Developed by Respawn and published by EA, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor embraces everything that made the first game in the series great and expands to create an even better player experience. After a three-hour playthrough and an interview with Respawn’s Blair Brown (Senior Producer) and Jeff Magers (Design Director), there are three features to be extremely excited about. In Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, players meet a more mature Cal who has all of the knowledge he learned from the first game, and with that comes a broader way to explore the different worlds of the galaxy.
Respawn knows how to build stellar traversal mechanics and it was one of the highlights of Fallen Order. How did the team manage to improve? Well, a grappling hook, I mean ascension cable. While Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has the wall runs, climbing, double jumps, and the rest of the traversal mechanics from the last game, the ascension cable really links them all together. Respawn’s Jeff Magers explained, “We went back over everything in Fallen Order and tried to add more responsiveness to make everything feel easy. We made things better from the last game by adding new things like the ascension cable, which gives us a cool flow to traversal.”
And man, does it flow. Moving through the world of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a dynamic sprint that asks the player to be thoughtful of the environment around them, looking for every platform and mechanic to take full advantage of. That speed, while capable only because of the ease of connecting movements, also offers difficulty in its own right. While I would zip through one section on Koboh, using wall runs and jumps to move through the cavernous planet, another section with endless drops would leave me questioning just how quickly I was tapping “A.” But that difficulty is also mitigated in some instances by the ascension cable. “A little forgiveness,” as Magers called it.
But the cable isn’t the only adjustment. Respawn’s Blair Brown added. “Looking at the previous game, [we were] finding the pain points and wanting to improve on them. Like making Cal climb faster at the start of this game, adding the ascension cable, and not having to press inputs to connect to a wall. It just made him feel faster, more fun, and more agile.”
Read our full Star Wars Jedi: Survivor interview with Respawn’s Blair Brown and Jeff Magers here.
Like the others on this list, customization isn’t necessarily something new to the Star Wars Jedi games from Respawn, but it is expanded and plays a much larger role. While the last game allowed you to change BD-1’s color palette, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor allows players to find different droid parts to change this little buddy’s entire look too. But BD-1 isn’t the only one that can get a full make-over; as you explore the planets across the galaxy, you can unlock new hairstyles (both head and facial) for Cal and entirely different cosmetic outfits—you’re not just palette-swapping a Pancho now.
A way to make players feel like they have more investment in their avatar, the addition of Customization also gives players a reason to explore. And that’s what makes customization a large pillar for Jedi Survivor. Magers explains, “In this game, [customization] was actually a new pillar. So we had to [add more to] customization this game because we felt that we could do more after the last game. And it’s kind of for two reasons. One is to let the player make BD and Cal and their lightsaber their own to have a greater connection with the avatar. And the other thing is to support exploration. To put the player back into exploration because it gives us richer rewards in the world. So there are more ways to customize your character, and there are more things to find in the world and explore.”
Combat in Jedi: Fallen Order was a blast. Learning new techniques and flipping between them became a fun experience that helped turn any fight more dynamic. And in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, it’s only been expanded. With five stances in total, including two new ones with the ability to upgrade them, the stance system offers unique ways to engage in combat. Magers called Combat Stances what he was most excited for gamers to experience, saying, “Because I’ve played this like, 7000 times, all of the stances feel unique, and every time I play, I pick two different ones. This feels like a fresh game, and I’m still enjoying learning new things.”
In Single stance, Cal wields one lightsaber and has even footing for both offense and defense. Double-bladed he wields a double-bladed lightsaber that works as a staff to handle larger mobs and manage crowd control. Dual Wield stance splits Cal’s lightsaber into two and also offers a high skill ceiling that benefits aggressive players but also leaves you more open to receiving damage. While the first three are available early on because Cal learned them in Fallen Order, Crossguard and Blaster stances also offer more combat diversity, and appear later in the game and while I got to see a demo of them, I didn’t get the chance to play myself. Crossguard allows you to deal massive damage but takes a long time to wind up and the blaster gives Cal a long-range attack.
The diversity of combat means that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is set to be endlessly replayable. By exploring different stances as you upgrade them, and finding out which one works well for your playstyle, the five separate combat stances are an expansion and addition to the game sure to keep players engaged and even more ready for new game plus.
All in all, there is a lot to be excited for in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and while these new additions to the gameplay are three of them, believe me, they just scratch the surface. And at only three hours of play time, I know I’ve just scratched the surface of what this game has to offer too.
Star Wars Jedi Survivor releases April 28, 2023 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Microsoft Windows (via Origin and Steam).
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.