Jedi Fallen Order Part 26: The Next Jedi

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 4, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 135 comments

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

Cal always has this slightly derpy look on his face. As a Sith, he'd need a helmet if he wanted his enemies to take him seriously.
Cal always has this slightly derpy look on his face. As a Sith, he'd need a helmet if he wanted his enemies to take him seriously.

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

Bwoop-oo-dooo!
Bwoop-oo-dooo!

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

Ugh. I came all this way for another stupid brown poncho? C'mon, man.
Ugh. I came all this way for another stupid brown poncho? C'mon, man.

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

It's pretty hard to motivate someone to surrender when they know you're just going to torture them anyway.
It's pretty hard to motivate someone to surrender when they know you're just going to torture them anyway.

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.

Wrapping Up

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. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] 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.

[2] Or one of them. Sadly, there are several.

[3] This one works as male or female.

[4] 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.

[5] And thus needs to train these things, explaining why someone her age has room to level up.

[6] Of course, A major AAA studio would never actually use suggestions from some rando blog, but you see what I’m getting at.

[7] 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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135 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 26: The Next Jedi

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    These are all pretty good and interesting character concepts that can be used for a bunch of sequels (since this series is probably considered a franchise now by EA ) although I realize we would still have to call them “Jedi: Fallen Order: 2/3/4” because they’re still tied to the fallen Jedi Order.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      We don’t necessarily have to have numbered sequels. They could also go the ‘ridiculous subtitle’ route, so we have even more colons in the titles. Since this is the same IP responsible for Star Wars: Dark Forces: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, it’s inexplicably on brand!

      1. ngthagg says:

        Abandoning numbers in favour of subtitles is better in my opinion. Marvel figured this out fairly fairly early and I think it’s worked out great. You can refer to any title with a unique, short, universally agreed upon identifier, without having to reference the main title of the series. And as a bonus, you get a little clue about the story in case you aren’t a super fan.

        The main title being too complex is still an issue, but a good subtitle is still superior to slapping a 2 on the end of the first title.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Oh, I have no problem with subtitles rather than numbers. I usually refer to two of my all-time favorite games using just their subtitles (Symphony of the Night and Sands of Time, for the curious).

          My real gripe is a combination of the required branding (using Jedi in the title wasn’t enough to ensure we’d recognize this as a Star Wars product?) and the fear of losing sales from lack of franchise recognition. I feel those are why we may yet end up with Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order: Merrin’s Story: Last of the Nightsisters EA.

        2. The+Nick says:

          I called “Avengers: Endgame” “Iron Man 23”

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, I like the range of concepts while still staying on-theme. Good work Shamus!
      Now all EA has to do is trademark all the small counting numbers so they can make: Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™ X™

    3. Rariow says:

      The impression I had was that the series was Star Wars: Jedi, and Fallen Order was the title of the first game in the series, thus the next game could just as well be Star Wars: Jedi: Cal Kestis’ Day Out, or whatever they come up with. Of course because having two colons in a title makes it unreadable people just think of this game as “Jedi Fallen Order”, not “Franchise: Star Wars, Subseries: Jedi, Title: Fallen Order” and marketing people tend to pick up on that, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this turn into the “Jedi Fallen Order” series just because that’s how you get people to recognize the sequels as sequels.

  2. Joe says:

    “It’s pretty hard to motivate someone to surrender when they know you’re just going to torture them anyway.”
    Which is why Palpatine was so good with Anakin. Yeah, go slaughter as many Tuskens as you want. They have it coming. Followed by, only I can help you save Padme. Followed by, you have nowhere else to go. But at that point, Palpatine stopped playing nice. It’s a wonder Vader didn’t turn sooner.

    I agree. “Come to the dark side, we have candy*, blackjack, and hookers” is a better approach than convert or die. Be cool to see a dark side wielder who actually kept playing this game after they converted their mark. Deliver what you promise.

    Or even, “the ends justify the means” darksider. “I want peace. The only way to have peace is through superior firepower.” I suspect that Dooku could have been either of these, given the chance.

    *Turkish delight, of course.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      It would be neat to have the attraction be part of a ruse as well. Like with the candy*, maybe the games are rigged, the Sith partygoers are all paid actors (or “weak minded”), and there’s just one Force user doing all the force party tricks and making it look like everyone has “strong” access to the Force.
      That’s another thing it would be interesting to explore! “The Force is strong” with the Skywalkers, but it seems like Lando’s unnatural luck and Solo’s blinding charisma could pretty easily attributed to Force influence as well. What about a Force sensitive sniper? Or is there some aspect of The Force that makes it unsuitable for ranged combat?
      I realize most of these avenues have probably been explored in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but we haven’t seen much of it in the games yet.

      1. John says:

        Lando has unnatural luck? Han Solo has blinding charisma? These things are not evident to me. Paul, which movies have you been watching, exactly?

        More seriously, I’m not thrilled by the implication that anyone in the Star Wars universe who is good at something is somehow only good at that thing because of the Force. I think it over-values the Force and under-values characters who aren’t Force-sensitive. What’s wrong with good, old-fashioned competence? I don’t have a problem with using the Force in ranged combat. That’s more or less what Luke does in the climax of A New Hope, after all. So I don’t have a problem with a Force-sensitive character who is also a sniper and uses the Force while sniping. (I don’t think a game about Force-sensitive sniping would be very interesting, but that’s another matter.) The important thing, I think, is that there should still be good snipers who aren’t Force-sensitive. Maybe they can’t pull off the seemingly-impossible shots that their Force-sensitive compatriot can, but they should still be given the opportunity to display their skill.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Lando has unnatural luck? Han Solo has blinding charisma? These things are not evident to me. Paul, which movies have you been watching, exactly?

          Yeah, when I saw that comment my first reaction was to wonder if he didn’t have the two them reversed [grin].

          More seriously, I’m not thrilled by the implication that anyone in the Star Wars universe who is good at something is somehow only good at that thing because of the Force. I think it over-values the Force and under-values characters who aren’t Force-sensitive. What’s wrong with good, old-fashioned competence?

          Yeah, that’s the hallmark of the rather popular EU version of Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron: they aren’t Force-sensitive (except for Corran Horn) but are indeed just that good, and Wedge and Tycho are clearly better than the Force-sensitive Corran Horn which then doesn’t subordinate all competence to the Force. I noted once in response to the Tarkin novel that in general if, say, you have a Jedi or a normal person competing to fly a ship Star Wars either has the Jedi do it better due to Force abilities or has the normal person do it better due to experience. That move would, as noted, have the latter case turn into Force abilities as well, which isn’t all that satisfying. (In the original book, it was a normal who had no experience outdoing an experienced person with Force abilities, which is just plain wrong on all levels).

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the SW:EU myself.

        2. Sartharina says:

          You don’t have to be sensitive to the Force to be guided by it.

      2. Thomas says:

        I really enjoy force sensitive characters who aren’t Jedi. There’s something a little bit tragic but also hopeful about someone who can sense just enough to have a feeling there’s more they could be seeing. It’s also a nice reminder that the force is something that affects everyone, even if they don’t know it. That was a nice element of the KOTORs.

    2. Thomas says:

      Is there any evil villains less likely to have hookers than the Sith? It’s a curious part of Star Wars how sexless the main bad guys are. The Jedi can’t have it, the Sith don’t want it.

      I was quite content imagine it never happened until The Rise of Skywalker insisted we think about Palpatine making the beast with two backs with someone.

      1. GGANate says:

        The sequel trilogy in particular was sexless. Like, they sort of hint of an attraction between Finn (at least on Finn’s side) and Rey in the Force Awakens, only to sideline that in the Last Jedi with Rose, only to then throw that potential romance away with yet another empty side character. I’m not saying that I want a nude scene in a Star Wars movie, but the originals had more than a little sexiness in them.

        Hookers wouldn’t necessarily violate the Jedi Code, right? They’re just supposed to not form attachments. I’m assuming that the Jedi order are like the biggest customers of Coruscant’s sex trade, it’s just not talked about, hah.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          the Jedi order are like the biggest customers of Coruscant’s sex trade, it’s just not talked about

          “Stays in Space Vegas, what happens in Space Vegas, it does.”

          Though now I’m think of Yoda, going whoring…
          …which is both weird and hilarious. So much material for an absurd comedy scene…

  3. MerryWeathers says:

    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.

    Assuming Respawn continues to use him as the protagonist and he actually lives past the events of the OT, they’ll probably imply he was just “somewhere” like they did with Ahsoka and Ezra.

    Hell, maybe he might be included in a inevitable Luke/Ezra/Ahsoka teamup in the upcoming Mandalorian crossover with it’s spinoffs special on Disney+. Cameron Monaghan is an established actor and Lucasfilm has shown they can get actors from animated media to reprise their roles in live-action media.

    1. John says:

      Assuming Respawn continues to use him as the protagonist and he actually lives past the events of the OT, they’ll probably imply he was just “somewhere” like they did with Ahsoka and Ezra.

      They could do that, sure, but they probably shouldn’t. Especially given that they’ve apparently already done it twice. The repetition isn’t gonna make the contrivance any less obvious.

      1. Thomas says:

        There’s a curve where Vader tracking downing and hunting all the Jedi became more incredible the more you saw just how many Jedi they were out there, but is now increasingly looking like a sloppy job.

        1. Shufflecat says:

          This is my main beef with all of this. Star Wars is famously built on a mythic/fantasy storytelling style. The OT establishes that Obi Wan and Yoda were the only living Jedi left by the time Luke started his journey. It’s kind of a main pillar of the whole Jedi/Force subplot, both textually and dramatically.

          Now we’ve got an increasing number of Jedi that survived the whole time, yet never got involved with either the rebellion or the reconstruction post-ROTJ, because reasons.

          Sure: from a “realism” perspective it’s entirely plausible that other Jedi successfully hid from both Vader and their own fellows throughout. But Star Wars doesn’t operate on simulationist storytelling. It operates on mythic storytelling. When Obi Wan says all the other Jedi are gone, we’re supposed to take that as fact. Not because Obi Wan has perfect knowledge in-universe, but because that sort of storytelling shorthand and deliberately simple, direct trope use is how the mythic style works.

          Even though these are supposedly canon (by Disney’s terms), and regardless of the quality of the new characters in a vacuum, it still just feels like fanfic writers who’re so eager to insert their OC’s in that they don’t stop to think how that effects the very thing that inspired their fandom to begin with.

          Kinda still salvageable with Fallen Order, since its place in the timeline could be taken to imply that Vader WILL eventually catch up with and kill Cal and Cere. On the one hand, IMO this makes the story more bittersweet, and their decision to sacrifice the holocron more meaningful. On the other, the tone of the game makes it clear EA and Disney are viewing this as the beginning of Cal as another franchise hero who will survive indefinitely.

          Shamus’s suggestions here REALLY rub me the wrong way for this reason. He’s full-tilt embracing and encouraging the over-proliferation of “hidden” Jedi during the Empire-era. Which seems odd to me, given his reverence for the OT above all. Feels like he’s getting caught up in the cool video game and making the same fanfic writer style oversight I mention above.

          Again: this is cool if “Fallen Order” means an anthology of the Jedi who died making a difference during Vader’s 20-year grand galactic pogrom. That’s actually IMO a really cool, original, and totally OT-consistent story vein to mine.

          …But it seems kinda like it’s become a given for a lot of people that these are all supposed to be Jedi who’re destined to survive the Empire.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            To be fair at this point Shamus is just working with what we have. I think the fact that he throws these ideas around without blinking shows just how much the idea that there are surviving Jedi hiding under every bed and in every laundry basket has become part of the setting, even though it does undermine the drama of the order 66 as well as the menace of both Vader and Palpatine.

            Having said that I like your idea of having a bittersweet story and I think there is room for that kind of storytelling in SW, but then I actually liked Rogue One for that very reason and I honestly don’t think AAA has the balls to go for something like that (I’ll remind you of the attempts to derail the “ME3 ending controversy” with claims that the reason people didn’t like it was that it was not a “happy ending”).

            1. Shufflecat says:

              I don’t think it undermines Order 66. That one event killed at least 3/4 of the Jedi, probably canonically more like 98%, in one fell swoop. That’s white knuckle territory no matter what. It wasn’t dramatically important that every single one was killed, only that the Jedi Order as a whole went from the height of its power to smoke in the wind in a single betrayal. Unlike what’s presented in the OT, Order 66 isn’t presented as an absolute for the purposes of the myth.

              In ANH Obi Wan tells Luke that Vader spent the last 20 years systemically hunting down and killing the Jedi. That was before the PT was written, but it still perfectly consistent. The Jedi numbered in the hundreds of thousands, so it’s very believable that not all of them were killed in Order 66, and even if only less than 1% survived, that’s still enough to keep Vader busy for a good while.

              The problem is that the OT both sets up and relies on the idea that Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Luke are an absolute bottleneck in the history of the Jedi. If Luke dies or never completes his training (well, Luke and Leia), the Jedi are finally and fully extinct. It’s central and essential to the mythic story being told.

              Having other republic era Jedi survive the imperial era breaks the mythic element of the OT.

              But as you say, that cat’s well out of the bag already, unfortunately. The damage was already done regardless of what Shamus suggests now, or what Disney actually does in the future.

              1. Thomas says:

                I think Shamus’ suggestions would still work if Vader kills them all eventually. If anything that would deliver on the tragedy that A New Hope implies. And you don’t have to do it onscreen (although it would be really great to do it once but I agree it’s a risk with Me3 and everything).

                Star Wars needs a modern time period where it’s safe to have Jedi in your story. That’s why the best ideas end up retreating to The Old Republic time period.

                This is a problem Disney need to recognise and solve.

                1. Mr. Wolf says:

                  I’m surprised there’s been so little done with the pre-Phantom Menace (or even pre-AotC) era. Plenty of Jedi in that era, though not a songle Sith. Plus I’ve always wondered what the Jedi standard MO was.

                2. Liessa says:

                  Agree about the modern Jedi. This is one of the reasons I get so fed up with with the sequels (and before that, the EU) pressing the reset button as far as the Empire and Republic are concerned. The Empire was comprehensively defeated at the end of RotJ. If you’re going to make a sequel to what’s effectively a fairy tale with a ‘happy ever after’ ending, move the fuck on and tell different stories.

                3. Shufflecat says:

                  I think Shamus’ suggestions would still work if Vader kills them all eventually.

                  That’s… what I already said.

                  Multiple times.

          2. MerryWeathers says:

            Star Wars is famously built on a mythic/fantasy storytelling style.

            Yeah… that’s really hard to do in an “Expanded Universe” that explores and explains every corner of the movies, leaving no room at all for mystique.

  4. Vernal_ancient says:

    All of those character concepts sound really interesting to play! In regards to the first, Rose’s line is hated because a) the exact wording sets up a false dichotomy and b) the circumstances make it really, REALLY stupid in context, so a little tweaking and slightly smarter writing and it works just fine

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      It’s the most on the nose moment of the film where it explicitly states one of it’s themes (Preservation, Luke/Rey with the Jedi Order and Poe with the Resistance) in a very cheesy manner.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      For real. A major issue with the line comes from the fact that Finn was trying to do exactly that when she interrupted him, but the basic idea (be a shield instead of a sword) perfectly fits the setting.

    3. GoStu says:

      The line can work, but not in the middle of that utter trainwreck of a scene.

      Every time I looked at it again it got worse. Finn’s out in front of the other speeders, charging into the death ray to sacrifice himself to save the base. THEN SUDDENLY Rose’s speeder not only catches up, but actually gets enough ahead to T-bone Finn from the side. Naturally this trashes both their speeders but both are largely unhurt by this high-speed collision between two vehicles. Rose drops the line in a really dumb context, and then… scene change!

      But if we’re feeling churlish, let’s look back. Finn and Rose are about fifty feet in front of the oncoming wall of Stormtrooper death. They’re now on foot with no vehicles, and are probably a little sore from their crash. How exactly do they get out of there? Do they just up and run and nobody shoots them, and then they keep running?

      1. Vernal_ancient says:

        Yeah, the scene manages to be fractally stupid, somehow: it’s really stupid in general, and when you zoom in every individual part is just as stupid as the whole

    4. Joshua says:

      I think I said something to this extent last time we had the ST discussion, but I would categorize the ST in the following way:

      The Force Awakens: Dumb ideas executed well.
      The Last Jedi: Interesting ideas executed poorly.
      The Rise of Skywalker: Ludicrous ideas executed in a god-awful manner.

      Rose’s line in TLJ is not bad in a context where that’s essentially the same theme of leaning to the Light side of the Force instead of the Dark side to protect those you love instead of lashing out against those you hate, but as others have said, it is absolutely inappropriate to the scene where it’s what he’s already doing.

      Imagine Return of the Jedi where Luke has rejected killing Darth Vader thrown away his light-saber, and calmly tells the Emperor “You’ve failed, your highness”, and yet Vader croaks “No, Luke, you must not give in to your hate!”.

      It’s just that bizarre.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        The Force Awakens: Dumb ideas executed well.
        The Last Jedi: Interesting ideas executed poorly.
        The Rise of Skywalker: Ludicrous ideas executed in a god-awful manner.

        So after the last discussion here I finally got around to watching The Rise of Skywalker, and I found myself unexpectedly reminded—of all things—of Shakespeare; specifically Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 3:

        it is a tale
        Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
        Signifying nothing.

        1. Thomas says:

          That is the perfect Episode 9 quote.

      2. Sartharina says:

        Another way to sort of make the scene work is to keep with The Last Jedi‘s theme of “Even good people make boneheaded decisions that have catastrophic consequences, but we have to work with each other despite our mistakes in the face of the greater threat.” We have Poe getting good Resistance pilots killed in a gratuitous heroic action that strains trust between him and leadership. We have Holdo trying to hold a resistance together despite a combination of being unqualified for the position due to her lack of leadership skills yet also the most qualified due to the information about the larger picture she had, causing conflict with Poe (Who she can’t figure out how to handle for his mistake costing the Resistance all its pilots) and Finn (Who already served a military organization that doesn’t tell people the larger plan, and nearly shot up a village because of it)

        They’d have needed to set up Rose’s attraction/budding bond with Finn more, and have her putting her personal connection to Finn above her duty to the Resistance, and her sacrifice-to-abort-Finn’s-Sacrifice should have pitched an emotional wedge between them that would need to be resolved in the sequel.

  5. John says:

    I’m getting Knights of the Old Republic flashbacks. The sequel obviously couldn’t be about Revan, who by the end of the first game was a powerful Level 20 Jedi (or Sith). What are you supposed to do with a character like that in the sequel? Give him amnesia again? No. Obsidian very sensibly decided to make the second game about someone else. I may like Knights of the Old Republic II a whole lot less than the average Twentysided commenter, but even I will admit that Obsidian did at least one thing right. Unfortunately, Obsidian didn’t go far enough and set the second game too closely after the first. Even though their game wasn’t about Revan it still had to explain why it wasn’t about Revan and what had happened to him.

    I think that the lesson for Respawn and their hypothetical Fallen Order series is that, assuming that they aren’t going to continue with Cal, they should choose a plot and setting for the sequel such that Cal simply isn’t relevant. If the next game isn’t about Cal and there’s no particular reason for Cal to appear in it, then they don’t have to worry about what he’s up to or find a new character arc for him. So I think Shamus is on to something with these alternate protagonist suggestions of his. I would go one step further, however, and move the setting of the next game from the inter-trilogy period to the post-original trilogy period. There are fewer constraints on the story that way. Most importantly, it would mean that Respawn wouldn’t have to explain why their powerful Jedi OC doesn’t show up in the original trilogy.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      they should choose a plot and setting for the sequel such that Cal simply isn’t relevant.

      That’s way easier to do on Cal than Revan, whose exploits affected the wider galaxy and were an important part of the KOTOR series’ backstory whereas Cal’s adventure was small-scale and had no bearing at all on the PT and OT.

      1. John says:

        It’s easier than you might think. Knights of the Old Republic is set thousands of years before the first movie. You’ve got whole millennia in which Revan is too dead to be relevant in which to set your sequel. Heck, all you’d really need to do is set the game sixty or seventy years after the first one.

        1. Daimbert says:

          That’s what The Old Republic did, and it works fairly well except for one plot arc where Revan does return. Revan is treated as a legend that had an impact on things, but we are all quite aware that we shouldn’t expect him to show up and do things.

    2. Baron Tanks says:

      Indeed, which is why I think that the points Shamus raises concerning making another game about Cal will also apply to whatever you choose next due to the constraints of being so close to the movies. Therefore I’d rather propose something else, which I’m sure will never make it past any kind of executive suit decision*:

      make this an anthology** series and change everything about the setting of the next one. Importantly, move into a time window where you are not contstrained by any existing material. With hindsight it’s easy to see that this game brought strengths to the table that allow it to stand on its own without needing to tie it into the 50 odd years that the movies span. What you need is solid (and improved upon) gameplay, characters that can stand on their own and the ‘Star Wars feel’. These are the parts that made this game memorable and none of these require to have any ties to the specific period that raises all these questions purely from its place in context rather than any of its merit (“If X was so and so, why didn’t Y mention X at any point during movie Z?”). If you’d argue that you need to be in that specific place to achieve ‘Star Wars feel’ I need only poin tat KOTOR. Whatever complaints you may have against that game, I’ve not seen anyone ever argue that it did not feel Star Warsy enough. I’m sure there’s plenty of other examples you can substitute in here.

      *Executives would of course be terrified not to make the most surface level, focus tested and obvious connection to Star Wars, assuming that’s what sells. Shamus alluded to why asking your audience what they want is potentially a terrible idea in multiple posts in this series so I won’t re-iterate. All I’ll add that this is unsurprising as when we discuss the sequel, as the users and fans of this type of game we default to thinking how do we make the best possible sequel (as a game). Meanwhile, the suits are only interested in the best possible product (return?) where best is only measured in things such as sales volume, gross and growth. Combine this with non gaming backgrounds and no one left to challenge them and you can basically make any decision as long as you can convince your fellow executives it will positively effect something in a spreadsheet. And no one has any game based grounds to challenge you, cause all of you at the table have not the faintest clue about what makes a game enjoyable to play. I mean why would you, it’s not in your job description and nobody that has any authority over you will ever challenge you on this. Besides, you’re not interested in games to begin with and you got this job cause of what you know from advertising/steel works/banking/car manufactiring or whatever random business you floated in from.

      **Another reason why Jedi: Fallen Order was a terrible name as it gives you no flexibility. Jedi: XYZ is not a strong enough link to imply Fallen Order as related before orther Jedi titles like Knight, Academy or anything else (except recency bias). And keeping Fallen Order is unwieldy and will most likely not be on point, even if you do stick with a setting close to Cal’s.

      1. John says:

        If you’d argue that you need to be in that specific place to achieve ‘Star Wars feel’ I need only poin tat KOTOR. Whatever complaints you may have against that game, I’ve not seen anyone ever argue that it did not feel Star Warsy enough.

        Oh, no, I love Knights of the Old Republic. It’s exceptionally Star Wars-y. All of my issues are with Knights of the Old Republic II, which, if you ignore the lightsabers, is really not very Star Wars-y at all.

        1. Baron Tanks says:

          Agree with your point (although I do love Kotor II, as an interpretation which is interesting to me without fetishizing canon). For posterity sake I just wanted to add that the ‘you’ you quoted here in my writing was, an imaginary/strawman you I was arguing against, not you John :)

    3. Thomas says:

      However setting one in the post-trilogy period runs into the immediate brick wall that Disney still haven’t set up a way for there to _be_ any Jedi in the post-trilogy period. Anything Respawn does wouldn’t fit with whatever Disney’s plan is now.

      That’s the biggest failing of the Sequel trilogy. We had a whole trilogy of films and we still can’t set any Star Wars stuff in the ‘current’ Star Wars timeline, because we don’t what that is.

      I hope Disney promptly resolve that, but I don’t see how without another trilogy of films or a lot of TV shows.

      1. Thomas says:

        The Mandalorian is set 25 years before the sequel trilogy, and we have a pretty good idea that there weren’t many Jedi wandering around during the sequel trilogy, so even that is no real way out of the problem.

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        Which trilogy? The Mandalorian and some media established that there were still some Jedi from the old order straggling around that time, implied to be less so than the post-PT era but they’re still around.

        Post-ST could be made into something interesting, I always imagined the galaxy would be like an archaic wild west with various factions formed in control of and vying for star systems since there’s no central government but I don’t think Lucasfilm would allow Respawn to touch that era yet, implied to be saving it for the upcoming Rogue Squadron movie to tackle.

        1. Thomas says:

          The Mandalorian only establishes that the same stragglers from before the original trilogy are still around. Any new jedi in that time period is exactly as problematic as inserting new ‘lost Jedi’ into the time period of the Fallen Order that John was talking about, because they are the same Jedi, there are no new post-original trilogy Jedi yet which aren’t Rey or dead.

          Post-ST could be very interesting, but yes, the problem is you can’t actually do anything there yet because Disney aren’t going to let a video game company decide what the Post-ST universe looks like when Disney haven’t decided that either.

      3. John says:

        Honesty compels me to admit that I haven’t actually watched the sequel trilogy and don’t take it seriously. I often forget that other people do. I suppose that as an official licensee, Respawn would have to. Nevertheless, I figure that there must be at least a good decade or two between the end of Return of the Jedi and the point at which Kylo Ren goes all Dark Side and does whatever. I don’t see why you couldn’t have a game or games about some Jedi set during that period. The Jedi could be one of Luke’s non-crazy students or even just someone who did what Luke did between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, i.e., figure out how to do certain things with the Force all on his own. Then there’s the possibilities that Shamus raised about protagonists from non-Jedi traditions.

        It’s true that whatever Respawn does they have to get by Disney first, but that’s true no matter when they set their game.

        1. Thomas says:

          Great point about Luke’s non-crazy students. You could probably tell a handful of stories with that, although since they all get wiped out before they finish their training, it’s not a lot of stories.

          Other than that, there are no new Jedi, so if you want a post-ST trilogy Jedi, you either have to decide what the new source for Jedi is post-ST (which Disney aren’t going to allow you to do), or it’s another Ahsoka straggler from the original story but now with additional baggage of why they weren’t involved in ST events as well as why they survived the OT.

          Even thought we know almost nothing about the ST setting, it’s almost got more constraints than any other time period because any decision you make you would be the ‘new canon’ that the next Star Wars films would have to work around (until Disney decides to set those new films another 50 years into the future or something)

        2. Shufflecat says:

          Both of these are legit possibilities.

          The second film in the ST explicitly nods in the latter direction, so it’s already canon that people like that are happening outside the bounds of the main story.

          Luke’s non-crazy pupils supposedly all died when Kylo had his school-shooter meltdown, but the school compound is shown in flames, so who knows if any are unaccounted for and merely presumed dead. This still feels kinda weak, as Luke’s school didn’t operate like the old Jedi academy. It’s implied students weren’t detached from their families, for one, so it might need some explaining why someone might have survived, but then went missing or into hiding instead of immediately regrouping with either Luke or their own family.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Actually, that could work—a student survives (horribly burned, perhaps, and certainly traumatized) and immediately heads back to their family, who promptly cover for them if Luke or anyone else comes looking, because who’s going to trust their child to Luke’s school again after what happened the first time? (Assuming, as you said, that the pupils were there willingly, or at least by permission from their family.) They could then have guilt for running (perhaps they got out early but didn’t stick around to try to save anyone else) and for hiding from Luke (whom they perhaps still look up to, but can’t entirely bring themselves to trust again), which could be worked out in their character arc in all kinds of ways.

            1. Shufflecat says:

              Oh yeah; I’m not saying it’s in any way not doable. Just that it’d be weak to have a survivor just show up with no explanation. What you’ve described would be good, and I agree that it works best if it’s built directly into the character’s arc instead of just being background fluff.

              1. Shamus says:

                I’m not sure why you have such a problem with my ideas then. None of these characters “show up without explanation”. I have a full explanation for all three of them, and all of the explanations are baked into their character arcs. One was never a Jedi, just the untrained daughter of one. Another isn’t a Jedi, he’s a Sith. And the third was a Jedi, but a mostly non-combat one. This explains where she’s been, and adds some much-needed nuance to the Jedi.

                More importantly, we MUST choose one of these paths:

                A) Cal gets stronger and stronger and gets involved in so many adventures that it strains credulity that nobody’s ever heard of him. Also, he gets less interesting and more calcified* in each new adventure.
                B) We create new characters with strong character arcs and varied fighting styles to keep the game fresh.

                A is the typical choice for Star Wars, and we’ve seen all the storytelling problems that causes. Personally, I’d like to see how B turns out.

                I’m more concerned with character stories and gameplay, and you’re more concerned with universe-level maintenance. That’s fine if that’s what you think is important, but my instincts go the other way.

                * No pun intended.

                1. Shufflecat says:

                  I think we’re talking past each other.

                  The problem with Jedi surviving through the OT era isn’t about whether it can be explained or not. It’s about how the storytelling style of the OT deflates if Luke, Obi Wan, and Yoda aren’t actually the last of the Jedi at that time.

                  The difference is that the OT explicitly establishes, as part of it’s storytelling style, that no Jedi other than Obi Wan and Yoda Survived all the way to ANH. While it’s not essential in a simulationist “details first” storytelling sense, it is for the mythic storytelling arc being drawn. It’s a Doylist issue, not a Watsonian one.

                  The sequel trilogy doesn’t work this way. At least not consistently or coherently. Nor does its “myth” hinge on the absoluteness of Kylo’s massacre. A lost survivor of Kylo’s rampage doesn’t deflate the meaning of Rey’s journey, or Luke’s dark night of the soul. If you can explain one with simulationist/Watsonian logic, then it’s fair game. Dramatically speaking, it’s loosely more comparable to Order 66 having survivors than Vader’s hunt having survivors.

                  I don’t have any problem with your suggestions as characters, or with them being alive during the 20 years leading up to ANH. It’s the unspoken assumption carried over from Cal and Ahsoka that these characters are destined to survive and keep going indefinitely up to and past ANH that bugs me. If that was not your intent, I apologize.

                  I agree it’s better to move on than milk Cal indefinitely. As I said in my previous post way up above, I’d be totally on board with a “Fallen Order” series that’s an anthology of heroic stuff Order 66 survivors managed to do before Vader got to them.

                  It’s just… the idea that Vader WILL get to them is what keeps it from breaking things.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    Then I think we’re on generally the same page.

                    As the hypothetical author, I don’t have any particular attachment to the character once I’ve told their story. In my mind, they’re used up and can be dispensed with in whatever way serves future authors / the franchise.

                    1) Die heroically on-screen.
                    2) Die off-screen via exposition. (Although this requires some care because fans HATE when this happens to popular characters).
                    3) Retire due to stress, injury, or discovering something else more important. (Ex: Being a Jedi is cool and all, but I don’t enjoy war or politics. I’m going to join this struggling village on this remote world. I really care about these people and here I feel like I’m making a difference.)
                    4) As you said: Killed by Vader. This is kina important because the movies all told us Vader wiped out the Jedi, but in the extended works it’s always Random Vader Knockoff #46 that’s doing the hunting and killing. It would be great if Vader got to finally do the one thing he’s famous for.
                    5) Just stop writing about them. Let the audience speculate on their end.

                    The LAST thing I want is to create another damn Johnny Superpowers to bounce around the galaxy becoming an invincible Mega-Jedi. We don’t need yet another idiot that makes Luke look like a chump, and we REALLY don’t need another character contributing to the overall power-creep that turns so many universes into a thin gruel of fanservice.

                    I kinda like the idea of wrapping up the anthology with a big crossover event that ends like Rogue One. Our heroes die accomplishing something large (like saving a single planet) but not TOO large (saving the galaxy) to give them a proper send-off without making them too important to the universe as a whole. (Papa Disney probably wouldn’t like this idea unless you already have a fresh batch of characters to pitch them so they know the money will keep flowing.)

                    1. Falling says:

                      But you don’t have to kill them or make them super humans either. I think you can also just turn your old main characters into mentors of the next generation and/ or leaders in positions of influence that you see from time to time. (Which is kinda #3, but a more active version of it.)

                      This is why I think the old X-wing series was one of the strongest of the EU. They didn’t feel the need to jam every single major character (including droids) into their story (which by Black Fleet crisis, some authors were really stretching to keep characters busy *cough* Lando.)

                      By contrast, in the X-wing series almost every major movie character is off-screen. You understand Luke is out there somewhere establishing the Jedi order, but it’s not relevant to this story. Instead you focus on a newly formed elite squadron of fighters with a really diverse cast of characters that have their own character arcs to go on.

                      For movie characters you get most time spent with Wedge Antilles, which for most casual fans, they wouldn’t know unless they read the IMDB page. Wedge takes orders from Admiral Ackbar from time to time, and then Han Solo appears for a bit as a reluctant commander (and rather out of the box thinker). And that’s it. All the inventive ideas, all the failures, and victories comes from the young bucks trying to make a name for themselves. The stories honour the old by having a few fun moments with characters we know from before, but chooses to delve into brand new characters and stories. (The rarity of seeing familiar characters almost worked better- less is more sometimes.) I also like that they didn’t need to have Force wielding enemies either. Sure those threats exist- but those are pretty rare events. Mostly it’s the day to day grind of shooting stormies and walkers and vaping TIE fighters.

                    2. Shufflecat says:

                      But you don’t have to kill them or make them super humans either. I think you can also just turn your old main characters into mentors of the next generation and/ or leaders in positions of influence that you see from time to time. (Which is kinda #3, but a more active version of it.)

                      3 works for ace pilots and other such, but not for Jedi. Retired mentor Jedi out there break the dynamic just as much as active Jedi do.

                      3 is where Yoda was as of the OT. It’s dramatically important that Yoda tells Luke his training is finished before dying, because there’s no-one else who can train Luke (or anyone else). It’s a “passing of the torch” moment. Luke is now officially THE last of the Jedi. The one hero who can actually face Vader, and if he loses, the Jedi are lost forever. Those are the dramatic stakes of a mythic story.

                      But if there’s other Jedi out there… then that’s moot. Luke being told his training is complete is merely the greenlight for him to face Vader. If he dies… well, then someone else can try again later.

                  2. WWWebb says:

                    The OT followed a protagonist, Luke Skywalker. Like Luke, the audience understood that Luke was the last jedi in the galaxy, and the only one who could DO THE THING. Narratively, that’s really important.

                    But it only needs to be true “from a certain point of view”. Kenobi and Yoda need Luke to go do the thing because being Vader’s son is the only thing that’s going to keep someone alive long enough to get close to the emperor. Heck, Kenobi’s main character trait in the OT is “acts civilized, but constantly manipulates others to serve his own goals”.

                    Once the OT is over, there’s plenty of time for Luke to realize he was lied to, and for that realization to shape his attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order.

  6. Daimbert says:

    The Shadow Hearts universe did it fairly well:

    It started with Koudelka, which starred, well, Koudelka [grin].

    Then it went to Shadow Hearts, starring Yuri Hyuga, who ended up being guided by a captive Koudelka, whom they freed

    Shadow Hearts Covenant then picked up with Yuri again, but came up with a not unreasonable way to lower his level (cursed). It then ended Yuri’s story.

    It picked up with “From the New World”, which used the universe and similar powers — that it had earlier established weren’t unique — with different protagonists. I think this game failed not because it was a new character, but because it wasn’t a very good game.

    I think that’s sort of what you’re looking for, but each story has to be good to make it work. Otherwise, we feel it inferior to the earlier games and don’t even have the emotional connection to a set of characters and a lead to fall back on.

    1. Syal says:

      Trails in the Sky breaks Shamus’ rule, but I think it works well enough. 1 and 2 are both about Estelle And Friends, then 3 is a side story about a different team member from 2 (And Friends), then the Crossbell stuff is… well I never played those so lets say “Mystery Box”, then Cold Steel is new people in a different country. And while they lose something for the lack of Estelle (and 3 feels way too “we have to make a game, figure something out” meta), they all feel like Trails games.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Suikoden does pretty well with this as well, using different regions in the same way as the Elder Scrolls games to create entirely new sets of characters — about 100 — mixed in with some old favourite characters which either start out with lower abilities with an excuse — Viki the time traveller — or else join when the main characters are higher level and so have better abilities as well. But that does follow from the nature of that game that wouldn’t work quite so well in Star Wars, although one could always have Cal et al flee to the Outer Rim to get some distance.

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    Or a Zweihänder?

    That is my favorite weapon from one of my favorite games, but it really doesn’t make sense in Star Wars. The point of such a weapon is that it’s slow, heavy, and lands with a solid thunk. Lightsabers are weightless: there’s no reason for them to not move quickly and it looked goofy as hell when Jedi Outcast gave your saber a heavy attack that moved liked molasses. There’s no kinesthetically satisfying “Oof, that was a serious hit” feeling unless you commit to a dismemberment system that seriously constrains gameplay and Disney literally won’t let you do that because they micromanage the brand that closely.

    1. Shufflecat says:

      Reading a little between the lines there, it looks like they weren’t forbidden from dismemberment, only that they had to “hide the cut” somehow, and the only way they could think of to do that was only viable in cutscenes.

      My own instinct would be to “hide the cut” by inserting a flash of light or lens flare at the moment of the cut. Wouldn’t be consistent with the films, but it’d be better than health-chipping Nerf bats.

      I suppose I’d have to hear from Disney policy makers for clearer guidelines, but since I’m not a Star Wars dev, that’s not going to happen.

      Isn’t Kylo Ren’s lightsaber basically a light-Zweihänder? It’s got the added length and (much debated) cross-hilt.

  8. Karma+The+Alligator says:

    sighting style

    Is it meant to be fighting style?

    For sequels it’d be nice if they could try a reboot of Jedi Academy, if Cal manages to find enough pupils.

  9. Hey Shamus! They could take this the same way they did Mass Effect. There we have recurring team mates.

    We’ll get Fallen Order II and Fallen Order III.

    I do agree with not making the player character loose his powers though. That part always annoyed me with Mass Effect 2.

    One can scale down the powers some, have a refresh/retrain starter mission. Maybe tweak some powers a bit.

    For Cal there are still the Inquisitors being a threat. And there is still Vader. Now “we” know that some of these Inquistors and Vader as their fates sealed. Cal does not and might foolishly think he can face Vader at some point. I can forsee a truly powerful Cal go up against Vader (but loose then escape, unless he meets a deadly end that is).

    I forgot how they handled Mass Effect 3 start in regards to Shepards powers, but I don’t recall anything annoying/negativ so it must have been a good way of handling it then.

    Fallen Order 2 could take place slightly “away” from all the other stuff, and then in fallen Order 3 bring things back to maybe facing Vader etc. Id’ love to have splitting paths like in Knights Of The Old Republic which hads satisfying lightside and darkside paths. But maybe they could add a grey path as well.

    1. Thomas says:

      Mass Effect 3 starts you part way along your upgrade path with points available depending on the save you import. And then it basically implies the rest of the galaxy got tougher along with Shepard. It was a neat trick

  10. Lars says:

    The sneaky Hutt

    Concept
    You are a Hutt connected to the Force. But your body is to weak and your arms to short to wield a light saber. The one time you tried it you hurt yourself badly. Only to be laughed at by the thing, that later turned into General Grivious. You use an upgradable doid to move around. The Force is strong in you, so you can temporarely mindwhipe and move heavy objects but still have to avoid open combat.

    Inciting incedent:
    Grevious rips out his flesh to get stronger and betrayes the order you belonged to till now. He is leaving you alive, because a Hutt isn’t a danger to the Flesh and Metal combination of the General.

    Character arc:
    The force is strong inside you, but your body is weak. What helps you getting stronger is the droid that you team up with. But the closer you get with your companion, the closer you you get to the one hate the most.

    1. Shufflecat says:

      I like this. Albeit for an unusual reason: because it breaks the “planet of hats” problem the hutts have in the “legends” continuity.

      The legends EU had a HUGE problem with assigning entire species a (often biologically deterministic) one-note culture based on the sole individual or mention in the films. All bothans are spies, All hutts are narcissistic gangsters, etc. This is one of the stupid things about the old EU I’d love to see get a do-over in the new canon.

      1. Daimbert says:

        To be fair, though, compared to Star Trek the EU both built political and cultural systems that explained it AND often provided individuals that bucked the trend. Even the Bothans, for example, were seen as more politically oriented than as actual spies, which led to them doing intelligence work because they wanted to have all sorts of secrets to use against others. The most famous EU Bothan, remember, is Borsk Fey’La, who is known as a shady politician, not a spy. And there are numerous Bothans in the main EU timeline that are more military than spies.

        1. John says:

          That’s really not much of a defense. You’re not arguing that that the EU doesn’t stereotype Bothans. You’re arguing that Shufflecat specified the wrong stereotype.

          1. Daimbert says:

            At the risk of us talking past each other again, my argument is actually that a) they build a culture that explains the difference in traits and b) show a number of prominent members of the species that DON’T act that way. So they show why those traits are prominent in the species based on the culture and history of the planet itself, and also tend to take pains to show members of the species who don’t fall into the stereotype and often reject it. The Hutts tend to get less members that don’t conform, but that’s because of their own exalted self-image and amorality and because the only ones that you get to see tend to be the ones who would be dabbling in all of those things. The Bothans, overall, actually get FAR more representation than just as spies.

            It’s not perfect, but what it does is far superior than the same thing as it is generally done in Star Trek, for example.

            1. John says:

              See, that doesn’t sound any better than Star Trek to me. Star Trek does that sort of thing all the time, though it’s most obvious on shows like DS9 where we spend a lot of time with species like the Bajorans and Cardassians.

            2. Shufflecat says:

              It takes way more than the existence of token subversions to turn a one-note concept into a complex one. That’s a lampshade, not a solution. It’s also exactly what the phrase “the exception that proves the rule” means (if these are considered exceptions, that framing indicates the alternative is considered the rule).

              And yeah, John’s not wrong: what you’re describing with the Bothan’s reads more like “wrong hat” than “no hat”. Or to be more exact: “that hat is a subset of this hat”. And in the end, both the bothans and the hutts betray the same “creative” process: start with a single shown individual or mention, and back-project that onto their entire species/culture.

              Star Trek’s issues are its own problem. I’m addressing an issue with Star Wars. I don’t care if anyone else might do it worse: that in no way diminishes or justifies it as a flaw in Star Wars’s case.

  11. RamblePak64 says:

    Unfortunately I think it has as much to do with what LucasFilm wants to do with Cal as it does what Respawn wants to do.

    I think a sequel with this crew can work from a narrative perspective, as Jedi: Fallen Order is focused on not repeating the mistakes of the past and allowing every individual a choice. Your past/fate does not define you, your choices do. Okay, theme tackled. Now, however, Cal and Cere have to figure out just what the new Jedi order even is, assuming it is possible at all. There’s potential for some narrative there, especially when you consider how Merrin now needs to figure out where she belongs and what role she plays in this greater universe. We’ve figured out we’re not defined or limited by our past, but what does that mean for our present and future?

    The problem is that, when running into gameplay issues, you now find yourself in the Metroid problem (which was exacerbated in the early-aughts, when they were really trying to pump out sequels and therefore wearing the trope thin): removing your gear/upgrades from the previous game so you can collect them again. With Prime: Echoes and Prime: Corruption they kept a good chunk of gear and tried to create new forms of upgrades, but the question of “why doesn’t she ever keep all that gear?!” persisted in the fanbase and would become a complaint. I was one of the few that shrugged and said “Because it’s more fun that way”, but, eh.

    With a game like Jedi: Fallen Order, are you going to be able to get away with the same? Does Cal suddenly get rusty and need to reconnect? Do we begin the sequel with him emerging from cryptonite from some event that we don’t get to play but is explored/explained in some comic book or cheap tie-in novel? Does his need to recover from the cryptonite slumber help explain his need to recover some basic powers?

    Personally, I’d rather the next game go a bit crazier with force powers in combat, though you also bring up an excellent point about the force having application outside of it. So starting with the ability to pull something to you and skewer it would be fine by me.

    Regardless of where the next game goes, I think there’s also potential in a sequel where you play as an Inquisitor hunting for Cal and his comrades, whose journey takes him to a point where you swap to the light side. While I know there’s a lot of distaste in viewing “light side” and “dark side” powers from a video gamey tabletop list of abilities, including by me myself, spending half the game with force powers (or perhaps the first-third with over-powered Sith abilities), only to then swap to light side and have to start gaining abilities from nothing, has some potential to it. Or perhaps a shift halfway through. I dunno, just spit-ballin’.

    Again, though, it all depends on Lucasfilm and what they want, because for all we know they’re plotting a “Mirin and the Night Sisters” Disney+ TV show.

  12. Rob+Lundeen says:

    This was a great series Shamus! I played through the game when I you started covering it and really enjoyed reading your interpretation!

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    I’d like to see a game where we start playing as a Stormtrooper, someone who just does what he’s told and asks no questions because he wants to keep things simple. But then, at some point he realizes he’s Force sensitive and becomes terrified, because he knows the Empire (or at least whatever cell he’s working on) captures and tortures all Force users. Things have just become exceedingly complicated for him, and he wants to escape. To that end he releases a Jedi prisoner and they manage to escape together. He just wants a simple life, but keeps getting roped into the fight until he eventually learns to accept his role.

    This could present an interesing opportunity for varied gameplay, as you reconcile your Stormtrooper abilities (mainly the use of space guns, but some melee weaponry too, like a bashing shield or one of those “Traitor!” batons) with your budding Force abilities until very late into the game when you finally get ahold of a lightsaber (perhaps given to you by your buddy whom you helped escape, as he makes a sacrifice to save you) and you finally become a full-fledged Jedi.

    I don’t know, I think it would be interesting.

    1. sheer_falacy says:

      The problem here is that you’re basically describing Finn, except you actually have a role in mind for the character besides “make people think he’s a jedi but he’s not”.

      1. Vernal_ancient says:

        Not sure “Finn but he actually matters to the story” is a problem, per say. I mean, it definitely feels narratively redundant, but Finn was probably the most interesting of the ST’s three main characters and, as you noted, he was pretty underused. I would absolutely play a game where the story arc was essentially “how Finn SHOULD have been handled”

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        I always thought making Finn a Jedi was such a cliched idea

    2. Philadelphus says:

      I’m imagining the part where you get the lightsaber as being like getting the upgraded gravity gun in HL2 in gameplay terms (though also keeping all your previous abilities, as well). Suddenly blaster bolts go from terrifying life-threatening events to annoyances you bat aside, enemies that would’ve taken multiple hits with melee weapons go down in one strike, that sort of thing. Make the lightsaber feel as over-powered in combat as it really should be. Maybe. I’m sure there are other ways to play it too.

      1. John says:

        So in the final “level” of the game, you’re at the gates of the Imperial stronghold. You planned to sneak in, but the final boss was expecting you. You open a door to find a huge room filled with Imp military – all the varieties you’ve faced up til now, but all together, and in far greater numbers than you could ever hope to vanquish.

        Protag looks around nervously, then stills himself, and reaches for his belt. “Always a first time for everything, right?”

        Seamless transition to gameplay. Prompt: “press down on the d-pad to switch to lightsaber”

  14. Henson says:

    The fencing foil lightsaber strikes me as such a neat idea, I wonder: would Star Wars Zorro work? A lone wolf fighting against a corrupt system of Jedi/Sith?

    1. Syal says:

      Two Jedi are handing the local Czar a treasure chest full of gold credits. Suddenly a mysterious figure swings in holding a gravity line with his feet, grabs the treasure chest with one hand, uses his other hand’s lightsaber to carve a Z into the Jedi’s robes, and swings away before they can react. The Czar raises his fist and shouts, “We’ll meet again, Space Zorro!”

  15. Smosh says:

    And we all know they will shit on all the sensible ideas you’ve thrown out, and instead pull a Mass Effect 2: Reset the character via dumb contrivance, then come up with a new plot that requires a massive retcon or is just nonsensical, because the bosses at the head just cannot believe the audience would buy a sequel with a different protagonist, despite Final Fantasy having managed that a dozen times by now, against Square’s dedication on sabotaging themselves via technology choices.

    Can’t wait to roll my eyes when we get the inevitable and disappointing sequel.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      My money’s on Cal just getting more and more story piled on top of the existing one, like Lara Croft or Kyle Katarn. Or Starkiller.

      OR, they could do a similar thing to Assassin’s Creed 3, where the protagonist is inexplicably just always present for important historical events.
      All those iconic monents from the Original Trilogy? Now they’ve got Cal hanging around in the background, so we can see them again.

      1. Vernal_ancient says:

        See, now I’m just waiting for someone at Disney to think, “Hey, Episode II had a changeling in it; what if we made a game where the main character is a changeling, and they just always happen to be one of the background extras from whatever scene of the movies they’ve stumbled into?”

        1. Daimbert says:

          That’s pretty much one of the running gags of Darths and Droids, isn’t it, riffing on the change of actor for Wedge?

          1. Vernal_ancient says:

            Yep! One of the best parts of the OT arc they did, imo. Basing a game off the concept could go… really really cool, or really really stupid, with probably not much middle ground

        2. Philadelphus says:

          Y’know, that’s a good point. Episode II established that changelings exist in Star Wars, and it has never explicitly been brought up or acknowledged ever again in the movies or licensed works (to my knowledge). You could do all kinds of things with changeling characters, and yet no one’s touched it that I know of, outside of Darths and Droids. Imagine a spy thriller game where you play as a changeling and have to use different forms (which maybe you have to acquire some way like spending time in proximity to someone to make it convincing and give a gameplay challenge) to infiltrate enemy organizations (Empire/First Order/whatever) and get out with valuable data. A game all around social deception and camouflage, where combat usually means you’ve failed and are about to die unless you can exfiltrate real snappy, sounds like it could be really interesting.

  16. Jeff says:

    This article just made me realize I only remember two things about Rose.

    First, that she contributed nothing at all to the stories and could have been completely cut out without any change in the overall plot.

    Second, that she broke the laws of physics to sideswipe Finn, thereby ensuring he also contributed nothing. Even scenes she had with main characters could be completely cut out without any change in the overall plot. That’s kind of impressive.

    1. Rho says:

      It may be a bit off topic, but while I like the actress, and she was treated in a horrifically unfair manner online… you’re right on the character.

      The idea might have been workable but not in that context, and she took up “screen space” needed to flesh out a satisfying character story for Finn and Poe. It didn’t help that Rose lacked a character arc or unique skills. Also the character’s introduction actually shows her to be a disturbed individual but the plot just ignores that.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      she contributed nothing at all to the stories and could have been completely cut out without any change in the overall plot

      Are you kidding? She ended up getting loads of people killed ;-) !

      First she a) failed at her task of keeping people from deserting the ship (instead, she JOINED someone leaving), b) got thrown in prison for parking on private property like an idiot, and c) brought back an obviously dodgy character she met in prison to betray them all!
      Oh, and then she stopped Finn from helping during the final battle.

      Sure, I guess technically Finn did a lot of those things too and was perfectly capable of doing them without Rose around, but still – she did a lot.

      Will second that the actress didn’t deserve the shit she got, however.

    3. Grimwear says:

      I mentioned it…maybe here? awhile back in regards to the physics thing and was told that Finn’s ship was damaged which is how Rose caught up and managed the swipe. I’d have to rewatch to verify but I have no desire to. I doubt she could have caught up in time but who knows.

      Also I really, really, really wished that Finn died in that scene. When it was happening in theatres I actually felt an emotion, that he was actually going to sacrifice himself for the resistance and I was actually enjoying the movie but then nope. Doubly disappointing since right after we get one of the worst Star Wars lines of all time. In hindsight I wonder if John Boyega wishes he died too. He seems really sour on Star Wars in interviews now though maybe the money he was paid for the third made it all worthwhile.

      1. Thomas says:

        You can understand why he’s mad. They made a big thing about him being one of the three main colours and advertised their ‘diversity’ and then immediately demote him to comedic sidekick and give him nothing for the rest of the franchise.

        In all the Episode 9 various scripts floating around they try and set-up a romance between Rey and all the male leads…except Finn, who if anyone has to be in that position is probably the most natural after episode 7

        1. Jeff says:

          I always expected Finn to hook up with Rey, and I found her momentary thing with Kylo was absolutely gross and out of left field.

          I also blame Rose for dragging Finn down to supporting character, but I recall someone saying that the writers already screwed up by preemptively aborting Finn’s story arc with the silver trooper lady. Which I think also involved Rose.

          Man that’s such a garbage character, and as a Chinese Canadian I’m unhappy. Now Donnie Yen in Rogue One, that was a proud to be Asian moment.

          1. Thomas says:

            I thought Finn and Rey were being set-up with each other in The Force Awakens and the they didn’t follow through. The Kylo thing was super toxic and should never have been presented as something Rey accepts.

            As a side note Donnie Yen is fantastic and makes everything he’s in better. One of the few actors I’ll go out of my way to see

        2. Grimwear says:

          O I can understand the anger. Honestly I feel they should have made Finn and Poe into one character. Kylo Ren attacks the location of the map at the start of 7 and old dude sends off BB-8. No Poe. At that point have the same story with Finn but make it so that he was primarily trained as a pilot and was brought down for this mission on short notice or some other contrivance. Finn can’t handle the pressure of up close murder, flees, crashes, continue plot. You’d then need to swap Rey from flying the Falcon to Finn but that’s fine since they can teach each other. Rey has the knowledge of the systems since she’s been a scrap dealer her whole life and Flinn has the flight experience. Now they can interact on an even footing and not have Finn be the goofy, out of his depth loser. And then we could even have Flinn fly the Falcon to Starkiller Base and perform the light speed jump past the shield because he has the knowledge instead of “space janitor”. Honestly Poe isn’t needed and just takes up extra space that should have gone to developing Finn.

          Also I always yell this but, “If you want to do a rehash of A New Hope then have Rey flounder not knowing how to get around the speed limiter on the Falcon and have Han Solo fix it and teach her. Thus emulating the Obi Wan teaching Luke the force on the Falcon. This would then make the scene where Han offers Rey a place on his crew mean more since he would be an actual mentor rather than an old has been who got taught by the young upstart.” Blahhh.

  17. Rho says:

    Plot twist: there are, like, ten different wannabe Jedi masters who are “refounding the Jedi order” and they are getting into big lightsaber-y arguments over who is right and/or in charge.

    1. bobbert says:

      That would make a great story.

      1. Thomas says:

        It would make a great post-ST setting, maybe not exactly Jedi masters but all sorts of groups rediscovering the force and building up their own orders and many of the claiming they’re the legacy of the original Jedi order.

        With no real Republic or Empire you could have a really chaotic early Asimov Foundation esque setting.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      “‘Jedi Liberation Front?’ We’re the Liberation Front of the Jedi!”

      “And what’s the Galactic Empire ever done for us, anyway?”

  18. bobbert says:

    Eventually he becomes a stable adult with a clear moral compass

    Uhh… this is Star Wars, boss. I don’t think that sounds reasonable. Part of the Star Wars universe is that everyone make foolish, impulsive, self-destructive descisions.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Star Wars absolutely has characters who don’t make impulsive decisions. That’s basically the whole deal for Obi Wan, Yoda, and Leia.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Also, said impulse decisions are only self-destructive half the time, and a large part of that 50% is is comprised of The Last Jedi’s attempts at deconstruction.

  19. Sabrdance+(MatthewH) says:

    I will rise in defense of a new game with Cal.

    This game introduced the character and dealt with his backstory, but he is still a lone Jedi, traveling with a gambling-indebted pilot and an ex-Jedi master with anger management issues, and Darth Vader personally knows him, and has a motivation to hunt him down and kill him. There are some great stories to tell about Cal and company trying to survive the empire. Just “Darth Vader has taken a personal interest in Cal” would provide an entire game -maybe two -of content as Cal tries to evade the Vader, learns what it means to be a Jedi in full, and perhaps even try to take on a pupil of his own.

    As for the powers issue -one solution is to have Cal take on an apprentice right away and play as the 4th member of the band (the kid to his warrior).

    But I think a better plan is to simply add new powers. Fundamentally, there are only 3 powers present in the game: slow, pull/push, and jump/wallrun, So simply start the game with those powers unlocked. Add new powers. There are bunches we already know about: speed, heal, lightning, prescience, mind trick. We could augment existing powers: wallrun now works upside down like a wuxia movie. Pull and Push can be used on other objects for combat or puzzle solving. Combine old powers and new powers: speed+jump gives you a longer jump (done in Jedi Academy).

    I think sticking with Cal provides a good reason to do a different kind of story -something like Empire to the first Star Wars, whereas new characters provides license to just reskin this game from the get go -like Force Awakens to the first Star Wars.

    1. Pax says:

      Dammit, this is why I should refresh the page and re-check the comments before posting (I posted a similar idea right below).

  20. Pax says:

    I do kind of like the anthology idea for the series, but I doubt they’ll go for it when they’ve already got a marketable face for the series (unless the actor just decides he doesn’t want to do it again). But what they could do instead is give Cal an apprentice and let you play as him or her.

    Maybe play as Cal in the opening level so you can use all his awesome powers, and have the plot be that he runs across some Force-sensitive youngster that he has to save from the Imperials and then train. You could even have Merrin train her in some Force magic to vary up the character abilities. Hell, make it a whole family affair with grandma Cere and crazy uncle Greez.

    That’d probably give Cal a nice new plot arc to have with in the background as he struggled to become a teacher, the same way Cere did in the first one. Not all plots are about the bad thing that happened in your backstory; sometimes it’s the new thing that happens that challenges you to grow.

  21. Nimrandir says:

    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.

    I actually liked the way the 2008 iteration of Prince of Persia handled its world design. As I recall (it’s been a while, and I’d need to hook up my 360 to confirm), the game was set up as a big loop, with smaller loops breaking off to form individual levels. However, the player could return to a completed level for another run at missed collectibles. I don’t think the individual runs would take more than a few minutes each to complete, once you get the hang of the traversal mechanics.

    On the other hand, that Prince of Persia only had one type of collectible. This might not be appealing enough for the current playerbase, and it could also end up exploited as a skeezy microtransaction shop where we hand in the collectibles for rewards.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The hub-and-levels type of design would be pretty good for having collectibles, since you can have different discrete types of levels for different functions. Some levels are linear obstacle courses, some levels are more open but have collectibles in them, and maybe some are combat-focused areas where you fight through different waves of enemies. The different styles and functions can be tailored to have things that work well together, and keep separate the things that don’t work together. :)

  22. Syal says:

    Looks like a few people mentioned it now, but the most obvious sequel to me* would be finding a Force-sensitive kid that Cal has to take care of, and making him a deuteragonist. Switching between the characters regularly would break the impression that the series is about Cal, and might also solve the power reset issue; Cal is fully powered, the apprentice is not.

    *(Actually the most obvious sequel would be revealing the “dead” master is actually a high-ranking Sith now. Continuity be damned, pathos ahoy.)

    Since I’m never going to write it, might as well throw out my Star Wars idea. Doesn’t fit in this timeline though.

    Kid is attacked by a pirate leader with huge size and tiny brains, parents killed, kid captured and sold as a slave, vows revenge on the pirate. Is rescued by a Force User called Gate who primarily uses cold and adhesion. Gate exposits the attack was orchestrated by the only other living student from the Force Reject Academy, because the kid’s real father was one of the students there.

    (Backstory: A guy who thinks the Jedi shouldn’t limit who learns the Force sets up a school for Jedi-rejected Force Users. It inevitably goes horribly wrong when one of the students goes mad** and manages to kill three of the other four adult students. The master flees, and the sole survivor, Gate, vows to kill them both.)

    So Gate’s going to keep him safe, and by “safe” he means “shove him in a corner and never let him leave”. Gate matches him up with The Other Kid, who learned a couple of tricks at the Academy, then he leaves with a “stay put”. Kid’s story is trying to find a way off the planet to go back and get revenge against the pirate, while both the Force Users are trying to find him.

    **(Legitimately mad. Starts listening to a Force MissingNo, views the world as warping and tries to “fix” it with the Force. Goal in finding the children is mostly to apologize for killing their folks, but the evil political ally doing the actual searching doesn’t understand that.)

  23. Echo Tango says:

    Re: side-kicks
    Besides the visuals and attitudes that a character’s side-kick helps explore, they’re also a good opportunity for different gameplay. Like, maybe the big burly charater’s space-rat is really good at squeezing into tight spaces, so when you’re hidden from guards, you can send him off to crawl up walls and eaves, through open windows, and so on, to scout out the area ahead, or maybe occasionally snatch keys or blueprints off of dozing guards who’ve got things dangling off of their hips while they watch space-hockey. That gives a nice contrast between the big guy you control most of the time, and your little rat-pal. The laser-rapier character might have their space-dog closely aligned with their fencing combat, and have the contrasts come from their force-powers instead. Doggo bites or otherwise distracts the occasional foe in combat while you sword-ballet with the rest, but all of your non-combat comes from force-pulling debris into walkways, bridges and ladders, or force-telephoning HQ to get help. :)

  24. Grimwear says:

    I’ve been holding on to this from the get go but I’m gona get it off my chest. The characters look really ugly. Cal has a weird smashed toad face and I honestly thought from the header image that Cere was played by Giancarlo Espocito (Gus from Breaking Bad) until it was brought to light that she’s a woman. Also some of those Trilla screenshots give me real bad lizard vibes. Like when characters are about to go insane in anime and they do that weird camera angle to make the eyes wider and the nose extra long. Maybe it’s me and getting uncanny valley’d but they just all look off to me and I can’t unsee it.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Yeah, there’s definitely some uncanney valley going on. Cal looks reasonably OK, but Cere (as I noted many posts ago) has some big ol’ Insmouth eyes and shinyness to her skin.

  25. Dotec says:

    Characters are revealed through decisions, and brainwashed slaves don’t get to make many of those.

    Thank you for reminding me of how bitterly disappointed I was to see how EA/Bioware decided to wrap up one of the more intriguing mysteries of the KOTOR series – what caused the fall of Revan and Malak?

    The original KOTOR presented Revan as a grand strategist with an “ends justify the means” approach to the devastating Mandalorian aggression, and teases the idea that despite breaking from traditional good-guy Jedi orthodoxy, that this may have even been justified to a degree. The sequel even gets so ballsy as to suggest (via Avellone’s mouthpiece Kreia) that Revan didn’t “fall” at all, but did exactly what was required every step of the way; that a willing embrace of the Dark Side and the corruption of his soul was ultimately necessary to face the coming threats, and performed with both eyes wide open. Malak may have drifted into a typical Sith Dunce, but Revan always maintained his clarity and purpose, able to withstand the petty-mindedness that seems to afflict most of his ilk.

    After delivering a crushing defeat to the Mandalorians, the duo continue to venture into the Unknown Regions to investigate the mysterious, inciting cause that spurred the Mandalorians conquest, but come back changed. While this was admittedly left as something of a “mystery box”, there was potential waiting out there in the Unknown. Did they see something that hardened their resolve and determination? Was there some kind of Lovecraftian force beyond known space ala the Reapers that twisted them? I wouldn’t mind some Old Ones in my Star Wars at this point. There has to be something special and unique about whatever threat they witnessed out there, surely?

    Well, HAHAHAHA you dumb idiot, getting your hopes so high! Of course it’s another fucking ancient Sith Lord who brainwashes Revan and Malak to do his bidding. Because it’s just that simple in the SW universe, really. Here I was actually enthusiastically wondering what would make a man (or woman) like Revan tick, since the games had lead us to believe that he was a figure who never lost his agency, whatever side of the Force he was on. I don’t really care if this idea “fits” with any incarnation of Star Wars – it’s interesting, damn it! But nah, let’s settle for for Star Wars’ version of Sargeras to conveniently explain it all way.

    Even more baffling is that this revelation (and Revan’s concluding story) were written by Drew Karpshyn. I can only guess that he was given some tight constraints about how to develop this narrative to fit into SWTOR, but maybe it’s just the general laziness that seems endemic to this whole setting. For once I felt like we were on the verge of seeing something new, which was probably naive since I can’t expect a licensed video game to have a bigger impact on the setting than the movies do. But man… brainwashing? As a Force trick? Blegh. As one of the few Star Wars spin-off stories I have a genuine affection for, this was awful.

    1. John says:

      After delivering a crushing defeat to the Mandalorians, the duo continue to venture into the Unknown Regions to investigate the mysterious, inciting cause that spurred the Mandalorians conquest, but come back changed.

      I always assumed that they had already turned to the Dark Side and were just looking for the Star Forge, whose existence they learned of from the Dantooine ruins. The only time I can recall the first game talking about them “coming back changed” is in a loading screen, the text of which is presumably written from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know much about the Force and has no idea what the Star Forge is or even that it exists. The story in KotOR works perfectly well even if there’s no mystery.

      The difference between Revan and Malak, in my eyes, is that Revan was probably smarter, more charismatic, and, initially, more ambitious. I don’t think that there’s a lot of support for the idea that he was some special kind of non-standard Sith. We don’t actually know very much about Revan’s character, pre-amnesia. I note, however, that most of the post-amnesia Dark Side choices available to him are the same sort of stupid-evil I’d expect from Malak.

      Kreia says a lot of stuff in the second game, but a lot of it is lies because, y’know, Kreia. It’s possible that Obsidian got some kind of KotOR story bible from Bioware or LucasArts, but Chris Avellone never mentioned anything like that in the one podcast where I heard him talk about the series. My suspicion is that most of what they say about the first game they came up with on their own, which means I tend to consider anything in the second game related to the events or characters of the first something of a retcon.

      1. Jabrwock says:

        Considering how xenophobic the ancients who built the star forge were, I had always assumed Revan had an Iron Man moment, where he saw a future that terrified him, and decided the ends (protecting the galaxy) justified the means. It wouldn’t be the first time SW authors dabbled with an existential threat to the galaxy that came from the outer rim or even outside the galaxy.

        1. John says:

          Well, one of Canderous Ordo’s less essential war stories was probably intended as a nod to the EU’s Yuhzan Vong. So there’s that. But, while I suppose it’s possible that Revan had some kind of vision or premonition about an attack from outside the Republic–y’know, other than the Mandalorian one–I don’t think it’s something the game strongly supports.

    2. MerryWeathers says:

      Was there some kind of Lovecraftian force beyond known space ala the Reapers that twisted them? I wouldn’t mind some Old Ones in my Star Wars at this point.

      That was the original plan according to Avellone.

      Remnants from the old Sith Empire who retreated into the Unknown Regions and delved so deep into the dark side that they became eldritch and genuinely alien but I woudn’t call them Lovecraftian since you would personally get to know them.

  26. stratigo says:

    I think everyone is missing the obvious answer here.

    Play as Merrin next game. She still has an arc to mine, and a people with a mixed past to come to terms with.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I like it.

      Though one better (IMO): play as both Cal AND Merrin, similar to the way Batman: Arkam City let you play as Catwoman some of the time, and switch back and forth. Try out two different movesets and exploration techniques.

      And Cal is great as a side player in Merrin’s story, since they’re on the same ship and all.

  27. Richard says:

    Shamus: with respect, now that this retrospective is complete, I believe it is appropriate for you to work on your retrospective for Prey (2017). Also: thank you for all that you do, I love your work.

  28. Joshua says:

    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.

    I’m reminded again of Dragonlance. The initial books were about a group of mildly experienced adventurers (I think they were level 3 in the game) who felt like they were in way over their heads being the ones who had the fate of the world hanging over their head. Then other writers couldn’t help themselves from adding in all kinds of adventures into the backstories for these characters (Tanis goes back in time, Caramon and Raistlin help stop an invasion of demons) where these characters should be a little bit more notable when the series proper begins, or at least a lot more comfortable with the weight of responsibility placed upon them.

  29. Gareth+Wilson says:

    “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.”
    My cynical assumption when I read this was that he does think she’s a time bomb of unchecked rage, but it’s worth it to do enough damage to the Empire. Even if she goes full Sith her lightsaber will be pointed in the right direction. That’s probably too cynical for this setting, but you could use it for a alternative evil mentor or have the Empire claim that this is what’s going on.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      Ties in with the idea of the Dark Side being more alluring. Easier to find a loose cannon to point in the direction of the enemy, regardless of the collateral damage or blowback that may come later.

  30. Chad+Miller says:

    Earlier in the series, at one point I noticed Cal wasn’t wearing a poncho and thought “huh, you didn’t like that Poncho look either.” And now I’m wishing I’d posted that since I could have looked smart for having predicted your exact take on the unlocks!

    I had a similar reaction: Ponchos look stupid, nearly all the unlocks are cosmetics, the most important cosmetic looks stupid, therefore I don’t care about the unlocks. Finding them is so annoying I didn’t even bother with the stim upgrades, since the effort required to beat the game with a 2-3 stim limit or whatever was worth not having to slog my way back through one-way ice slides and similar nonsense. That plus the general level design put the game firmly in “beat the game once and never think about it again” territory for me.

  31. Ed B.C. says:

    I think you can nail all of the criteria for the new game by just making the Star Wars version of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. A Young prodigal apprentice in taken under the wing of a sith lord at a young age when they are too innocent to know what the dark side means. The sith lord has a grandmaster Jedi nemesis and is training the apprentice to kill the grandmaster. The apprentice crosses paths with the grandmaster and shows promise but is clearly overmatched, however, the Jedi is so impressed with her skills and knows her internal innocence so he goes on a quest to redeem her and take her under his wing.

    You can tell the story from both points of view. Every fight scene between the two can be played from the perspective of the winner of the fight so that you do not have the, “lose in the cutscene problem”. Also, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is basically fuedal Chinese star wars so it’s more than fitting.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      While I love Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it would be a weird take to switch between the characters. How many players would like to be the Chow-Yun Fat (the teacher) character in some of those fight scenes?

      “You could easily win this fight, but the game is going to make you hold back to protect the person trying to kill you” won’t go down well with a lot of people.
      However, if you were playing Zhang Ziyi’s (the student) character all the time, that would work.

    2. John says:

      Huh. I never thought of that. While I’ve pushed back pretty hard against the idea that Jedi are just Chinese martial artists, Chow Yun Fat’s character in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon really is extremely Jedi-like. (I note that most of the other characters, including Michelle Yeoh’s, aren’t much like Jedi at all.) I dig it.

  32. Parkhorse says:

    An acrobatic teenage girl with lots of martial-arts style cartwheels and backflips

    The small, female character that’s quick and acrobatic just feels way too cliche at this point. The rest of the idea for the character is pretty good, but how about keep her young, lithe, maybe below average height… but planted, and strong, using the Force to enhance her strength, making her lightsaber slashes like hammer blows, Vader-style. Lots of Force shoves and pulls mixed in with overwhelming strength would be a lot more interesting and different of a combat style for the small girl character than “River Tam-expy #140342”

    1. Vernal_ancient says:

      Like a Star Wars version of Vin from Mistborn? I can get behind that

    2. Philadelphus says:

      And the acrobatic Jedi can be older, balding, visibly fat, but uses the Force to pull off acrobatic moves like an Olympic gymnast.

      Though while we’re at it, how about a non-human Jedi for a change? Ahaha, who am I kidding, this is a AAA game! Of course there’ll never be one with a non-human protagonist, no matter how cool it could be.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        I dunno, I could see someone finding an excuse to make an Ahsoka game or similar.

        1. Dalisclock says:

          Kinda shocked it hasn’t happened already, though apparently Ubisoft is apparently gonna be making the Star Wars games now(or at least one of them) and there’s been some discussion about Ubisoft shafting it’s Female PCs in the Assassin’s Creed series because “Women don’t sell”.

          More specifically, there’s apparently some evidence the last few games(Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla and likely Syndicate) were supposed to have Female PCs in a much more equal role or be the canon PC but were downgraded or forced to share billing with the male version.

          The sole AC game with a female PC was Liberation, a side game on a handheld system(later got a PC port) that was rather meh. Aveline was a good character shafted by a shitty game.

          Which does not bode well for getting Ashoka in a starring role in a video game anytime soon.

  33. A stars wars game I would want (not necessarily as part of that series) is a game in what I called the “Captain” genre like sunless sea/skies, star control 2 and A house of many doors. Were you have upgradable ship, officers with personalities and stories and lower deck crew that die a lot, were you go from planet to planet doing cool stuff and trying not to die.

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