Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is more of an RPG than before, but does that matter?
Yesterday, I published my preview for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Back when I wrote a preview for Fallen Order back in 2019, I used our informal “Branching Path” moniker to denote that the game I was covering was not, in fact, an RPG. I opted to remove the moniker this time around. Why?
It might read as a bit of a cop-out, but there’s a reason that the channel description for our internal communications is “Everything is an RPG these days”. While we still might see comments here and there asking why we continue to cover Monster Hunter, Capcom themselves have long since begun calling the franchise a series of Action RPGs. Though Sony Santa Monica doesn’t call it one, there’s certainly an argument to be had that the modern God of War titles are Action RPGs as well. Sometimes later down the road we’ll decide that a call we made - like not covering Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - might have not been the right call; or that we could’ve justified it in the long run. When the line has become so blurred, and so many games incorporate RPG elements nowadays it’s hard to tell when exactly to draw the line.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was decidedly a Metroidvania with some clear inspirations from titles like Dark Souls. Respawn Entertainment doesn’t shy away from those comparisons; and first and foremost Jedi: Survivor is the same. During our preview session last week we even were taught how to wall-jump by a group of friendly animals. Yet with the sequel’s expanded scope comes a much larger focus on elements that would feel at home in an RPG.
To be clear; we were skeptical about whether we even wanted to cover it in the first place. Ultimately we landed on attending the preview event, as we had covered Fallen Order, and we could always fall back on our tried and true “Branching Path” moniker if we weren’t sure it was enough of an RPG for bog-standard coverage. Yet, after we had the chance to play the game for ourselves we opted against labeling our preview as such.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has permanent stat upgrades you can find. There are sidequests, with named NPCs, that end with a notable reward. Throughout the galaxy you can find and recruit people to join the town at Rambler’s Reach, some of them setting up shop where you can spend resources you’ve discovered. You can maintain a garden filled with seeds of the plants you’ve discovered throughout the game. You can tame and ride mounts to access previously inaccessible locations; and more.
Is it enough to say without any shadow of a doubt that the game is an RPG? No. But for some players, the changes that the game has made to the series’ formula are enough to put it on their radar - and even for those of us that might not consider it an RPG, it’s easy to see how these new elements would appeal to RPG fans in general.
On that note; it’s those same upgrades, that expansion in scope that has energized my excitement for the game. I was already looking forward to seeing what Respawn could refine from the first game, but it does feel like the team has made some great decisions to broaden the type of series that Star Wars Jedi is without completely alienating what made Fallen Order great. Whether it's an RPG or not, those added RPG elements go a long way to setting up Cal’s latest journey to be larger, and more exciting than before.
As a genre-specific site, it can be tough to decide what to cover. At the end of the day, it mostly comes down to what we as staff consider might be worth the coverage; and that usually relies on what we think appeals to us, as RPG gamers, and if we feel there’s room to talk about those titles as an outlet. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor feels like a game that fits the bill, more so than its predecessor. We can’t make that call for everyone on whether or not it’s enough of an RPG to count; but for us, it’s enough to get us excited to see how much deeper it might go with the full release.
Disclosure: We managed to play several hours of the game last week, thanks to EA covering accommodations for a press event for the game.