Listen, I’ll level with you, I am struggling this year. My hype train cannot currently build up steam. If I were to place myself on Matt and Brendan’s Cheerer-to-Jeerer E3 corporate Kinsey scale of awfulness, I am currently at a “1”: predominantly jeer, only incidentally cheer. Think the “What a piece of work is man?” monologue from Hamlet, but if it were about games instead of a searingly beautiful description of depression.
Like Hamlet, there are some things that I will still get cautiously enthused about, though unlike Hamlet mine do not generally involve avunculicide. Apparently, what excites me most these days is a jedi holding up his lightsaber like a torch.
That isn’t a jokey segue into saying I really liked EA’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay demo. I mean just that one specific bit, right near the start. That was probably the most excited I got all weekend.
After cancelled projects and lootbox furore, I just… I just wanted a decent Star Wars game again, lads. I was happy enough that Respawn (who have now apparently supplanted BioWare as EA’s favourite studio) were having a crack at it, because they make games that people like, don’t they? So on Saturday we got a “gameplay reveal” and it sure was a Star Wars game made by Respawn. Yer jedi man Cal, whom Matthew immediately pointed out is extremely interesting, and also Matthew compared unfavourably to the character's own helper robot -- which is like someone telling you that you’re not as interesting as your iPhone -- can do all the right moves.
Star Wars has an in-built pavlovian thing where if it has the recognisable Star Wars bits your brain goes “Yes this is a good Star War, Alice.” (you are all also called Alice). Fallen Order has the red laser guns that go pew and it has the storm troopers pewing them. It has John Williams music. Cal can do force pushing and force pulling and he can throw his lightsaber like a big angry boomerang at people. Therefore: a Star War, albeit one where you can do wall running, because Respawn never saw a wall they didn’t want to run across. I was actively trying to get excited, yet could not. Forgive me, Vince.
With one exception. I cared not a jot for the giant spiders or the robot or the bad men saying things like "You will suffer!" as baddies are wont to do. But, near the start of that demo, Cal goes through a dark cave bit, and he turns on his lightsaber and holds it up like a big torch. The blue light was a little pilot flame of hope and love in my heart. Because it was Cal doing something like an actual real person! It was a jedi treating his lightsaber like something other than a big buzzy death stick!
It was just so nice and natural. You can kill people with it so easily, but also it is a little travel sized doosit that clips on to your belt. Like, you get given stuff for your job or you buy something expensive -- like a new set of hair straighteners with ceramic plates, which compare very favourably to a lightsaber -- and you start off taking care of it but eventually it’s existence becomes mundane to you. The next thing you know you’re using those straighteners to prop open your door, and one time you just leave them on the floor while they’re on and step on them, burning the bottom of your foot, and then the top of your foot when it hits the second ceramic plate because you lifted your foot up going “ARGH!” (I made this example up completely, pay no attention to how very specific it is).
Here are things I would eventually definitely use a lightsaber for if I was entrusted one for my job:
- Making toast. Like, if you hold it close enough to bread, will it toast? See also: marshmallows.
- A light trap for insects on my back porch.
- A supremely dangerous glow stick. Bonus is that nobody would dance uncomfortably close to me.
- Showing off. Duh?
- An inexpensive nightlight for children. It would also most likely double as a valuable lesson in this instance.
- As a torch! Obviously! Obviously as a torch! Right?
I dunno, it was just this tiny little thing that made me happy. People at Respawn are thinking about things in nice and interesting ways. They're thinking about their protagonist like a real person. So it makes me hope that the game will be nice and interesting too. You can have any of my other lightsaber ideas for free, Vince.
See our E3 2019 tag for more news, previews, opinions, and increasingly surreal liveblogs.