There was no doubt that Respawn Entertainment’s 2019 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will get a sequel. Due to the game’s massive success despite being under an infamous game publisher and how it handled the rights of Star Wars video games, the team behind the Titanfall franchise gave me the confidence that they could pull off a great follow-up.
Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor significantly improves many aspects of its predecessor. The team behind Respawn, with the direction of Stig Asmussen, did not just listen to the fans but also went beyond to exceed many of our expectations in this fantastic follow-up.
Survivor continues the story of Cal Kestis and his gang of misfits, trying to fight the Galactic Empire to bring back the galaxy’s freedom. Five years after the events of the first game, Cal is no longer the same person. His closest friends already moved on, but Cal is stuck fighting a lost cause.
Cal and his new comrades attempted to steal Imperial data in Coruscant for Saw Gerrera. Things went sideways fast, and Cal managed to escape the planet in one piece, but his ship’s gyro was damaged during an intense chase with the TIE Fighters. To fix the ship, he needs help from a familiar face on the Outer Rim planet called Koboh to get them back on their feet. But as he went on to find the parts needed for the Mantis, Koboh is littered with valuable secrets, something more significant than their fight against the Empire that pre-date long before the Galactic Republic.
I want to discuss many narrative elements, but that’s heavy spoiler territory, and I don’t want to ruin the surprises and twists of Survivor; plus, I’m not allowed to talk about anything specific story-wise because of the non-disclosure agreement I signed.
The story is decent enough to hook me. There are plot twists you wouldn’t expect, Fallen Order fans’ most requested character development is certainly there, and a ton of almost tear-jerking moments. However, specific narrative directions could have been written better, like how a particular character’s fate turned out and the level of impact the game could have brought if they had angled the plot twist best.
It’s not to say Survivor‘s story is terrible; it has a solid Star Wars story for Star Wars fans and those who love the Star Wars Jedi franchise, and it’s better than The Rise of Skywalker and The Last Jedi, personally. Still, Respawn could have gone beyond their comfort zone to bring more impact to the narrative.
Star Wars is also about forming new bonds and friendships with a common goal. Introducing a new character like Bode gives our beloved protagonist the kind of friend he needs during tough times. He’s a mercenary for hire fighting against the Galactic Empire for his daughter; Bode comes off as one of the most toned-down, lighthearted characters in Survivor. You’ll immediately love him, especially how both he and Cal interacts.
Cal now gets companions in certain missions, enabling epic tag team takedowns during combat! You’ll sometimes ask them for help, like having Bode push walls for Cal to wall-run, even ask him to incapacitate enemies. It’s a great way to build momentum during combat, as you can fight against large groups without overwhelming you.
Survivor improved upon the foundation of Fallen Order, refining combat mechanics and adding new ways to play, plus a newly improved skill tree and perks. With everything Cal learned in the previous game, such as wall-running, double-jumps, Force pull and push, the upgrade path now heavily emphasizes lightsaber combat.
Respawn’s Star Wars game strongly focuses on lightsaber combat, and introducing five fully-realized Stances provides you with new combat styles. The Single-blade stance offers the most balanced stats, while the Double-blade stance, also present in the previous game, gives you better striking distance and area of attack, while the Dual-Wield enables you to be agile and land attacks quicker but with a shorter range. Two of the newest combat stances, the Blaster and Crossguard, are unlocked by playing through the game’s story. The Blaster stance gives you a rechargeable ranged weapon while wielding a lightsaber, and you get the strong Crossguard stance that inflicts massive damage with the sacrifice of a better timing window.
I fiddled with each of the stances and concluded that only three of them I prefer to use: Single stance, for the sole reason that I can deal damage while keeping my mobility, then Double-bladed if I want to hit multiple enemies when I’m overwhelmed, and Crossguard if I want to give myself a challenge but still reward me with higher damage output with each strike.
Dual-Wield can be fun and satisfying when defeating multiple enemies; the stance can be advantageous when you must quickly dodge attacks. The Blaster stance, however, feels lacking when it’s unupgraded. Pressing the Triangle/Y button fires the weapon, and attacking enemies with the lightsaber recharges the blaster felt boring. But that immediately changed after I acquired decent upgrades like the Gravitational Master and the Blaster stance’s Quick Draw.
Using Force abilities to lift enemies into the air and immediately using Quick Draw gets so satisfying that I instantly feel like an expert Force-sensitive Mandalorian gunslinger. Thanks to the new stances, the new combat mechanics in Survivor gave me options to make combat more engaging and enjoyable.
Better mechanics also means new enemies to fight it with. Imperial Stormtroopers and Purge Troopers still loom around the planets they conquer, but they aren’t the forces you must fear. Bedlam Raiders and their Separatist battle droids can outmatch you when they attack in huge numbers. The raiders bring their veteran units, the Urgost, and Magnaguard droids like no other; they’re more dangerous than a Purge Trooper with an electrostaff. These Raider Veterans wield a deadlier spikey, pronged electrostaff, the Urgost lands earth-wrecking heavy attacks with its electrohammer, and the Magnaguard stands firm even when they lose their limbs. When you group them all together, Survivor begins to get a lot more fun. Parrying their attacks with succession is satisfying; defeating them with just a Single stance in Jedi Grandmaster difficulty can be very fulfilling.
Unlike Fallen Order, Survivor carefully dialed down the difficulty ceiling to bring more enemies to fight and focus more on the game’s combat mechanics, making players enjoy what the game offers.
With six planets to go to, you’re in for an adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Survivor brings new and familiar locations, teeming with life and dangerous places to explore. Visiting Coruscant’s lower levels in Survivor brings more details that show how the capital planet isn’t all too wealthy. There’s also Jedha, a small desert moon that first appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards, that now explores the dangerous creatures and ruins of the once important moon to the Jedi Order. Koboh, on the other hand, serves as the central hub, and the area is engagingly vast. Locals can be interacted with, explorable caves, secrets to discover, and a ton of Star Wars lore!
Survivor now includes side missions in the form of rumors. Cal can talk with the locals around Koboh, and they’ll ask you for help or even give you a tip about a “rumor” of a particular creature lurking inside one of the explorable caves. These side quests even include finding the DJ who’s supposed to play in the saloon. You then unlock a jukebox where you can play songs like The Hu’s famous Sugaan Essena from Fallen Order‘s intro. These engaging side activities can easily distract you from progressing the main story. They don’t feel repetitive and add value to the world built in Survivor. I had my fair share of completed rumors and enjoyed every bit of it.
Exploring can be daunting when means of transportation are absent. To make our adventure fun, Cal can mount on creatures now. Being able to fast-travel between meditation spots immensely helps when returning to critical areas, eliminating any dreadful trekking and platforming if you want to find collectibles. Koboh isn’t just your ordinary planet, no; this planet dates back to the almighty High Republic era, hundreds of years before the events in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, so expect interesting archaic tech and facilities to discover when you advance through the story.
Customization just got a lot better. Instead of changing ponchos and color palettes, you can give Cal a new look with hairstyles, beards, different jackets, and pants, all you could’ve hoped for in a sequel. I enjoyed making Cal look like that random guy with a mullet hairstyle in a cringe-looking futuristic outfit you see in Back to the Future Part II to someone who looks like a bad-ass mercenary in the Outer Rim.
It’s not just Cal, but you can also customize BD-1! Changing its entire body, including its overall condition if you want your droid to look fresh, mint condition, like a toy that just got removed from its box. The sheer number of customization options is impressive, giving your version of Cal and BD-1 character and personality.
Aside from the added customizations, Greez’s saloon can be a great place to chill out if you want to escape all the fighting. You can listen to music, talk to the locals and learn about their struggles and personal opinions. There’s even a garden on the rooftop if you ever decide to grow plants! While gardening doesn’t give you much, we get more lore about the flora of the Star Wars universe. It’s also worth noting that you’ll also get to collect different kinds of fish to display on the second floor of Greez’s saloon.
These little side activities, like gardening and gathering fish species, even hanging out in the saloon listening to Hohochu by The Agasar, give us a breather from the action we constantly get, and I love it. You can even ignore them, but I appreciate these little things more than littering the game with repetitive, tiresome side quests.
Survivor looks fantastic, especially when playing the game on a 50-inch 4K television. Down to Cal’s details to the lush areas of Koboh and the dunes of Jedha, it’s one of the most visually striking games on PS5.
The main problem of Survivor’s is its overall performance on the PS5. Before the Day 0 patch, I encountered multiple issues that resulted in frame drops, and it became apparent during some cutscenes in the third act, which had me turn off Performance mode to keep the game’s frames-per-second consistent.
Respawn just released a patch in preparation for the game’s launch, and it addressed some of the performance issues, such as frame rates and improved asset load times. While there were significant improvements to the game’s overall performance on PS5, it still needs more polish. Survivor is not a technical feat, nor was the first game; the game still has noticeable issues that Respawn should be able to address in the next couple of days leading to launch — or post-launch.
Over the past week, I immensely enjoyed my time with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. There’s no doubt Survivor is a great follow-up to 2019’s Fallen Order. With the game’s significantly refined combat gameplay, expansive areas, and a decent story, you will enjoy what Survivor has in store, whether you’re a Star Wars fan or a casual gamer looking to experience a solid Star Wars game despite its technical flaws. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is definitely strong with the Force!