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Fifty Shades Of Meh

November 18, 2019 by Tim

Jedi: Fallen Order may be the best Star Wars game since KOTOR. Amazingly realized and a great blend of challenging combat and Metroid/Uncharted style level design, with lots of re-traversing with new powers that continually change the tactics and paths available to you. As a game, it’s fantastic, and as a look at the period immediately following the Empire’s rise, it’s a really cool story.

So it’s disappointing to find that the game’s “collectibles” aspect is so… boring. The act of collecting is awesome, because locating chests often involves creative puzzle solving or out-of-the-box thinking. So the reward is in the doing… which is good because the prizes at the end are often lackluster.

When I think “Star Wars”, I think of many of the cool, iconic outfits and armors we’ve seen the characters wear. Cal, on the other hand, has chosen a poncho as his primary attire. A poncho. A big, frumpy horse-blanket, covering nearly all of his other clothing, is his primary fashion statement, and thus all of your “unlockable” cosmetic options boil down to ponchos, or rather, the same poncho in a variety of colors (sometimes with stripes!). Cal’s outfit customization is so unexciting that I can only rationalize it as some sort of revenge play by EA’s higher-ups, for rebuking their microtransactions so hard.

Likewise his outfits, his droid and his ship are similarly restricted to palette swaps as the extent of their customization. So while there are a good number of things to collect, the excitement wears off after your eighth slightly-different-shade-of-brown poncho.

Your lightsaber stands apart in this regard, in that you can collect and customize a TON of parts that drastically alter the appearance of your primary weapon. You can mix and match emitters, switches, sleeves and alloys to your heart’s content to create a super cool looking lightsaber… that is then almost so small on Cal’s whirling-and-twirling person in the third-person gameplay that it makes no difference what it looks like.

The game is so well-crafted that this complaint, the cosmetic side of things, barely registers against the overall quality of the game. They could have left it out completely, to absolutely no detriment to the game’s other accomplishments. So I’m glad we got anything at all in that regard, I guess.

But I will confess, I am having such a good time with the game that ironically, despite championing the single-player-only, fully-contained approach to the game, I find myself wishing I could shell out a dollar or two if it meant clothing Cal in traditional Jedi robes, or perhaps some cool discarded bits of Clone Trooper armor (stuff that would require extra work for custom meshes, as opposed to strictly textural work). Being able to change up Cal’s look more drastically would be the icing on an already delicious cake.

Go figure. EA finally makes a Star Wars game that isn’t stained by so much as a whiff of microtransactions, and it’s so good I would happily spend a few extra bucks for cosmetics.

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