The game ends with our heroes on the ship. They just destroyed the holocron. Their mission is over. The final line of the story is when Cal asks, “So where to next?”
Now, that’s a fine enough ending I suppose. I don’t mind that they’re setting up a sequel. My concern is that they seem to be setting up a sequel specifically for Cal.
The first game establishes your starting point, while the second one establishes your direction. If you make the second game about Cal, then the audience will assume this franchise belongs to Cal, just like Tomb Raider belongs to Lara and God of War belongs to Kratos. Stick with him now, and it’ll be harder to change later. More importantly, sticking with Cal constrains you in so many ways.
First, we’ve learned his backstory and experienced his big character arc. Order 66 was the most important event in his life, and he’s now dealt with it. There really isn’t room for more big surprises in his story. Sure, you can add flashbacks to awkwardly sandwich fresh skeletons into his mental closet, but how long can you keep doing that? How many games can claim, “Oh, here’s yet another life-defining moment he needs to deal with and that’s never been mentioned before.” The dude just isn’t that old. You can’t do that forever. Eventually he becomes a stable adult with a clear moral compass, it becomes harder to take him in a new direction. Sure, you can bend him a little, but he’ll never be as malleable as a new character.
Cal is a Dead End
The more stories we tell with Cal, the more important he becomes to the universe. Eventually he will become so powerful and participate in so many important events that the audience will start asking why nobody’s ever heard of him outside the games and why he wasn’t present for the events of the original trilogy.
And speaking of the OT: We don’t have that much room in the timeline. If we stick with this guy through endless sequels, then eventually we find ourselves running up against the events of A New Hope.
His powers will also be a problem. Are we going to have him bonk his head at the start of every game to justify him re-learning the Force, or are we going to allow his power levels to creep ever upward until he breaks the universe?
Cal also traps you in terms of gameplay. Cal has been established as a guy with a split saber gimmick. If we stick with Cal, then we can’t mess around with new ideas. How about someone that uses a saber + blaster combo like Cere? How about someone with twin sabers as a fighting style rather than a special move? Perhaps someone with mismatched sabers to create a sword + dagger feel? How about a saber like a fencing foil? Or a Zweihänder?
You’ve just been given the keys to explore this huge galaxy of possibility. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and create a rut so deep that future writers can’t escape it.
I suggest jumping to a new person each game, so the audience gets comfortable with the idea that this series doesn’t belong to Cal. Then down the road you can have some crossover game where all of our Jedi meet up and react to each other.
Some Suggested Characters
Here are some fresh character concepts. Maybe you’ll like them, maybe you won’t, but I insist that any of them would be better than trapping us in a Cal’s shoes for the rest of the franchise…
The Young Rage
Concept: An acrobatic teenage girlYes, this could also be a boy in the style of a young Dick Grayson, but I’m worried a male version of this character would feel too much like another retread of rage-prone Anakin and Kylo Ren. with lots of martial-arts style cartwheels and backflips in her lightning-quick single-saber fighting style. Her father was a padawan who left the order years ago to get married. This means he was long gone by the time Order 66 came around. They assumed they were safe because his Jedi life was in the past, but after a few years the Inquisition came knocking, SS style. Dad was cut down when he resisted arrest, and now mother and daughter hop from planet to planet, trying to stay ahead of the Inquisition.
Inciting incident: One day the inquisition gets a little too close for comfort. She encounters a very old Jedi master who offers to train her. She realizes (or believes) that mom will be safer without her, and decides to go with the old master, but also begins a quest to figure out how to somehow find lasting safety for her family.
Story / character arc: She’s really pissed off about seeing her father murdered, and she just wants to grab a saber and slaughter her way through the empire. Everyone thinks the old man is crazy for training her, because she feels like another Anakin-style time bomb of unchecked rage. But he has faith in her and keeps promising she’s going to come around. Eventually she learns it’s natural to get angry, and it’s okay to be angry, as long as you don’t let that anger make your decisions for you. In the end she needs to learn to fight for something she loves rather than against something she hates.
Yes, I’m suggesting we take Rose Tico’s most hated lineOr one of them. Sadly, there are several. and make a story out of it. Call me crazy, but I think this is a great idea if you’re willing to give it the time and setup it deserves.
The Wayward Sage
Concept: A middle-aged Jedi who is lean and angular. SheThis one works as male or female. handles more like an Errol Flynn fencer than a George Lucas space-samuraiYes, I’m pushing against the original trilogy, back when Lucas insisted that lightsabers were very heavy and required both hands to wield. But look, THAT ship sailed decades ago. I think it’s more important to keep the gameplay from stagnating.. She nope’d out of the Clone Wars and went out to the outer rim to meditate for a decade, then came back to find her order wiped out and the galaxy under new management. (And maybe she kinda knew this was going on through meditation, but she didn’t come back.) She was never particularly interested in the combat-focused area of Jedi training, preferring to study meditation, Jedi history, prophecy, and other topics that focus on the cerebral rather than the physical. She hasn’t held a lightsaber in yearsAnd thus needs to train these things, explaining why someone her age has room to level up., and suddenly people are trying to kill her everywhere she goes.
Inciting incident: When she returns from the rim and finds her provincial house has been leveled, and a small garrison of troopers watching over the place.
Character Arc: She needs to square her earlier quasi-pacifism with the devastation that’s happening to the galaxy. Is it reasonable to refuse to fight when so many are suffering? She rejected Yoda’s plan to throw the Jedi Order into war. Was he right? Could she have made a difference if she’d stayed behind?
She needs to figure out her place in this mess, and question if leaving was the right thing to do.
The Gentle Giant
Concept: A big Kratos-looking dude. He volunteered to join the Sith before Order 66 because he couldn’t stand the arrogant and irresponsible Jedi. He thought Sith rule would lead to a decisive end to the Clone Wars, followed by lasting peace and order.
Inciting incident: After one atrocity too many, he realizes the Sith promises of unity and order were hollow and that the Sith are worse than the Jedi ever were. He rebels and escapes.
Arc: He wants to change sides again, but there’s not much left of the Jedi and they are not eager to trust him. He decides to repent / rebel in the opening scenes, but spends the rest of the game figuring out what that means and how to do it. His big turning point is when he finally takes off his helmet and becomes more than a walking lightsaber. We realize he’s not the Kratos-style rage monster we took him for. He’s got gentle eyes and is brimming with emotions he doesn’t know how to express. He discovers that being emotionally vulnerable is scarier than anything he had to face as a member of the Sith.
Keep the Characters Fresh
So that’s a few character ideas I’d like to see them play around withOf course, A major AAA studio would never actually use suggestions from some rando blog, but you see what I’m getting at.. I think this seems like a more interesting and flexible approach to this franchise, as opposed to cranking out endless sequels about Cal. Also, I think having a team-up story between these misfits could be interesting. It would be a nice crossover event, just like Avengers united the Marvel characters after their solo introduction movies.
We can either discover new characters, explore their personalities, and explore the universe from different angles, or we can stick with Cal as his personality calcifies and we accumulate an ever-growing amount of continuity baggage that must be tracked and adhered toHey! The second game clearly established that Cal can speak Bocce but then in part six he suddenly can’t understand the Bocce-speaking bartender! PLOT HOLE!.
Keep the Rule of Two
Like I said way back in part 4, I think the conceit of Jedi + ride-along sidekick is brilliant and should be a core part of any future game. But don’t make them all BD droids. Ideally, each companion ought to be part of the main character’s design.
Maybe have a chittering space-monkey that rides on your back? Perhaps a droid made from a training remote that floats along beside you? Maybe a Cortana-style projected hologram of a Mon Mothma-style mentor? I suppose you could also lean into the force ghost idea and have the main character speak to the disembodied voice of a slain master. That would work, although there’s a lot to be said for adorable / merchandisable sidekicks.
My suggestion here is that you want to keep the characters distinct: Appearance, background, costume, fighting style, companion. You’re not just choosing what actor’s face you want to use, but coming up with a fully integrated package.
Keep the Mystical Powers
Again, it’s important to try and round out our Jedi powers as much as possible. It’s very easy to have all the powers feed into the combat system, but we don’t want to create the unfortunate implication that the Force is just a tool for killing people. We want to look for ways to make sure that meditation, contemplation, and introspection are part of the Jedi lifestyle. Having the protagonist get bits of lore by “sensing” the past (audio logs / ghosts) is a good way to do this.
Ideally, it would be nice to build on this idea and create situations where you need to use the Force to solve puzzles. Perhaps an alternate vision mode that lets you see where these crumbling walls used to be and read the now-faded writing.
Do Something Different with Collectibles
The collectibles in this game suffered from a terrible case of Not Worth It. There’s nothing inherently wrong with new paint jobs for your ship or your droid, but after the first few the player has probably found something they like and just wants to stick with it.
This is made worse by the level design that disincentivizes exploration to the point of punishing it. In this game you often go off the path to look for secrets and realize you’ve gone through a one-way door that precludes returning to the path the way you came. After the first few times it feels like you’re being taught that leaving the path is a bad idea.
The designer needs to decide which of these masters it wants to serve. Either this is a series of complex linear obstacle courses to be tackled in a prescribed order, or this is an open world game that encourages exploration. If the former, then the collectibles need to go. If the latter, then the collectibles need to be more interesting, the level design needs to be more open, and you seriously need to consider some sort of fast-travel.
Make the Dark Side more Alluring
In this game the Dark Side was spread entirely through torture. I realize that the Force is extremely open to interpretation, and that it must remain so to preserve the sense of mystery that makes it interesting. I can’t say that the writer’s interpretation is wrong, but I will argue that we’re passing up potential dramatic energy. Characters are revealed through decisions, and brainwashed slaves don’t get to make many of those. Maybe it would be useful to explore one or two people and their different reactions to this kind of treatment, but a universe where every bad guy is converted via torture is one where all of our bad guys are funneled into a narrow range of behaviors and thinking. If we want interesting and vibrant villains, then we need a world where people make choices to do evil for reasons that can be understood.
So that’s about 55,000 words on Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™, and where I’d like to see the series go next. I hope you enjoyed this retrospective. As always, if you’d like to support my efforts, please consider joining my Patreon. You can also make a one-time donation if you’re not into the whole commitment thing.
Thanks so much for reading.
 Yes, this could also be a boy in the style of a young Dick Grayson, but I’m worried a male version of this character would feel too much like another retread of rage-prone Anakin and Kylo Ren.
 Or one of them. Sadly, there are several.
 This one works as male or female.
 Yes, I’m pushing against the original trilogy, back when Lucas insisted that lightsabers were very heavy and required both hands to wield. But look, THAT ship sailed decades ago. I think it’s more important to keep the gameplay from stagnating.
 And thus needs to train these things, explaining why someone her age has room to level up.
 Of course, A major AAA studio would never actually use suggestions from some rando blog, but you see what I’m getting at.
 Hey! The second game clearly established that Cal can speak Bocce but then in part six he suddenly can’t understand the Bocce-speaking bartender! PLOT HOLE!
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