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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Preview

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Preview

Recently, I had a chance to try out roughly three hours of developer Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the highly anticipated sequel to their Jedi: Fallen Order. In addition to letting me have a good look at the game, they and publisher EA also flew me out to Los Angeles, got me a nice hotel room, fed me a lot of food, and even provided admission for a whole day at Disneyland, all of which I rather enjoyed! However, the best part of the experience was certainly getting that chance to experience Jedi: Survivor, even if only for a scant few hours.

SWJS Meditation Circle Discovered

The build I played picked up around Cal’s journey on Koboh, the second planet of Survivor which was a mountainous locale with lush scenery, beautiful waterfalls, and a fine little town called Rambler’s Reach. Sadly, Cal’s not really on Koboh for vacation — The Mantis, Cal's trusty spaceship, has been damaged in the landing and can no longer leave the surface. Thankfully, Cal and BD-1 can just head to the local Cantina, Pyloon’s Saloon, where the proprietor can supply them with some much-needed repairs. As an added bonus, they already know the Cantina’s owner, Greez Dritus, the former owner of The Mantis and old friend to Cal and BD-1. Their reunion was easily one of the best parts of the entire experience. The dialogue here, as well as in the rest of the game, was in top form, with a great mix of humour and drama that should satisfy any fan of the prior instalment or the greater Star Wars canon. Cal, BD-1, Greez, and all of the other characters are an absolute delight to hear from, both in terms of writing and performances.

Even outside of the main scenes though, I still had an amazing time getting lost on Koboh, speaking to a variety of new people as Cal completed a few new side quests, called Rumors. I didn’t get much of a chance to spend all of my time in these, but the one that I did manage to finish — a Prospector wanting to know if any of her fellows are still alive in a given mine after they never came back — was a very fun time, with its own unique area to explore. There was other fun side content to pursue too, with even more collectibles (like datapads and ore, alongside the fact that Force Echoes and Essences have been separated into unique collectibles) and even little puzzling challenges called Force Tears. The one Force Tear that I managed to find was a platforming challenge where every time Cal jumped, what looked like a laser grid activated on one half of the field and deactivated on the other, forcing Cal to time his jumps properly to avoid failure.

Another major part of why I enjoyed exploring the map, even more so than in Fallen Order, is how movement has been revamped and upgraded. One of the first things I noticed was that Cal can walk faster, even jog, in the non-combat areas, like The Mantis or Pyloon’s Saloon. I’d always been a tad frustrated last time around by how slow Cal could be around the ship. I have a tendency to second-guess the direction that I want to go in and also to pace, even in videogames, so having the option to move with more urgency was a great boon.

SWJS Wall Running

Of course, movement is also very fun in the freer areas too. There’s wall jumping in specific places like last time around, sure, but wall running has also been overhauled. Cal will be able to stay on the wall for a lot longer and, more than that, he can also repeatedly use his double jump to move higher up on the designated wall-running surfaces. Generally, it helps to have a long wall to run with, but this is an excellent tool for movement and left me feeling even more like a powerful Jedi doing a variety of impossible jumps. Sprinting, jumping, and dodging are also quite satisfying, feeling as though Cal has a full range of movement.

The combat is fantastic so far as well. Cal appears to be keeping most of his general combat tools from Fallen Order, like Pushing, Pulling, or using a Double-Bladed Lightsaber. He also gets new abilities and reimaginings of old ones. For starters, he can now Confuse enemies to cause them to attack their allies for a limited time, which so far appears to replace BD-1’s ability to splice into droids. His Split Saber ability also seems to be gone, replaced by an overall Dual Wielding stance with a heavy focus on overwhelming opponents with fast and hard-hitting strikes, though it also leaves Cal more vulnerable to attacks and damage if he overextends himself. Despite being a scaredy cat that’s afraid of getting hurt, this was my favourite of the available stances. Cal's Force Slow ability — which could slow down a chosen foe to a crawl — is also back, but it's lost a bit of its versatility, becoming more of a super attack that aligns more closely with the Slow Burst. Now, Cal can Slow everyone around him in a large explosion of the Force, though this ability doesn’t actually use up any of Cal’s Force bar, instead using its own meter.

At the end of EA's special event, we were also shown a large combat showcase, where Cal used two more stances, Crossguard — like the one popularised by Kylo Ren in the Sequel Trilogy — and Blaster — which features Cal wielding a gosh darn blaster in addition to his lightsaber. Both looked very fun to play with, particularly the Blaster stance, with Cal occasionally stopping for a moment to blast his foes away with powerful bursts. The coolest part of that showcase, to be honest, was where Cal was able to target many of the surrounding enemies with the blaster a la Dead Eye from Red Dead Redemption and then shoot everyone.

SWJS Rancor Fight

There were also a variety of new enemies to test your mettle against, including some metal ones! From the first time I heard “roger, roger” in my playthrough, I knew I was in for a treat. A major recurring enemy is, you guessed it, the B1 Battle Droids popularised by the Clone Wars cartoon, alongside a few other droids and more organic foes. The stray bits of dialogue were always a fun treat in Fallen Order, but the B1 Battle Droids have a special charm to them that I absolutely adore and it is on full display with every scene I found them in. And then, when the enemies tapered off in terms of humour, they absolutely picked up in regard to difficulty. While there were a variety of strong and imposing foes, like the fearsome Bilemaws who use their weight and size to crush their prey, or fast and wily enemies such as the BX Droid Commandos who jump up and around Cal with electrical attacks, none were more intense than the Rancor boss fight along one side quest. With high-powered strikes and an instant-kill move where it grabs hold of Cal and chows down on him, it can take some effort to figure out what the Rancor can and will do in any given situation, but despite getting frustrated now and again, I found myself constantly improving in the fight.

Survivor looks incredible too. I saw a few minor visual glitches here and there, like some plants blurring way too much when swaying, but nothing major or in-your-face. The people look incredibly lifelike — including the side characters — and the environments are lush and detailed. Most of Koboh was made up of a sort of mountainous environment with rocks, cacti, and rivers, but there was a lot of plant life too and way too much shiny tar and sludge. The character animations were a particular treat though. Cal and BD-1’s idle animations held a large amount of charm in them and I was greatly impressed by the attention to detail everywhere I looked. I was doing these big jumps at one point and noticed that Cal’s hair would flip around in the wind of the fall, acting like real hair! That was especially impressive considering how many different customisation options I had for the guy’s hair. I’d done some tricky legwork to unlock a mullet and enjoyed it immensely for the rest of my playtime, but there were a tonne of options, not only for his hair, but also his beard, his outer shirt, his inner shirt, and even his pants. Cal’s lightsaber and BD-1 likewise had loads of options to choose from, both in colour and design. And I know we’ve moved on from the charming animations portion of this discussion, but I have to say that the way that each of BD-1’s replacement parts just sort of slam into him and leave the little guy all disoriented is one of the cutest things I have seen yet this year!

Speaking of cute, there were also a variety of mounts Cal could ride, including Nekkos, which were these large bipedal creatures that could be ridden essentially like horses across the land to get around even faster, and Belters, which were flying furry animals. Sadly, my time ended right before I could use the Tame ability to start riding a Belter, so I don’t know yet exactly how fun flying is, but I imagine that will blow all of the fun movement that I’ve loved so far out of the park.

SWJS Cal Running

While I’m still very sad that I didn’t wind up playing everything present here, I still absolutely had a fun time, even forgetting to take notes in a few given places because I got so very absorbed into the experience. I truly cannot wait to get a chance to play Star Wars Jedi: Survivor when it releases on the 28th of April. I’ll probably be getting the version on Windows, but if I can get a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X|S, I would love to see how it plays on those as well.

Erin McAllister

Erin McAllister

Staff Writer

Erin is a massive fan of mustard, writes articles that are too long, and is a little bit sorry about the second thing.

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JaseTay - 08:34pm, 4th April 2023

I really hope their is a cameo or two from other Star Wars characters alive during this time. Or at least a mention of them.