Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review: the best star wars game in a very long time
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Featured Image Credit: Respawn / EA
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is probably the best Star Wars game I’ve played. When people talk about the greatest gaming sequels, titles like Assassin’s Creed 2, Uncharted 2 and Batman: Arkham City are thrown about - and rightly so! I think, however, we may have to add Jedi: Survivor to that list now too.
Cal Kestis’ second game outshines his first on every level. Developers Respawn have really taken on feedback and improved almost every issue that players had back in 2019, while adding a plethora of new features that’ll keep you entertained for at least 30 hours.
The story takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order. Protagonist Cal is pursued by the Empire across the galaxy but this time he’s no longer a young Padawan learning his craft. He’s a battle-hardened Jedi Knight with the skills and abilities to match. Survivor opens on the planet Coruscant, which looks absolutely gorgeous with vibrant neon lights reflecting off a dynamic cityscape. Before long though, you’ll find yourself exploring the lands of a long forgotten planet named Koboh.
Honestly, Koboh is the best part about Survivor. Many of the other planets you’ll venture to on your journey are far more linear and only really serve the purpose of continuing the story but Koboh… oh boy. Koboh is an expansive open playground full of secrets, collectibles, side-quests, bosses, bounty hunters, Jedi Chambers, beguiling characters and enough spectacular vistas to make a travel Instagram account jealous.
It’s one of my favourite open-zone areas in gaming, period.
Even though the planet is humongous, it still feels alive. Speaking to some of the interesting characters unlocks side-quests, or rumours, for you to investigate at your leisure. Some will lead to terrifyingly difficult boss battles, whereas others will end up with you doing a bit of gardening on the roof of a saloon. The town of Rambler’s Reach is where all the misfits of the universe assemble. The more NPCs you help along the way, the busier the town will be. It almost reminded me a little of Animal Crossing, where in between missions I’d check in on my favourite townsfolk. A funny frog looking guy called Turgle and a slug-in-a-space-suit fisherman with a Scottish accent called Skoova are the best, if you were wondering. I love them and would die for them.
On your adventures, you’ll stumble on Jedi Chambers which are hidden areas that are not too dissimilar to shrines in Breath of the Wild. Use your skills and newly learned abilities to solve a puzzle, rush through a parkour course or take down a few waves of enemies only using a specific stance and you’ll be rewarded with a skill point. Bounty hunters also frequent the lands of Koboh, adding another dynamic to the pulsating planet. Take down enough and legendary bounty hunters will start to appear. Respwan have almost just made their own Mandalorian video game within Survivor, something that everyone is calling for.
There’s also a fun little tactical card building minigame called Holotactics that I had to stop myself playing to try and finish the campaign in time for this review. There’s so much to do on Koboh that I don’t think I’ll ever do everything, even though I desperately want to.
Survivor allows the player to choose between five different lightsaber stances: Single-Blade, Double-Blade, Dual-Blade, Cross Guard and Blaster. Only two can be selected at a time but you can switch whenever at a mediation spot. Each stance has its own skill tree so ideally you’ll want to pick two that fit your playstyle the most and upgrade them as much as possible. I encourage you to try them all out though as each one is unique yet still incredibly rewarding to slice Stormtroopers up with.
One of my favourite ways to take out a big crowd of enemies is to shoot them up into the air using telekinesis and then, while they’re suspended, take them out with my blaster, using a Red Dead Redemption Dead Eye style ability. The first time I perfected the move, I felt like a real Jedi Master. It’s possible to reset all your skills to put them into any branch you like too, which is a nice touch.
The main problem that most had with Fallen Order was the navigation. Getting stuck on Zeffo trying to get back to the Mantis (your ship) was a truly frustrating experience. This time around, however, Respawn has redesigned the holomap, making it easier to figure out your route. There’s also the option to have navigation assist, which points out where to go if you simply want to follow the path of the main campaign. Each area is designed to be almost a spider web of adventure, instead of a linear A to B path that was often the case in the first game. The icing on the cake though is that there’s a fast travel system! Koboh is so vast that it’s needed but it also gives you the freedom to explore without the worry of getting lost or trapped.
Cal learns some really cool tricks in the later stages of the game that make use of his companion BD-1 and other allies in combat scenarios or when figuring out puzzles. One skill that Mr Kestis masters fairly early on though is the power to tame animals. Being able to ride across the stunning scenery or gliding above an active volcano allows journeys to be much quicker and it never gets tiring seeing the little legs of a Nekko scurrying along as if it was in a Scooby Doo chase scene.
It’s fitting that the advancements from Fallen Order to Survivor have developed at the same pace as Cal Kestis learning his craft as a Jedi. Combat (in every stance) and traversal is fluid. I often find myself in flow state while parkouring across a wide ravine to knacker a couple of droids on the other side. Going back to Fallen Order would feel like going from a Michelin Star restaurant one night to a burger van the next.
In Elden Ring, when you first uncover a new land, the game shows you an enchanting vista that you know you’re about to explore for the next several hours. Jedi Survivor does the same, highlighting how beautiful some of the terrain is. At a certain point, you’ll travel to the shattered moon of Koboh and I think I stared at the sky for a good five minutes in a trance-like state.
Jedi Survivor has a performance mode that can be toggled on and off so the game can run with a super smooth framerate. It works well, however the visuals are noticeably much worse with it on, so much so that I’ve had to keep it turned off from pure FOMO of how good the game can look, even if it causes a few frame stutters when there’s a lot happening on the screen.
Cinematics look wonderful and I found myself invested in the story much more than I was in the first game, with likeable characters that would fit into any Star Wars show on Disney+. However there’s often a really sudden cut between gameplay and cutscene that can be a little jarring.
Customisation is a huge part of Survivor. Not just in how you play with different stances and perks (yes, there are perks too that can be used to complement your chosen playstyle) but also in how you look. Cal’s hairstyle, facial hair and outfit can be changed at any time once you’ve found the cosmetic in a chest or bought it from one of the shops on Koboh. I laughed out loud when I discovered that Cal could have a mullet.
Everyone’s favourite droid companion, BD-1, as well as your lightsaber and blaster can be fully customised with all sorts of materials and colours too. It reminds me of the Gunsmith in recent Call of Duty games. There are almost too many options but it allows you to make a version of Cal that immerses you in the game just that much more.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an exceptional sequel, improving on every gripe fans had with Fallen Order while adding countless new features in that’ll keep players engrossed for a long, long time. It’ll take something really special to come out to stop Survivor being the best action/adventure game of 2023.
Pros: Improves and enhances the first game, Koboh is a joy, beguiling characters, gorgeous vistas and a plethora of ‘extra’ content.
Cons: Performance mode looks a bit naff, few frame rate issues.
For fans of: Star Wars, open-world adventure games
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor releases for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (version tested), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC on 28 April. Review code provided by the publisher. Read a guide to our review scores here.