One of the biggest surprises of the last console generation may be, hands down, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. A single-player action-adventure game taking place little after the infamous Order 66, we followed Cal Kestis. Not only was Cal’s breakout story by Respawn Entertainment and EA genuinely fun to play, but it also shone a light on a period we didn’t normally see in the modern age of Star Wars. I personally have always been a Star Wars fan. Personally, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order brought me back to my childhood. It had that same wonder and mystery that the greater cinematic universe has felt like it’s been fighting for years. With Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, it was good to see that magic not only continues, but improves in every single way.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor continues Cal’s story five years after the events of Fallen Order. Greez, Cere, and Merrin have left to do their own things. Cal and BD-1, on the other hand, have decided to continue helping Saw Gerrera. After a mission goes wrong, Cal decides it’s time to revisit his old friends and continue his Jedi training. Things quickly change when Cal finds an ancient bacta tank with a person still alive inside.
You see, Cal incidentally found a remnant of the Jedi order from the High Republic era. But his kind heart thinking he was helping this fellow Jedi, inadvertently brought back an ideal that almost tore the Jedi order apart hundreds of years ago. With the reawakened threat, and the threat of the Empire ever present, Cal and the rest of the crew begin their adventure to find new hope for the Jedi order while also doing everything they can to stop mistakes of the past that could end any hope for a brighter future.
One of the biggest fears with a sequel like this is, “is there some sort of power reset”? Thankfully, no. And there is no greater way of showing that Cal has kept his knowledge from his last adventure and became smarter in the time skip than the opening level. The game starts off on an all-too-familiar planet, with Cal going right to the heart of the Empire. Think back on the intro of Fallen Order, where Cal was terrified, fighting for his life, and relearning everything he’s suppressed for years. Right from the jump, Cal is everything he wasn’t before. He’s methodical, he’s calm, and he’s always in control. Most importantly, he hasn’t forgotten anything from the last game. Every Jedi power and skill from the last game is available or becomes available throughout this first mission.
And this is where I immediately fell back in love with the story. It was fantastic to see Cal has grown. These weren’t five empty years where nothing happens. These were five years full of experiences and growth. As the story unfolds, we get to learn what happened and why Greez, Cere, and Merrin left Cal. Thankfully it wasn’t a tenuous break. They all just separated for different reasons. And Cal immediately shows that the reason he split was that he wanted to take the fight to the Empire and punish them for what they’ve done to his master and comrades of the Jedi order. This is only where the story begins. But where it goes, without spoilers, dives into storylines and parts of loss that I never expected. To put it lightly, if Fallen Order was about finding the light and hope in your darkest times, then Jedi: Survivor is about how far we’ll go to protect what’s important to us.
Cal and the story weren’t the only areas that saw massive improvements from the first game, either. I was shocked to realize that there are fewer planets to explore this time around, even though the holomap is huge. But this isn’t to the game’s detriment, even though some of the explorable environments on the planets do feel samey at times. Most don’t just feel like long windy corridors on planets. They feel like actual planets with depth. Take Koboh, the game’s main planet. This planet is where many main story beats happen while also being a hub for just about every side activity. There’s botany, where now you actually plant collected seeds in a garden you control, townsfolk who tell you rumors where you can find new side quests or collectibles, shops, and a mini-game in the local cantina.
Read Our Interview with Respawn Entertainment About Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
Thank goodness for the rumor system too. It added so much life to the Star Wars Jedi universe. We are visiting worlds where people actually live and go about their daily life, and the rumors reflect that. Cal is a stranger, but he wants to help anyone in trouble or find the next mystery. So why not get that information from the people who know it best? The people who have their ear to the ground? Or the people who pay the most attention to things that seem…off in an area they frequent? It’s not just for finding mysteries either. Rumors are tied into bounty hunting. Bounty hunters can be found throughout the worlds, but having an actual person assign us bounties to take out those that are hunting us down? A+ idea.
Think of all this like when Obi-Wan in Star Wars Episode 2 talked to Dex in the diner. We’re doing favors and getting more information. Slowly growing a symbiotic relationship with the people we’re helping. We help them with their troubles? They help us by telling us where to find a possible upgrade or chest. Such a simple system that feels like side quests but ends up building on the fantasy of all this much more than any side quest system could in this setting.
On top of all that, the planet is MASSIVE. It’s full of hidden areas to explore within the vast open areas. While they may seem daunting to explore, they’re genuinely fun to run around in on foot or by mount. Each has its own benefits, like on a mount, you just get around faster. While on foot, it may take longer to get to a destination, but you just notice more. Like, collectibles, buildings that may house hidden areas, lore bits, or my favorite finds, mediation chambers. Meditation chambers are challenge rooms set up by High Republic Jedi that challenge you on your wit and experience with your powers. They’re not too long, but they’re so much fun, and oh so rewarding to get health or force boosts, or perks.
But my favorite changes are to how exploration works now, specifically because of fast travel. I’ve been having much more fun going back to older areas to find everything. Gone are the days of backtracking through long, winding, detailed levels with a singular path back to the Mantis. On top of that, the map is vastly improved. It clearly outlines where any area you haven’t been to is with clearly outlined boxes showing, “You can enter this undiscovered area here!” As someone who has been working diligently to platinum the game, it is a marked improvement from Fallen Order. For anyone else like me, it’s also worth noting every area on the map also tells you what exactly you’re missing there too. This should be the gold standard for any game that tries to be as massive as this one.
So how has combat changed? Well, it’s changed by giving us more choices. By the end of Fallen Order, we had two stances. One with a singular lightsaber and a Darth Maul-style dual-sided lightsaber. By about halfway through Jedi: Survivor, you’ll have five different stances. Each with a very different playstyle. While only two can be equipped at a time, that felt more than plenty. I still found myself favoring the solo lightsaber just because it felt classic and like playing a classic Jedi I’ve grown up watching.
The choices to have backup ways to take down enemies, each with their own merits, like a more heavy-hitting crossguard style lightsaber, one with a blaster that adds more range, and a more dedicated dual-wielding lightsaber stance, felt like a breath of fresh air. Again, it’s all about choice, and each one of them was surprisingly really fun and deep in its own way. And when going on 20+ hours in my 100% run, it’s genuinely fun to revisit levels and take on enemies in a new way.
On top of all that, the combat felt much more refined this time. To me, Fallen Order was fun, but no portion of the combat felt like it was refined. I didn’t get that feeling here. It all goes back to something I’ve been trying to get across throughout this review, Respawn listened to feedback. Every portion of combat felt much more satisfying, especially the boss fights. Just about every major boss fight had my jaw on the floor. The fights themselves and interstitial cinematics just kept raising the bar after I felt they couldn’t get better. One fight in particular about two-thirds through the game may be one of my favorite boss fights of all time. They’re all challenging, but they all felt like I was playing those cinematic lightsaber fights from the prequel trilogy. With gorgeous setpieces, great choreography, fantastic sound effects, and shocking endings that made me rethink, I knew where this game was going.
To get personal here at the end, Survivor cemented my love for this franchise. I’ve been teetering on the edge of being a fairweather fan throughout these past years of Disney Plus shows and going to the theme parks for a taste of the world. Fallen Order may have begun to repair my feelings for this galaxy far far away. Jedi: Survivor shows just how much deeper the rabbit hole is with the potential of bringing in the High Republic, Old Republic, and other eras of Star Wars into the Skywalker age we all are so familiar with. If Respawn continues to build on Cal’s story, I hope they continue to allow him to explore how interconnected the greater Star Wars universe is. Because this, to me, is where the overall story thrives.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a fantastic definition of what a sequel should be. Its overall presentation showed that Respawn and the amazing team of developers listened to the criticism. From the improvements to combat, to exploration, to even just finding ways to add more depth to the characters, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the Star Wars game that fans have been waiting for. I hope Respawn continues Cal’s journey because they showed they aren’t afraid to go places that many other modern Star Wars media have been scared to go. For now, I’ll just take this gift and continue to let this game show me why, after almost 30 years of consuming Star Wars content, I love this galaxy far far away so much.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is available on April 28th on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a fantastic definition of what a sequel should be. Its overall presentation showed that Respawn and the amazing team of developers listened to the criticism. From the improvements to combat, to exploration, to even just finding ways to add more depth to the characters, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the Star Wars game that fans have been waiting for.