While Respawn Entertainment is usually associated with multiplayer-centric games like Titanfall and Apex Legends, the studio surprised everyone when it launched single-player game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order back in 2019. After three years, Respawn is back with the sequel. Does it live up to its predecessor or does the studio fall victim to the sophomore slump Read on for our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review.
(Note: For the most part, this is a spoiler-free review, and we won’t discuss any major story beats as to not ruin it for would-be players).
Jedi Mind Trick
The story of Survivor kicks things off a few years after the events of Fallen Order. Cal, our main protagonist from the first, has spent the last years foiling the plans of the Empire in any way he can and enlisting the aid of anyone who wants to take the fight against the tyrannical Emperor. But the years of fighting have not been kind to Cal. Tired from his over-obsession with his battle against the Empire, Cal has lost his focus and, in the process, has lost countless allies and friends. This is a very different Cal from when we last saw him, one driven to the brink to use all means to survive this endless war.
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While Jedi Survivor sets the stage for what may be a relentless tale of Cal and company going up against the full force of the Empire, we’ll warn fans now that expectations for the story should remain in check and, if not more, open-minded. In truth, Jedi Survivor’s story is one that doesn’t stick close to the chest when it comes to playing off the nostalgic note, much like the previous game. That by no means makes it a weaker story, despite my preference for Fallen Order’s story, but if anything, it does make it a strong one as Respawn seeks to tell their own unique story set in the Star Wars universe without relying too much on what’s been established in the universe.
The Empire’s presence is felt but by no means the center of Cal’s journey this time around. Instead, we’re introduced to a new set of cast, some allies, and other enemies. Much of the campaign will be spent unraveling the mystery behind the character in the bacta tank that we were first shown in the original reveal trailer. No spoilers here, but the campaign, which took me roughly 20+ hours (longer if you tackle all the side missions) to beat, was an experience well worth undertaking.
What I loved most is how Respawn, this time around, focused on the characters you meet along your journey. They aren’t just one-and-done characters that vanish completely after being introduced, as every character you meet will gather up at Pyloon’s Saloon, located in the massive semi-open world of Koboh. Every visit you make to the saloon, all the characters will have new dialogue. Some will react to the current story progression, while others will have their tale that progresses as you progress.
In some ways, it feels that Jedi Survivor takes a page out of God of War Ragnarok’s world-building, which translates well into the Star Wars universe.
There is plenty to explore in Jedi Survivor, and every location is flooded with pieces of lore; be that a simple databank pickup or from the NPCs scattered throughout, such as a fisherman named Scuvva Steve who has an earful of fishing tales to tell you. Even the enemies have their own stories to tell, as every encounter is littered with dialogue should you decide not the engage them immediately.
Both the droids and stormtroopers are huge highlights, as while they’re enemies, you can’t help but feel bad once you hear them talking like normal humans, going on about their lives, being excited to get home, only for your saber to chop them in half.
Jedi Survivor also has a number of side activities you can partake in. Chamber puzzles make a return, and with some new gameplay mechanics introduced in Survivor, they’re even more challenging than before.
NPCs will also issue side missions for when you’re out exploring. Elsewhere, Survivor also introduces a new board game that pits enemy factions against one another in a real-time battle.
There’s also a bounty system, and you can go and hunt a number of bounty hunters who are trying to capture you. The bigger the bounty hunter is, the more the levels will begin to change, with new enemies cropping up as you progress up the list.
Collectibles are scattered everywhere, too, with cosmetics altering Cal’s looks, as well as his lightsaber and BD. I do wish they had more interesting skins, as not many of them really made me want to use them, but each to their own.
Make no mistake about it: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has a TON of collectibles, but your mileage may vary if you actually want to collect them or not.
A Disturbance in the Force
Combat in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will feel very familiar to those who played Fallen Order. While it’s commendable that Respawn made it so that Cal basically has almost all his combat moves from the first game without needing to re-learn them, the same can’t be said for the Force powers. For some reason, Cal has forgotten useful abilities like the Force Howl and other Force abilities he could do in the first game. We know it’s for game balance, but it’s still a bummer to spend skill points on stuff that we should be able to do from the get-go.
Mind, there are loads of new skills and powers for Cal to learn in Survivor, but being brutally frank, most of them feel useless save for a few. Respawn introduced different stances in the game for a more varied playstyle, but I found myself sticking to just one or two stances the entire game since they’re the most useful. With the different stances, Respawn has split up some of the lightsaber abilities to be tied to a specific stance, which means there are moves from a single lightsaber stance that you might want to have but can’t since you’re rocking another stance. It’s not anything major, but it feels limiting to say the least.
As for the Force powers, most are very situational and essentially a waste of Force meter, given how you’d want to dispose of enemies as efficiently as possible, and some just feel like they’re more of a novelty than actually being useful.
Thankfully, the game’s traversal elements and puzzles are a big step up from the first game. Cal’s ability to navigate the various stages in the game is a lot smoother now, and for the most part, it’s fun to watch your character jump and dash their way into seemingly impossible areas.
If you’re a fan of environmental puzzles, you’ll dig what Respawn has managed to do in Survivor. There are Jedi Temples to conquer, items that are seemingly out of reach, and more that will task your brain (and fingers).
These Are Not the Frames You’re Looking for…
Now comes the part of the review I found to be the most crushing thing about Survivor; its performance. While I can’t speak for either the PC or Xbox Series’ experiences, I will say that on the PS5, despite being a current-gen-only title and having moments that genuinely feel “next-gen worthy,” I can’t say the same for how poorly optimized the game’s performance has been.
On the PS5, Survivor has two selectable graphical modes. The first is the Performance 60 frames-per-second (fps) mode, which sacrifices the resolution and some of the game’s details to push for a smoother experience. This is usually my go-to mode for any game, but I can’t recommend anyone playing with this preset for Jedi Survivor. For starters, the frame rate is inconsistent, with drops nearly present in every scene we went through. There’s also a huge hitching problem that will cause Cal to rubberband We aren’t sure what’s going on here either, as there are a few moments in the game that genuinely are next-gen moments, and the performance seems locked and on-point.
Then there are the pop-ins. It’s hard to believe that the SSDs in both the PS5 and Xbox Series are supposedly game changers when you have several games still suffering from pop-in issues. Jedi Survivor is perhaps up there with some of the worst we’ve seen in a current-gen exclusive. Every time you move around, things are always loading on the screen.
The pop-ins are also a reason I recommend playing in quality mode, too, as from our testing, we found that a number of objects load in half the time compared to Quality mode. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
There were other bugs we had, too, some with the graphics, like characters being invisible during cutscenes. Some were odd lighting and graphical effects that weren’t displaying properly. I’ve clipped through several environments throughout the world, had areas not load in fully, and have had a few crashes happen randomly.
There’s so much more, and even with the big pre-launch update that came out yesterday, many of the described issues still persisted. I mean, is Survivor the buggiest game I’ve played? Not at all, but being a current-gen exclusive and comparing it to some of the other titles out there, you can’t help but feel this could have used a few more months of polishing.
We expect there will be more patches dropping shortly after launch, but till then, just know that Jedi Survivor is without its technical issues, some we found detrimental to the overall experience.
The Way of the Jedi
While there are tech issues (a lot, to be honest), Survivor is still a very fun game. There are bosses to vanquish, people to help, and even if the story isn’t the strongest part of the game, you’ll still want to finish it just to see how it plays out.
Respawn hasn’t hit the dreaded Sophomore Slump with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, but it’s not the massive follow-up that a lot of people (including this reviewer) were hoping for. It manages to keep the status quo in providing a fantastic Star Wars experience, but one that’s marred by technical issues. Don’t get me wrong, this sequel is definitely a must-play for any Star Wars fan, but it could have been so much more, given more time and polish.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a fun action game and a worthy follow-up from Respawn, just be prepared to fight some of its tech issues along the way.
- Traversal is smoother compared to Fallen Order.
- Puzzles are more thought out.
- Still a fun Star Wars experience you’ll want to finish.
- Some true next-gen moments out there that really showcase what this new generation of consoles can offer if you look past the technical issues.
- The story hits a lot weaker than the first one
- Collectibles aren’t really worth collecting
- Lack of any substantial Force powers and skills
- Technical issues galore (on PS5)
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review code was provided by the publisher. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.
They already sent out a massive patch so the “issues” are taken care of. An update to this review to reflect that will be needed.
That “day one” patch is already out. We tested the game with it installed, and it didn’t change much.
The patch was pushed out yesterday, reason why I didn’t bother re-recording it again was because the results were the same. We tested other areas out and they all still had the same issue. There’s improvements in some places, but it’s not a drastic difference