This review contains minor spoilers for Rise of Skywalker and Fallen Order.

It appears at the moment that I am unrivalled at unpopular Star Wars opinions. I hated The Last Jedi for the first few times I watched it; but now through repetition and no small quantity of alcohol I’ve come round to finding it basically OK. I have always said that the beginning and ending of TLJ, as well as its throne room lightsaber battle are the best of any Star Wars film, but everything in between just bores me (The Holdo Maneuver was amazing too).

Now Rise of Skywalker has released, and after seeing it twice on release day it is definitely my favourite film of 2019. One of the various selection of reasons for this is because it ignores and contradicts The Last Jedi and sets about undoing all it established that I didn’t like. I didn’t review Rise of Skywalker as I’d have given it a predictable 10/10, some could argue for the wrong reasons, and because I felt Will gave it a fair result that better reflected what the majority of long term Star Wars fans would feel about it.

Now I’ve got my Star Wars film views out of the way, it’s time I got to the meat and potatoes of my original statement that I am currently unrivalled at unpopular Star Wars opinions. Will and Javier both scored Fallen Order very highly in their reviews of it which you should certainly check out, but I am leaning in the other direction entirely, as I find the game a total abhorrence.

My first gripe is that two major gameplay and story beats were spoiled for me by the game trailers less than a fortnight after its release. This was especially disappointing when they would have been two of the best gaming surprises of the year if I had been given the chance to find them out for myself, though as it turns out this was to be a trivial grievance amongst a sea of issues that I’m going to tell you all about now.

The premise of Fallen Order was great when it was revealed; and nobody was more surprised and irritated than me to discover the game decided to focus heavily on puzzles and platforming in the final product. I’m keen to find out who thought that would be a good idea?! I want to play as an acrobatic Jedi, yes, but the need to highlight this through hours spent climbing and solving vexing puzzles totally ruined the immersion for me. To tie in with this, the last ability you unlock in the game is a double jump. Yes, you read that correctly, a double jump! The mind boggles at this perplexing and disappointing revelation, as I was really hoping for a new Force ability that wasn’t quite as crap as the others.

The combat is very Soulsborne with an emphasis made early on that you should dodge and parry as much as possible. This is only half true, as the dodge is useless in closed environments where quite a margin of the game takes place, and so parrying is your only real option. Parry mechanics are solid enough, but I feel most players would automatically opt to dodge an attack entirely instead of trying to block it, so the game could do a better job of informing players of this.

Environment design is pretty to look at but not overly deep. It’s not difficult to get turned around in certain areas, though your droid companion BD-1 does provide a map of each planet which I appreciated. The planets Zeffo and Kashyyyk are infuriating to navigate, and it doesn’t take long for the pretty locations to lose their appeal and start testing my patience. I am a fan of Dathomir, and if the entire game was set across only this planet and Bogano I think I’d have liked it a whole lot more.

I found the cast of characters bland and uninteresting, and while trying to re-establish the Jedi Order is an honourable goal, would it really have been so hard to have them convey it’s what they want to be doing instead of what they feel they have to be doing? Cal is a well intentioned protagonist but stops just shy of being likeable, and I feel that after he expresses surprise for the hundredth time at BD-1’s enthusiasm in checking chests for loot, he has lost his right to be surprised by it.

Speaking of loot, I’d sought out as many chests as possible over the course of the game hoping to find a new colour blade for the lightsaber. Unfortunately all I could find were ponchos for Cal, lightsaber cosmetic modifications and spaceship paint jobs, a fact that still vexes me now. I liked how you get the option very late game to change your lightsaber blade colour as part of the story, but wish it had been available much earlier.

I experienced no small amount of gameplay glitches on my PS4 Pro, and a variety of times where Cal would phase through solid objects rather than stepping over them. These aren’t really a big deal but as I kept noticing them across my roughly 20 hours of play time I think they are worth mentioning.

Finally, the build-up towards the story conclusion had me thinking my negative opinion of the game could be about to change after it throws wave after wave of enemies at you for spectacular combat, which it should have been doing from earlier on. Unfortunately, one of the trailer spoilers I mentioned earlier ruins what could have been an exciting reveal at the end, and the final story beats had me wondering why I’d ever bothered with the game in the first place.

Fallen Order makes me angry and disappointed. A franchise and premise brimming with potential that was ultimately spoiled by its own marketing, made dull by its story and environments, with Force powers that are little more than platforming assistance tools and tiny nuggets of enjoyment within repetitive combat. Even though I gave Afterparty a tough time in my review of it, Fallen Order has just pipped it at the post in the final week of 2019 to secure its place as my worst game of the year with a score of

4.0 / 10

I would suggest Respawn Entertainment have a re-think before any serious decisions are made regarding the already leaked sequel to this miasma of mediocrity. Thank you for reading, and please let me know your thoughts on the Fallen Order in the comments section below.

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