So you've read it's Dark Souls-like Sekiro style but not really, Tomb-Raider/Uncharted/Darksiders-like but different, with Metroidvania-inspired maps... and that's just making it harder to decide?
This guide will attempt to paint a clearer picture for you.
Truth is, this game is an attempt at mixing all of the above. So, will you like it? Let's break it down into its different elements.
This game wants you to fight. And it wants you, or shall I say Forces you, (pun intended) to learn how to fight well.
Your character will get more moves and power as you progress, but ultimately you, the player, still have to fight decently to defeat the harder enemies.
If you enjoy taking a bit of time to actually get better at combat as you progress through the story, such as you did in Tomb Raider, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Batman Arkham xyz, you will likely enjoy this game. You will probably have to invest a little bit more into the learning, but that'll be satisfying.
If you just want to button-mash your way to the end, you sort of can with the Easy Story mode, but even then you still have to learn combat a bit. But I believe you'd miss out on a big part of the intended enjoyment, and thus you may not enjoy the game so much.
A big part of the intended enjoyment in this game is combat, and getting better at combat. In order to be good, you have to keep a cool head under pressure, observe and adapt to your enemies, and deploy the right types of defense and attack at the right time. Sometimes your rhythm will fall apart, or an enemy will really catch you off-guard, and you'll get slaughtered. But you'll come back for more, and make things right, and you will smile in satisfaction.
Is the combat hardcore?
Sort of, and yes. It attempts to serve both types of players. The Dark Souls Hardcore type, and the Uncharted/Tomb Raider/Batman/Middle-Earth type who likes a good fight, but wants to keep the story going without spending 2 hours respawning time and again to defeat a single boss, trying to figure him all out.
I would say the Normal difficulty is a solid challenge for the Tomb Raider types (who may occasionally move on by lowering the difficulty temporarily), and you'll want to crank it up if you're a hardcore Dark Souls type.
If you start by calmly accepting that in this game (deep breath, Jedi-style), dying is ok and is just part of the learning process, then you won't be hard on yourself or get frustrated, and you'll just roll with it. Go ahead and use a few lives just to learn how your enemy fights, and see how you can parry, dodge, counter and attack. Which force powers work on him? Then practice. Then ah! Give him the punishment he truly deserves. Very satisfying.
A word of warning: It seems like the combat in this game is less "crisp" than Sekiro or Dark Souls. Sometimes you may be frustrated that your block/parry isn't responding as it should, or your dodge didn't make it when it should have... or that BD-1 just won't give you your damn stim, even as you stand still waiting for it to come, only to get walloped to death. That was a bit frustrating at times. Maybe it's just me; I don't consider myself a true hardcore fighter.
Use the Force.... Cal !
During combat, you'll throw in Force power moves which you earn partly by storyline, partly by spending XP's you've earned through combat and exploration.
You have to replenish your Force meter by fighting well, so-to-speak, landing good hits and properly countering attacks. It ain't free and unlimited. Your brain has to manage this pool while you're under fire.
Does it make you feel like a Jedi?
Yeah! You start out as a partly-trained Padawan. You earn your stripes and get better at combat and get more and more powers. By the middle or so, combat strategies can vary a lot, and there's some pretty cool moments.
But you're never an invincible superhero war machine... You're one guy, and if there are a lot of enemies and you let yourself get overwhelmed, you'll die. There are also some very vile-tempered beasties that will give you a solid beating if you take them lightly. And there are even some highly-trained troopers that will give you a run for your money. I believe that's a good thing and is in line with the Star Wars mythos.
Story and Immersion
Ok, so the story is not a KOTOR or Skyrim type of depth at all. It's a simple storyline, enhanced by the lore items you'll find along the way if you look for them. There are a few cringy moments where it's a little too nice between the characters, but pretty forgiveable.
The immersion is really awesome though. It's a AAA production, with cinema-quality ambiance music. The motion-captured characters and their movements are great. The environments are very well done, and varied. Add the whole Star Wars element to it, and it bumps it up yet another notch.
Lots of solid cutscenes which advance the storyline, which adds to the movie-like immersion feeling. Btw, you can't skip them (at the time of writing this guide, i.e. week2). I don't think you'd want to skip them on a first run through however.
Saving and Respawn-ing
(Respawn is the name of the developer...) The game is based on save points, and you have 1 single gamesave, so you can't reload and take a different approach.
When you are killed in combat, you'll respawn at the last save point you used, with full health and full force, and monsters will have respawned too. There's no free pass, you have to kill the monsters/bosses fair and square before you can progress further.
It may take some getting used to, but it works. This has pros and cons imho.
It keeps the game flowing, but in some cases if you went too quickly and are underpowered for certain bosses, you may get frustrated and turn down the difficulty after trying 6 times and just dying and dying.
Note: You can and should, imho, make occasional backup copies of your local saves, located in:
- C:\Users\<username>\Saved Games\Respawn
Just in case you need to backtrack; some people have gotten stuck. (I went through fine).
Do you need to redo the same long sequences when you die?
Almost never. The save points are well-placed such that before any big boss fight, you'll have a save point. You will die and try again, but you can just run back to the boss in less than a minute. Keep in mind that you can usually outrun intermediate monsters to get to your boss, you don't have to fight everyone on your way.
Environment deaths (falling) is respawned instantly, at your position just moments before you died (not the last save point), at a very slight health cost, so no big deal. You usually don't go back to a respawn point due to environment deaths, unless it happens many times and you've no stim left to use.
So that's faster than most games, you wait a couple seconds and you're back in the game, without pressing any button.
There is indeed some platforming. For the most part it's cool and fun, Uncharted/Tomb Raider style, climbing and jumping. Your character gets faster at these later on, so it's fine for most people unless you really hate that. The only thing that irked me are the slides; there's an unusually high number of ice-slides in this game where you have to maneuver your way as you're sliding down and you will fall off and die and restart. Occasionally early on you might miss a rope.
BUT, environment deaths (falling) is respawned instantly, at your position just moments before you died, at a very slight health cost, so no big deal. Refer to the Saving section.
Open-world, or Linear?
The story has you following a linear path, and you can stick to the main road or explore along the way to find things that will directly boost your character in various ways, give you XP's (for level ups which also get spent on character and combat boosts). Furthermore you can go back and explore more once you've unlocked special skills in the storyline.
If you're coming from an RPG (Witcher, Skyrim) background, the only "quests", are the main storyline. The side stuff are more lore, XP's, buffs, skins for you, your sidekick and spaceship, and more baddies (sometimes very interesting/challenging uniques too).
So we've talked about the action: combat and platforming. The RPG elements in this game take the form of improving your health, Force energy pool, and Force powers which you use in combat.
You gain the main Force powers and lightsaber improvements automatically as you progress through the storyline, but there are specific combat moves that you spend your XP levels on.
You can use your Force powers indefinitely when not in combat.
How Will It Run on My PC?
Tough one. I know for a fact the game can run really well at 1920x1080, on a 1050Ti 4GB GPU, but with a fast CPU and SSD. This using Epic Textures and post-processing, but reducing the shadows and draw distance a bit, with the rest at Epic. Load times are under 10 seconds. (except for game startup a little over a minute).
Your mileage may vary.
I believe you'd want to focus on having an SSD drive and a good CPU. My impression is that if your CPU is underpowered you can get a lot of stutter in this game.
There are many graphics options, including adaptive resolution like Consoles use, which means you really should be able to play this game if your PC meets the minimum requirements.
How Many Hours is It, Really?
Most people seem to land at the 15-25 hours mark. It took me 40 hours to finish the game with 90% completion; but I took my time to enjoy, don't expect it to be that long for you unless you're aiming for 100%. I saw one guy talk about finishing in 10 hours, but seriously that has to be a speedrun on the easiest difficulty.
Part of the playing time is fighting and re-fighting the harder enemies until you defeat them.
Another part is exploration. I believe you should do *some* amount of sideline exploration to fully enjoy what the game has to offer. First of all it's fun to find the extras, but they actually boost your character significantly and earn you big XP's, which if you skip all of them, you might feel underpowered later on. But then you can just turn the difficulty down to story mode I guess.
It's a bit of a ramp-up if you've never had to look at your map to know where to go. You'll pretty much need to in this game, else you might go around in circles a few times. That side feels really open-ended, especially on 2nd runs through the maps that are part of the storyline. It tells you where you need to get to, but not which path to take. The paths are hard to find sometimes.
The maps are in 3D and you can rotate and zoom and slide (look at YouTube walkthroughs to see that in action). If you are highly map-challenged, that may be an issue. You may get lost and have serious trouble finding your way later on in the game.
Full-price or Wait for a Deal?
A good question only you and your accountant can answer. :) Release price is indeed not cheap. My guess is, expect to wait 6 months from release for any sizeable discount on this game. But there are other great games around, so you could shift your focus elsewhere. For a while. But then you will always feel drawn by pull from the Dark Side, coming back to haunt you in your weakest moments.
Plus the 3rd movie is coming out soon... :)
So good luck, Padawan.
If it's any comfort, you really didn't miss anything by not getting the pre-purchase bonus content. It's just a few skins, which are ok but you'll get a ton of them for free as you make your way through the game.
This game mixes elements from all kinds of highly successful games in different genres, while attempting to satisfy the most types of players possible, in the Star Wars universe. It's a bold undertaking, and I believe it does so pretty successfully. There is always room for improvement, but really it's a solid delivery.
The only players who won't enjoy this game, imho, are ones that really don't want to take any time to get better at combat, or ones who hate running around & platforming, or ones who really cannot make sense of a 3D map, or ones who like to fast-track their way to the end by sticking only to the main storyline, wanting to skip cutscenes but unable to. For these, my bet is you won't enjoy this game or find it not worth your money.
But for any other type of player, if you enjoy a good narrative storyline, solid production quality, challenging lightsaber combat using the Force, and exploration, and/or the Star Wars lore, I believe you will really enjoy this game, as I have!