When the original Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was released, it was like a revelation. It was proof that a Star Wars game could be something truly special again, that it could slot itself in with the rest of the big AAA players despite carrying the sort of stigma a licensed title tends to carry. Not only did it help elevate the existing depth of the world it was based on, but it was a shining gem in the sea that we consider the modern stage of the series as it is today. Read on for our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Preview!
That success couldn’t be more evident in the simple existence that is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – a proper sequel to the original that aims to be bigger and far more intricate than its predecessor. Evidence that was further reinforced with a special hands-on event I recently had the opportunity to attend as the first-ever preview of the game for the press at large. EA pulled out all the stops and sat me down with a fully-fledged high-end PC build of Jedi: Survivor, giving out around three hours of total playtime. For a single-player title, that’s quite lengthy, and as such, I was able to get a good grasp on the finer details of the project.
It’s clear right away that there are some changes to the already-established battle system from Fallen Order. The sequel grants you a set of five stances to play around with including a double-bladed stance, a single-blade stance, and a dual-wielding stance right out of the gate– both of which offer different playstyles depending on which you have selected. The double-bladed stance, for example, is highly mobile and better for taking on a group of enemies. The dual-wielding stance by contrast is a full-on offensive style that can overwhelm enemies with powerful lightsaber strikes. Jedi: Survivor expands on the stance system further by introducing the Crossguard and Blaster stances. The former is a powerful stance that deals heavy damage but comes with a long wind-up time, whilst the latter allows Cal to take aim at long-range opponents. The best part? You can map these stances on the controller to switch them in real-time. This comes as a marked improvement from the first title, which only offered up two stances to players throughout the course of its story.
Jedi: Survivor's narrative opens up with Cal back on the Mantis, the ship you'll probably recognize from the first game. You’re tasked with checking out the workbench and it’s here you can customize your lightsaber – another aspect that didn’t open up until later in Fallen Order. Cal’s lightsaber is entirely customizable from color to the various parts of the handle, which feels appropriate because while it is Cal's story, you're the one piloting him on this adventure. Once everything is in order, the game triggers a cutscene and you’re off to the new planet of Koboh.
During the course of this event, the Mantis becomes damaged during landing and it’ll be up to Cal to seek repairs. There’s an outpost not far from your landing site so the first objective is to get there and do some exploring through an often treacherous land.
It’s from here that Jedi: Survivor really starts to open up and you can really see the beginnings of the sort of expansion you might expect from a big sequel. That there is a greater focus on exploration is the first hint and it only increases from there. To put it simply: the planet of Koboh is beautiful and its vast expanses are highlighted not only in the visual upgrade employed in the graphics but also just the immense number of ways you can go about getting around the world now. Terrain is much more varied – with multiple types of experiences to be found on just a single planet and traversal being more tuned to accommodate the world. It’s to the point that they’ve added fast travel to help you get around, and while Jedi: Survivor isn’t an open-world game, the areas really are big enough that you’ll need to use them in order to avoid some lengthy backtracking.
The fast travel feature can be accessed through Meditation Points – another holdover from Fallen Order, and one where it’s imperative you at least interact with lest you miss tagging that area - seriously, don't ignore them! These are especially important because they also offer up ways for Cal to unlock new skills, rest, train and adjust your various lightsaber stances. Later on, you’ll also encounter what is known as Perks, which can be equipped in this same menu.
Perks are notable because they alter the way you play Jedi: Survivor significantly and they’re found by simply playing the game. You’ll start with three slots and that will expand and unlock as you progress, with powerful Perks requiring more than one slot to activate. For example, the Resilience perk can increase the block meter, which already operates on a cooldown.
Aside from combat and the elements of exploration, Jedi: Survivor offers up a good deal of customization. Cal himself can discover new hairstyles, beards, and clothing to mix and match as you please. Then of course there’s the lightsaber, which was mentioned earlier, and even Cal’s trusty droid BD-1 can have a go at various cosmetic upgrades.
There’s a lot and though we’ve covered a decent amount here already there’s still more that Jedi: Survivor has to offer. In addition to the main quest, you can go off the beaten path, and talk to NPCs to trigger various side quests known as Rumors. It’s up to you if you want to do these quests or not, but doing them will net some interesting scenarios you won’t see in the main story. Everything is coded to the world too – further providing the immersion for the planet that is Koboh and the current culture there. Along with that, other RPG elements will come into play such as recruiting and other tasks that offer more laid-back activities.
Outside of the main gameplay loop, Star Wars fans will be able to recognize some very specific nods from the prequel trilogy, for example, and they’re being used here in a way to further a group known as the Bedlam Raiders. They’ll attack Cal as soon as he lands on Koboh so it won’t be too much of a wait, but you’ll see that they’re a good use of taking something that has been known in the film universe and repurposing it without leaning hard on shallow nostalgia. That is to say, Jedi: Survivor, much like Fallen Order, feels like a natural extension of the existing Star Wars universe in a way that even the newer material sometimes struggles to do without being too on the nose.
It’s these things combined with the visual upgrades, enhancements to the gameplay, and the focus on exploration that have Jedi: Survivor looking like an upgrade on a similar level that we saw in the jump from Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed 2. The core game is there, but better in every way and it’s on display as soon as you get control of Cal. It just feels like they really doubled down on improving from Fallen Order and then on top of that, created more for you to actually do in the game. There’s just so much – to the point I spent a good amount of my three hours playtime just looking at everything. If this is just on the first planet, then I can only imagine what lies in store as Cal’s journey continues. If it’s anything like what I played so far, then certainly Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will easily find its place as one of the best games of 2023.
TechRaptor played Star Wars Jedi: Survivor at an event they were invited to by Electronic Arts.