Years after the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, things haven’t been going so well for Cal Kestis.
Committed to fighting against the Empire, he now has a new crew after drifting apart from Merrin, Greez and Cere. But after his latest operation against those who seek to control the galaxy goes awry, he’s left to lick his wounds and reconsider his path in life. So far it’s been an uphill struggle, and he doesn’t seem to have achieved much other than being a thorn in the Empire’s side. An unexpected discovery early into Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, however, soon finds him excited about a potential future.
Now a fully-fledged Jedi, Cal Kestis is older and less naïve in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. And what the game doesn’t do, thankfully, is find a way to strip him of his abilities so that you can relearn them in the name of ‘progression’. That means right off the bat he can display incredible feats of agility such as double-jumping and wall-running, as well as use the powers of the Force to manipulate objects and people to his will. Though of course, he does pick up some new abilities throughout this latest adventure.
While you’ll visit a handful of planets in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, most of your time will be spent on Koboh. This planet is the largest and most open, with so many things to see and do. Many of its areas, however, will be unavailable to you until you’ve gained new abilities such as being able to air dash, or push through forcefields unscathed. And so, over time, it becomes more and more like a playground for our Jedi. Albeit an optional playground.
The story of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is genuinely meaty – chances are it will take you around 25 hours to complete the main questline alone. It takes a while to get going and really suck you in, though. The events in the first ten hours or so feel like they could have been condensed to make a shorter, sharper experience, leading to something that feels more exciting on the whole, but thankfully it never feels like a drag.
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It’s some of the set-pieces here that will really blow you away, making it clear why this is a game on next-gen formats only. The visuals are spectacular, in spite of environments being more open, and at times you’ll be playing through scenarios that genuinely feel epic. For example, making use of Merrin’s warping powers to quickly move through the environment at speed to deal with a robotic construction of huge proportions.
If you do want stuff to do on the side, then Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is happy to oblige. With Koboh also serving as your home base of sorts, there are various people you can recruit who will then offer you services. There are numerous shops, where you can exchange items you’ve found via exploration for things such as cosmetics and perks. There are also collections for you to complete, such as filling a fish tank, and you can grow plants on the roof of the saloon.
For us, though, much of this side-content feels too superfluous. While perks are always nice to have, the fact that slots are limited means they don’t have an overwhelming affect on your abilities. And aside from pockets of energy that you can find, boosting your health, force powers or experience, pretty much everything else you discover is cosmetic in nature. As much fun as it is giving Cal a mullet and handlebar moustache, as well as customising his outfit, lightsaber, and more, we just wish there more meaningful things to find.
Combat remains largely the same as it was in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but there are some tweaks and additions to keep it feeling a little fresh. The biggest of these is the introduction of Stances. Five stances eventually become available as you progress through the game, building on the few that were available in Fallen Order. So that means in addition to single, dual and double-bladed options, you also have a stance where a blaster is brought into the mix, and a powerful crossguard stance.
While we don’t reckon much to the blaster stance, which looks awkward and doesn’t feel all that fun to use, the crossguard stance has quickly become one of our favourites. Its punishing attacks take a while to wind up, but the high-damage output and long-reach make it worth it. In any case, with you only able to equip two stances at any one time, you’ll have to decide which ones are right for you. You can change them at meditation points, but it would have been nice to be able to switch between them on the fly, making you even more versatile in combat.
On the subject of meditation points, they have new functionality in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor: fast travel. Particularly useful on Koboh, no longer do you need to backtrack large distances after completing an objective. The in-game map may have been improved, making it easier to navigate, but simply being able to visit a meditation point and quickly warp to any other that you’ve activated on a planet is a godsend – especially for those keen to explore all of their nooks and crannies and hunt down bounties.
There’s just one element of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor that gives us real cause for concern, and that is performance. Playing on PS5 for review, there are two settings: Quality and Performance. Quality aims for a locked 30fps presentation alongside sharp 4K visuals, and it has to be said that it looks glorious. Performance, on the other hand, lowers the resolution to 1440p in order to push more frames, but struggles to maintain 60fps consistently.
We’ve tried both modes extensively, and eventually settled on Quality – a more stable framerate ultimately won over a higher but more volatile framerate. A patch has improved things a little, but there’s still lots of room for improvement. Alongside framerate issues, we’ve also encountered some small but troublesome bugs, and spotted the occasional instance of what some like to call jank – a large creature repeatedly walking into a wall at distance, for example.
It’s a shame that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor isn’t a little more polished, as it really takes the sheen off this bigger, bolder sequel. The story may take a while to really get going, but once it does, it has some fantastic, explosive scenes that truly make an impact. And while there is some fan-service, it tries to keep it to a minimum. Ultimately, this is a must-play for any Star Wars fan, and it leaves us excited about what’s next for Cal Kestis.