star wars jedi survivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review

need to know

what is it? A third-person Star Wars adventure with soul-like combat.
release date April 28, 2023
expect to pay $70/£65
developer respawn entertainment
publisher electronic arts
Reviewed on GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, i9-9900KS, 32GB RAM
steam deck not support
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor arrives at a time when Star Wars has had too much, and most of it has been bad. The Mandalorian became too cheesy in season three, with Boba Fett and Obi-Wan acting as pointless asides, and enthusiasm for the next wave of movies was lackluster at best. Jedi: Survivor bucks the trend. It’s one of the best things to happen to the franchise in years, and easily the best modern Star Wars game.

At first blush, Jedi: Survivor seems to fall squarely on the sparse, safe side of Star Wars — the untapped genius of Jedi, loyal droid sidekicks, and bravado crew certainly paint the picture , but Carl Kestis has more. Jedi: Survivor never shies away from the darkest chapter in Star Wars history, finding humor in an unfair world and sometimes succumbing to helplessness.

This is not a story about battling the Empire, but about coping with its dominance, grappling with the futility of resistance, and questioning what else is worth fighting for. The closest thing that feels to modern Star Wars media is Andor, even though it’s less ambitious and less cynical in its storytelling. Unfortunately, those themes take a back seat in the middle of the story, while Cal Kestis and crew entertain a superficial villain with a red lightsaber for a tantrum, reminding us that this is still uncharted territory in space.

But man, is this a damn good space Uncharted? Better, in fact, because Jedi: Survivor breaks off the Naughty Dog trend that 2019’s Fallen Order was chasing. Yes, Carl climbs crumbling buildings and swings on ropes (especially during opening hours), but he’s also all over the place with double jumps, mid-air dashes, wall runs, and grappling hooks. The ratio of combat to platforming is almost equal, and both things are fun this time around.

Jedi: Survivor revisits the days when third-person action games were designed as jungle gyms — bottomless death pits flanked by special walls you can climb, platforms that move for no reason, and floating balloons that let you slingshot through the sky . Respawn brought this big-budget 3D platformer back to life, and it’s awesome.

(Image source: Respawn)

side of the planet

Much of Jedi: Survivor’s platformer spirit is felt in its central world, Koboh, a frontier planet in a turf war between stormtroopers and marauders wielding reprogrammed prequel droids . You might be surprised to learn that half (if not more) of the game takes place on Koboh, but that’s because it contains multiple full levels, side quests, secret areas, puzzle rooms, and optional boss battles. It’s deep, vast, and technically an open world, but not an endless sandbox. It’s more like a collection of linear levels connected to a central area, like spokes on a wheel–essentially a PS2-style platformer with no loading screens.

The only thing missing from Jedi: Survivor are traces of floating gems or coins to draw my attention to selectable areas. Instead, Respawn takes you to lesser-known corners of the map with a dozen side quests and bounty hunts. Sometimes these quests come with a bit of storyline from the locals of Koboh, but they’re usually just hints to cave diving for treasure, or to watch out for a particularly nasty robot on the loose. Rewards are usually bland perks like “more block meter,” a new pair of pants, or a tiny health bar upgrade, but Koboh’s mini-dungeons and environmental puzzles are so much fun that I’m always on the lookout for them.

I do like dressing up with Cal, though. His vision has gone beyond capes and can be worn with any combination of shirts, jackets, pants and hairstyles. Likewise, Cal’s lightsaber, blaster, and BD-1 himself can all be customized with dozens of different parts and materials. The details are immaculate and I’m sure Star Wars fans bigger than me will find a specific middle block lightsaber part and recognize a vague reference, but I found a setup I liked early on and rarely changed it , which illustrates the general situation with loot issues in Jedi: Survivor. You never know if the next case Cal opens is a permanent upgrade, new ears for the BD-1, or handlebar mustaches.

(Image source: Respawn)

Some of my favorite Jedi: Survivor moments came when I took a detour on the way to a bigger mission. I’ve been looking for these little purple rifts that teleport Cal to fantastical worlds for platforming or combat challenges. Here, Respawn’s level design ditches the Uncharted moves in favor of Neon White – a test of timed jumping, dashing and grappling skills that pushes Jedi: Survivor’s very fun platforming action to the extreme. Respawn is a far cry from the lethargic action of Fallen Order.

A big part of what makes detours so fun is how easy it is to backtrack. In Fallen Order, the frequency of return trips meant I had to go through the same battles and climb the same spots four or five times. Jedi: Survivor speeds things up with fast travel between checkpoints and more shortcuts.

In fact, maybe there are too many shortcuts. Every five to ten minutes you’ll find a new one, almost always in the form of a zip line or a rope. They are so ubiquitous that you basically never have to repeat any important climb twice. Shortcuts are undoubtedly handy for clearing side quests, but their overuse can make the space between them feel unnatural and somewhat haphazard.

(Image source: EA)

Jedi Academy

One aspect of Jedi: Survivor that hasn’t been reimagined, but doesn’t really need to be, is combat. It’s been enhanced, though, and is now even better thanks to the addition of bots. During the five-year time jump, Cal becomes even deadlier with his saber – limbs get chopped off with heavy blows (soldiers and droids alike), giant bugs can be completely split in two, and sometimes Cal pulls out his blaster Carrying out the final execution I think he learned to watch John Wick.

I was impressed with how Respawn made what was essentially the same saber feel like five different weapons.

Oh yeah, Cal has a blaster now. This is one of two new saber poses added to Jedi: Survivor, out of five in total: single, double, double, blaster, and crossguard. I’m impressed with how Respawn makes essentially the same saber feel like five different weapons–each stance has unique moves, its own upgrade tree, and inherent trade-offs. For example, the long range of the Double Sided Saber makes it the undisputed king of crowd control, but its attack power is not as strong. Dual blades can do a lot of damage quickly, but you’ll have to do long combos to expose Cal’s flanks. The Crossguard stance (Kylo Ren stance) is basically medieval Claymore: devastating slashes and slashes that take a long time to chain together.

I ended up keeping the blaster and crossguard stance for most of the game, as they were easily the most fun experiments to experiment with. The blaster pose, in particular, feels very pleasant and un-Star Wars-like. Half of your attacks become ranged, and you refill your blaster ammo by dealing saber damage. Saber attacks in blaster mode mimic fencing moves and aren’t quite as violent as a dedicated one-blade stance, but let you keep your distance while charging your gun.

The blaster has a nice giveaway that goes with every stance, though most weaknesses can be overcome with upgrade points. The weapon tree is a healthy mix of progressive upgrades and brand new moves, like the barrage of stabs that quickly recharge Cal’s blaster. After running out of blasters and equipping a few free abilities, I managed to clear an entire room without swinging a saber—the absolute Jedi equivalent of cheesy magic builds in Elden Ring, and I’m not ashamed.

Jedi: Survivor’s combat suits me better than Fallen Order’s. Stance is part of it, it’s nice to have triple more enemies easily, but honestly, I like it easier that way. I almost never lost to a normal group of enemies, and when I did, those shortcuts got me back into the fight pretty quickly. Health stimuli are easier to find, and some are distributed by simply advancing the story, which is actually nicely balanced. On the default difficulty, I usually have enough health boosts to get through a tough fight.

(Image source: Respawn)

rough go

The only thing that threatened to ruin my good time was the constant performance issues with the PC version. Even with Nvidia’s latest drivers optimized specifically for gaming, my framerate would frequently slow down at very annoying moments. Walking through doors can sometimes trigger double-digit frame rate drops of ten seconds or more. Cutscenes often dip to 15-20 fps, cut off or overlap dialogue, and usually don’t resume until I regain control.

I’m no Unreal Engine expert, but the worst slowdowns always seem to happen when the game is loading content in the background. Every time I use Cal the galaxy map on the ship turns into a slideshow – presumably because it starts loading the planet I’m about to head to. Koboh also performs poorly in the most open parts. On an RTX 2080 Super, i9-9900KS 4.00GHz, and 32GB of RAM, I was lucky enough to hit a 35 fps average in a semi-open world. The standalone levels run flawlessly at 80-90 fps, so there’s clearly something wrong with the way Respawn draws large spaces. I briefly tried another machine (RTX 3060, Ryzen 7 5700G, 16GB RAM) and had the same problem.

(Image source: Respawn)

Fiddling with graphics options didn’t help either. There’s no native option to limit the frame rate, but the Nvidia Control Panel does the trick. The only upgrade option is FSR 2.0, which usually doesn’t improve my fps, but always succeeds in making Cal’s face blurry and illegible in motion. I never missed DLSS again.

It’s worth mentioning that there will be a pre-release patch a few days before launch, with “performance improvements across all platforms” in the patch notes EA shared with the press. Hope it helps, but I’d be surprised if all these framerate drops disappeared overnight. After all, we’re living in a bad age of PC ports(opens in a new tab).

Unacceptable performance aside, the good news is I’m still having fun. Jedi: Survivor is a bigger, bolder game than its predecessor, prioritizing tight level design over map scale, a rarity in the sprawling sandbox era. This is Respawn pulling out all the stops and finally figuring out what works in its weird Souls-like adventure mode.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.