Exploring The Star Wars Galaxy Is Best
The most useful tool any Star Wars game has at its disposal are the countless amazing locales that come with it, as the franchise sports some of the most visually striking and truly alien settings ever depicted. Demonstrable of how important it is to take advantage of this is that the one Force Unleashed entry that did was acclaimed for its fidelity to the Star Wars universe, while the other one was lambasted for generic settings that overstayed their welcome. Unfortunately, it's not hard to guess which is which.
The Force Unleashed featured numerous memorable locations, including the verdant worlds of Kashyyyk and Felucia and the dingy but fascinating junkyard planet Raxus Prime. Unforgettably, these worlds underwent massive transformations when revisited after falling to the Empire, and many players still likely have images of a horrifically scorched Kashyyyk burned into their minds. Each setting gave the sense that Starkiller was merely an unwelcome visitor by thoughtfully tailoring enemy designs to the locale and creating the illusion that the present enemies and NPCs were going about their own (often violent) business prior to the player's arrival.
Running entirely counter to this was the level design of The Force Unleashed II, which is so destitute in terms of aesthetic and variety that Jedi: Fallen Order would have to actively go out of its way to replicate it. Unlike the original, LucasArts was frantically pressed for time with The Force Unleashed II, and it shows nowhere more than here. In addition to forcing players to constantly retread the exact same corridors and arenas in order to save on development time, LucasArts only included four unique locations in the sequel - two of which exclusively consist of generic interiors and another, Dagobah, only exists to trigger a single cutscene. To its credit, The Force Unleashed II did at the very least bring better visuals to the table. But it did so to no real end, as the game's drab worlds don't come close to the beauty and character on display in the original.
Players Need To Truly Feel Like Jedis
To recapture the space magic of The Force Unleashed while avoiding its most glaring mistakes, Jedi: Fallen Order needs to help players feel like a Jedi without making Cal Kestis into a walking tank like Starkiller. Fights, especially against the game's imposing Purge Troopers and bosses, need to feel unique and challenging, testing players' mastery of abilities as they're acquired. At the same time, though, this needs to be balanced with the sense of weight and style that made its forebears feel so satisfying, and this will primarily be down to the slickness of animations and the tightness of controls.
As for overcoming The Force Unleashed's biggest combat issue, Jedi: Fallen Order will need to walk a fine line when it comes to enemy variety. On top of including just enough new enemy types to neither bore nor overwhelm, variably scaling enemy presence and configurations goes a long way to help build tension and better pace levels. As for traversal-focused gameplay, Respawn proved that they're masters of verticality in the Titanfall series, but if they're going to bring platforming to Jedi: Fallen Order they need to keep it varied and make it a core part of the gameplay rather than tack it on as an afterthought.
Every bit as much as Cal and others will need clear motivations and meaningful character development in order to make them compelling characters, the places Jedi: Fallen Order takes players will play an equally important role in ensuring the game feels like it truly inhabits the Star Wars universe. Based on what's been shown thus far, it's really too early to tell if it will succeed in this regard. However, if the stunningly unique sci-fi worlds that Respawn has crafted for the shared Titanfall and Apex Legends universe are anything to go on, Jedi: Fallen Order is likely in some of the industry's best hands in this department.
In the end, Jedi: Fallen Order may not come to resemble The Force Unleashed series beyond their shared franchise identity. It's unlikely, but even if that turns out to be the case, it doesn't change the inherent design lessons to be learned from the gaming industry's last foray into single-player Star Wars territory. The night-and-day contrast between The Force Unleashed I and II can easily be boiled down to a few key points of difference, and the reception of Jedi: Fallen Order hinges on those same things. If it can't engross players in an original story in the franchise, fails to make them feel like a true Jedi, and bars them from visiting beautiful, detailed worlds that look ripped from the sequel trilogy, EA and Respawn will have a mess on their hands. However, if enough attention has been paid to those all-important pillars of the Star Wars experience, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will unleash its true potential this November.