E3 officially begins on Monday, but developers have already started unveiling the games of tomorrow at the auxiliary events that accompany the annual electronic entertainment tradeshow. Electronic Arts held their EA Play event Saturday, debuting a new character for Apex Legends, showing off an upcoming sequel to Madden NFL 19 (tentatively titled Madden NFL 20), and introducing a new Sims 4 expansion that allows players to (finally!) spruce up their virtual neighborhood by adding an active volcano. But the biggest news was a gameplay video from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a highly-anticipated Star Wars adventure from Respawn Entertainment coming in November. It’s a return to the single-player gameplay and questionable colon placement that powered classics like Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, and Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. The first trailer suggested something high on intrigue and low on edutainment, but as the gameplay video reveals, the full game is a deep dive into shockingly dangerous industrial safety practices throughout the Empire’s manufacturing sector. The level on display, a Chernobyl-like tick-tock of the disaster at the Wroshyr tree sap refinery on Kashyyk, is nearly enough to make you give up on the Wroshyr tree sap industry entirely:
It’s a fool’s game trying to count all the safety violations on display at the Kashyyk refinery, despite one worker’s sardonic promise to “do this by the book,” but it’s clear that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will not follow the lead of the Imperial government and cynically try to blame the refinery workers for what happened. Neither will it completely absolve them: We see a stormtrooper decide not to call in an accident out of a misguided faith in protocol, a group of workers trying to fend off flame beetles with flamethrowers (!), and management’s stubborn refusal to accept that the presence of Wyyyschokks on the refinery floor means that the outer walls have been breached. All of those decisions made the facility uniquely vulnerable to a terrorist attack from Saw Gerrera and his cronies. But the workers and droids responsible paid a terrible price for their carelessness—each lightsaber-disemboweling is lovingly documented to the point that it feels a little exploitative—and although it’s easy to say you wouldn’t have spent the Kasshyyk Wroshyr tree sap refinery disaster running around in circles yelling things like “Suffer, Jedi!” and “I will make you hurt!” the gameplay video makes it clear there were no good options.
Most of the blame, then, must go to the systemic flaws in the Imperial industrial system that allowed a facility like the Wroshyr tree sap refinery on Kasshyyk to exist in the first place, and on this topic, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an essential corrective to the popular conception of the disaster. It’s one thing to read about the stupidity of Imperial industrial design, and another to wander around a fully-realized game world in which tree sap mixing vats are installed without ventilation hoods, safety tests on the remote cutoff switches for Wroshyr harvester blades are routinely skipped, and goggles and eyewash stations are nowhere to be found. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is shaping up to be the greatest workplace safety polemic since Shake Hands With Danger, and should spark long-overdue reforms in the Wroshyr tree sap refinery industry. The Star Wars video game, industry, on the other hand, looks healthier than ever.