Fighting a !!%@! Rancor in ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’

Thanks to the folks at Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment, I was able to play four hours of the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and right from the get-go, if you’re a fan of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you’re gonna love the upcoming sequel, which will be available for the PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S on April 28.

We’ll get to the rancor part in a bit XD

As a life long fan of the Star Wars franchise, it’s always such a huge thrill to assume the role of the Jedi (or Sith). Going back to Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2, Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, and Star Wars: The Forces Unleashed, I’ve had so many fond memories of truly excellent video game moments that these games have evoked.

From 1997 to now, getting that much closer to the Jedi experience has been something worth well as the ever dawning reminder that yes, I’m getting old remembering all of this. Anyway, uh, let’s talk about this upcoming game, shall we??

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order continues that evolution of capturing that excitement. With Survivor, they build on from the first game with a few important new features:

* More awesome combat stances:

  • Single – The standard lightsaber, balanced for offense and defense
  • Double-bladed – The staff is great for crowd control
  • Dual Wield – Cal’s lightsaber split into two lightsabers. Great for aggressive play, high skill ceiling.
  • Crossguard – A powerful, deliberate stance that allow you to deal massive damage at the cost of long wind-up times.
  • Blaster – This stance allows Cal to deal with long-range foes.

* Bigger & more open worlds to explore.
* Fast travel (so you don’t have to slog through all the areas on foot).
* Advanced customization options so you can even get Cal Kestis to look like a mullet-rocking 80s rockstar.
* A (beefy) combat companion by the name of Bode Akuna.

Meet Bode Akuna (voiceover & mocap performance by Noshir Dalal), your beefy combat companion.

Honestly, most of these (if not all) have been covered already by numerous gaming publications. What HASN’T been covered yet is the singular aspect of the gameplay demo that thrilled AND frustrated the daylights out of me:

Fighting a freaking Rancor.

DISCLAIMER: all video coverage shown below is from a work-in-progress build and might not be representative of the final product.

It’s very likely that I’m terrible with reflexes and motor functions but it took me an HOUR to successfully defeat this rancor but once I did, an irreplaceable & very sweaty feeling of sheer personal victory was had, as if my life could not get any more accomplished than this. Thankfully, this strange joy was shared by many of the press folks who were playing the game alongside me.

What was also a most pleasant surprise was encountering the battle droids from the Star Wars prequels. These goofy droids provided some of the most hilarious moments in the gameplay demo, as evidenced by the video below in one of your first interactions with them. You’ll also be able to witness skirmishes between the battle droids and stormtroopers and if you’re a fan of the franchise, there’s just a warm fuzzy feeling when you see both the prequel and original trilogies collide.

I was able to interview with Respawn production director Kasumi Shishido and the video game’s design director Jason De Heras who each played a pivotal part in shaping Survivor as well as Fallen Order, to which De Heras was the lead combat designer for.

De Heras explained that originally for Fallen Order, they had three combat stances, with the final once being the dual weld that they ultimately had to cut due to time. Coming onto the sequel, they picked it up to develop the dual weld stance and a few more stances for the player (which includes the crossguard and blaster as mentioned above). With the combat companion system, De Heras wanted to make sure the player never had to micromanage their teammate whatsoever and to make it absolutely seamless.

For the development process, Shishido knew that they weren’t starting from scratch as they had an existing foundation from the first game and so it was really identifying the story process in terms of where to take the main character of Cal Kestis and features they couldn’t really address in the first game such as the customization features as well as fast travel and map improvements.

To wrap this up, it is crucial to mention that the voiceover & motion capture performances are vibrant with so many highlights on global majority characters that enrich the world of the game. This is made possible by Emily Schweber and her team at Emily Schweber Casting (who also cast the first game) as they went through hundreds, if not thousands of auditions, and coordinated with the Respawn and Electronic Arts teams to provide the stellar casting that I was able to witness. I can’t wait to encounter the countless characters that populate Survivor once this game officially comes out so the end of this month can’t come soon enough!

I leave you all with an adorable bogling you can pet: