Jedi: Survivor is actually excellent, and that’s terrible

The Fallen Order sequel is a paradox of galactic proportions.

The 2010s werent too kind to the Star Wars franchise. The return of the galaxy far, far away to the big screen was met with middling fan response, and thats perhaps being too generous. The two Battlefront games EA launched to coincide with the movie releases did not fare much better. When Jedi: Fallen Order came out at the tail end of the decade, the expectations were it would be the final nail in the coffin of a dismal decade for Star Wars.

To the surprise of everyone but the most faithful optimists, 2019s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was pretty good. Many would say it was great. We personally prefer to save the masterpiece claims for when theyre truly warranted, but theres no denying Fallen Order was the most well-received bit of Star Wars media in a long while.

Thats not a product of blind fanboys overtaking the discussion either. While it can and definitely was criticized for borrowing other games ideas, Jedi: Fallen Order did that in a respectful and mostly enjoyable manner. True genius isnt creating something out of nothing, but taking someone elses idea and improving upon it. Borrowed gameplay mechanics or not, Fallen Order delivered a good gaming experience that warranted just anticipation for its sequel.

Image via EA

Gone are the days of rushed sequels, and we should all be thankful for it. Knights of the Old Republic and The Force Unleashed, two of the most beloved Star Wars games ever, both got a sequel within a year. One was good but still worse than its predecessor, the other was a complete letdown. EA decided to give Respawn the necessary time to make sure the Fallen Order sequel is what every game sequel should strive to be: an improvement upon the first entry in every imaginable way.

This prolonged four-year development cycle finally produced a harvest on April 28, the launch day of Jedi: Survivor. The first 24 hours of such a massive and long-anticipated release should be reserved for intense gaming sessions, first impressions, and overall fan excitement. Alas, thats very rarely the case in modern gaming.

If it wasnt for horror classics getting top notch remakes in 2023, wed be hard pressed to remember the most recent AAA video game that did not have severe performance issues at launch. Jedi: Survivor was not only not an exception, it was one of the most outstanding examples of just how poorly optimized modern AAA games tend to be at launch.

Screengrab via EA

As usual, PC got it the worst. It didnt matter if you got a six-year-old 1080 TI or a new $1600 founders edition 4090, you could not run Jedi: Survivor at a consistent 60 FPS. Those select few who achieved a respectable average frame rate were not spared. The vast selection of bugs Jedi: Survivor had on offerincluding intense stutters, frequent lag, and good old straight-to-the-point crashesmade sure even those who had it better did not actually have it good.

Consoles typically fare relatively well while PC gamers are going through performance nightmares. That was partially the case here, the console version was admittedly performing better, yet EA is still releasing patches that attempt to fix bugs and stabilize Jedi: Survivor on consoles too. Even the usually safe platforms could not escape this poorly optimized releases wrath.

A game releasing in such a state is a universally bad omen. Empiric evidence is more than enough to explain why wed expect a poorly optimized game to be poor in general, but well attempt to use logic instead. Here goes: if development was forced to a point where the game is released in a broken state, its feasible to assume the whole game suffered from similar treatment, which more or less guarantees a dip in product quality. Makes sense, right?

In a welcome breach of conventional logic, Jedi: Survivor is not an awful game. Quite the contrary; it has a case that it actually is everything a sequel should be, an improvement over Jedi: Fallen Order in every imaginable way. It expands on the characters, the story, the world, the traversal, the combat, and everything in between. Jedi: Survivor is, dare we say, an excellent game, and thats truly terrible.

Screengrab via EA

Jedi: Survivor is setting a dangerous precedent. Launch trainwrecks have been the specialty of games that werent all that good to begin with. We can go back to Assassins Creed Unity, No Mans Sky, Mass Effect Andromeda, Fallout 76, Cyberpunk 2077, or any other calamitous blockbuster release in the last decade or so, and all of them have the common feature that they were not ready for the market. Not coding-wise, content-wise. Some of these examples went on to become good or even great games, we know. Doesnt change the fact they were anything but great upon launch.

Jedi: Survivor is great at launch. Is it a masterpiece? We still wouldnt go this far, but it is definitely a very good game, content-wise. Most important of all, it is a complete experience. It doesnt require adding content months or years down the road to become a complete gameit already is. At this point, you would be vindicated in asking what in the bloody hell is the problem then. How is Jedi: Survivor being a good game a bad thing?

Dunking on a terrible game that also happens to have terrible performance is easymorbidly satisfying even. When you have a good game thats ruined by lackluster optimization, its just sad. Instead of worrying that Jedi: Survivor will crash on us at any given moment, we should be celebrating its world-building. Instead of forcing ourselves through a stutter fest, we should be marveling at the beautiful environments. Instead of questioning PC gamings spot in AAA developments priority list, we should be running this excellent game as smooth as butter on our $1600 graphics cards. But we arent.

Screengrab by EA

We wouldnt say any unoptimized game hitting the market is fine, but when the game itself isnt all that anyway, we simply dont care that much. Sure, as gamers, we should be outraged anytime a publisher is trying to take our money for a bad product. There is an easy solution on the consumers end, though. Its called a refund. Bad game, poor optimization, refund, move on. Plus we get that previously mentioned satisfaction of letting everyone know just how much we dont like that product.

Jedi: Survivor isnt something we want to refund, and thats the frustrating part. We dont want good games releasing in a bad state to become the norm. Unfortunately, if weve ever learned something from the entertainment business, its that when publishers learn the audience is all right with a certain practice, they will abuse it to the fullest. This is why Jedi: Survivors qualities as a game leave a sour taste in our mouths. We fully expect launch day performance issues to stop being associated with mediocre games and creep their way into the quality portion of the menu, spoiling an otherwise fine dish.

The other, often forgotten side of the equation is that of developers. Were prone to forgetting that at AAA level, publisher and developer are never the same thing, and the latter is frequently the scapegoat for the formers decisions. Jedi: Survivor received three major patches within its first week of release. Can you guess how those came out in such a short span? Our own hypothesis rhymes with brunch.

We admittedly cant know for sure, but realistically, its either that or EA and Respawn knew very well their game was not ready to be published. Neither of those work for fans, nor devs. Fans are getting a bad deal by paying full price for a non-full experience, devs are being rushed to quickly fix a product that would not have needed fixing with a few more weeks in proper development.

Force TearImage via Respawn Entertainment

As weird and unsatisfying as it is to say, Jedi: Survivor being such an awesome game could end up being a terrible outcome for a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum. In the short run, sure, wed rather have one more quality game out in the world instead of whatever Redfall is trying to be. In the bigger picture, Jedi: Survivor could be looked back on as the first of its kind, a very well-crafted game that will take weeks after launch to be properly optimized for everyone to enjoy.

A common joke among cynical gamers is these days games have two release dates, one official and one where the game actually becomes playable. Cynical it may be, yet it is true, Jedi: Survivor is a two-release-dates kind of game of the worst kind: an excellent experience that we cant enjoy because of poor performance. Thats one terrible trail for Star Wars to be blazing.

Latest comments
No comments yet
Why not be the first to comment?