Star Wars Jedi Survivor review: A tour de Force sequel

Star Wars Jedi Survivor review: A tour de Force sequel
Images via Respawn Entertainment

Written by 

Ben Williams

Published 

26th Apr 2023 16:00

Time has flown by the since launch of the fantastic Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order over three years ago. A lucrative game by Titanfall and Apex Legends developer, Respawn Entertainment, the 2019 action-adventure title showed story-driven single-player games set in the galaxy far far away could both still be big sellers worthy of high praise from reviews. Still, this didn’t make the wait for the sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, any easier. 

Although not without creases to iron out, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has not only made improvements to the formula of its predecessor but has also harnessed and expanded on what made Fallen Order revered amongst franchise fans. Like a Jedi Padawan that's become a master, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is easily the best Star Wars game yet.

Going forward, please keep in mind that this Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review is as spoiler-free as possible, only containing information on the story already shown in trailers.

GGRecon Verdict

An even more gripping and heartfelt story than the last, incredibly broadened combat, immersive exploration, and a much deeper assortment of customisation and RPG elements make this Jedi experience your own whilst simultaneously remaining the intimate tale of Cal Kestis and his crew.

A new hope

star wars jedi survivor cal and bd-1 find man in bacta tank
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Set five years after Fallen Order and a decade after the Jedi Purge of Order 66, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor sees returning protagonist Cal Kestis on a namesake journey for survival as one of the last of his kind. 

Despite being more experienced and battle-hardened, Cal is exhausted by both the suffering and loss endured over time along with the little he’s been able to whittle down the efforts of the Empire in return.

After making a new discovery on a forgotten world though, the jaded Jedi has the spark of a new hope reawakened - taking him new on another sprawling adventure across various worlds for a brighter future. 

Reacquainting you with endearingly beloved characters from the first game like your partner droid BD-1, Greez, Merrin, and Cere - there’s a lot new in Jedi: Survivor’s setting to make its story feel grander in scope from the get-go. 

Whilst still a spacefaring trek across various worlds in the Mantis spaceship, your new home base with actually be within the town of Rambler’s Reach on Koboh - in which a particular saloon with become the HQ that you can improve and recruit varied inhabitants to take refuge. Then, you can later interact with them as you progress through the story - their various larger-than-life personalities being delightful in contrast to Cal’s slightly broody but endearing nature. 

A Star Wars story as its best

star wars jedi survivor cal holding lightsaber with BD-1
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Throughout a main campaign that took 30 hours to complete whilst also taking on a small chunk of extra content, Jedi: Survivor’s plot puts an even weightier emphasis on exploration through its selection of worlds. As with Fallen Order, you’ll need to traverse across the map, climbing and fighting your way through enemies and obstacles, and solving an array of puzzles to progress forward.

For fans of single-player platforming, it’s essentially more of what you love. On the other hand, those here for the story might find some of the levels too long, being even more noticeable than Fallen Order due to Survivor’s much heftier size.

Be that as it may, the payoff you do get as the story progresses is well more than worth the wait, and while pacing can feel like it slows to a crawl on occasion, the moment-to-moment gameplay is better than it's ever been.

Even though Survivor is a personal story for Cal and his crew, Survivor is also a fascinating dive into the lore and events around the Jedi order of the past - becoming the centre of the game’s story and a gripping point of interest for Star Wars fans from casual to diehard. 

Altogether, it’s a longer epic journey across its sprawling campaign with multiple twists and turns that will astonish many, even more so than in Fallen Order - with the actors behind the scenes always being able to bring the right passion and intensity when a scene calls for it. 

An example is a jaw-dropping return as Cal Kestis by actor Cameron Monaghan, while new baddie Gen'Dai Rayvis is played with relish by veteran voice actor D. C. Douglas.

There are a fair few surprises that will be left out here to be spoiler-free, but Jedi: Survivor’s story only gets better the further you go. You’ll be captivated all the more towards the end, but you’ll also immediately want to replay the game on New Journey+ after the credits roll to take on the adventure again with a new perspective.

Be your own Jedi

star wars jedi survivor lightsaber combat with double-blade lightsaber
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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor upholds Fallen Order’s greatest trait with lightsaber combat - embodying swift but weighted swings to make stylish combos of swinging your laser sword and pairing with various Force powers - to feel ever-satisfying with every encounter.

Nonetheless, Respawn Entertainment has upped the ante for the sequel by adding a much wider variety of lightsaber stances and Force abilities to help better make your Jedi build your own. 

Adding to the returning Single and Double-bladed styles, Jedi: Survivor has added three new lightsaber stances for a total of five: the Dual Wield stance (only being a special move in the first game), Blaster stance that pairs a single lightsaber with a ranged pistol, and Crossguard featuring Kylo Ren-style slow-but-heavy attacks.

You can equip two at a time - each with their own movesets, stats, and upgradeable skills that are all important when taking into account the sequel’s wider array of enemies from Stormtroopers, droids, and raiders to a  planet’s natural inhabitants.

Even though you can unfortunately only swap your equipped stances at returning meditation points and workbenches, the joy of overcoming many foes’ unique attack patterns and combat styles by mastering a favoured combination of styles is enough to move past the limitation. 

In the build used for this Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review, for example, we used Blaster stance for coverage against pesky long-range enemies and picking off heavy hitters at a safe range - whilst switching to the Double-bladed stance for crowd control.

However, you may decide you want to either use the Single stance as a safe go-to when fighting a variety of enemies, Dual Wield for attacking with more speed, or timing Crossguard’s low speed but high damage to take massive chunks of health at a time in boss battles.

A small con here lies in using the same skill point system as Fallen Order, one that can stem from broadening the abilities that came before. Along with skill trees for Survival skills like boosting health, there are some outstanding new Force abilities you’ll want to try and improve as well. 

Cal can use Confuse to make enemies fight among themselves, Force Lift and Slam, and an upgraded Slow attack from Fallen Order that freezes enemies in place.

As a result, you’ll find it only feasible to invest skill points in a first playthrough to moderately upgrade your two main lightsaber stances, with little leftover to upgrade and experiment with the remaining three. 

You’ve got a friend in me

Cal and Bode in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Another new addition to Fallen Order's layered combat is Companion Command attacks, where an AI plus-one you might be taking with you on story missions, like new character Bode, will attack a targetted enemy for you with their own special move 

Although a nice toe-dip into multi-character real-time combat, it doesn’t really evolve much more than that, with each companion having only one attack and no upgradable skills themselves. 

Still, rather than combat and the occasional bit of help puzzle-solving, the real joy of having a companion in missions actually lies in the enjoyable back and forth with Cal himself - with their engaging conversations making journeying across levels even more entertaining. 

All things considered, Jedi: Survivor outshines the already-brilliant Fallen Order’s combat by simply offering you more choice in how you want to fight as a Force-wielding Jedi - even if you don’t fancy using all the new options available to you. 

Gotta go fast travel

Cal and BD1 exploring in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Being exclusive to PC and current-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor makes the most of not having to cater to older hardware by letting players explore planets with more expansive maps packed with more NPCs, enemies, and tons more to discover - going from pure linear action-adventure to that of an open-world RPG hybrid.

Although there isn’t a larger number of planets to explore compared to Fallen Order, each one is far more densely packed with more to see and to do.

As mentioned, you’ll spend a lot of time jumping, climbing, and roaming across planet maps as either part of the story or for general exploring - with some being far more densely packed than Fallen Order with way more content. 

With that, one of the new features FO players will rejoice at is the inclusion of the heavily demanded fast travel. Granted, you can only fast travel between meditation points you have already visited, but the abundant amount to find and the increased number of zipline-able shortcuts make what would be long treks back to the Mantis ship or your home base at Pioneer’s Saloon far easier.

Need a new game mechanic? Why not grappling hook?

Grappling with ascension cable in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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As you’re exploring the map for the first time to unlock these fast travel points, Jedi: Survivor has added extra mechanics to spice things up.

The earliest is the Ascension Cable - which is essentially a grappling hook, culminating with wall runs, double jumps, and air dashes to joyfully keep you engaged and on your toes whilst navigating puzzles and obstacles, getting all the more enjoyable to conquer as they get more complex or you go back to previously unobtainable sections with new abilities.

After progressing partway through the story, you’ll begin to unlock wild mounts that you can call on at any time on certain planets to ride on creatures native to that world. These may become unnecessary as you unlock more meditation points for fast travel, but they’re a novelty addition that makes crossing big open areas for the first time far easier - as well as adding to the Jedi experience. 

The closest to a modern Star Wars RPG

Cal vs Rancor in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Jedi: Survivor feels grander in multiple ways. The biggest, however, is how it expands on side content and interconnects it all to make completing it all feel more rewarding.

At the centre of it, all lies your home base at Pioneer’s Saloon on Koboh. As part of the game’s increased emphasis on exploration, you’re encouraged to go out on side missions, fight legendary monsters, find collectables, recruit inhabitants to bring back to the saloon and enjoy the unique rewards they bring to your base of operations. 

For example, one is a manager and music-playing Droid duo for you to find out in the wilderness that becomes your in-house DJ to play different tracks to enjoy whilst your walk around and interact with your crew. Another is Bhimi and Tulli - who by recruiting them allow you to play a nostalgically fun and familiar holo-tactics game.

Not only is there a fisherman who gathers collectable aquatic creatures for your aquarium, but there’s also a gardener you can find to help you grow plants on your roof. 

All with unique personalities and stories to tell, new conversations to be had whilst you progress the story make you want to jaunt back to Pioneer’s Saloon every time to hear more about your new neighbours and develop those sweet RPG bonds.

Breath of the Jedi

Cal and BD-1 overlooking horizon Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Each planet has its own unique sights and wonders to find, but one of the most captivating by far amongst Jedi: Survivor’s additions, are the various Jedi Chambers.

After being unlocked some time in the story through one of your recruits, the planet Koboh is also home to a selection of explorable Jedi Chambers - appropriately compared to Shrines from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - as you need to utilise your Force abilities and puzzle-solving skills to make your way to the end. 

Not only can you grab more certain collectables in each one, but also extra snippets of Jedi lore and completing each chamber grants you one of the new equippable perks that add another layer of strategy to your customisation. 

In-depth customisation

Character customiation for Cal in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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While one of the shops sells extra Perks and Perk slots, there are others which also sell their own exclusive goods - along with cosmetics like hairstyles, beards, clothing, BD-1 body parts, and paints to dye and tailor the look of your Cal and droid companion to your liking. 

Rather than have one universal equivalent of cash, each shop has its own respective currency, encouraging you to explore more of different parts of each planet and enjoy more of what they have to offer whilst collecting valuables along the way. 

Following a chunk of the story, you unlock a shop that even specialises in needing you to take on various bounty hunter bosses.

Play Jedi: Survivor how you like

Greez in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Sure, a lot of the extra content is merely optional and doesn’t affect the main story as a whole, but it’s optional nonetheless. If you just want to take on the campaign and occasionally detour to fight legendary monsters for extra skill points and that’s it, you are free to do so.

For those who do engage in these side missions, and collectables, and want to spend time interacting with a lovable cavalcade of patrons as you improve your new base of operations, you may dabble to your heart's content.

It’s a delightfully wholesome payoff that doubles as a Star Wars action-adventure RPG-lite experience, and development for Cal as he builds a new home away from home.

Performance modes

Rayvis and the mysterious figure in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Although not able to use HDR at the time of this review, Jedi: Survivor is still a beautiful game, with graphics, design and the levels it's all set in no longer hindered by having to accommodate ageing PS4 and Xbox One tech. 

For fast-paced high-octane combat, the 1440p 60FPS performance mode on PS5 is mostly smooth and the best way to play, albeit with some minor framerate drops in combat encounters with many enemies. 

Nevertheless, if resolution over framerate is your priority, the 4K 30FPS display you get by turning Performance Mode off is also top-notch. 

Buggy in more ways than one

Cal approaching Cere in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor comes with a bunch of accessibility options, including the choice to turn off the added human dismemberment and even an arachnophobia mode to make particular enemies look far less spider-like. 

Sadly, the insects we weren’t expecting to find were a couple of game-breaking bugs we found in our playthrough. 

While we found some puzzles where we simply had to leave and return to so the area could reset and the solution could work properly, there were also multiple hard crashes.

In fact, one crash occurred whilst simply jumping off our mount and heading to Rambler’s Reach, almost bricking a save entirely.

There were some other technical issues like frequent surface texture pop-ins during cutscenes and loading screens, along with stuttering enemy corpses and NPCs that can easily be patched out. Be that as it may, it's a consideration.

The Verdict

Cal in a lightsaber fight Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
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Like many fantasy IPs, Star Wars stories have always been at their best when exploring universal real-world stories that are grounded in that universe’s reality. Balancing drama, huge personalities, and a sense of adventure in narrative and gameplay - the success of the Fallen Order sequel depended on expanding on what made the 2019 game great without losing those traits along the way. 

After a lot of time under the review microscope, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor not only goes bigger in every way but every component on this larger canvas has been crafted with a true love for the franchise. 

An even more gripping and heartfelt story than the last, incredibly broadened combat, immersive exploration, and a much deeper assortment of customisation and RPG elements make this Jedi experience your own whilst simultaneously remaining the intimate tale of Cal Kestis and his crew. 

All in all, with small gripes aside, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is everything you could want from a Star Wars game. The only thing truly holding it back from perfection are some bugs, but this truly feels like the best Star Wars game in decades.

4.5/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Review code provided by the publisher.

Ben is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. Alongside his BA (Hons) in Business Management is a wealth of gaming and entertainment writing experience, having previously occupied roles as a Copywriter in e-commerce at Overclockers and Guides & SEO Writer at GameByte and FragHero. When not whipping up guides and reviews, Ben’ll be off playing the latest Pokemon games, Overwatch 2, Spider-Man, The Witcher, and Final Fantasy - all before reading manga and listening to Ice Nine Kills.

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