept of a redemption arc is a common trope.

              Your comment makes it sound like you think people who liked Kylo Ren’s arc are just ignoring issues with the story (that Kylo Ren has “slammed the door shut on redemption in the past”) because they’re aware it’s a trope. But I don’t think that’s true.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                I think what Joshua is saying is that the trope is used because people expect a villain redemption arc in a Star Wars story whereas he believes Kylo has “crossed the moral event horizon*”. That said I would argue that “infinite redemption potential” is something almost endemic to the Star Wars setting, though that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a story that needs to be (re)told.

                *Which is also a trope, welcome to postmodernism where every story has been told in one form or another.

                1. Joshua says:

                  Not exactly what either of you are saying. What I’m saying is that being aware of a trope is fine as long as the story supports it, but not if the story is using it as a crutch assuming people have seen this kind of story before. The trope works for people who are not aware of it: “Wow, this story took an unexpected turn but I really like how it all makes sense!” or people who have know what the trope is go, “I really like how they did this Heel/Face turn” (or whatever).

                  To give an example, suppose Neo comes back to life at the end of The Matrix, and Agent Smith immediately goes “I was wrong about humanity, consider me your new follower!”. People of the second category above are aware of the trope being used (whether they like it or not may vary), but people who are have never seen a Heel/Face Turn before now are suddenly bewildered by the direction the story took as the character change wasn’t really supported by the narrative thus far. Instead, the authors simply used the trope to say “You know what we’re doing here because you’ve seen this kind of story before, go with it”.

                  This could go for any kind of trope of course. For example, have you ever seen a Hostage For McGuffin in a story where you thought “Why on earth would the characters make this trade? This makes no sense!” It makes no sense for the characters, but the writers know that the audience is probably familiar with the story trope being used and so don’t put any more effort into the narrative than using the trope.

                  Does that make any more sense?

                  1. Syal says:

                    I think you’re talking about broader formula familiarity than just recognizing a particular trope. An unjustified trope can work if the audience is thinking about the better stories the formula is based on. For Kylo Ren’s redemption arc, the audience accepts it not because they know what Heel’/Face turns are, but because they’re specifically thinking of Darth Vader’s redemption* from the old trilogy. For characters who follow the party in the shadows before getting caught and trying to plead their way out of it**, it’s “Oh, this is just like Gollum, this story is just like Lord of the Rings!” For trading the world-saving MacGuffin for a friend’s life, it’s “This is just like”…uh… “[Insert Famous Story Here], where it was the right call because the real power was inside them all along.” Aping the trope only works if it’s in service of aping the whole story structure.

                    *(I actually think Kylo’s redemption is better established than Vader’s.)

                    **(I figured The Gollum would be a trope name, but I’m having trouble actually finding this one.)

                  2. Retsam says:

                    It still sounds like you’re saying “people are willing to ignore nonsensical behavior if they’re familiar with the corresponding trope”, which I don’t think is true. The viewers awareness, or lack of awareness of a trope has basically nothing to do with whether or not it’s effective.

                    If a Face/Heel turn isn’t supported by the narrative, I’m going to think it’s badly done, regardless of the fact that I’ve seen face/heel turns before and am not “surprised by the concept of a face heel/turn”. (In fact, the fact that I’ve seen other, better, face/heel turns is likely to make me more critical, not less)

                    Writers may fall victim to using tropes as “crutches”, but I don’t think the audience awareness of the trope really plays into it at all.

                    1. Shamus says:

                      As a critic, I’m sad to report that there does indeed seem to be a non-trivial portion of the audience that will go along with a story if it’s following a trope, logic be damned. I remember people arguing in favor of Mass Effect 2 by condescendingly explaining to me how tropes work.

                      Then again, my perception of these people is probably distorted. They might be rare, but when most YouTube comments are negative and most negative comments are personal attacks and most personal attacks are an assault on your qualifications as a critic, it feels like these dorks are everywhere.

                      “You don’t acknowledge the tropes that appear in Fallout 3, therefore you must be unaware of them, therefore you’re a bad critic and also shut up. The story of Fallout 3 is awesome because I enjoyed the gameplay when I was 12!”

                      Regardless of how common / rare these people might be, they certainly leave an impression.

                    2. Daimbert says:

                      Well, I used the “Despicable Me” example above to show a case of that, at least in my opinion: you’ll understand what the scene is doing and why things are happening if you recognize it as a standard move in a trope, but if you don’t you’ll be confused because it seems to come out of nowhere. Yes, of course on further analysis it will seem like it was poorly done, but in the moment if you are aware of the trope you were likely expecting the scene and so it won’t really bother you that it wasn’t really set-up properly. But someone unfamiliar with the trope will be confused and think that they must have missed something.

                    3. Joshua says:

                      I’m looking at it from the writer’s perspective, not the audience. So, I don’t think I’m really disagreeing with you? Your last statement sounds pretty much like what I’m trying to say.

                      Basically, the writer uses a trope without sufficient groundwork of the narrative foundation because they assume the audience understands what they’re going for and don’t put any special effort into seamlessly integrating the trope into their work. The difference between “Author inserts Character X doing a Heel/Face Turn & Redemption Arc” vs. “I want to have a Heel/Face Turn & Redemption Arc in my story, how can I make it work?”.

                    4. SidheKnight says:

                      I remember people arguing in favor of Mass Effect 2 by condescendingly explaining to me how tropes work.

                      At the risk of necro-ing a not so recent conversation, I’d love to ask for more details on this one.

                      Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games, even though much like Shamus, I hated all of the changes in setting, story, focus, tone and themes that took place between the first game and the second. The difference being that the things ME2 did right compensate the bad stuff for me, and I’m more willing to create more headcannon and suspension of disbelief to preserve my enjoyment of that game (difficult as it can be sometimes). It may not be the Mass Effect I fell in love with, but it’s still good.

                      What was I saying? Oh yes, I can’t imagine someone saying “Well, actually TIM isn’t a badly written character because he’s supposed to be a Magnificent Bastard and therefore it makes sense that he always wins every argument he has with Shepard”, as if that somehow explained or justified why all of TIM’s lines are nonsensical shit, and the only reason he “wins” is because Shepard’s dialogue is even more shit.

                      I’d love to see some examples of how that works..

            2. Daimbert says:

              For simple audience awareness being necessary, I noticed that a lot in the “Despicable Me” series. There are a lot of things that aren’t properly developed but if we know the tropes we can understand the scenes. I think one of the biggest examples was the romance in 2, where after she leaves she’s on the plane and suddenly comes to the realization and jumps out of the plane. That isn’t properly set up but you get why that scene is there if you recognize it as a standard trope in a romance arc, so it works if you see it as part of that arc but you’d be confused if you didn’t recognize it.

              I haven’t seen the last movie in the sequel trilogy, but that to me seems like more of a misused or shoehorned in trope than simply relying on people recognizing it, as it seems to go against what the rest of the story is saying.

              My examples in the horror movie are more putting the trope elements in because it’s felt that they should be there, but they aren’t developed properly to have the impact that they should have. In TFA, for example, Starkiller Station is a prime example, where they felt the need to have a massive planet-destroying super-weapon, but didn’t do enough to establish it or make it important in the way that ANH did it. It’s like they felt it had to be there because that’s what you see in a Star Wars movie, but just stuffed it in there without really understanding what it was that made that work.

              I guess Kylo Ren could be an example of that: Star Wars needs a redemption arc, so let’s stuff it in despite the fact that it doesn’t really fit and can’t do the work that the redemption arc in the OT did.

              1. Joshua says:

                I only saw the first one, and have only a very vague memory of it. However, I do remember this being an issue with my complaint above. Gru is visually shown being very blase about the assumed horrific death(s) of one of the girls (all of them? I can’t remember) early on the film, which undercuts the plausibility of having a real Heel/Face turn later.

                So, this would qualify under my complaint. However, it’s an animated comedy aimed at a largely kid audience, so gets a lot of leeway. I think comedies in general are not held to the same narrative standards as more dramatic stories. Generally anyone nit-picking the plausibility of actions/motivations/whatever in a comedy are typically considered to be missing the point.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I only saw the first one, and have only a very vague memory of it. However, I do remember this being an issue with my complaint above. Gru is visually shown being very blase about the assumed horrific death(s) of one of the girls (all of them? I can’t remember) early on the film, which undercuts the plausibility of having a real Heel/Face turn later.

                  That example would come down to how they handle the trope, and might be personal, because a proper Heel/Face turn would have the person act unconcerned about the girls at the beginning and then as he came to connect with them start to care, moving from an uncaring person to one who cares, and that part of the movie I think was done well. An example from the first movie of what I’m talking about is Margo’s subplot where she has to learn to trust Gru with the ending element of her having to leap to him and trust him to catch her. Yes, it’s a standard plot and so we get the elements and can see and even in some way feel the resolution at the end, but that’s only because we recognize that the movie was going for that standard trope. If you didn’t recognize the trope, you might be more puzzled about why she all of a sudden has to have this big trust event than into the moment.

                  So, this would qualify under my complaint. However, it’s an animated comedy aimed at a largely kid audience, so gets a lot of leeway. I think comedies in general are not held to the same narrative standards as more dramatic stories. Generally anyone nit-picking the plausibility of actions/motivations/whatever in a comedy are typically considered to be missing the point.

                  My criticism of it being in a kids’ movie is that it relies on us recognizing the form of the trope to work, and kids might not have watched enough movies to get and recognize the trope. You really need to make your tropes obvious if you want kids to get it. The only time you don’t make them obvious is when you want to wink at the adults in the audience without the kids getting it.

    3. Pax says:

      I mean, the real reason the wookiees were enslaved is because that was Han Solo’s original backstory. He saved Chewbacca from slavery and earned a life debt. And because all alien races in Star Wars are all the same as the one character representing them in the movie, now all wookiees were enslaved by the Empire.

      And the Rodians have a bounty hunting culture because Greedo was a bounty hunter.

      And all Hutts are gangsters.

      And all Twi’leks are either slave girls or sleazy lackeys.

      And all Bothans are spies, because our only mention of Bothans in the movies were as information gatherers.

      At least NewEU mixes that up a little, mostly thanks to Clone Wars and Rebels showing more different characters I’d guess.

      1. John says:

        Here’s my Star Wars hot take. There is no evidence in the original trilogy that Han Solo is from a planet called Corellia nor is there any conclusive evidence that Corellia is a planet. Han merely says that the Millennium Falcon has outrun big Corellian ships, whatever that might mean. But, no, Han said the word “Corellian”, so it must be the planet he’s from and therefore all other Corellian must be at least a little like Han–and neither fans nor spinoff authors will hear a word to the contrary.

      2. Liessa says:

        Yes, this is one of the most annoying things about the Star Wars EU (and indeed the prequel movies). One thing I liked about KOTOR is that the writers didn’t bother to adhere to this – you run into Twi’lek street urchins, treasure hunters etc., and at least one nice Hutt.

  3. Bloodsquirrel says:

    back 9 of Zeffo

    Typo, or turn of phrase that I’m just not getting?

    1. CJK says:

      Turn of phrase – the “back 9” is the second half of a round of golf (the latter 9 holes).

      1. baud says:

        Thank you. I didn’t know that expression (or had forgotten its meaning).

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      A golf reference – 18 holes in a round: the back 9 is the second half of the golf found.

      Edit – I love answering questions simultaneously.

    3. Joshua says:

      The others already pointed out what it means, but you often have the option to play only 9 holes if you like. From the very few courses I played when in high school, the first nine end up back around the clubhouse where you can then go and start the back 9. I guess this is typical?

      1. Daimbert says:

        Usually the first 9 are out away from the clubhouse and the back 9 are coming back in to the clubhouse. It’s even recorded that way on the scorecards.

        1. Joshua says:

          Thanks, I was wanting to get some verification cause it’s been a long while and I was never that dedicated to begin with. The main place place I played at back in the….early 90s (ahem) had holes 1,9, 10, and 18 all by the clubhouse, so you’d be passing right by the clubhouse after you finished the first 9 before you’d start on the second 9.

          1. Daimbert says:

            If a course expects to have a lot of people only playing nine holes, they might build their course that way to avoid people finishing that round having to come back a long way afterwards. I don’t think most professional courses are built that way, but haven’t played enough of them to really say.

    4. Will says:

      It’s a turn of phrase, referring to golf. A typical golf course has eighteen holes, divided into a “front nine” and a “back nine”. Thus, the “back nine” is the second half of the planet.

  4. wswordsmen says:

    which is more than Lucas could be bothered to do in Revenge of the Sith

    Lucas didn’t need to give a specific reason in RotS. The Republic was there because the Separatists were attacking, and the Separatists were attacking for “reasons”, which given the fact they are fighting a war we know next to nothing about there are probably plenty of reason that don’t contradict anything else that can be slotted in. Do you really want to argue they should have slowed the movie down to explain why the Separatists were there? I am a fan of that stuff and it seems like a pure downgrade to me.

    Of course the real reason is Wookiees are cool and Lucas wanted an excuse for more Wookiees.

    You are probably thinking of all the EU material where the Empire enslaves Wookiees, but that never made it into the movies.

    1. Thomas says:

      “Wookies are allied with the Republic” seems like a good enough reason to attack Kashyyyk. It is a war.

      If you did any deeper into the strategy of Star Wars nothing makes sense, because the numbers are all absurdly off. There are supposed to be 3.2 billion habitable star systems in the Star Wars universe. On that scale caring about _any_ single planet is ludicrous

      1. Daimbert says:

        Especially since doing so would draw the Wookiees back home to deal with the attack and protect their homes and families, which would deprive the Republic of some effective shock troops. And if the Republic didn’t help them, the Wookiees are quite likely to abandon the alliance.

        1. Sartharina says:

          Of course, the real reason for the attacks was to spread the Jedi thin so Order 66 could work.

      2. Pax says:

        I think the reason the old EU gave was that it was a key stop along a hyperspace route? Maybe a fork in the hyper-road?
        Granted, I have no idea why you’d have to take the planet’s surface to control the hyperspace route. Or even how you’d control a hyperspace route. Isn’t this the same series where they managed to blockade a planet with one capital ship?

        1. Thomas says:

          I think the idea is that planetary batteries are effective at defending hyperspace routes? And there’s something or other about having to leave hyperspace or being able to force people to leave hyperspace at certain points (which are almost always near planets).

          Either way it’s all a bit much, because Star Wars just isn’t built to withstand this level of scrutiny. There’s too many ground battles which don’t make sense because you can just glass a planet from space if you have supremacy in ships.

          To give one to the OT fans, I don’t think these problems cropped up in the original films because the Empire was an imperial force trying to maintain control (which would require lots of ground troops) and Endor has the shield bunker. There aren’t really any fights over planets (the nonsense that is Hoth excepted).

          1. Boobah says:

            Hoth was only important (during Empire, anyway) because it happened to have a large Rebel base. The fight wasn’t over Hoth, per se, it was an attempt to apply pressure to the Rebellion by destroying or capturing their assets collected at the base there.

            EU stuff implies that while Hoth itself sucks, it’s close/accessible to somewhere important. But that doesn’t matter for the OT, and is mostly a no-prize to explain why Hoth scores number two on ‘hostile planets named characters have visited.’

            1. Thomas says:

              No I meant the actual fight on Hoth makes no sense. There’s no way that that was the most effective attack plan by the Empire when they have total air superiority, and every little detail of the ground attack makes even less sense.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Air superiority is actually somewhat explained. While I think it rather stupid that they didn’t use the X-Wings against the AT-ATs, if we presume that they really didn’t have a choice and/or couldn’t use them, then TIEs wouldn’t work on Hoth either, and the movie had already established that it took a lot of work to modify the airspeeders to work on Hoth. The Empire just didn’t have anything available to provide air cover for their ground assault (and, as it turns out, didn’t really need it outside of a few isolated cases).

      3. Fizban says:

        Hell, at billions of systems even a system barely matters. The smallest unit of measure there is based on how your FTL drives work and what systems are even inhabited in the first place.

        1. Thomas says:

          At that scale the grand organisations should be treating systems like the modern day world treats individual people. Wars would be measured over how many millions of planets you’ve mobilised today, and hundreds of thousands of planets would switch control in a single ‘battle’.

  5. Modran says:

    Hey, you never know what Emmanuel Macron knows or not !
    Your comic book collection might be vital to our economic reconstruction in the 20 years to come.

  6. Philadelphus says:

    As we arrive, we discover that (surprise!) the Empire is attacking the planet. We get a little set-piece where we climb all over an AT-AT, get inside, take control, and then have an on-rails vehicle section where we blow stuff up.

    It’s… fine. I’m not super-happy when a game takes away the strong, polished, interesting central mechanics the game is built on and replaces it with some shallow disposable vehicle crap, but this AT-ST sequence is actually fairly short. The whole thing feels like a corporate mandated vehicle section, but at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome. And climbing around on the AT-ST was pretty cool.

    I’m confused, are we driving an AT-AT, or an AT-ST? Judging by the screenshot* I’d guess the former, but…

    *where to me it looks like Saw Gerrera is hilariously badly Photoshopped into the frame.

  7. Syal says:

    Splitting multiple planets into multiple segments is an idea that appeals to me; my first time playing Outcast was exciting because I thought I had to jump from planet to planet to complete quests, and it was disappointing when I discovered that no, apart from the capitol you can totally one-and-done them. A proper Count of Monte Cristo tackling-everything-at-once approach would be nice to see. (Arkham-style combat, but for the plot.)

    But I don’t think I’ve seen it pulled off satisfactorily. I only watched a very small bit of Indivisible, and that one looked really obnoxious; learn an ability, reach a dead end that requires a different ability, go to a different planet to use the ability you learned, repeat. I guess maybe Saints Row 2, but you can still binge those questlines if you want.

  8. BlueHorus says:

    Gerrera explains that the Empire is here to “steal the planet’s resources”. If that’s not dumb enough, they’re also capturing Wookiees for some reason???

    Silly Shamus – the Empire is being run by Cerberus*, clearly!
    …oh, they came up with an actually halfway-decent reason? Never mind…

    I thought we were following him on a pilgrimage to tombs? Keep in mind, Cordova is (presumably) dead and this is a recording he made for an unknown person (us) in the future. And he gives us a lead to talk to somebody? It didn’t occur to Cordova that maybe some people might die in the coming conflict? He didn’t think it might be hard for a random stranger to talk to a Wookiee head of state? He didn’t think to give us more concrete goals? Like, planets are big and we don’t even know what we’re supposed to ask Tarfful if we find him.

    Damn it, Cordova. You are terrible at this.

    Ahhh. Watching Shamus put more thought into a computer game’s story than the game’s writer did is at least 40% of why I come here. I’m sure it’s something I would ignore if I were playing, but it’s still fun to look at in-depth.

    *Maybe as a rogue cell, maybe not. The thing about Cerberus is that they’re so ‘brilliant’ you can’t tell…

    1. Syal says:

      I was going to say Shinra. Pretty sure Saw Gerrera is just Barret. Or possibly General Ripper, worried about the planet’s precious bodily fluids.

  9. Decius says:

    The second location on a planet should look different from the first.

    Planets have multiple biomes.

    1. Chris Robertson says:

      This is Star Wars. Logic like that doesn’t apply.

  10. Karma The Alligator says:

    We get a little set-piece where we climb all over an AT-AT, get inside, take control, and then have an on-rails vehicle section where we blow stuff up.

    It’s… fine. I’m not super-happy when a game takes away the strong, polished, interesting central mechanics the game is built on and replaces it with some shallow disposable vehicle crap, but this AT-ST sequence is actually fairly short. The whole thing feels like a corporate mandated vehicle section, but at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome. And climbing around on the AT-ST was pretty cool.

    Wait, was it an AT-AT or an AT-ST? Those are very different beasts.

    Are they planning on building the Death Star out of wood?

    You know how it is in Minecraft, you start with wood tools.

    1. Paul says:

      From the cockpit view, and the “climbing all over” comment, I think it’s likely that it was an AT-AT.

      1. Radkatsu says:

        You can see the vehicle in the screenshot. He’s clinging onto the rear right quarter, the AT-AT itself is facing to the right. Assuming that’s the same vehicle he ends up driving… which would seem to make sense. Why else would he be climbing all over it?

    2. Decius says:

      Neither of them make sense, though. They can’t handle difficult terrain and they lack any mobility or firepower advantage over vehicles that don’t require stop-motion animation.

      They are poorly proportioned for their actual primary use and lack adequate firepower for their secondary use, and those flaws are only mitigated by the fact that the protagonists don’t know how to use trenches or armor-piercing missiles.

  11. Redrock says:

    I’m reasonably sure that the whole “Wookies in cages” thing is a fetish by now, and most developers are just too scared of what might happen if they don’t pander to that very particular audience. After all, those people might have whips and al sorts of leather and metal implements, you do not want to mess with them.

    1. Sartharina says:

      They need to make the Triani canon again and feature them in the movies.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        I would greenlight anything if that means the “Han Solo at Star’s End” stories got made into something new. I miss when Star Wars media could just have some goofy adventures and not everything had to be about the fate of the galaxy or explain the entire backstory of every detail of a character (looking at you, Solo…)

      2. RFS-81 says:

        I just googled that, and I learned that the Star Wars EU has not one but three species of cat furries. I guess that’s what you get when the writers don’t talk to each other.

        1. Niven says:

          Writers not talking to each other was a bit of a recurring theme in the EU and beyond. I think part of it’s just that SW is just too big to track, even sticking to the source material there’s too many phrases and too many plot devices, eventually something contradictory or redundant will slip through.

  12. Trevor says:

    I’m sad that the link on Arc de Triomphe does not go to a drawing Shamus did.

    1. Exit Through The SubOcean says:

      I checked for the same thing for some reason. Don’t worry, I’m sure he just misplaced it in the move and will definitely scan it in when he finds it. Either that or we’ll have to go to France to find it.

  13. Chris Robertson says:

    “On the other, other hand, …”

    Allow me to introduce you to The Gripping Hand.

    1. Daimbert says:

      The most hilarious thing about the series is that in one of the works they conclude that they have an alien infiltration because the phrase “On the gripping hand” is coming into vogue and the only people who could possibly use that phrase MUST have come into contact with the aliens. This despite the fact that at least today it’s pretty common. It also amused me when soon afterwards Shamus used that instead of “other, other hand”.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        The truth is clear, Shamus is in contact with aliens and has caught their slang.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’ve actually started using the phrase after I’ve seen Shamus use it several times. I think by this logic it makes Shamus at least an honorary alien.

  14. Chiller says:

    Cal joins the resistance, kills the requisite number of busloads of stormtroopers, and frees the Wookies.

    Wow, you’ve reduced the whole “gameplay part” of the first half of Kashyyyk to one sentence. That’s kind of impressive, but I think it’s actually the best level in the game.

  15. RFS-81 says:

    This actually got a laugh out of me. Kashyyyk is one huge forest. What is the Empire here to steal?

    I don’t know what’s so funny there. Without further context, I’d just assume that the wookies are sitting on heaps of unobtainium that they don’t dig up because they’re slightly more hairy hippies.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, there COULD be unobtainium. But the story hadn’t said or showed us anything to that effect. It shows us a planet of all trees and then tells us the Empire is taking all the natural resources.

      The most obvious conclusion is that the Empire is harvesting wood, which is silly, which made me laugh.

      1. Ramsus says:

        Silly Shamus. Of course they need wood. How else are they going to produce all their paper? =P

        1. Parkhorse says:

          Paper did not exist in the Star Wars universe until Disney took over. They even had to invent a paper-analogue (flimsiplast), because sometimes you really do need something to write on besides a datapad. Then Disney went, “huh, that’s a cool bit of world building. Sure would be a shame if someone introduced THE SACRED TEXTS!”

          1. Mersadeon says:

            I mean, I can still dig that. It makes the sacred texts kinda unique, because they’re old enough to be the only thing around to be made of paper, signalling that it’s from a really different time.

            Not that the whole “no paper” rule ever made much sense. Paper is just too easy to make and too useful in comparison to all its replacements.

            1. Khwarezm says:

              Yeah, it makes no sense at all, how do you skip straight to sci fi datapads without paper? Is this seriously something people complain about that one of the movies suggested a medium of information exchange similar to paper is shown to exist?

      2. Mersadeon says:

        I honestly always assumed they really just came for the Wookies, and that it isn’t so much about having useful slaves (which is doubtful, considering how belligerent they are) but just about showing strength and domination. I could totally imagine some middle-management-Imperials just being so utterly indoctrinated that they can’t *not* enslave the Wookies, no matter what a waste of resources that is.

      3. RFS-81 says:

        Maybe it’s a presentation thing that doesn’t come across in text. Like, are they literally talking about natural resources while showing a shot of the trees?

        When I read “the Empire is taking the natural resources of Kashyyyk”, I just go Well, I guess Kashyyyk has important natural resources. That’s a fact about the Star Wars universe, then. That doesn’t seem laughing out loud funny, on the face of it. I would give the game some time to actually show me that the empire is building mines, or, as it turns out, sapping trees.

    2. Syal says:

      Avatar, but all the Na’vi are replaced with Wookies.

  16. ColeusRattus says:

    Having played the game and having gone to Dathomir first, I don’t think it’s a “false choice”, but more of a mechanical choice. Now entering spoiler territory, so go on at your own risk:

    When you go to Dathomir instead of Zeffo, it isn’t actually a dead end, but a loop (yay, semantics!) that brings you to a powerful upgrade early on: the dual bladed (darth maul style) light saber, that IIRC allows for deflecting multiple shots at once. So, while storywise, it just introduces a mysterious character that is only relevant to the Dathomir storyline, gameplay wise, you trade some additional difficulty up front for easier gameplay down the line. I think otherwise, you’ll only unlock that on the second half of Kashyyyk.

  17. Olivier FAURE says:

    I’m very amused that you felt the need to include a Wikipedia link just in case there was any ambiguity which French president named Emmanuel Macron you were talking about.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Well we wouldn’t want people to confuse Emmanuel Macron XIV, the Sun President, with any of the other ones, now, would we?

  18. Asdasd says:

    I once drew a picture of the Arc de Triomphe

    Pics or it didn’t happen!

    1. BlueHorus says:

      —> lUl <—

      Of course, this picture is upside down…

  19. Smosh says:

    I’ve always found these Uncharted-style climbing sections incredibly tedious. They are like walking from A to B, albeit very slowly and interspersed with QTEs. It’s not really platforming if you are never really in control, and can only do your jump action along predetermined paths. Especially not if you have infinite time, only a single path to take, and it’s impossible to fall as long as you don’t give your controller to your dog.

    In a game that is not fundamentally about the execution of traversal (Super Meat Boy or Mirror’s Edge), they come off as padding, just like vehicle sections. “Press X when prompted” is not a real game mechanic.

    1. ZekeCool says:

      I watch a group of streamers who call this kind of play “Ziplining”.

      You can go at your own speed and there’s never really any challenges and there’s only one path. It’s just an excuse to take you from one setpeice to another while feeling like you’re playing. It’s super common in stuff like Uncharted or New Tomb Raider.

  20. Mersadeon says:

    Regarding “Slicing” being the term for “hacking” in Star Wars: that wasn’t always the case, and it lead to a lot of confusion for child-me.

    See, I’m German. In some of the old books, “hacking” is used, but in the translation someone must have just goofed (or maybe the anglicism of “hacking” in German wasn’t really there yet), so instead of using more words to explain it, they just used the German equivalent of “hacking” – but not “hacking” as in “breaching the security of a device”, but instead “zerhacken”, literally hack something apart with an implement.

    So it literally, at one point, said that two ships went at each other with “Zerhacker-Systeme”, and youthful me was terribly confused, imagining these Star Wars ships suddenly slashing each other with space-axes. I just could not figure out what was meant, so I had to skip the scene.

    1. Addie says:

      A somewhat interesting word – in UK English, a hack is usually someone who churns out a lot of workaday product, it’s usually a term used for a journalist who grinds out a lot of stories to fill newspapers, usually uninteresting ones. (The word seems to have originated in the old ‘Hackney carriage’, ie. a taxi, which would travel a whole lot of repetitive mileage in the course of their jobs. We’d usually still call a black cab a Hackney; saying that something is hackneyed means that it’s cliched, unoriginal.) Being called a hack is usually an insult.

      The MIT definition of a hacker seems to have reinterpreted the meaning from someone who runs off a lot of run-of-the-mill code, to someone who’s *able* to run off a lot of code; and from there, having enough skill in computers to be able to break into other people’s. So I would see why other languages wouldn’t necessarily have another word with the same connotations.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        I wonder how this relates to the slang term “hack it”, meaning basically “handle it”. (Often used negatively, like, “Bob just couldn’t hack it in the high-pressure sales world.”)

        1. Addie says:

          That does seem a reasonable reason for the change in meaning – someone that *can* hack it is plainly a hacker. But why would hack mean to handle? Like Mersadeon says, the old English / Germanic meaning of the verb ‘to hack’ is to chop something to bits with an axe or pick; and the noun form of hack has its oldest recorded meaning as referring to the area of London that we get taxis from (or more specifically, the Hackney horses that used to pull those carriages).

          Someone that can hack firewood is plainly competent at chopping wood in to pieces, so someone that can hack the high-pressure world of sales is therefore also competent? Although maybe not so much at chopping them into pieces.

          1. Syal says:

            Hacking refers to a straight line, graceless solution, all force no finesse. Pointless in art where finesse is what gives it value, necessary in high-volume jobs where things have cramped deadlines, and sought after in labyrinthine environments like computer code where the finesse requirements are a barrier to entry and hacking a straight line through the maze walls is a massive improvement.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      “I thought you said you were going to hack the door open!”
      “I did!”
      “You cut it to pieces!”
      “Yes, I hacked it open!”

      1. BlueHorus says:

        “Okay. Next time, try Slicing– you know what, never mind…”

  21. I found out an interesting tidbit about that weird intro song–it’s actually a Mongolian group called The Hu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwutOqv4cGo

    It sounds the way it does because they’re throat-singing.

  22. Duoae says:

    The story presentation in Fallen Order is really messed up. I don’t know what happened but I’m willing to bet there was at least one huge re-write during the production of the game.

    Because of the confusing timeline and the way Cordova was speaking to his friend – I was waiting for the twist that Cordova was a Master Sun Li and had orchestrated everything from the beginning and that these were not recordings but actual transmissions!

    I assume you’ll also get onto this in later entries but it’s really not clear that Cere sold her lightsaber crystal when she gives it to Cal. It’s also not clear to me (because I never read any expanded universe stuff) why each lightsaber crystal has to be found and only used by the Jedi it is meant for. The whole point of lightsabers was that they were just tools that jedi could preturnaturally use because of their foresight/reflexes. They’re not special mystical items and there are many instances of jedi and non-jedi picking up lightsabers for use that were either not of their own construction or of their own possession.

    WTF is up with that??!!!! It really, really, really, annoyed me.

    Also, maybe it’s only me but that view of Saw Guerra on the AT-AT looks really wrong. Either it’s an optical illusion due to the camera FOV or it’s like the window is actually a display that is attached to an external camera system. He’s too large for how large Cal and BD-1 are in the fame. It really bugged me in the game and it bugs me in this screenshot!

    Man, I’m grumpy today.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      The whole point of lightsabers was that they were just tools that jedi could preturnaturally use because of their foresight/reflexes. They’re not special mystical items and there are many instances of jedi and non-jedi picking up lightsabers for use that were either not of their own construction or of their own possession.

      But they’re cool, and iconic, which means someone else had to make more of them, and then it built up…
      …so before you know it, they’re legendary magic items.

    2. John says:

      There is no good reason that lightsabers should be even slightly mystical and nothing in the films suggests that they are. That’s pure spinoff nonsense. You know how important lightsabers really are? They’re so important that Luke builds a new one off-camera between films and no one cares (except, to a certain limited extent, for Darth Vader when he’s desperately trying to make small talk with his long-lost son). In other words, not important at all. Lightsabers are just tools.

      1. Syal says:

        You must venture into the yonder to find a bar of purest steel. You must heat it, and forge it, and mold it to its purpose, and only then, once you have finished building your own 7/16″ wrench, will you have become a true Mechanic.

      2. Daimbert says:

        Vader DOES use the fact that Luke’s created his own lightsaber as a sign that his skills as a Jedi are complete. That might not mean that it has to be some mystical thing, but does suggest that building a lightsaber isn’t trivial.

        1. John says:

          Eh, I always took that more as Vader’s awkward attempt to connect with his kid–“oh, you made a thing, that’s great son”–than a serious statement about Jedi training.

      3. Khwarezm says:

        IMO, this is a problem that recent Star Wars stuff have across the board, essentially every element becomes way too heightened and fethisized more because of its wider pop culture recognisability than because its actually good for the story and world of Star Wars, so now a lightsaber isn’t merely a weapon, a weapon the Jedi specialize in and an icon associated with them but just a weapon nonetheless, no, its now a mystical item with a special force connection to the user and almost a holy artifact and source of power unmatched in the galaxy.

        I actually think its Darth Vader that gets the worst of it, in this game he’s treated as almost some kind of demigod, insanely powerful and essentially unbeatable by mortals, which I really don’t think lines up at all with how he’s actually portrayed in any of the movies, where he’s more just a skilled commander with some particular skills in combat (and not even the best skills evidently, Obi-Wan soundly defeats him and he’s never treated as like the most powerful Jedi ever to live), but not, like, Frieza.

    3. Khwarezm says:

      I was convinced that the crazy Jedi you find and kill on Dathomir was going to turn out to actually be Cordova after he had snapped and gone feral, playing into certain themes the game wants to explore like failure and moving past it, but instead it turns out not to be the case and the Jedi in question had a much flimsier connection to the main plot than I imagined.

      I think its a shame really, not that it would have been the most original twist in the world but I think it would have been a bit more dramatically engrossing than what we do get, and I wonder if that was originally the plan before they reshuffled things around in rewrites.

  23. Topher Corbett says:

    The fact that Kashyyyk with wookiee slavery was in this game really turned me off of it. It’s like making another game about stealing the Death Star plans again.

    1. Tamsin says:

      The problem is that the game takes place at a time in which the Empire was enslaving wookiees to build the Death Star, so if you have Kashyyyk in that time period, you need to have that going on.

  24. Dreadjaws says:

    Did George Lucas spill Fanta in his keyboard just before he wrote this stuff[2]? I mean, was it really necessary to have three consecutive Y’s in Kashyyyk?

    Maybe he had the same problem with a Windows update you had last time.

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