2023 Preview: Can Respawn’s Jedi: Survivor Survive Star Wars Fatigue?
Even though there aren’t any movies in theaters, the rise of Disney+ means there are currently more Star Wars projects than ever before, filling every second of the canon from the moment Anakin was born to Palpatine’s return at some point manner.
While many of these are excellent, such as Andor, 2022’s surprise TV gem, there is still a feeling among the most die-hard of the hardcore Star Wars fanbase that it might be a bit too much. In comparison, video games have been nothing without Star Wars. Thanks to a decade-long deal with EA that’s about to expire, we’re only now seeing other studios, like Ubisoft, exploring Star Wars projects.
And while EA’s stewardship of the Star Wars license was less than stellar, there was one absolute bright spark, Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Set after Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, Fallen Order starred Cal Kestis, a Jedi who survived Order 66 by hiding out on a junker planet, picking through the remnants of the Clone Wars and trying to get into the universe.
But when his powers were revealed, he was hunted across the galaxy by the Sith Inquisitors, a group of fallen Jedi who are now hunting the remaining devotees. While Cal managed to elude them in the first game, even surviving a memorable battle with Darth Vader, he’s on the run.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – Official Reveal Trailer
The story of a lone Jedi in exile is compelling to fans, and from the two trailers that Respawn have revealed, we’re interested to see how it plays out, especially as the game is now set five years after the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order , lands amid the rise of the Galactic Empire and the construction of the Death Star.
While the story was excellent in Fallen Order, and the cast memorable, the gameplay is one element of the game that could use some improvement, and from what the team has discussed so far, it seems they agree.
The first game was a very light Souls-esque. (Lazer) swordplay, with enemies respawning when you went back to a galactic bonfire. While it shared superficial elements with those games, much of the hacking and slashing felt somewhat reminiscent of an earlier generation. A simpler age, if you will.
For Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, combat is a huge focus, and will be key to whether or not the game is a satisfying sequel. Lightsaber attitudes, something that has only ever been hinted at in the main series films, and far more deeply explored in the side material, will feature in the game in some way.
“We have five fully realized stances in the game,” game director Stig Asmussen told Game Informer recently. “A lot depends on the enemy you’re facing. It’s beneficial to use certain types of stances against certain types of enemies, and it’s up to the player to figure that out. It requires the player to break down the enemies and figure out what the best weapon is.”
How that will manifest in-game remains to be seen, but if it’s similar to something like Ghost of Tsushima, where combat is far more devastating and elegant when you use the right attitude, it could really give players the feeling that Cal has truly developed as an unconventional Jedi Master.
The levels themselves seem much larger in the sequel, with movement tracking and wider areas to explore. The team has said that it takes more inspiration from Metroidvania-type games, so they could mean that the planets that Cal is on are more like hubs than the fairly linear levels of the original.
Another interesting development in the trailer shown at The Game Awards was the arrival of Bode Akuna, a mysterious mercenary who appears to be forming an alliance with Cal. This character will serve as an AI companion for some of the game, although not much is known about him, or his backstory.
The game’s villain appears to be the mysterious white-skinned figure that was submerged in the Bacta tank during the game’s original trailer. They are seen briefly with a character who we believe may be the Ninth Sister, a Sith Inquisitor whom Cal defeated but crucially did not kill in the first game. How they fit into the larger narrative is unclear, as is how Cal found them, and how long they’ve been in that tank.
“The team has said that it takes more inspiration from Metroidvania-type games, so they could mean that the planets that Cal is on are more like hubs than the fairly linear levels of the original.”
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order left a lot of questions unanswered, with most of the main characters still alive and seemingly scattered to the wind as Cal explores the galaxy with BD-1, we’re interested to see how they all factor into the sequel.
Nightsister Merrin, one of the most interesting characters in the first game, has been absent from the trailer so far, so we really hope they won’t be excluded from the game. Cere Junda is confirmed to return, apparently on a mission to recover the archives of the Jedi Temple.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has a great opportunity to create its own story in an era where Star Wars is becoming less and less mysterious. So before Disney commits every sneeze in the Star Wars universe to filming, we’re excited to see what Respawn does with its stellar cast.
However, the real question mark is over how developed the combat of the sequel is, and whether it brings the level of quality to that part of the game in line with previous Stig Armussao titles.