EA and Respawn gave GameCritics a chance to preview Star Wars: Jedi Survivor last week, and we were happy to accept since the sequel to 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a hotly-anticipated title coming up on the heels of several major media pushes from the Star Wars universe. It’s the perfect storm of Star Wars synergy right now, and despite my own lapsed fandom, I was curious to see what Respawn was bringing to the table.
Full disclosure: This hands-on preview event was arranged by EA/Respawn PR and all expenses were paid.
Taking place an hour into the campaign, the demo I played saw Cal Kestis landing on a brand-new planet called Koboh in search of help in getting his ship repaired. Enemies soon appear, and what stood out immediately was how much better the combat feels.
As opposed to the slower approach seen in Fallen Order, everything in Survivor is faster and snappier — if anything, closer to the more hack-and-slash style of play that made something like Force Unleashed extremely popular (complete with the dismemberment of enemies too). It still requires a lot of strategy, however, as Cal needs to monitor his health and force abilities.
New combat features include stances that dictate how Cal holds his lightsaber. Mapped to the d-pad, I was able to try out stances during my playthrough — double-bladed (reminiscent of Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace) and a dual-wielded variant that splits Cal’s lightsaber. Each stance has its own skill tree and advantages.
For example, I found that the double-bladed stance worked well in situations where I was overwhelmed by a crowd of enemies. The dual-wielded was faster, though it required a more intimate approach in combat. I found it effective against the bosses I encountered, as its special move slowed time and allowed Cal to unleash a flurry of slashes.
Thanks to these changes, I felt like fighting individual enemies was easier than it was in Fallen Order and it gave me a chance to play around with Cal’s force abilities. Being able to pull enemies close to me before hitting them with a lightsaber attack or pushing them off a ledge was great, as was throwing their own shields right back at them.
Combat is also helped by new enemy types. Stormtroopers still appear, of course, with three variations being Stormtrooper, Scout Trooper, and Shield Trooper. Other types include battle droids from the prequel trilogy, and here Cal can either attack them head-on or use force to send those rockets back.
The story (in the section I saw, at least) gave off a western/samurai vibe akin to The Mandalorian, as Cal eventually enters a small town and inadvertently saves villagers. While I wasn’t privy to as much story as I thought I would be, there were a few major revelations I won’t spoil here. What I can say is that the narrative seems to be drawing a fine line between dark and brooding and a sense of adventure.
After my demo time, the developers gave a quick presentation showcasing more of the combat which displayed what a skilled player could achieve via the different stances, including my first look at the “blaster” stance, in which Cal can stagger enemies with a ranged attack.
Walking away from a little over three hours of Star Wars: Jedi Survivor has me curious about the final product. Respawn is clearly more confident in crafting a third-person actioner this time around, and based on my experience, it’s a more consistent — and frankly, more enjoyable — combat system. I’m quite excited to see what awaits players in this galaxy, far, far away, and thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor releases on April 28th, and will be available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.
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- LOOKING BACK Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - May 5, 2023
- Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review - April 25, 2023
“if anything, closer to the more hack-and-slash style of play that made something like Force Unleashed extremely popular”
CJ out here committing crimes.
*shudders at the thought of Force Unleashed*