Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review: One With the Force

2019's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order released at a time when goodwill toward EA and its Star Wars games had started to run thin. Following the rough launch of Battlefront 2 and the cancelation of Visceral's own single-player Star Wars game, Fallen Order arrived to low expectations only to be met with widespread acclaim. Over three years later, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is now coming about with even bigger expectations for developer Respawn Entertainment to meet. And although the final game isn't one that's without flaws, it still proves to be notably better than its predecessor in just about every way. 

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor picks up five years after the events of Fallen Order with a more mature Cal Kestis looking to still fight back against the growing reach of the Empire. Once looking to find his own identity in this expansive conflict, Kestis is now more confident and capable than before when it comes to his own role in this ongoing war. Despite this, when a new foe emerges, Kestis ends up questioning some of his own motivations and ambitions, which makes for a throughline narrative with a bit more nuance than what was seen in Fallen Order

For the most part, the big achievements found within the story of Jedi: Survivor comes with its characters. Kestis, in particular, really establishes himself even further in Survivor as a force (pun intended) in the Star Wars universe. The supporting cast, which is comprised of both new faces and old, are also all enjoyable and get their own time to shine at one point or another. And while I don't want to say much about Survivor's primary antagonist at the risk of spoilers, their involvement is something that I found to be both greatly unique and enticing. 

(Photo: EA)

The biggest problem with the storytelling in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor deals simply with its pacing. The game's plot is one that I found to be compelling from its earliest hours onward, but the middle portion of the narrative definitely has its lulls where it seems like very little is being done to advance the greater story. I also wish that the conflict between Kestis and Survivor's main antagonist could have been fleshed out a bit more. Despite this, what is seen within the game still makes for high-stake Star Wars drama.

On the gameplay front, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has received a number of big improvements in comparison to Fallen Order. Kestis is able to utilize essentially all of the moves and abilities that he had in Fallen Order, which means that Survivor only looks to expand on his toolset further. This is most notably seen with the five different lightsaber stances that Kestis has at his disposal, all of which play quite differently from one another. 

What disappointed me the most about combat, though, is that Cal is only able to equip two of these aforementioned lightsaber stances at a time. Stances can then only be swapped out once you reach rest areas, which means you're never able to rotate through all of the moves in your kit at a single time. I'm not really sure why this system was designed in this manner, but the longer I played Survivor, the more annoyed I became that I was unable to access over half of my combat abilities during any given encounter. 

(Photo: EA)

Much like Fallen Order, the upgrade system in Survivor plays out in a pretty similar manner. Experience points are gained in Survivor by virtually doing anything, with each new XP level allowing Kestis to gain Skill Points that can then be poured in to different trees. This system is a relatively basic one, but it's also one that works best when you decide what you want your own version of Cal to specialize in. Again, this feels a bit odd given that many people likely won't unlock every ability seen in Jedi: Survivor, but that's what New Game+ is for. 

When you're not taking part in lightsaber-based combat, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is filled with tons of platforming, puzzles, and boss fights. The best moments of Survivor are ones where the game finds a way to merge all of these elements together in various ways. One sequence toward the middle of Survivor stands out specifically in my mind and sees Cal jumping, dashing, and wall-running throughout a huge environment, all while trying to take down a gargantuan boss. These instances are the best parts of Survivor, but I do wish they were a bit more prevalent throughout the entire game. 

Compared to Fallen Order, there's also just far more to do in Jedi: Survivor. Rather than featuring a number of smaller locales, Survivor opts to put the emphasis on a group of planets with far more depth. Each planet has secrets to uncover, collectibles to snatch up, and side missions to complete whenever you're not busy with the throughline quest. If you're looking to do everything that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has to offer, it'll take dozens of hours to wrap up. That being said, not every side task in the game is all that fleshed out, with some definitely feeling like busywork. 


Customization plays a big part in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor as the game lets you tweak everything from Cal's lightsaber hilt to his facial hair. A number of Survivor's big unlockables are all centered around these customization items, which means that you'll often be going to the workbench to tweak around with your new designs for your lightsaber or droid companion, BD-1. This also makes Survivor feel like an experience that is more catered to each player's own tastes, which is unique for a story-driven game with a set protagonist. 

Although this might not be true for those playing Star Wars Jedi: Survivor at launch, my own experience with the game was filled with various performance problems. Not only did the game's frame rate dip somewhat frequently for me, especially in Survivor's more expansive locations, but texture pop-in was readily seen to the point of distraction. Survivor's visuals and art direction on their own were quite impressive and made the jump to next-gen-only platforms feel warranted, though it was often hard to appreciate these aspects of the game. Hopefully, the day-one patch that is set to release in tandem with Survivor will minimize these annoyances for most players. 

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a strong sequel that improves on nearly every core element seen in Fallen Order. Even in spite of some pacing troubles with its story, Cal Kestis is an even more compelling protagonist this time around and continues to be one of the best new Star Wars characters that has come about in the Disney era. With a little more polish and some trimmed fat, Jedi: Survivor could have been a home run, but Respawn still has a bit more room for growth in a third installment for this potential trilogy

Rating: 4 out of 5


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 console courtesy of a review copy provided by the publisher. The game is set to release on April 28 and will be available across PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC platforms.