STAR WARS: Jedi Fallen Order: The Best of the Bad Star Wars Games

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Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to my review/essay/expose of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. The most recent triple-A Star Wars release coming from both Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts. I say recently but let’s be honest the game came out like 3 months ago now and the entire internet has already deemed it a masterpiece of a game so nothing I’m about to say will matter. But hey the internet is looking hotter than Iran right now with the entire Star Wars fandom endlessly debating whether or not Rise of Skywalker is a good film. Spoiler Alert: it isn’t, maybe a topic for another time. The point is this is still relevant. 

This is going to be a complicated discussion, as I have two very different opinions surrounding this game but I shall try my best to be clear, concise and most importantly consistent. I believe Jedi Fallen Order is the single best Star Wars story introduced into Disney’s new canon. I also believe this is one of the most average games of the past decade simply being driven to frankly undeserved levels of praise thanks to its license. 

As such this review will be split into two main sections. The game’s story/narrative and everything else. The “everything else” section is what we’ll tackle first and is predominantly full of the things I think miss the mark. Okay, let’s break it down. Jedi fallen Orders’ biggest problem is that it tries too hard to be too many things at once and ultimately fails to be any of them well. A puzzler/platformer, a grueling Dark Souls clone, a 3rd person melee combat focused action-adventure, and finally a semi open-world or full-on open-world game. 

I believe it is the game’s narrative keeping Jedi fallen Order afloat and that’s most evident here. See, if you aren’t interested in the Star Wars story being told it would be impossible to recommend Jedi fallen Order over a whole list of games released in the past decade. 

Want a puzzler/platformer? Get Tomb Raider or Uncharted they do it better. Want a disgustingly difficult Dark Souls style experience? Get Sekiro or Dark Souls they do it better. Want a 3rd person melee combat focused action/RPG? Get God of War it does it better. In fact, I’ll be comparing God of War and Fallen Order a lot throughout this review because they are surprisingly similar despite the fact God of War succeeds everywhere Fallen Order Fails. Want an Open world game? Get Horizon Zero Dawn or Witcher, or hell any open-world game that isn’t Fallout 76 released in the last 10 years they do it better.

Some would say Fallen Order isn’t an open-world game and so making these types of comparison is unfair. I would agree. Fallen Order isn’t an open-world game but that isn’t for lack of trying and comparing it to games which nail this genre or even this style of gameplay is worth mentioning. 

Okay, let’s break down each of these 4 different genres of games and discuss why I think Jedi Fallen Order doesn’t particularly nail any of them. Then we’ll wrap up section one of this review talking about some overarching problems like progression and technical issues.

Puzzler/Platformer

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Jedi Fallen Order admittedly makes a solid attempt at combing force abilities with fast-paced and interesting traversal. It only ever reaches its full potential after the halfway point and doesn’t work all the time but the attempt is there. The same can not be said for the games “puzzles” and I use that word generously because there’s nothing puzzling about this game’s so-called puzzles. All of the puzzles in this game feel exactly the same, and none of them feel particularly thought-provoking or challenging. I figured out everyone within the first minute but didn’t complete them until at least 5 minutes later because I was wrestling for control with the games physics engine. 

Most consist of simply moving something from one place to another, most notably the giant balls in the Zeffo temples. One particular room had you opening doors to allow air currents into the room to push the ball around, trying to freeze the ball using the force and close the doors quick enough to land the ball in the center of the room. The physics engine is just so tedious however that freezing the ball in time felt clunky and manipulating it to move the way I wanted felt awkward. The exact opposite of how it should feel for a Jedi. In fact, that’s probably the best word to use to describe this game. Tedious. The game itself practically knows this because halfway through the game the puzzles just outright stop. There just stripped from the game to make way for more parkour and lightsaber swinging which I actually appreciated considering they added very little to the game anyway. 

Compare this to Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s puzzle tombs which feel completely unique from one another, and most importantly clever. A tomb will have you scratching your head for 10 minutes until you get a “eureka” moment and finally see the peace of the puzzle you’ve been missing. Jedi Fallen Order is almost the opposite offering a clear solution instantly and having you sat there fighting for control of the game for 10 minutes. 

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Platforming is thankfully a much better aspect of the game but isn’t without its own problems. When it works, it works brilliantly, unfortunately, I died more to Cal falling off things, not landing his jumps or sliding off the map than I did to combat encounters.

Despite these issues, I must say traversal never got boring or stale and added a nice change of pace from constant combat. The specific moments when you wall run then take a leap of faith only to force pull a rope to your hand swing and kill a stormtrooper from mid-air are phenomenal. Again the physics engine can be clunky and I found myself pointlessly jumping into a wall 3 or 4 times before Cal finally decided he wanted to grab it more times than I’d of liked.

I do appreciate the fast-paced nature of Fallen Order’s traversal, however, especially when you unlock the climbing claws which allow you to move faster. It balances that feeling of being a Jedi with some grounded realism. 

Halfway through the game when you unlock the double jump or Jedi Flip ability you can stonewall a bunch of the “parkour sections” to simply double-jumping your way over gaps that usually would require wall running or up walls that usually would require climbing. It quickens the entire process and helped take that tedious edge of things.

Dark Star Soul Wars?  

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Next up, let’s talk about the game’s difficulty and its attempt at being a “Dark Souls” style game. I put a good couple of hours in playing on the hardest difficulty but did complete my full main playthrough of the game on its easiest difficulty story mode. Games like Dark Souls are not for me. They are a challenge I know I could complete if I put the hours in, but frankly don’t want to. Nevertheless, I respect games like Dark Souls for being built the way they are, having difficulty and challenge at their core.  

In Jedi Fallen Order the insane difficulty levels feel more like an afterthought. I wouldn’t say this game is particularly challenging. There are really two types of human enemies, ranged and melee. Even the different Purge Tropper variants are basically just Scout Troopers reskined with one or two new moves, and all of them can be beaten in the exact same way. 

The game is tough to get through on the toughest difficulty however thanks to less than perfect enemy animations and an abundance of bugs. In Dark Souls if you die, 90% of the time it’s because you got outplayed. In Jedi Fallen Order if you die it feels like it was 50% your fault and 50% the games fault because it just let Jesus take the wheel. Enemy animations not indicating cleary or downright properly at times, yes I had an instance where an enemy’s attack animation just outright didn’t seem to work properly is fustrating and trying to dodge an attack only to get stuck in a wall and die, feels cheap. 

Issues like that are not a problem on the easier difficulties but on the harder ones can get you killed and sent back a checkpoint. Again it feels like more of an afterthought rather than something they built from the ground up. 

What does feel like a core mechanic however is the meditation circles and the way you regain XP after death. These are once again borrowed from Dark Souls and are handled much better than the game’s difficulty. There are various force meditation areas scattered throughout Fallen Order. Sitting at these will save your game so you want to use one every time you find one. You can also spend your earned skill points here to unlock new skills or increase your health and force meter.

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You’re also given the ability to rest in these circles. This will refill your health, healing stims and force meter to full but will also respawn every enemy on the map. This leads to some genuinly tough decisions because even on Story Mode there were some areas where I just didn’t want to fight through an army of enemies again so I was left with a choice. Regain my health and fight through a bunch of enemies or carry on as I am and hope for the best. It leads to some unexpected tactical thinking and it is a feature I think respawn have brought over from Dark Souls in a brilliant way.

When you do fall in battle you respawn at the last circle you meditated at and now must regain all your XP. You do this by finding the enemy that killed you, who will be glowing gold. Striking them once will give you all your XP back and regain your health and force meter to full, giving you a leg up in a fight you’ve already struggled with. Again another excellent feature that I think was executed brilliantly and helps players get back into the swing of things after a setback.

When it comes to how enemies feel to fight they feel just as easy to kill on story mode as they are on Grand Master, they are simply more aggressive and deal more damage. And I want to say aggressive, not smarter because this games A.I is laughably bad at times. I know stormtroopers are supposed to be a meme but Fallen Order takes it way to far. Sure enemies have slightly more health on hard difficulties but it really is only marginal. The major difference is the enemy’s damage output and like I said earlier getting stuck in some unforeseen situations thanks to the frequent bugs can be deadly when an enemy kills you so quickly.

Thus I played the game on story Mode because suprise, suprise the game’s narrative was the only thing keeping me playing and I have to say combat was immensely fun, especially after the halfway point when you unlock all of Cal’s abilities. Swinging a lightsaber at stormtroopers just doesn’t get old. I want to feel like an unstoppable powerhouse as I slash my way through thousands of stormtroopers. Jedi Fallen Order offered that whilst playing on Story Mode, and the duel bladed lightsaber combined with a good variety of moves and some excellent kill animations for Cal felt satisfying.

Actually thinking about it, thats probably where all the animation budget went for this game. There’s a good amount of force abilities to use too meaning that Combat felt fun throughout. Im sure some will enjoy the ludicrous difficulty settings and that’s fine, more power to you, but personally, it didn’t feel refined enough for me. If enemies are going to be one-shotting me I want to have faith the game will not only do what I want but also just work properly. I couldn’t rely on Fallen Order to do either of those things. 

Combat

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That transitions us nicely into talking about this game’s third-person melee combat focused style of gameplay. Spoiler alert this is where the huge God of War comparisons are going to come In.

Like I said the lightsaber combat is a tonne of fun in Jedi Fallen Order. Does that mean it’s perfect? No. No, it doesn’t. Deflecting blaster bolts, and using the force to pull your enemies into your lightsaber or slow them down so you can strike them in the back is fun and exciting. Actual blade to blade combat is strong enough, although I found parrying to be less useful than I’d have hoped.

God of War has some nice clean indicators to tell you where an enemy is when they will attack and if the attack will be melee or ranged. Jedi Fallen Order forces you to watch an enemy’s animations, to see if they’ll attack. This adds an extra layer of challenge sure, but because the animations in this game aren’t brilliant it isn’t as smooth as I would like. Most fights with melee troopers or security droids consisted of me blocking until they finished their move set then either swinging widely or using the force to finish the fight. Quickly going back to the whole harder difficult thing, abilities like pulling Stormtroopers towards you only to thrust your lightsaber through their chest is brilliant don’t get me wrong but makes them just as easy to kill on both Story Mode and Grandmaster. like I said enemies aren’t harder to kill on harder difficulties you just die much easier. 

One on one engagements with enemies like purge troopers or bigger creatures are definitely more fun and the games boss fights are easily the best part of the game. I will say this game has a strange feeling to it in the long haul, and I suspect this is more noticeable for me because I played on story Mode. See in God of War you start off as an absolute monster, slaying anything thats gets in your way. Jedi fallen order starts off the exact same even when I only had a lightsaber and the ability to slow time, stormtroopers and wamp rats were no match for me. (Disclaimer wamp rats do not appear in the game I just wanted a cheap Star Wars reference okay) 

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However in God of war as you progress the abilities you unlock and eventually, the Blades of Chaos you obtain are essential to you carrying on. You need them to keep up with the fight and to kill certain enemies but you still keep that feeling of being a powerhouse. Whilst all of Cal’s upgrades are cool they didn’t feel essential. There are no enemies that need to be pulled or pushed or handled with a double-bladed lightsaber. Every enemy in the game can be handled with a regular old saber and the freeze ability.

Obviously on the harder difficulties abilities like push and pull will make combat easier espcially when dealing with large groups but personally, for my playthrough, they felt like cool options rather than essential new skills that I needed. Both pull and push felt like they were for traversal first and combat second, which they may well have been. That may have been the idea from the start and thats fine, but I would have enjoyed some unique enemy types that needed to be handled a certain way. Maybe a jet trooper who you had to pull closer to get some swings in, or an armored brute you needed to knock down to stun. Just some reason to actually HAVE to use these abilities. 

The game does have some insanely cool, fights, most noticeably the Ninth Sister, not only being the first real lightsaber duel of the game but also a great character moment for Cal. Despite my gripes with the combat, I did thoroughly enjoy it. It satisfied my lightsaber swinging urge nicely and like the traversal even though it was flawed it never felt old. 

An open-world Star Wars game? 

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Now, Jedi Fallen Order is not an open-world game. It does, however, make the attempt to have open-world elements. It doesn’t quite nail it but I respect the effort and compared to the non-existant world-building we’ve had in previous Star Wars games I actually appreciated the effort. 

Jedi Fallen Order presents the illusion of an open world where you can go wherever you want but it isn’t exactly that simple. After finishing up on the games first planet, Bogano you are given the choice to either go to Zeffo or Dathomir. However, the game’s main campaign requires you to go to Zeffo and even if you choose to go to Dathomir first you need skills like double jump and pull to properly explore meaning you really can’t stray too far from the very specific path the game has set out for you. 

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This lead to me simply sticking to the game’s main path and letting it take me where it wanted to go rather than the game giving me the reigns to explore the stars. This isn’t helped by the fact that there is very little incentive to go off the beaten track when you are given the chance because the rewards for doing so are lackluster. Poncho colors or new paint jobs for my ship weren’t a big enough reason to get me to explore.

You see when playing God of War, yes we’re back talking about that, I told myself I would just follow the game’s main story because I didn’t think the game handled the whole “open-world” thing too well either. Sure enough, I did just that and two hours after I finished the game’s story I was straight back in completing side quests and trying to clear up the map. Partly because I was curious to see what the game had to offer outside of the main story but mainly because God of War’s core gameplay is so good I didn’t care what I was doing so long as I was still playing. Fallen Order’s core gameplay isn’t solid or smooth enough to drag me back after I’ve finished the game’s main quest. And the lack of side quests or extra story means there’s nothing left for me to gain out of it. I don’t care about finding every chest or force node when I earn nothing of value from it, and it doesn’t further the story along. 

Like I said I don’t particularly think God of War did the whole open World thing too well, but it was better than this because there was an actual story to be learned in God of War and gear with stats that affected gameplay to be found or crafted. A different colored shirt or paint job for BD just wasnt good enough for me. And if you would compare Fallen Order to a genuine open-world game like Horizon where there is a story to be learned, quests to complete, resources to gather and reasons to carry on exploring around every corner Fallen Order doesn’t even come close. 

For the record, I don’t think Fallen Order completely fails at everything it tries. Some of its elements work just fine. They could be better but they are acceptable. Some of its elements downright don’t work at all for me and need a serious rework. 

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to finish up this first section by talking about overarching problems like bugs and progression. I’ve already touched on the problems I have with the games quote-unquote progression in my combat section so let’s move into the game’s technical side. 

Technical Problems 

I will say none of the game’s bugs or glitches were “game-breaking “ for me. Annoying sure and on a harder difficulty, they did cost me a life or two but nothing which would make the game unplayable. Most of this game’s issues simply show a lack of polish. Textures, and graphics popping in late and looking rough when they do, or character lip-syncs being just slightly out of focus. Videos for new abilities will jitter when played more than once and frame rates can drop to an unbelievable level espcially on a PS4 Pro. Hell modern warfare runs better than this and that game not only looks far superior but is also like 3 times the size of Fallen Order. The game is littered with hilarious bugs, whether it be enemies deciding they want to float in thin air all of a sudden or Cal’s lightsaber turning on whilst it’s hung on his belt. Again nothing game-breaking but they only highlight how rough around the edges the game can be. 

I will say the actor’s likeness is captured beautifully and little details like Cal’s hair blowing in the wind add a nice touch. The game has some absolutely stunning skyboxes and environments like Kashyyyk look amazing but they don’t distract from the problems. For all of Battlefront 2’s problems, and there are a lot of them it is, in my opinion, the best-looking Star Wars game ever made. Thanks to the frostbite engine. Fallen Order gives it a good go but never reaches the heights Battlefront 2 does and I mean…come on Uncharted 4 looks better than this and that came out 3 years ago. 

A New Hope for Fallen Order…

So I think that about wraps it up for part 1 of this review. Despite my many, many gripes with the game this next bit is probably going to shock you. Even with all its overwhelming flaws compared to its small victories, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is my favorite Star Wars game of all time. The game is not “good” I want to make that clear and if you are simply looking for a new game to play and don’t care about the Star Wars story being told I couldn’t recommend this over any of the other games I’ve mentioned thus far with a straight face. However the sheer fact I’m calling this my favorite Star Wars game of all time even though it is incredibly flawed should speak volumes about how incredible I think this game’s story and the narrative are as well as its characters.

I mentioned earlier, I think this is the best Star Wars story from the new Disney canon and I think this is the greatest story we’ve seen from Star Wars in the past few years. Not perfect but unbelievably good. It is not only refreshing to have such an incredible story being told during a time filled with lackluster ones but to have that story belong to a game. 

The best Star Wars story in years is coming from a video game. Let that sink in. 

You see, Star Wars has always been about story and characters. The locations, the cool spaceships, the epic battles, the lasers, and explosions are all just dressing and mean nothing if you don’t have a good story to tell. The main problem with the sequel trilogy is that they priorities cool looking moments, fan service or shock value over actually developing their characters and story. Jedi Fallen Order succeeds where the sequel trilogy failed in some massive ways. 

Plot

 

The game’s overarching plot is straight forward enough. Cal, a Jedi survivor from the purge has been living as a scrapper on Bracca, hiding his Jedi roots. He is subsequently discovered by the Empire after he uses the force to save a friend of his from falling to his death, and is then hunted down by the Inquisitors. He’s picked up by another surviving Jedi, Cere and her pilot Greez who are looking for fellow Jedi Survivors. Cal learns of a Holocron containing a list of force-sensitive children and a potential way to reforge the Jedi Order and fight back against the Empire. With a call to adventure and a sense of duty Cal globe-trots around the galaxy following the path of Jedi Master Eno Cordova who hid the Holocron away before Order 66. 

It is an incredibly simple premise and yet it works because it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Within the first 40 minutes, we know exactly who everyone is and where we’re heading. It is a self-contained story that knows what it wants to be and sticks to it. The characters take center stage, more specifically Cal and apart from one major reveal in the story’s second half, it keeps itself straight forward. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed being able to breathe and follow a story without being bashed over the head with twist after twist, after shocking reveal, after shocking reveal. 

Cal

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Cal may genuinely be my favorite new character in the Disney canon. He isn’t like the “do it by the book” Jedi we see in the prequels and he actually has some flavor to him, unlike the damp cardboard cutouts we have in the sequels. He’s a human being. He’s scared, nervous, unsure of himself. He feels guilt over his master dying in the purge, he feels a sense of duty to protect the children on the list, he lets his anger show through when he meets the Second Sister. But best of all, he’s likable. He has a nervous charm to him which he slowly lets go of as he grows more confident throughout the game and his back and fourths with BD-1 are brilliant. He’s learning to let his guard down a little and be accepted into a new family. Cal grows, quite literally in strength as you play through the game and unlock new abilities but that’s purely a gameplay mechanic. From a narrative perspective, Cal is always learning more about what it means to be a Jedi. The game beautifully combines its best gameplay moments with meaningful story moments. When Cal defeats the Ninth Sister, builds his own lightsaber on Illum or is finally knighted by Cere, it feels impactful and well earned by the story. 

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It’s hard to talk about Cal and not mention his droid companion BD-1. BD-1 is yet again the best Star Wars droid introduced in the new Disney canon, in my opinion, second only to R2 himself. Similarly to Cal, BD-1 is used brilliantly through both gameplay and story moments. Having him shoot Cal a healing stim to keep him going in a fight, slicing into locked chests or doors or having him overload circuit boards to move platforms or ziplines for Cal to use. That last one is used to great effect when Cal eventually faces off against Darth Vader having BD temporarily fry Vader’s suit so Cal can get a lick in. However, BD’s brilliance isn’t just through gameplay mechanics. His friendship with Cal feels natural and real, and the reveal that BD willingly had his memories erased because of the faith he had in Cal to follow Cordova’s path was genuinely heartwarming. He isn’t a MacGuffin like BB-8 he isn’t just a cute marketable face, he has genuine character. Yet again another refreshing change of pace for Star Wars. 

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Next up we have Cere, the Jedi master who lost her apprentice to the dark side and cut herself off from the force now exploring the galaxy in an attempt to restore the Jedi Order and defeat the Empire. In case you’re wondering, yes you’ve heard this story before. It is remarkably similar to what they tried to do with Luke in The Last Jedi. Even down to Cere tapping into the dark side in a moment of rage. Of course, this story works here because we don’t know much about Cere at first, and so it is entirely believable that, this person, this human being could falter in this way.

We as the audience know that luke would never falter like this because his character has grown past that point. Cere is still growing throughout the game not only teaching Cal important lessons but learning herself through him. And ultimately when she finally confronts her fallen apprentice now turned Inquisitor she tries her best to bring her back to the light. She’s optimistic, she’s hopeful in the darkest of moments, she is a Jedi. It is both a massive win for the gaming industry and a huge embarrassment for the movie business when your Star Wars game is telling almost the same arc for one of its characters but is doing it far, far better. At this point Lucasfilm should look into hiring writers from game developers to write their films for them, they’d do a better job. 

The other two members of our crew included Greeze, Cere’s pilot and friend and Merrin, the last surviving Night-Sister of Dathomir. I think both of these characters are the weakest out of the crew but I still found something to enjoy from them.

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Greez is a good source of comic relief. He’s older, a little grumpy and skeptical about the force and the Jedi. He’s also scared of pretty much everything. But he puts his own fears aside because he knows what Cal and Cere are after is important. He opens up to Cal more throughout the game. There is some brilliant dialogue between the two. He isn’t given as much screen time as Cere or Cal, so inevitably he felt a little weaker but I still enjoyed his contribution to the story. 

The most noticeable of which comes in the form of the “bounty hunters” which show up around halfway through the game and act as miniature boss fights. Greez pissed off some big-time gangsters a while back and now they’re coming after you by association and for the price on your head, set by the Empire. 

I’ll be honest this was quite clearly padding. The whole backstory with Greez and the gangsters isn’t fleshed out well at all and it comes across as a gameplay thought first and a narrative one second. That being said I didn’t mind it because like I said the boss fights help break up the flow of the game nicely. 

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Lastly, we have Merrin. She’s a latecomer to the party only showing up for the games third and final act. She’s hesitant to trust Cal at first, for a few reasons. First being that Malicos another surviving Jedi of order 66 has been hiding on Dathomir and has fallen to the Darkside, red lightsabers and all. He’s been manipulating Merrin into teaching him Night-Sister magic giving the Jedi a bad name sort of thing. She also doesn’t trust Cal because her sisters were slaughtered by General Grievous a nice call back to both the Clone Wars TV show and the comics, and Grievous has the same weapon Cal does. Merrin doesn’t understand the difference between Cal and Grievous hell she doesn’t even know what the Empire is which shows you how detached from the galaxy she is. 

I’ll get more onto Malicos when we talk about the villains, but for Merrin, I enjoyed what small part she played. She’s learning to let go of her grief, move forward in her life and try and start fresh with a new family, that family being Cal and his crew. Cal and Merrin are never played up as lovers, which again I found refreshing. Simply friends who are both consoling in one another whilst on separate journeys which just so happen to bring them together. 

Next up let’s talk about the game’s villains. The game has one clear main villain, which spoiler alert is by far the best, and two side villains which whilst I enjoyed were not on the same level. The game also has one major cameo near the end which I’ll get onto a little later.

I shall leave the best till last and first talk about both the Ninth Sister and Malicos, seen as they are for all intents and purposes the same. Both serve as “challenges” to overcome for Cal from both a physical and narrative perspective. Ninth Sister doesn’t feel nearly as fleshed out as the Second Sister based just off the game alone. She is featured more in the comics, but we won’t be using her character from the comics to judge her apperance in Fallen Order.

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Her character is intriguing but the game never goes any further than “was a Jedi, fell to the dark side, is now an Inquisitor”. Again, you’ll have to look towards the comics for more lore on her. From a narrative perspective, she is just another in a long line of obstacles Cal has to overcome, although she is by far the biggest challenge Cal has had to face up till that point in the game.

From a narrative perspective, she’s just there to be a boss fight. Which I want to point out I’m fine with. Like I said the boss fights are the best part of this game, the lightsaber duels espcially. I’m fine with the game dedicating all of its time to Trilla and her story rather than trying to split it between Trilla and the ninth Sister. We don’t need a backstory for her per se so the lack of one never felt like a problem.

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Next up we have Malicos, who is to my knowledge a completely new character devised for Fallen Order. No doubt we’ll see him pop up in a comic or book or some such, and honestly, I’d like that because he’s an incredibly intriguing character. Again Fallen Order doesn’t spend too much time delving into his backstory, other than he was  Jedi who survived the purge, fled and hid on Dathomir and in doing so fell to the dark side. Likewise, with the Ninth Sister, he serves to be a boss fight and an interesting one at that.

His history with the Jedi Order and Merrin as well as learning how he survived order 66 are all things I’d love to know about Malicos. But ultimately as fun, as both Malicos and the Ninth Sister were to battle, they are simply dressing for the main attraction.

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I’d like to try and avoid getting all politically correct on here but when Star Wars comes up its seems inevitable at this point. Kind of sad thats how things have gone. Anyway, for all of those praising the sequel trilogy for introducing strong female leads, I’d like you all to take a massive step back and take a good look at Trilla. She is not only a better character, than literally anyone from the sequel trilogy she is, in my opinion, the best female villain we’ve seen from Disney Star Wars. That hulking pile of wheel rims can move aside for just a second.

Trilla is a fantastic antagonist for Cal. A fellow Survivor of the Jedi purge but whilst Cal hideaway she was captured and fell to the dark side. She’s cold, vindictive but you can feel she isn’t outright evil compared to others like Vader. She toys with Cal, teasing him throughout, whispering in his ear, quite literally shaking his faith in Cere and by extension the Jedi.

I got some Kylo Ren vibes from her, but again its just done so much better here than it was in the sequel trilogy. There is a moment that is almost a shot for shot steal when Trilla removes her helmet revealing a young woman underneath. Similar to Kylo taking his helmet off in TFA. But whilst in TFA Kylo uses it to overcompensate Trilla uses it almost to hide. When Kylo took his helmet off I laughed straight up. I couldn’t take it seriously although Adam drivers Kylo ren turned out to be about the only good thing they pulled off in those films. Trilla is just as formidable, hell maybe even more so when she losses the helmet, because she’s just like Cal. Shes just another person which tells Cal, anyone, even he could fall at to the Darkside.

Her various boss fights are the standout moments of the game. Either ending with you being separated or her getting away before you can finish things. Her final battle at the Fortress Inquisitorius is not only the hardest fight in the game but also the most intense. It feels raw and powerful from both a gameplay and narrative perspective.

I also respected Fallen Order massively for having the balls to keep Trilla’s story tragic. She doesn’t redeem herself, she isn’t brought back from the depths. She is beaten only to be mercilessly struck down by Vader before shes ever given the chance. A genuinly sad Moment which made me feel for this woman who has been trying to kill me and give Darth Vader a list of force-sensitive children all game. Her helplessness, her fear right at the end when neither you or she can do anything about that. That is a fantastic yet truly sad ending for your main villain.

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And so that leads us nicely onto the games “final villain” sort of. Darth Vader. This games very own Rogue One moment so to speak. I don’t think the game needs Darth Vader to be in it. I also think the writers gave a strong enough set up to allow him to be here. Cal is literally at the Inquisitor’s main base with a Holocron full of force-sensitive children so it makes sense Vader would be snooping around.

There is no final battle with Vader in this game. I like that. He has no health bar. Cal is no match for him and having you actually put up a fight against the dark lord would be ridiculous. Instead, you spend what little time you have with Vader running for your life. It amazed me how even on the Story Mode difficulty where I’ve been slaying stormtroopers effortlessly for hours the game could make me feel so powerless so quickly.

Aside from that one moment with BD I mentioned earlier you don’t even get a lick in with Darth Vader. Cere has a moment where she lets her darkness come to the surface, with her hatred for Vader and Trilla’s death only to be brought back to the light by Cal at the very last minute. Both she and Cal then escape Vader by flooding the Fortress Inqusitorious and being picked up by Merrin.

This game’s conclusion is a moment I have to say I absolutely loved. After Cal previously saw visions of the padawans he trained being captured by the Empire and him being turned to the dark side, despite Cere’s wishes he takes his lightsaber to the Holocron destroying it keeping the identity of the force-sensitive children safe.

He isn’t acting out of fear here. Cal has already overcome that, no instead Cal acts out of faith, faith in the force something he hasn’t had for a long time. He’s regained his strength and faith in the force, as well as finding himself a new family. He’s left to wander the galaxy, similar to how we met Kanna and the Pheonix crew at the start of Star Wars rebels. Leaving the game open-ended for a potential sequel, one I desperately hope gets made and giving us a satisfying and complete story here.

What a brilliant ending with an utterly fantastic cast of characters. It feels quintessentially like Star Wars through and through and that is why this is my favorite Star Wars game of all time. Star Wars hasn’t felt like Star Wars for a long, long time.

People claim that Star Wars isn’t going to feel like how it did when we were kids and we need to accept that and move on. Get used to it. But thats not true. Star Wars can feel both old and new, expanding on pre-existing lore whilst introducing new elements that feel appropriate. This game does that, this game IS that it is perfect evidence of that. This feels like Star Wars, but it feels fresh and new, with actual characters I can relate to and get behind and feel sorry for when they fail, and cheer for when they succeed. It feels like there are real stakes to the story despite it being set before episode 4 and a real hero’s journey to watch unfold.

And thats why despite all my problems with the game it is still my favorite Star Wars game of all time. I’m able to look past the problems, look past the unfinished rough edges, because below all that is the best Star Wars story I’ve experienced in years and one that quite frankly puts Disney’s recent movies to shame.

Game reviewers are praising this as a 9 or even 10 out of 10 game. Do I think it deserves that sort of prise? For its story. Absolutely. As a video game definitely not. I adore this game for its characters and its narrative, they have genuinly reignited my love for Star Wars so im not taking the effort put into them likely. I do believe however that compared to similar styles of games, and compared to games that are much older than this it is sub-par. It is being praised as the best Star Wars game of the past decade…which I believe is a fair statement to make but an incorrect one.

A quick google search of all the Star Wars games released in the past decade only highlights how lackluster Star Wars games have been, with Fallen Order’s only contender being the Old Republic released back in 2011. For the record that is the game I believe deserves “best Star Wars game of the decade”. It isn’t hard to have the best car in a showroom if every other car in there is missing two wheels, and engine and is covered in rust. Fallen Order is the best Star Wars game we’ve had for a very very long time but it is easily one of the most average gaming experiences I’ve had too.

Half of the things Fallen Order tries to be it fails at, the other half it manages well but other games do a far better job at it. The game looks and more importantly feels authentic to Star Wars from the AT-AT’s to Cal’s lightsaber but from a technical Standpoint, texture pop-ins and frame rate drops when you load a new area are unforgivable in this game. Again espcially when games two or three years older do it better.

Despite my gripes with this game, despite its undeniable flaws, this is the direction I want Star Wars games to take. Compare this to the buggy, unplayable, unbalanced, contentless mess that is Battlefront and this is a shining example of what a fantastic Star Wars game could be. Jedi Fallen Order is worth every penny I paid for it for the fun of swinging a lightsaber for 20 hours combined with its genuinly brilliant story. However, slotting this into a discussion about the best games of the past decade is tricky, because when you step outside of Star Wars and look at the landscape of the gaming industry as a whole. Fallen Order just isn’t up to speed.

Whoa okay, that was a long one. I want to thank you all so much for getting to the end of this one. I’m sure you’re all fed up with me droning on for however long it been so I won’t keep you much longer. This has been a fairly large project and my largest game review in terms of content produced and time played I believe. So, If you did enjoy this review A like and a share would mean a lot, and if you disagree with me, which I’m sure some will I’d love to hear your thoughts down below in the comments or over on my Twitter.

Once again thanks for sticking with me all the through to the end of this one and I’ll catch up with you in the next one.

Secret Blogger Santa: Merry Christmas McWritestuff!

Merry Christmas one and all, I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season. Todays the big day where we all get drunk and fat and spend far too much money on video games. Okay, maybe that last one might just be me…anyway its time to reveal my Secret Blogger Santa thanks to Ellen from Livid Lightning. Be sure to check her work out.

I had the absolute joy of receiving McWritestuffs as my secret Santa and reading through some of his work from his open letters to the video games he loves and hates, to his short stories and all the satirical and alcohol-infused stuff in between.

So spare some time with me this Christmas morning whilst I talk a little about Alex McHotstuffs site and the gift I’ll be giving him this Christmas.

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Alex from McWritestuff surprisingly likes to write stuff. All kinds of stuff. The repertoire of content you can read on his site is downright staggering. I’ve spent the Christmas season reading through some of his best work and I’ll be sharing some of my personal favorites here with you. Whether its short stories, video game reviews or reviews on anything for that matter, poetry or his sites infamous Badvice series which is crammed full of witty sarcastic comedy there’s something for you to love here.

Dear Video Games

As I’m sure was no surprise to anyone, the first page I checked out was Alex’s Dear Video Games series. A critique of both the good and bad when it comes to video games. Spider-Man PS4 was a personal stand out for me. Like Alex, I too couldn’t put it down and it kept me playing long enough for me to claim its platinum trophy. Genuine criticism mixed in with a healthy dose of humor, if you enjoy reading video game reviews you should definitely check this out.

Short Stories

Who doesn’t love a short story? Sometimes shorter stories can be the best, and hey if they’re bad at least you didn’t waste too much time reading them. Luckily Alex’s short stories are brilliantly entertaining. Spaning all sorts of genres. Yet again one that really stood out to me was a gaming-related post; A Witchers Ballad. Mainly because I myself am a big Witcher fan and the recent Netflix show has got me right back in the mood. I promise I don’t have an obsession with anything Video Game related. A seriously funny story of a Witcher fan expressing his love for the licenses in the real world with a genuinely brilliant bard mixed in the middle. It’s a great read for any Witcher fan.

Badvice

It would be rude of me to talk about McWritestuff and not mention his trademark posts. Alex’s Badvice series gives you all the advice you didn’t know you needed and most likely won’t use. Sounds pretty perfect to me. Easily his funniest work, my personal favorite has to be An Ancient Guide To sarcasm. This one spoke to me on a personal level, mainly because I am English and unlike our American friends we cant shoot someone in the face if they annoy us, so sarcasm and “piss-taking” are for the most part our weapons of choice. This one had me laughing all the way through with an easy 5 step guide to sarcasm. Seriously why haven’t you checked out the Badvice series yet?

My Christmas Gift

Now, this is a secret Santa so I suppose its time to start handing out the presents. Well, present (singular). Well, not really seen as its an item from a video game (cheeky spoiler) and you won’t actually receive anything. Expect this blog post of course which you could class as a gift but honestly thats a pretty lame Christmas gift and I’m the one writing this…

ANYWAY, I at first considered a Witcher related gift, but even I didn’t want to be that predictable. So instead I’ve gone for a slightly less, yet still rather predictable gift. A medieval weapon embued with mythical enchantments that will allow you to take on giants and Gods alike. I’ll be giving you the Leviathan Axe from God of War. This may or may not, absolutely, definitely, unquestionably, possibly, have something to do with the fact I just finished wrapping up my God of war playthrough and It’s still on my brain…  I’m sure Kratos won’t mind.

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The Leviathan Axe was forged by the Dwarven Brothers, Sindri, and Brok, the same dwarves who forged Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir. The Axe was made for Laufey the Just, or Faye to her friends and she eventually passed it down to Kratos. Now I’ll be passing it down to you.

The similarities between The Levithan Axe and Mjölnir are pretty obvious to those of us with a degree in Norse mythology (or those of us who simply watch the Marvel Movies). The Axe harnesses the power of frost magic allowing you to freeze your enemies and throw icicles through their hearts…or you know just sling some snowballs if you’re feeling festive and a little less psychotic. You can also hurl the Axe towards your enemies and it will return to your hand when you call it.

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This weapon will give you a Godly amount of power and as we all know with great power comes…great opportunity to cause carnage. Giving someone so sarcastic who may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with beer so much power may be the worst decision I’ve ever made (and thats saying something) or the best. Either way, I’m looking forward to the chaos.

So there we have it. Merry Christmas mate. I hope you and all yours have a wonderful time this Christmas and a great New Year. Be sure to check out McWriteStuff if you’re looking to fill your festive time with some great reading and once again thanks to Ellen from Livid Lightning for putting this whole thing on. Right, I’m going to go and get fat whilst playing Video Games…

Mobile Mondays: 1945 Air Force

This week’s Mobile Mondays is a classic arcade shooter series, beautifully remade for the mobile platform. This WWII shooter which, suprise suprise is supposedly based in 1945 actually feels far more modern than you’d expect. Both in its design and its gameplay. The game boasts a simple concept and endless fun and if you’re a WWII enthusiast or simply a classic arcade fan thats what you’ll get.

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Gameplay

When developers ONESOFT say the game is built around a “simple concept” they really weren’t kidding. You piolet a plane and I say “piolet” very loosely. The planet shoots by itself and constantly flies forward by itself you simply have the job of maneuvering it around the screen to take down enemy planers and avoid incoming fire. Not only can the game be played one-handed it can be played with one finger…well thumb to be more precise but you get the idea.

So thats the “simple concept” taken care of now what about “endless fun”? I have to say… I’ve sunk a good few hours into this game and I still find myself coming back, thanks to a whole load of varied content to play through and core gameplay which is addictively fun. Whilst the gameplay itself doesn’t switch up too much from its basic nature other than some special objectives and enemy types, it captures that same fresh feeling the original arcade games had which forced your pennies out of your pockets.

The game offers a fair amount of challenge too, with some of the harder levels of the main campaign being genuinly tricky, and some of the bonus levels even more so. That being said I welcomed the challenge and found it only made me want to play even more.

The game’s singleplayer content felt like more than enough to keep me satisfied but the game also offers a multiplayer mode too. If I’m being honest however this mode didn’t really work for me. It isn’t a 1V1 dogfight which I expected, it is instead the same old player vs A.I that you get in the singleplayer expect you have to try and beat your opponent’s score. Personally not for me but a nice addition all the same.

I did suffer some pretty common frame rate issues, which at times cost me a life or two. I have a feeling my device may be the problem here but it’s worth pointing out.

Graphics and Sound

The game already feels like a retro throwback to the classic arcades of old and that is beautifully topped off with its fantastic pixel style graphics and soundtrack. Everything from your plane, to the various enemy types to the locations you fly over, look incredible. The backing tracks add an extra layer of epicness and the sound of finally taking a plane out of the sky makes every kill that little sweeter.

Progression

1945 Air Force has plenty of content to work through and a decent level of free to play progression. Of course, microtransaction rears their ugly head from time to time but they aren’t needed to progress. Over 100 singleplayer levels with various boss fights to compete, different bonus missions with unique objectives such as destroying airfields or escorting friendly helicopters and plenty of planes to collect and upgrade means 1945 Air Force will always have something for you to do.

1945 Air Force is a fantastic throwback for arcade fans or old-timey WWII fans. The game has solid core gameplay, beautiful visuals and plenty to keep you going. Sure there were some performance problems but nothing big enough to spoil my experience. If you’re a fan of these types of games I highly suggest checking out 1945 Air Force.

Mobile Mondays: Soul Knight

This weeks Mobile Mondays is a classic top-down dungeon crawler, that takes the age-old formula and updates it with its own modern-day twists. The game infuses classic RPG elements with great humor and solid core gameplay to provide a game that is both incredibly simple to get to grips with. Yet, absolutely addictive to play.

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Gameplay

Soul Knight is actually very basic and it’s in that basicness where the game truly excels. You play as a knight. I know shocker right? You’re on a quest for…epic loot and to…defeat evil monsters and…okay the game doesn’t exactly give you a lore book to read at the start but its lack of narrative was never a turn off for me. You use the left analog to move around, and the right analog to attack. You can also easily swap weapons and use your special ability. Ranged weapons use up energy rather than ammo whereas melee weapons are free to use but require you to get up close. You traverse various randomly generated dungeons from ancient desert temples to frozen tombs fighting enemies, looking for loot and eventually trying to reach the exit portal to progress to the next level.

Each dungeon has various rooms and tunnels to get through, filled with enemies, loot or both. Sometimes even merchants appear or statutes you can worship for buffs. Every so often you will come across a boss room which contains some genuinly brilliant bosses. The killer snowmen was a stand out for me. Speaking of which, all the enemy types in this game have fantastic variation. From yetis to giant bugs to evil monkeys.

The same can be said for the game’s weapon selection too. Boomerangs, laser guns, blowpipes, swords, everything you could possibly think of is in Soul Knight. You can even buy weapons from a vending machine. Talk about convenient.

Fans of Terraria will feel right at home here, from its art style to its humor Soul Knight is a brilliant time for hardcore dungeon crawlers and casual fans alike.

Graphics and Sound

Soul knight completely owns its retro pixel art style. The dungeon layouts are simple enough, although some branching pathways are appreciated. Where the game really excels is it’s enemy and weapon design with each one looking brilliant. The game also has an epic rock backing track which somehow fits the gameplay perfectly.

Progression

Soul Knight boasts some really brilliant progression. First of all, there are various knights for you to unlock and play as, if you save up enough to buy them. There are also various rewards for completing a certain number of levels and 4 players local co-op to play with friends.

What’s even better about Soul Knight is the levels are randomized. Meaning you can simply hit new game and be thrown into a completely new dungeon. That combined with the game’s addicting gameplay and genuinly difficult bosses mean Soul Knight stays feeling fresh for longer.

Soul Knight feels like a love letter to classic Dungeon Crawlers of old. Perfectly fitted for the mobile platform with brilliant modern inclusions. If you’re a fan of dungeon crawlers or light RPG’s you absolutely must give Soul Knight a go.

 

The reality of virtual reality

Later Levels

I’m old enough to recall virtual reality (VR) as we know it today being released the first time around in the 1990s. I remember going to the London Trocadero and getting caught up in a swarm of other teenagers, all eager to be transported to another world.

The fad didn’t last long though. The huge and extremely blocky gap between a digital experience and real-life thanks to premature technology meant VR never really took off. But it made a comeback this decade when the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive drew our attention back to virtual lands; and then console manufacturers jumped on board to give us hardware such as the PlayStation VR (PSVR). We’ve had one of these on our house since picking it up for Christmas in 2017 and every family member has had a go.

Except for me, that is. I’ve never used our headset…

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The Reality of Virtual Reality Games

I have been playing games my entire life for mainly two reasons. To make up for my entirely lackluster social life and to experience worlds, characters, and stories you just can’t experience anywhere else. Video Games have a unique way of sucking you into their worlds in a way a movie or book simply can’t. Some would say it’s magical…God this is sounding like a Disney movie.

Anyway, recently after all my years of extensive gaming, I discovered a whole new world of Video Games. A realm had never delved into until now. As you can, of course, tell from the title I am talking about the world of Virtual Reality. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Kim from Later Levels you can sit back and relax whilst I tell you all just why I’ve come to love VR so much over these past few months. 

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My First Taste of VR…

The topic of VR is an interesting one, but personally, I believe Virtual Reality is the future of this industry. However, before I can fully explain my love for the wild world of VR we have to wind the clocks back…

All the way back to August when a friend of mine told me about a new VR game he was interested in playing. He asked If I had ever tried VR  to which I said no and he invited me round to his place to give it a go. 

Standing there with my jaw dropped for a solid 20 minutes and knocking into literally everything in his room like a prat surprisingly didn’t even matter. I was totally drawn into PlayStations VR Worlds hub world. I wasn’t even playing yet and already I was blown away.

One diamond heist later, a quick internship at a car mechanics and a fight with a fire breathing dragon and I was walking home slightly nauseous but totally addicted.

3 Months later and £400 out of pocket I bought my own PSVR and I can’t say I’ve ever looked back since. VR is hard to describe to those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying it, espcially for someone like me who is barely literate without a good gallon of coffee down him. I suppose the easiest way to describe it is that feeling we all get when we play a really good game. I mean a REALLY good game. When we just feel like we’re part of this world, and it feels real and immersive. Well, up to now thats how EVERY VR game I’ve played feels. Even the games without a narrative or story, from the intricate to the basic, they all have some strange way of sucking you into their worlds. 

Rather than try and discuss the intricate workings of VR itself, instead, I want to talk about 5 VR games. The reason for forking out all that hard-earned cash. Completely different from one another, aside from their VR nature but all similar in the way they draw me in. I should point out these ARE NOT my top 5 PSVR Games, mainly because I haven’t played enough VR games to properly make that list. These are simply 5 examples of VR games that are all completely different and yet all succeed at what they set out to do through the VR platform. So from outer space to the gritty back alleys of London strap in because this is going to be a wild ride. 

Blood and Truth – The Life Of Crime

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Blood and Truth. A first-person shooter developed by SIE London Studios and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Brought into existence after the amazing fan reception to the “London Heist Demo” featured in VR Worlds. The closest way I’ll probably ever get to feeling like Jason Statham. Blood and Truth puts you IN your very own Hollywood blockbuster action film. The game does a great job of perfectly mixing amazing VR gameplay with a genuinely good story. Its narrative isn’t mind-blowing, and it certainly isn’t a lengthy experience, which you can look at as either a good or bad thing.

However its incredible set pieces, its smooth gunplay, as well as overall movement, combined with a cast of well-acted likable characters, genuine humor, and gritty real action. I absolutely adored my time in London through Blood and Truth. You feel like a genuine badass and even though some of the set pieces are a little OTT the game still feels grounded in realism.

In terms of gameplay is a little heavy for newcomers. What I mean by that is, some moments can be jarring if you aren’t well versed in VR games. Jumping off buildings, car chases, and parachuting can be a bit much for your first time. So, probably not the best game to start off with, but after getting a good couple of hours in, Blood and Truth is a VR experience you simply can not miss out on.

No Mans Sky – Explore The Stars

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No Mans Sky is probably the biggest turn around story in recent gaming history. A game that many of us were told lies about at launch, which had next to no content has done a complete 180. Free update after Free update has filled No Mans Sky with life, so much so that now Hello Games have developed a free VR update for PSVR owners. The ultimate space adventure, immersing you in not just one world but an entire universe. Harsh dry rocks, frozen wastelands, gas giants, black holes, space stations and dangers around every corner. Nothing comes close to that feeling of closing your cockpit, slowly grabbing the throttle, and blasting off the surface of a planet into the stars.

No Mans Sky VR offers a sense of scale and adventure I am yet to feel in any over VR game. It’s by no means an easy space ride, with the flight, controls particularly being tricky to get to grips with. However, for seasoned VR owners, No Mans Sky VR feels like the ultimate space adventure which you simply have to try.

Driveclub VR – The Fast And The Ridiculous

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Despite being an avid lover of cars, and an even bigger fan of Top Gear, racing games themselves have never really appealed to me. Completely a personal preference but I’d rather spend my time someplace else. Driveclub VR however, whilst still not being my personal VR game of choice, has done a fantastic job of truly bringing to life the motoring experience through VR.

A petrol heads dream, Driveclub VR pays beautiful homage to infamous and downright gorgeous cars, all whilst once again filling you with that feeling of immersion whilst you’re in the driver’s seat. Intense, high speed, competitive fun which can be played by all thanks to its incredibly easy to use controls using a DualShock 4. You even get to sit down whilst playing this one.

If like me you’re an avid VR fan but aren’t totally sold on a racing game you can always try the free demo through the PSVR demos pack. It’s a game that caught me off guard but seriously surprised me.

Astro Bot – Platforming Through Space One World At A Time

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Astro Bot is normally a game I would never play. Not because it’s bad, or because it even looks bad because it doesn’t. I wouldn’t play Astro Bot because It’s A.) not my thing and B.) without even picking it up I know exactly what to expect. Now whilst both of those statements are true, after putting some hours into Astro Bot I can’t deny the game is addictingly fun.

The game which many said was PlayStation’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Mario, Astro Bot is a simple 3D platformer which is controlled through the standard old Dualshock 4. A game that simultaneously harkens back to Platformers of old whilst also adding its own modern twists, I really enjoyed Astro Bot. A fantastic game for newcomers to VR to try out. It’s easy to pick up and incredibly fun to play with its own charming style. Its unspoken narrative only add to its simple but likable nature and its unique worlds which are full of collectibles make coming back to Astro Bot a joy. Well worth picking up if you have younger kids trying on your VR or even if you’re just a simple fan of Platformers.

Beat Saber – A Game That Hits All The Notes…

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The final VR game I want to talk about is both the most infamous VR title and the source of that God awful pun above. Beat Saber. Certainly the most simple game I’m highlighting today and arguably the most addictive. Its a surprisingly simple use of VR technolgy espcially compared to the likes of Blood and Truth. It, like Astro Bot, is a perfect game to help introduce VR to new players.

Beat Saber’s success widely depends on both your music taste and how competitive you are. If you enjoy the music and are desperate to get the highest rank Beat Saber may be one of the only games you play. It’s certainly not for everybody but it is a VR game I absolutely knew I had to buy.

Like every game on this list, it too sucks you into its world but in its own special way. It doesn’t boast realism and it doesn’t transport you to a whole new world exactly but it does fully immerse you. Beat Saber is best played rather than explained and it is a perfect game to play against friends at a party or gathering, espcially with friendly leaderboards which allow you to compare scores.

Every single game I’ve mentioned today is completely different from one another and yet they are all exactly the same. They are VR experiences that fully suck you into their respective worlds and allow them to be experienced in a way that simply isn’t possible anywhere else. I suppose thats why I love VR so much. Its a form of gaming I never expected to experience and one I never felt would feel so incredible.

Now you’ve heard me waffle on and fanboy over VR for long enough but Kim from Later Levels doesn’t share my enthusiasm. She’s written her own perspective on The Reality of Virtual Reality Games. Whilst you’re over there why not stop by, say hello and give some of her other work a read. Go on, you may just enjoy yourself. Also, be sure to let us know where you stand on Virtual Reality either down below or over on Twitter.

 

The Next Generation of Console Wars: An Uphill Battle for Xbox? (Charming and Open)

It’s a bitter yet sweet truth that this generation of consoles will be slowly winding down to a close throughout next year. Making way for a new generation of consoles for the 2020 holidays. Don’t worry it’s okay to cry.

In anticipation of a new era of console gaming, I’m taking part in Adventure Rules’ Open and Charming collaboration event for the very first time. Robert over at Adventure Rules has posed me an interesting question: Which of the main three consoles do I think will have the toughest fight on their hands in the next-generation console war and, how do I think they could turn things around?

Certainly, an intriguing question and one that will require the slightest bit of guesswork considering all 3 companies are keeping their next big reveal’s hush, hush for the time being. That being said here’s why I think Xbox is going to have the toughest time of things in the console wars to come.

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Please excuse the incredibly basic photoshop skills. Cheers.  

You see whilst all 3 companies and consoles have had their ups and downs, both PlayStation and Nintendo boast some incredibly impressive stats in terms of sales numbers, exclusives and, overall fan response to new announces and releases. Xbox simply hasn’t been able to drum up the same level of buzz for most of these topics with its Xbox One. 

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me having a bash at Xbox. In fact this year more than any I am eternally grateful to Xbox because when my PS4 Pro outright died on me and it was being repaired my younger brothers Xbox One was my only source of gaming relief. After using an Xbox One, intensively for around 2 months I have to say the console itself is superb when it comes to using it, but so are the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, and they have a lot more going for them.

Exclusives

Let’s start off with, what is in my opinion, the most important category. You can play Call of Duty, or Battlefield or even Tomb Raider on an Xbox or PS4 and have a fairly similar experience, but where I believe Consoles begin to edge each other out are their exclusive experiences. (I promise I’m only a little bit biased towards PlayStation…)

It’s worth noting that PC will not be apart of this discussion because A.) PC is the master race and there really isn’t a debate to be had there, and thats coming from a self-proclaimed PS4 fan. And, B.) because if we get talking about PC exclusives we’ll be here all day.

Now putting all personal tastes aside I genuinely believe that PS4 has the best exclusive games of this generation. Sure some of them have made their way onto PC in some form or another, (God of War I’m looking at you) which is a good thing by the way, but most of them still remain PlayStation exclusives and are some of the best games of this generation. Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy, God of war, last years Game of the Year winner, Horizon Zero dawn, Next years Last of Us Part 2 and so many more.

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Gaming Consoles are for one thing first and foremost. Playing Video Games. Anything else is simply extra goodies and in terms of the best video games to play, I personally don’t think you can compete with PlayStation. Before the pitchforks come out I do believe A very strong case can be made for Nintendo who has a huge range of exclusive licenses, characters and gaming franchises at their disposal and who has also produced some of the best games of this generation. Super Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wilda and, Super Mario Maker 2 to name but a few. Even to someone like me who doesn’t own a Nintendo Switch and hasn’t played these games in-depth, their greatness is widely known.

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Xbox’s exclusives simply aren’t that impressive, they have those core franchises such as Halo, Gears of War or Forza but those seem to be either for a very niche market or aren’t having the greatest fan reception at the minute. Those were the only 3 Xbox exclusive franchises I could name off the top of my head along with some other titles like Sea of Thieves and, after researching a list of best Xbox exclusives unsurprisingly they made up the majority of the list.

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Xbox did have EA access going for it but after its recent release on PS4 that is no longer an Xbox exclusive service. Even games available on both platforms like Destiny 2 or Red Dead 2 boast PlayStation exclusive bonuses.

Of course what games we all love is purely subjective but personally, I think that  PlayStation and Nintendo have the far superior games as exclusives and as someone who buys a ‘GAMES CONSOLE’ to play games, Xbox simply doesn’t pull me in like the other two.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers!

I usually don’t enjoy looking at numbers or statistics to argue which console is better than another, however, what you can’t argue is that numbers represent cold hard facts. Sony has sold 102.8 million units of the PS4 making it the second-most popular video game console of all time, behind its older brother the PlayStation 2. Double win for PlayStation. Nintendo Switch and Xbox One are both tied at this post with 41 million units each. Now that is neither a win nor a loss for either console but personally, I’d expect the Xbox to be slightly more “mainstream” so to speak espcially with access to mainstream franchises like COD, which the Nintendo Switch doesn’t.

No matter which way you look at it, PlayStation’s sales numbers far out way their opponents and whilst more doesn’t always mean better, there are reasons why more people are buying and more importantly sticking with PlayStation.

How can Xbox’s Next Generation Compete?

So, how does Xbox not repeat the same mistakes it made this generation come the 2020 holidays? Well, there are a few things the console itself will have to do and something which will have to happen outside of the hardware.

Early rumors and reports state that the PS5 will be a very powerful machine (Not as powerful as say the Terminator, or Robocop, or the Powerloader from Alines but you get what I mean.) Crushing the current specs of the PS4 Pro. Xbox will simply have to match or better yet beat these stats to compete. Faster loading times, better graphics and storage, the whole lot. I think Microsft is more than capable of this, but the Xbox One’s frankly terrible launch is a mistake that Xbox can not afford to repeat.

Aside from the consoles obvious hardware upgrades, I think Xbox seriously needs to up their exclusive games. Exclusives are THE reason above all others to buy into a PS4 or Nintendo switch. Xbox currently cannot stand up against its competitors when it comes to exclusive games. Better Xbox Exclusives are hopefully on the horizon, espcially after Microsft purchased a boatload of third-party companies to make games exclusively for them. Until Xbox starts producing these exclusives, however, we really won’t know if they can match up to the likes of Sony and Nintendos offerings.

Microsoft has also officially announced they will NOT be working on any “VR” related projects in the future. VR, in particular, is a really tricky topic to discuss. On the one hand, mainstream audiences don’t care because they can’t afford it and so don’t mind missing out anyway. On the other hand, that means Virtual Reality games will stay locked on either PC or PS4, with both having fantastic exclusives to try and persuade you to buy their VR headset.

PlayStation and Nintendo have a wider range of exterior additions to their consoles too whether it be VR and its accessories, various DualShock 4 reskins or even the infamous Classic PS1 they released last year. Nintendo Switch offers stuff like the Ring Fit controller, joy-con reskins or pro controllers. Xbox offers its own accessories in the form of controllers, racing wheels, and their own custom headsets but nothing on the same scale as either Nintendo or Playstation.

Obviously, their main efforts should be focused on the console but in terms of growing the Brand. PlayStation is more than just the PS4. Nintendo is WAY more than just the Switch. Xbox feels like a smaller division of Microsoft and something they need to grow larger than.

It’s also worth noting that Xbox should really try and improve their subscription services. Xbox Games with Gold does not compete with PlayStation’s PS Plus, espcially in terms of free monthly games and extra goodies. Xbox’s ultimate Games Pass is what they want you to buy and based on the selection of games up for grabs, that really is just personal preference.

Based purely off of this console generation’s performance, Xbox is in the roughest position. Both PlayStation and Nintendo have gone from strength to strength this generation whereas Xbox really hasn’t. A strong launch with competitive hardware upgrades to match Sony’s PS5 and more impressive exclusive games could be exactly what Xbox needs in the coming console war.

Huge thanks again go to Robert from Adventure Rules for asking me this question. If you want to see his answer to a question I posed him head over to his page. Like me he talks about video games, only way better so if you like the stuff here you’re bound to enjoy his work.

Let us know you’re thoughts on the upcoming Console war come 2020 either down below or over on my Twitter.