Apparently, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order wasn't always intended to be a Star Wars-licensed game. Publisher EA and developer Respawn Entertainment recently gave the world its first look at how the game actually plays at E3 2019, making this revelation a bit shocking considering how perfectly its style and mechanics fit the Star Wars universe.
On the whole, though, this isn't majorly shocking as Respawn was acquired by EA a little under two years ago, meaning that a separate project could have easily been refitted with Star Wars-themed models and assets and spun into something the publisher would be interested in. Game development at any level is an inherent process of trial, error, and major changes on the road to delivering a cohesive product, after all. However, after seeing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen in action at yesterday's EA Play press conference, the close attention it seems to pay to the vast franchise lore and the authentic Jedi moves of protagonist Cal Kestis point to Respawn being not only a highly flexible developer, but lucky to have had something so similar to Star Wars kicking around prior to the studio's acquisition by EA.
After the conclusion of yesterday's EA Play event, GameSpot learned from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order director Stig Asmussen that the game had not begun development as a Star Wars title as part of EA's licensing deal with Disney. Referring to the original project before it got the Star Wars treatment as a "different game" entirely, Asmussen said that it "basically had the same pillars" as what ultimately became Jedi: Fallen Order - those central gameplay foundations being "thoughtful combat, agile exploration--you know, beyond human--and Metroidvania level design." Talking about how the switch from an all-new IP to one of the biggest entertainment franchises on the planet, Asmussen explained:
"And that's something that when we were working on this other game and we demoed it, people [at] EA saw it and said, there's something in there that you could see easily see it turning into a Star Wars game. My background is melee action, so when they came to us and were like, 'We really like the game you're working out and we want to do at some point, but how would you guys feel about doing Star Wars?' we were like, great."
It was Uncharted with laser swords. https://t.co/IAVwpOpTRZ— James Viscardi (@JimViscardi) June 9, 2019
A tweet by James Viscardi referred to the pre-Star Wars project as "Uncharted with laser swords," which doesn't sound too far off the mark when considering how Jedi: Fallen Order looks like it plays and Asmussen's particular areas of expertise. As Sony Computer Entertainment's former art director and creative director on God of War 2 and 3, respectively, Jedi: Fallen Order's strong focus on combat has prompted many to compare it to last decade's The Force Unleashed series. Hopefully, Respawn's first Star Wars endeavor can ignore all of the faults of the latter while capitalizing on the fun of the former.
Something entirely new and highly compelling that Asmussen mentioned in his post-EA Play statement is that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will feature level design similar to that found in the Metroidvania genre. The curve balls keep coming with Respawn's upcoming Star Wars title, so it can be hoped that EA may have more surprises in store before E3 comes to a close.