Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is shaping up like every sequel aspires to be
The last time I wrote about Respawn’s work on a Star Wars game, it was under the stipulation that it wasn’t enough of an RPG for us to cover. That’s no longer really the case with the next title in the franchise, Star Wars: Jedi Survivor. Nearly every aspect of what was present in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has been expanded upon; narrative, the openness and nature of the world itself, combat, customization, and much, much more. The degree of additions and improvements is truly staggering, especially considering the downright minuscule wait-time between Falle Order and Jedi Survivor; any sequel to a AAA game coming out merely 3 1 / 2 years after the last title in a franchise is mindboggling, let alone with what so far appears to be a much-expanded scope and with nearly all of its development cycle undoubtedly impacted by the pandemic.
From the word go during our 4-hour preview, it’s impossible to miss how much the game has already evolved from its predecessor; taking to the workbench aboard the Mantis the number of customization options for your lightsaber alone has been greatly enhanced; not only can you swap out various components to your liking, but you’re even able to change the color associated with each component individually, as well as the amount of polish. Additionally, players can find and equip customization options for Cal’s trusty BD-1 droid in much the same fashion. Within the options menu you’ll be greeted to several facial hair and hairstyle options for Cal; you can mix and match different sections of his clothes this time, too.
The changes only grow once crash-landed on the brand new planet, Koboh. Throughout the demo we were able to unlock the use of Greez’s Cantina as a hub, in the center of Rambler’s Reach; dotted with shops where players can exchange ore they find throughout the planet for unlockables, a gardening plot where Cal can plant seeds he can find on planets across the galaxy and sidequests for players to embark on. One sidequest, in particular, had us entering a mine in search of missing prospectors, just to find ourselves face-to-face with an optional boss fight against the very monster that had been their demise. Players can even find Tears which put them to the test for gameplay buffs, as well as Traits that they can equip that can buff specific aspects of Cal’s stats.
With the expanded scope comes the tools to help navigate the larger open zones; BD-1 comes equipped a new Visor tool which players can use to set their own waymarks for locations they hope to explore later; Cal can tame and ride a variety of creatures to help navigate the environment and aid in puzzle-solving.
It’s a lot to come to grips with, and that’s not even getting into the additions to the combat; at its core, it’s still the same game, but a short demonstration by one of the developers at the end of our session drove it home just how much Cal’s repertoire has been expanded; with 5 separate stances for players to choose between, and a variety of special attacks you can unlock for each one, there’s room for players to express themselves, far more than in the previous game. Small issues from Fallen Order do remain - animations, while improved, do still feel a little stiff in spots - but at the end of the day, it’s not hard to feel excited about how the game might come together further on into the story.
Speaking of the story, this is the one aspect that we’re unfortunately not at liberty to talk about - at least, not for the scope of the preview. What we can say is that the scope of the adventure feels significantly larger than that of Fallen Order’s; while that game felt minor in the grand scheme of things in the Star Wars universe, it’s impossible not to feel that Respawn have been given the keys to the kingdom here.
Really, it’s that feeling that has encapsulated my thoughts on the game ever since finishing up my time with the demo. Fallen Order was a great game, especially for Respawn’s first crack at the genre, but it’s abundantly clear that with the experience developing it under their belt - and the critical and commercial success that followed - they’ve been given free rein to really leave their mark on the Star Wars franchise as a whole. Jedi Survivor feels like an ambitious step forward; I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on the full game.
Disclosure: We managed to play several hours of the game last week, thanks to EA covering accommodations for a press event for the game.