Skip to main content

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor preview - Padawan to Master

Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is bigger and better than ever before in our preview
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

There’s a lot to be said for trying something a second time. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a great attempt at bringing a brand new Star Wars story into the gaming medium, even if there were a handful of issues that prevented it from achieving greatness. Still, in this business, above average is a damn solid result, and Fallen Order has gone down favorably in the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans everywhere. On that note, we really need a slightly patronizing name for Star Wars fans – you know, like Trekkies. Warsies doesn’t really have the same ring, does it?

EA whisked a bunch of games media and influencers alike to a super-secret preview session in LA last week for the opportunity to sit down and play the brand new Star Wars Jedi: Survivor for several hours, and that marks the game as something both EA and Respawn are confident in. You don’t bring jetlagged journalists in to play a video game unless you’re sure their attention spans can take it. And they did a darn good job, in all honesty.

star wars jedi survivor screenshot glhf (3)

After a brief tutorial section to catch us up on everything we needed to know, the game got underway. We start out just after the first mission and get fired right into the action. Newly bearded Cal Kestis, one of the final Jedi in the Galaxy, along with the adorable droid BD-1, land on a new planet and encounter an ancient-looking droid, nicknamed Zee. Zee was tasked with completing a special mission for the sake of the Jedi Order, only got trapped in a dark cave for a considerable amount of time – Zee still thinks the Galaxy is a democracy!

Now that our hero Cal is present and can pull Zee from the dirt, the adventures begin properly. Zee’s exact mission is a bit of a mystery, but it’s important for the Order. That’s more than enough for our older and wiser Cal to pick up his lightsaber and go to work.

star wars jedi survivor screenshot glhf (5)

But you know what’s better than one lightsaber? Two, of course. Cal has three different stances he can switch between mid-battle: a single saber, one with those light blades on each end of the hilt, or he can split that creation in half in order to chop foes down more effectively. They all have their own benefits and weaknesses, but you’re able to swap with a single button, meaning you shouldn’t feel discouraged from trying them out.

There’s also a blaster stance though, and while we didn’t get to go hands-on with Cal’s shooter, a gameplay demo from one of the Respawn staff members showed us everything we needed to know: incredibly flashy finishing moves. Cal’s able to hover an entire troop of Empire footsoldiers using the Force, and just to show off, he can power up a blaster, and then slowly feed the bullets out, making them float around in the air almost like fireflies, before they make a beeline for their target. It’s like a fighting game Super move, and it makes the combat that much more exciting – even if I haven’t actually been able to try that one out for myself.

star wars jedi survivor screenshot glhf (1)

Combat options expand over the course of the game thanks to Skill Trees and points – what else, right? – and your equipment can be customized. New lightsaber pieces and cosmetic items will fill up your inventory, if you’re daring enough to explore the wider landscapes this game presents. Early on I found the Full Beard cosmetic, followed shortly after by the Crew Cut. On brand for me, honestly. It’s almost a bit refreshing for the cosmetics to have no apparent value, allowing you to swap out whatever you want to see.

And it’s good excuse to explore, too. When I called Jedi: Survivor “open world” I was quickly corrected. While the stages are huge and offer the player a lot more to do and explore, it’s still a reasonably linear level, just with extras. Formidable foes will be hiding in caves, around corners, behind waterfalls, or atop rocky spires. One particular encounter with dozens of droids and raiders was an incredibly tough challenge, but mostly because trying to actually fight enemies while a dozen more are blasting you with lasers is… well, it’s not fun. It’s a lesson in frustration. But while getting ganged up on by a gaggle of actual NPCs sucks – really bad, actually – taking on a single tough foe, and maybe two of their friends, is great fun. A variety of freaky aliens managed to take my life, but that was more incentive for me to go back and start parrying their strikes.

star wars jedi survivor screenshot glhf (6)

Fighting monsters is a bit odd, because there’s barely any animation feedback for successful parries. Did you get slapped into hit stun? If the answer is no, then you parried successfully, because those larger beasts certainly won’t react. After recent games like Wo Long and Resident Evil 4, it’s clear that all a truly great parry mechanic needs is a sick sound effect. Respawn, please implement an obnoxious but really cool sound, please.

The less talented players might find the idea of parrying being a central mechanic a llittle intimidating, but the game actually extends an olive branch for those of you that are less proficient. When you first start up the game you’ll be given your usual selection of difficulty modes, on top of being able to granularly and independently tweak things like enemy aggression and how wide the parry timing window is. Even with everything set to default, it’s a decent challenge on the standard difficulty mode.

star wars jedi survivor screenshot glhf (4)

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor looks set to be an incredibly strong adventure for 2023. It has a bunch more meat on its bones than the likes of Wo Long, and while it’s certainly not 2023’s Elden Ring or anything like that, Star Wars fans are going to adore jumping back in the galaxy far, far away with Cal, BD, and those Empire scum.