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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – Fantastic Sequel

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor by Respawn, Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm Games is finally here, and it is well worth the wait if you can persist with the graphical and crashing issues, at least from my PC version experience. It sure has gamers talking, though not all conversations have been good. I have been playing the game on PC and while I am pretty forgiving when it comes to a game’s performance, admittedly the constant crashes made it hard to progress the game for this review. Performance aside, this is a fantastic sequel that provides quality-of-life changes from the original and adds plenty of new aspects for both combat and exploration that Star Wars fans are going to love. This is one of my favourite Star Wars games to date, so let’s dive in to continue the journey of Jedi Knight Cal Kestis.

I completed another playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order last week so that I was 100% ready to dive into Jedi: Survivor at release. Star Wars hype was high for me having just finished the excellent third season of The Mandalorian, so I jumped in super excited. I was thankful that we got a brief overview of the key events from the first game so players who haven’t played Fallen Order for a while since release can take benefit from the recap. It’s been five years since then and the group of Cal, Greez, Cere and Merrin have split up, going their separate ways to fight the Empire in their own way.

The grip of the Empire on the galaxy is ever present in this depiction of Coruscant where we see the Empire logo on buildings as Cal flies past in a transport ship, cuffed and under armed guard. The graphics and lighting effects have increased since the last game, to be expected given the focus on PC and new-gen consoles. I started to get some framerate dips here, but the scenes were quite detailed, so I thought it was just my system not keeping up (I have a RTX3080). In one scene they descend down a subterranean metropolis to level 2046 and this reminded me a similar scene from the cancelled Star Wars 1313. There were many years where I wished we had a game like and now we do, albeit with a jedi as opposed to a bounty hunter. (It would still be cool to have a new bounty hunter game!).

We meet Senator Sejan and discover Cal’s capture was a set up organised by Saw Gerrera to get up close and personal with the Senator so he could be interrogated for intelligence on the Empire. This whole introductory sequence both reminds us of how to fight with our single or double-bladed saber and basic push/pull force powers, while also introducing us to the new force powers, starting with an area slow effect, and a new traversal mechanism using the grappling hook. It all feels familiar but also more dynamic as you hack and slash through troopers, droids and mercenaries. We also meet the first of several companions, Bode, who we can command to do certain things with the ‘ctrl’ button. He stays with us for a gameplay sequence and then he flies off on his own mission. We see him again later, but the moments of fighting together with companions is brief. A similar thing happens with Merrin when you catch up with her later on. It would be cool if they stayed with you much longer, or as you leave a major hub it asks if you want a companion to join you.

The quality-of-life improvements from the first game are noticeable and it mostly makes actions more efficient. When there is something for BD-1 to scan or slice, BD-1 will run over to it. Pressing the scan button almost instantly scans the object interacted with. Same when finding a loot crate – Cal will bang on the side of it and BD-1 will jump on his shoulder and the object is looted instantly. Also, when you jump to grab onto a climbing ledge, we don’t have to quickly press a button to grab hold, we just simply jump onto it and Cal starts climbing. It all feels much smoother and more efficient, respecting the player’s time so we can explore further and carry on our story.

There are times in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor where Cal can use a Jedi mind trick to coerce a subject. In the first instance it’s against the Senator to make him reveal a secret. Later we can use this to make a stormtrooper open a forcefield, and it’s a jedi ability we would expect a Jedi Knight like Cal to use. Through these types of interactions, we see that while Cal has become a worthy Jedi Knight, he is also still in that dangerous area where he has an anger within him about the Empire and its grip on the galaxy that has caused him to lose so many people from his past. He does things that could be leading Cal down a dark path, but then also will step in without hesitation to help someone in distress.

When on the planet of Koboh where we meet up with Greez, we see Cal’s do-good nature and sense of hope shine through. People he meets in the street will tell him about rumours they have heard which will add a note to the map and off you go on side quests. These are fun and provide great backstories to events of the past, as well as lore into the surrounding areas. You are often rewarded with new cosmetic components such as lightsaber parts, clothing and hairstyles for Cal and new cosmetic designs for BD-1. Where in Fallen Order, we could just change the colour of BD-1’s frame, now we can change the way each of his body components look. I loved changing Cal’s whole outfit from time to time and as I was playing at one point, I had Cal looking sort of like Kyle Katarn from Dark Forces/Jedi Knight (damn those were great games back in the day).

This was accentuated when I unlocked the ability to shoot a blaster while also wielding our lightsaber. We start the game with two fighting stances, single and double lightsaber. The introductory sequence unlocked the dual sabers stance, and then later on we can unlock the blaster/saber style as well as a slower moving but harder hitting cross-saber stance akin to Kylo Ren. This gives the player a greater range of options to be able to play the Jedi the way you want to play him, and the freedom to swap and change when you get to the next meditation point.

Meditation points have been upgraded immensely too. Not only can you rest, train and spend skill points (of which the skill tree has seen a large upgrade), but now you can use these meditation points to swap out perks and also fast travel. Fast travel is something that the first game sorely needed, and now we have it which also plays to the fact that the explorable areas of each of the four explorable planets and surrounding areas has increased hugely. There are vast open spaces begging to be explored and I had many moments where I stopped in wonder at the sprawling scenes laid out in front of me.

I could see meditation points in the distance but also on the redesigned map screen you can see shaded areas that you haven’t explored yet with red, yellow and green markers. Red being impassable objects, yellow being entries to new areas not yet explored and green are objects you may have visually sighted but not yet interacted with. There is also a heap of collectible items such as ores, seeds, datadiscs and more that can be traded back at Koboh once you unlock certain characters and progress the story. This makes the game swing more towards RPG-lite elements which plays right into my perfect Star Wars game territory.

This guy was my Ogdo Bogdo experience. It took me at least eight attempts to take him down. Shame, shame.

The main story and side quests started to lean into lore from the High Republic era which recent novels have started to delve into. There are also other Star Wars games and movies looking at the High Republic era which excites me for the future of Star Wars content. I loved the re-introduction of Greez, Cere and Merrin from Jedi: Fallen Order, as well as meeting new characters such as Bode, Doma and more. There’s a shady character in Greez’ saloon that tells you to shove off for a while, then later recruits you for bounties across the galaxy which was a really cool experience. I won’t go into any more of the story as this (and all story games) should be experienced for yourself. Lopping off the arm of a wompa-like monster was oh-so satisfying, and I also really enjoyed being able to tame creatures and use them as mounts. There are some you can hang off and fly certain distances and others you can ride – and yes, you can pat the boglings!

All of this fun Star Wars stuff aside however, I unfortunately had a lot of technical and graphical issues with my PC playthrough. The game looks absolutely mind blowing and I loved the attention to detail everywhere I looked. Coruscant had a gritty cyberpunk feel and the wide open spaces of Koboh and Jedah were so thrilling to explore. I just experience a fair number of crashes as well as drops in frame rate and texture popping, particularly with clothes and hair. There was a 6gb patch the night before release which helped a lot, but it was still crashing often for me over the weekend. I would get about 30-45 minutes of gameplay in before things would start to slow down and then ultimately the game would crash. It would freeze and lock me out of the desktop where I would need to reset the PC or create a virtual desktop to be able to close the game in task manager. I really hope we see some decent patches to fix this as it is marring an otherwise amazing Star Wars gameplay experience. If you haven’t bought the game yet, I would hold off until EA/Respawn announce decent fixes. Keep an eye on EA/Respawn socials for further updates because you really should experience Star Wars Jedi: Survivor for yourself in all its glory.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a game you want to experience without any issues as it’s a fantastic sequel that pleasantly surprised me with quality-of-life improvements and new ways to enhance the already-solid combat. The worlds to explore are amazingly detailed and far more open than in Fallen Order, and there are so many great side quests and activities to spend time with. Not only is this a great sequel, but it’s also a highly enjoyable Star Wars game that leans into Star Wars lore well with dynamic and exciting gameplay to match. I just hope the crashes and performance issues are sorted as soon as practical for the dev team. I am pretty excited at the prospect of a possible third game in the series, but in the meantime, I have a lot more activities to complete as well as new game+. May the force be with you.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by EA Australia and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is available now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.


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