I went into my four-hour date with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor with an inventory of causes to doubt it. I have been replaying 2019’s Fallen Order and it hasn’t been going properly. A game I favored so much at launch is now filled with annoying flaws: Cal’s torpid motion, underwhelming lightsaber upgrades, and checkpoints that pressure me to reclimb stuff that was barely partaking the primary time. Uncharted plus Darkish Souls is not the successful combo it was for me three years in the past.

Judging by the opening hours of Jedi Survivor, Uncharted Souls isn’t what Respawn goes for anymore both. My largest gripes with Fallen Order had been tackled inside minutes of choosing up the controller. Wallrunning not drags Cal downward like gravity is getting the higher of him, lightsaber fight is split into Ghost of Tsushima-like stances with distinctive improve timber, and you may lastly quick journey between checkpoints. Jedi Survivor is maturing alongside Cal himself.

The five-year time bounce is felt in Cal’s thrilling new lightsaber takedowns, his faster and extra assured acrobatics, and his “nonetheless figuring it out” early-20s stubble. Even Cal’s actor, Cameron Monaghan, sounds older, or is at the least attempting to sound older by talking with a deeper-than-usual voice that jogs my memory of how I sound within the morning earlier than ingesting water (I hope that does not stick for the entire game).

Jedi Survivor could be very a lot a “extra of the primary game” type of sequel, and I am largely not complaining. It is higher and grander in methods you’ll be able to guess, however Jedi Survivor’s largest shock is the way it’s dipping its toes into open world territory.

Residence on the vary

My demo centered on a single planet that was simply twice the dimensions of a single Fallen Order map. Suppose much less Darkish Souls and extra God of Warfare 2018: you are still doing quite a lot of mountaineering, wallrunning, and lightweight puzzle fixing by way of slim canyons or caves, however within the case of the planet Koboh, these sections spoke off from a wide-open central desert containing a city with sidequests, a vendor, and a headquarters that Cal can develop over time.

Respawn indicated to me that Koboh is a fairly large chunk of Jedi Survivor, and certainly one of a number of sandbox-y planets. There are additionally linear “Fallen Order-style” ranges too, however I get the sense Respawn is most enthusiastic about its open areas.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

(Picture credit score: EA)

Jedi Survivor is an early 2000’s 3D platformer sporting costly 2023 textures.

I’m too. It felt nice to stretch Cal’s legs in Koboh’s sun-scorched nook of area desert in a manner that retroactively makes me like Fallen Order’s ranges much less. That game’s funnel-shaped planets had been a continuing hop-scotch between preventing and climbing that afforded no time to take breath and recognize its superbly bizarre alien landscapes. Koboh is immediately convincing as a spot where folks dwell (it helps that you just really meet the individuals who dwell there) and has impartial areas where you’ll be able to simply exist for a beat with out something to saber or climb.

Ready off the crushed path is usually a chest that is holding, very similar to the primary game, a brand new beauty. Unearthing a pair of pants from the underside of a cave remains to be fairly weak sauce for loot, however at the least there are sufficient customization choices this time round to get invested in my redheaded saber-swinger’s trend sense: Cal can now sport a bunch of various shirts, armors, pants, and even hair kinds (particularly bizarre to open a metallic field and discover a beard). BD joins the costume celebration too with modular half units that may fairly radically alter his look.

In just a few uncommon cases I discovered precise upgrades, like a everlasting Drive meter enhancement or a perk—Respawn appeared fairly enthusiastic about how this perk system enables you to personalize your Cal construct, however I solely discovered one in my demo and its impact was slight sufficient that I am unable to keep in mind it now.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

(Picture credit score: EA)

Motion and puzzles

Respawn is making the smart alternative to present Cal nearly all of his outdated skills right from the beginning. That is nice, as a result of attending to double bounce or pressure pull a rope into your arms and not using a traumatic padawan flashback makes Jedi Survivor’s light-weight problem-solving instantly extra stimulating than the primary two-thirds of Fallen Order, where typically your solely verbs had been “sluggish” and “push.”

The platforming is nothing difficult or cerebral sufficient to get your blood pumping, however I really want it that manner—there’s snug simplicity in slicing a rock pillar so it timbers right into a bridge or uncorking a reservoir of tar to boost floating platforms to my attain. Jedi Survivor is an early 2000s 3D platformer sporting costly 2023 textures. Possibly basking in 20-year-old stage design and considering “hell yeah, now this a videogame” is an indication of encroaching PlayStation 2 nostalgia, however I welcome it with open arms (for now).

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

(Picture credit score: EA)

Cal is extra succesful than ever, however Respawn has turned up the temperature to accommodate.

Apart from, Jedi Survivor’s fight is hard sufficient. Cal is extra succesful than ever, however Respawn has turned up the temperature to accommodate. You will discover harder-hitting stormtroopers show up earlier on, just like the jerks with anti-Jedi sticks or the one with a laser minigun, typically combined with common blaster troopers. Troopers are as gratifying as ever to kill in a single slice, however much more enjoyable to homicide are the brand new separatist droids plucked right out of the prequels, now reprogrammed to battle for a band of native raiders.

I recognize that Respawn is leaning into the usual conehead droids as bumbling doofuses which are virtually begging to get scrapped—one droid stationed on a cliff I climbed beneath monologued to himself for 20 seconds about how alone and weak to assault he was. With no human gore holding Respawn again, droids slice up properly and permit Cal to get a bit extra artistic in his executions.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

(Picture credit score: EA)

Slicing energy

Jedi Survivor’s further enemy selection performs properly with Cal’s deeper bag of lightsaber tips. There are 5 stances in Jedi Survivor, however I may solely use the primary three in my demo. The opposite two (and coolest-looking) stances, blaster and crossguard, had been solely proven in a hands-off fight demo presumably meant to rub it in our faces. This is how EA described the stances to press:

  • Single: The usual lightsaber, balanced for offense and protection
  • Double-bladed: The workers is nice for crowd management
  • Twin Wield: Cal’s lightsaber cut up into two lightsabers. Nice for aggressive play, excessive talent ceiling.
  • Crossguard: A robust, deliberate stance that means that you can deal large harm at the price of lengthy wind-up occasions.
  • Blaster: This stance permits Cal to cope with long-range foes.

The 2 stances from Fallen Order, single saber and double-sided, have extra distinct strengths and weaknesses now. The heavy assault button, as an example, now does one thing fully completely different relying on Cal’s stance: single blade is a robust stab, double-blade whips the saber round in circles to hit every thing round you, and within the new dual-wield stance Cal slows down time and briefly counters each assault thrown at him.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

(Picture credit score: EA)

These strikes are cool and flashy, however there are subtler variations which are enjoyable to experiment with. An early improve for double-blade enables you to infinitely deflect blaster shots should you completely time the primary one (good for shielded minigun troopers). An identical improve for dual-wield splits one completely deflected shot into two projectiles that may take out two troopers without delay. Even after just a few hours and round a dozen improve factors, I used to be continuously switching stances attempting to choose a favourite.

It is a disgrace, then, that Jedi Survivor locations a seemingly arbitrary restrict on lively stances. Solely two stances may be geared up at a time and you may solely swap them out at checkpoints. Even with solely three stances unlocked, this feels needlessly limiting.

Respawn advised me you’ll be able to play the game front-to-back with a single stance if you wish to, however what I need is the alternative—a violent ballet of each fashion and battle tactic moving seamlessly collectively. As an alternative, I settled on single and double-blade as a result of they appeared probably the most versatile and sorely missed that cool multi-parry unique to twin wielding.

Simply shy of a month earlier than launch, Jedi Survivor is hitting the spot. The primary few hours counsel it will not be probably the most adventurous sequel round, however its adjustments are calculated. Fallen Order was an awkward-but-promising motion game that left quite a lot of meat on the bones, and Respawn clearly does not wish to repeat that. Jedi Survivor appears like a sequel made by people who find themselves keenly conscious of its predecessor’s most talked-about faults and laser-focused on erasing them.