Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – The force is strong with this superior sequel
EA’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the latest release from the iconic franchise, and the continuation of Cal Kestis’ journey. Thankfully, Survivor rights standing wrongs of Fallen Order and delivers a sumptuous Star Wars package with only minor gripes standing in the way of utter greatness.
After a troubled period of Star Wars games, EA and Respawn finally got the formula right when they released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2019. We were introduced to franchise newcomer and aspiring Jedi Knight – Cal Kestis – and a whole new world of Star Wars lore.
Sophomore efforts are always placed under the microscope, especially when it carries the Star Wars name. If you had any doubts about whether or not Star Wars Jedi: Survivor could live up to the hype and expectation, fear not (as Yoda said, fear is the path of the dark side.)
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is bigger, bolder, and better in almost every way, but the game comes with a noticeable, but fixable, caveat.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor: Key details
- Price: £64.99/$69.99
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment
- Release Date: April 28, 2023
- Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor: Trailer
Survivor’s story is a big win
One thing I enjoyed about Fallen Order was how deeply emotive the story was and how invested I was by the end. In the blink of an eye, just like Rogue One and the newer Star Wars Trilogy, we had a bunch of new faces we could easily grow attached to.
Survivor fast-forwards five years, and things have changed. Cal has a new crew and the whereabouts of Merrin, Cere, and Greez are unknown. Along with a striking new beard, Cal has grown up, wiser and more skillful. His story remains one of self-discovery, but now, with the added sense of internal conflict.
His mental state and demeanor are worsened by the constant loss of people close to him and he’s once again being comforted and guided by those around him. One of those people is Bode Akuna.
Bode takes on your typical Han Solo or Poe Dameron archetype, oozing charisma and jealously-inducing charm. He and Cal make a great team, but the first hour or so of the game really sets up the central theme for the rest of your journey – somberness.
Once again, it’s the world against the Empire, but also the Bedlam Raiders too. The constant power struggle can be felt through the game’s collectible Datadiscs and Echoes of the Past. If you go out of your way to find them, then you’ll learn a great deal more about new villains Dagan Gera and Rayvis.
They are both excellent additions to the world and their iron-clad motives make them fearsome counterparts. You face several set-piece events, go toe-to-toe in difficult boss battles, and continually planet-hop in a well-paced narrative.
That said, the story does make questionable decisions midway through the game and truncates several elements that it previously handled well. It also gets fairly predictable toward the end, but still left me feeling satisfied once all was said and done.
You feel like a true Jedi
One area Survivor excels is in how Cal handles and fights. His movement is fluid and dynamic – thanks to double jumping and various other unlockable abilities – and he feels like an unstoppable weapon — as he should.
Cal is a Jedi, the equivalent of an expertly trained assassin, just with a dash of humility and morality. Respawn really gives you all the tools you needed to take on Stormtroopers, Battle Droids, and other ever-evolving threats that the game throws at you.
Gameplay, just like its predecessor, has a sumptuous cutting edge – in more ways than one. You can now equip two Stances at any given time with a choice between Single Blade, a Crossguard stance, Double-Bladed, Dual Wield, and the introduction of Cal’s own Blaster!
There’s an array of abilities to acquire, all to help you combat the light Souls elements that the series continues to incorporate.
Of course, combat was never the issue in Fallen Order. A lot of that ire was diverted to the arduous and laborious nature of the game’s backtracking and lack of fast travel.
These issues have been consigned to history as fast travel has arrived, along with way more shortcuts, and some tamable mounts to make land traversal much easier.
I was a bit disappointed that Koboh is the only true open-world area, even with Jedah also being reasonably large. Outside of that though, there are several other planets with long, linear sections that are akin to Fallen Order’s construction.
There are a ton of activities to busy yourself with here outside of exploration. You’ve got the romp of the campaign, Bounties to eliminate, Legendary creatures to topple, fish to find, a garden to grow, countless rumors to investigate, and a veritable mountain of collectibles to find.
In my 35 hours with the game, it firmly kept my attention and left me wanting to play more. Survivor one-ups Fallen Order in practically every way – except for one key element.
Performance falls to the dark side
I was blindsided by the inept performance of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor which turns stunning level designs and gorgeous environmental architecture into janky messes.
In its pre-release state, Survivor doesn’t handle Performance Mode well at all. It frequently fell noticeably below 60FPS on PS5, especially in expansive locales.
The game also features some of the worst pop-in I’ve experienced from a big-time AAA release in years. It can take 5-10 seconds for textures to materialize, while lighting and shadows can be erratic at times.
The locked 30FPS Quality Mode does remedy the situation somewhat, but you can still expect to come into contact with some of the problems above.
When it works, it works. Survivor carries that feeling of being a great Star Wars game. The score is wonderfully enchanting and breeds an air of orchestral quality inspired by classical Star Wars motifs. Each planet is rife with personality from the ironically witty chatter of deluded droids on the Shattered Moon to the nonsensical jibber-jabber of Jawas on Kobah.
No doubt the game’s performance will improve with subsequent patches, but it feels like it maybe could’ve done with one more delay just to tighten things up.
Verdict – 4/5
This is one of the best Star Wars games, ever. The level of customization on offer, and the flow of combat and exploration are perpetually invigorating. Respawn Entertainment also keeps manifesting likable characters worth emotionally investing in and embroiling them in well-written stories. When it’s all firing, it’s as good as the franchise has ever been in video game form. However, performance issues do get in the way of it putting its best foot forward all of the time.
Reviewed on PS5
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