When it comes to discussing video game sequels that dramatically improve upon what came before Uncharted 2 is often upheld as the archetypal example of a sequel done right. And while Nathan Drake’s second outing is one of my favorite games of all time, Star Wars Jedi Survivor makes an equally strong case to rank among the best video game sequel ever.
The development team at Respawn Entertainment has done a remarkable job of recognizing what made Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order such a promising, but flawed, first attempt, and has managed to expand upon what worked while sanding down many of the rough edges.
Even as somebody who doesn’t consider themselves a hardcore Star Wars fan, Jedi Survivor is quickly becoming one of my favorite games of this generation so far.
Jedi Survivor builds upon Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order was a pretty compelling concoction of third-person action and Metroidvania-level design with a small sprinkling of elements from the Dark Souls series. Jedi Survivor very wisely doesn’t attempt to reinvent this formula, and instead refines it even further.
For starters, combat is significantly improved. Protagonist Cal Kestis can now choose from five unique lightsaber stances, and each plays significantly differently from the rest. My personal favorite is the double-bladed stance, which allows you to take on larger packs of enemies without breaking a stance, but the blaster stance, which gives you a ranged weapon, and the Crossguard stance, which is slow but powerful, are also really fun to experiment with. Picking the right option for the challenge at hand also helps to keep combat engaging even deep into the game’s 25-hour main campaign.
It’s not just how you swing a lightsaber that has been improved, what you’re swinging at has also been upgraded. There is much greater enemy variety in Jedi Survivor, and the inclusion of various droids from the prequel trilogy is wonderful for the comedic value alone. And your expanded arsenal of force powers should also be touched upon. Rather than stripping you back to the basics to relearn all your abilities like some sequels, you start off feeling powerful and only get more god-like as you progress further.
The level design has also been tweaked for Jedi Survivor. While Fallen Order typically funneled you down linear corridors, levels in this sequel feel expansive and ripe for exploration. In Fallen Order, I always felt compelled to push forward toward the main goal as a first priority, but in Jedi Survivor I’m consistently stopping to explore every corner of the map in hopes of unearthing some secret or collectible — and usually I find something worth my troubles.
Overall, the things you’ll be doing on a moment-to-moment basis in Jedi Survivor are remarkably similar to what you've probably done already in Fallen Order — you’ll fight enemies, climb walls, shimmy along ledges and upgrade your character — but everything feels enhanced this time around. And that’s a pretty big deal when the foundations were so solid in the first place.
Small improvements make a big difference
Jedi Survivor also goes the extra mile to improve upon its predecessor with a suite of smaller quality-of-life tweaks that add up to make a big difference.
The most immediately noticeable one is that the map is no longer…crap. Fallen Order’s atrocious map earned the internet’s ire back in 2019, so it’s a good job that Respawn has overhauled it in Jedi Survivor. The revamped map also does an excellent job of highlighting the areas you’ve explored and the places you can’t yet access to save you from wasting time.
Another small but appreciated addition is greater customization options. Previously you could switch out Cal’s poncho and little else, but now you can really style your Jedi Knight as you wish. From his beard length to his hairstyle, not to mention individual items of clothing, if you enjoy collecting cosmetic items in a video game, Jedi Survivor will seriously delight you. Plus, you can tweak the look of your lightsaber, blaster and BD-1 robot companion.
Other welcome upgrades include the ability to fast travel between mediation points, the inclusion of lightsaber dismemberment (I swear the community requested it!), a revamped skill tree and more complex sidequests to boot. Basically, if there was something you like in Fallen Order, it’s probably been enhanced in Jedi Survivor.
Technical issues are a blight
As much as I want to heap praise on Star Wars Jedi Survivor, and I’ve spent the last 1,000 words doing just that, it would feel almost dishonest to not call out the seriously frustrating technical issues that really have impacted my experience.
Playing on PS5, I’ve noticed consistent framerate drops in the 60fps-targeting Performance Mode, and even when opting for the Quality Mode which aims for half the frames, I’m still getting hiccups far too often during the most intense sequences. I’ve also noticed significant screen tearing, and the game has crashed multiple times across my 10 hours of play to date.
It’s unfortunate that such a remarkable game has been released in such a rough state because if Respawn could have ironed these issues out prior to launch, I’d be able to recommend Jedi Survivor without any hesitations. As it stands, the technical issues do serve as an unfortunate asterisk against an otherwise stellar Star Wars video game.
Nevertheless, Star Wars Jedi Survivor is still a game you absolutely should experience. It’s a confident sequel that improves upon just about every aspect of its predecessor and tells an engaging sci-fi story with seriously likable characters.
However, if you’re the patient type, perhaps wait for a couple more patches before jumping in.