We all know EA and Star Wars have shared a rocky relationship, to say the least. The contention went as far as to spark an entire legal war against loot boxes when EA’s broken pay-to-win system wrecked Star Wars BattleFront II. So understandably, when a single-player adventure video game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order—something fans have long been waiting for—was announced as a Hail Mary of sorts for EA, people were skeptical. Really skeptical.
EA’s journey is a hell of a lot like that of a Star Wars villain. Back in the PS2 era, it was one of the founders of modern gaming—a beacon of light, creativity, and fun with classics from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit to Dead Space—until power and greed seemingly corrupted it, turning it into the Sith Lord that we have known it as in recent years. Largely, EA’s problem was its attempts to make games into cash crops, as with the recent multiplayer Battlefields and Star Wars: Battlefronts and their loot box nonsense. While multiplayer games don’t require microtransactions, they’re an enticing opportunity to drop a couple bucks and gain the advantage over your fellow players—and they make more money for the company. While single-player games have had microtransactions, they’ve been largely cosmetic, or delivered in the form of extended episodes that are arguably more ethical than a pay-to-win strategy.
Starting around 2006, EA took a cue from mobile gaming, which often charged players 99 cents for more lives or faster speeds. EA’s version took it up a notch by allowing players to buy tools and weapons, making it extremely hard for those who couldn’t afford both a $60 game and randomized crates to buy their way to the number one spot. In the past decade, EA’s tried-and-true method became riddling games with this costly DLC. In the disastrous 2017 launch of Battlefront II, players who dropped hundreds on Star Cards could wipe the floor, until EA disabled microtransactions due to intense backlash, breaking the progression in the game even further.
Past just the microtransaction madness, oftentimes its games launched with broken servers and bugs galore—like insane lag times in Battlefront II and the notorious (albeit hilarious) clipping issues in past iterations of Battlefield—just to reach a deadline or quarter goal.
As a whole, solo games themselves felt nearly extinct during this time, until a few key heavyweights like Spider-Man, God of War, Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and the upcoming The Last of Us II swooped in to show you could still sell great games not overly bogged down with DLC, and still make a giant splash. EA learned. Like with all things EA, you still can’t be sure of anything until its new game actually hits the shelves. But so far, the gameplay and narrative story—coupled with those key EA-isms being entirely left out—make for a very promising Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order package.
First and foremost, Fallen Order is a single-player title—no half-assed multiplayer modes have been tacked on just to give the game a shitty kind of replay-ability (yet). There’s nothing extra to pay for (yet). It emphasizes instead the telling of a story with a star-studded cast, letting it rest on its own merits. With the stellar combat we’ve already been able to test, it’s great to see EA pumping a game out that, at its core, is designed to be fair and fun.
Luckily, EA and most of the other worst offenders (i.e. Activision and Ubisoft) appear to have started to learn their lesson about multiplayer games. EA so far has made sure Fallen Order is an incredibly polished experience—a breath of fresh air from one of the founders of modern gaming. Hopefully, this all will stay intact, and the game won’t end up as another “that didn’t age well” Star Wars title. Fingers crossed this is EA’s (spoiler alert, if you’re living under a rock) Vader redemption moment. We could get our Anakin back.