Spotlighting five of my favorite designs in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
The recent news that Ubisoft is developing an open-world Star Wars game brings possibilities of many new designs of characters, creatures, and worlds. It is especially exciting given that, for the most part, Star Wars gaming canon has been lacking truly inventive designs emblematic of Lucasfilm. Fallen Order was a sneak peek at what game developers, teaming up with Lucasfilm designers, can create. There are many ways Star Wars has connected to new fans, from The Clone Wars to Disney+ and The Mandalorian to the recent The High Republic publishing initiative. Gaming is another medium to connect with an audience through storytelling and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has been the best representation of that opportunity. And, part of great storytelling in gaming is having compelling and unique characters, locations, and environments for the main character to interact with so I want to highlight five of my favorite designs from Jedi: Fallen Order in no particular order):
The former droid of Jedi Master Eno Cordova, BD-1 joins the new droids of the Disney era BB-8, K-2SO, and L3-37. Droids whose constructions are functional for their roles in the universe but also imaginative in design with unique personalities. The design for BD-1 is very functional in-game, but it is also something we haven’t seen before in Star Wars: an interesting combination of a Wall-e head for cuteness and hind legs for quick movements and movement within tight spaces, and small enough to travel with the hero player. Yes, his eyes are big but they are a scanner and a holoprojector and his ears are antennas. While BB-8’s design patterns resemble a soccer/futbol/football, BD-1’s patterns resemble that of a snow speeder.
An earlier concept version of the droid, RE-1, was even introduced in Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic (one of the only existing properties that operate outside of canon). The developers worked with Respawn to design RE-1 to fit the Old Republic while paying clear homage to the design of BD-1. He is a droid so he could possibly get some upgrades by the time the sequel game releases but hopefully, the overall design does not change.
I’ve written before about the Temple Guardian’s and the Zeffo species as being two of the best additions to canon from Fallen Order but the automatons are the more intriguing of the two designs. According to the book The Art of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the developers admit that this was one of the most challenging enemies to design. Having to mirror the likeness of the Zeffo species and design something that would look like ancient technology but still fit within the Star Wars universe. The size of the guards is similar to the Zeffo, towering over the hero and the power cell in the center is both a weapon and a target for the player in-game. The design looks like it is modeled off of the Egyptian aesthetic and the final result is an intimidating opponent that conveys the arrogance that consumed the Zeffo to exert power and control, even in extinction.
With every new Star Wars content, it seems like we get a new type of trooper with a slight design tweak solely meant to sell more toys. Normally, I am cynical with introductions of new troopers to canon in shows or film but, within a Star Wars game, it makes sense. There needs to be a threat that is above the common, useless Stormtrooper but below that of an Inquisitor that the hero has to confront when on missions with an Imperial presence. Enter the Purge Trooper: elite troopers that are trained in different fighting techniques and are trained specifically to fight Jedi. They can do quick moves against the player, block frequently and their hits pack a harder punch. The helmet designs are similar to the Clone Paratrooper in the Battle of Utapau from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The trooper used in most of the marketing is the Purge Trooper with Electrostaff, which serves as a block and counter against lightsabers. Force pulls don’t work as well either because they can turn that into a jump attack but pushing them off of a cliff is the best, fastest, way to beat them. There are three other versions of these troopers in-game: Electrobaton Purge Troopers (with a white Imperial symbol on their shoulder pads vs. Electrostaff’s red ones), Electrohammer Purge Troopers with a white pauldron on their right shoulder, and the Purge Trooper Commander, who comes armed with heavy blaster fire, shock grenades, and a red shoulder pauldron. All around great designs and hope to see more of these troopers in future games. It is also a possibility that we will see live-action versions of these in the upcoming Disney+ series, The Bad Batch.
Lucasfilm designers Doug Chiang and Ryan Church provided design support for the Stinger Mantis, an S-161 ship, described as a Latero luxury yacht built for wealthy executives and oligarchs who want a fast ship that draws attention. In the game, it is piloted by a Lateron male named Greez Dritus, who Cara Junda has recruited for the main mission. It is the hero ship of the game and is the home away from home for Cal and his team. The outside of the ship is long and narrow with three main sections and the most noticeable design element is the long rotating fin that moves upon landing and taking off. The inside is very similar to a small luxury yacht and has six sections: the cockpit, holotable room, galley, common area, main corridor, and engine room. The design does seem more visually appealing than it is functional as there is a spatial inconsistency between the inside and outside (the quarters are closed off to the player and there appears to be a lower deck that does not look like it can exist when looking at the outside of the ship). Still, the sweet spot and reason why this ship is on my list is the cockpit. Windows are surrounding the front and lower half of the cockpit so the pilot and co-pilot can see directly below. Add in the little terrarium and this is a design hit. Since we are getting a sequel to the Fallen Order game, there might be more of the ship that the player can access in that game and more new features to explore.
Haxion Brood Headquarters/Ordo Eris
Fallen Order also introduced a new crime syndicate to canon called the Haxion Brood, which operates in the Outer Rim and consisted of smugglers, gamblers, and bounty hunters. Many of the bounty hunters have cybernetic parts and droids made from various parts. The headquarters, Ordo Eris, is part of an asteroid and consists of a prison and a fighting arena where the hero is forced to battle various creatures and bounty hunters. The concept is inspired by recycling and repurposing droids and parts of the asteroid into the architecture of the prison. The fights that happen in the prison are broadcasted to the rest of the galaxy so the headquarters also has a giant antenna sticking out of the side of the asteroid. Even though the hero does not spend too much gameplay time on Ordo Eris, the design of a headquarters is one of the most creative ideas I’ve seen within Star Wars and the Haxion Brood is another possibility to appear in live-action (perhaps the upcoming Andor or Lando series).