From the first minute, I have been truly blown away by Star Wars Jedi Survivor. It has built upon and improved pretty much every aspect of its’ predecessor, Jedi Fallen Order. However, throughout the opening hours of the game, I quickly noticed something quite egregious with the gameplay experience. No, I’m not talking about the performance issues many have been facing – I have been lucky enough to avoid them on PS5. I’m talking about the fact that Respawn Entertainment has stopped BD-1 rummaging through chests in Star Wars Jedi Survivor.
In Fallen Order, every time you would go to open a chest while exploring – whether you’re on the dangerous Dathomir or the Imperial-infested Zeffo – BD-1 would hop down from Cal Kestis’ shoulder and rummage around in the chest before popping up with an excited series of bleeps and bloops, presenting the item to the player.
Sure, you could see this as Cal being a little lazy – he could just reach down and open these himself, after all – but, it was also quite a clever bit of subtle characterisation for BD-1.
No matter where you were in Jedi Fallen Order, or how much danger you were in, BD-1 was always more than happy to hop into a random chest and find something for you to use. Of course, as you may already know, these were almost always cosmetic items – lightsaber parts and ponchos, mainly – but, it was still nice to see that BD-1 was always so eager to help.
Respawn could have easily limited BD-1 to being just a tool in Jedi Fallen Order, a droid that Cal can use to splice panels and ascend ziplines, and presented him as something of an accessory otherwise. However, as we all know now, that wasn’t the case. The development team made an effort to use these chest-opening animations to reinforce the curious characteristics and enthusiastic attitude of BD-1.
Throughout Star Wars, droids are notoriously well-represented as rounded characters and often find themselves as scene-stealers – despite the fact that, a lot of the time, they don’t speak any identifiable language or have any emotive features. When it comes to BD-1 in Jedi Fallen Order, it was moments like these that helped to maintain the level of characterisation available in cinematic cutscenes.
In Star Wars Jedi Survivor, though, Cal is the one who opens all the chests you come across. It doesn’t matter which of the Jedi Survivor planets you’re exploring, Cal is the one to open the chests and find the cosmetic rewards – and he does it with a fraction of the enthusiasm BD-1 did it with. Respawn has taken away this cleverly concealed characterisation and replaced it with a lacklustre, often lethargic, series of animations that show Cal lazily bashing the top of a chest to open it, or even more-lazily using the force to open a chest.
It’s a minor detail, sure, and Respawn does still include BD-1 in some of the animations that involve finding additional Stims, but I can’t help but feel outraged that – for the most part, outside of cutscenes – BD-1 has been reduced to a tool. Cal takes advantage of him in the same way he does his Ascension Cable. Sure, he can do a little more than he could in Jedi Fallen Order – and Cal can ‘pet’ him on occasion – but, it’s not quite the same level of agency. Unless you’re actively engaging with him as the player, he’s really nothing more than an accessory. You still have to actually press a button to make him scan interesting objects and lore-revealing items – he still doesn’t do that on his own.
After everything that BD-1 has been through, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the little droid lose a little pep in his robotic step. But, his continued dedication to the fight against The Empire and his eagerness to help Cal shines through in Jedi Survivor’s cutscenes – right from the off. So, I can’t help but wonder why Respawn Entertainment has subtly dropped one of my favourite little details from Jedi Fallen Order and replaced it with something so vanilla – especially when you consider the fact that almost every other aspect of the game is an improvement on its predecessor, as another member of The Loadout team discovered in their Jedi Survivor review.
Is Jedi Survivor one of the best Star Wars PS5 games out there right now? Absolutely, it is. Is it one of the best Xbox Star Wars games available, too? Without a doubt. But, I can’t unequivocally say that this is my favourite Star Wars game ever just yet – and the disrespect being shown to BD-1 might have something to do with it.