The dreaded “release now, fix later” model that has been adopted by corporations across the games industry has shown up constantly in 2023. Although a number of console titles have been affected, by far the worst impact has been felt on PC. As PC is my primary gaming platform these days, this is something that hits me personally. Today, I wanted to talk a little about the absolute state of many recent PC releases.
Jedi: Survivor, Redfall, Forspoken, Hogwarts Legacy, and The Last Of Us Part 1 should have all been among the biggest PC releases in the first half of 2023. I was genuinely looking forward to several of these games myself. But all of them, despite being massive games with huge budgets backed up by major corporate publishers, have been released in broken, unfinished, and in some cases borderline unplayable states.
As a rule, I don’t pre-order games. I’ve been burned in the past, and as someone who doesn’t have money to piss away, pre-ordering just doesn’t feel like a good idea any more. But many folks still do, lured in by pre-order exclusive bonuses and the like, and many of these folks – as well as those who picked up titles shortly after launch – have been left severely disappointed in the first half of 2023.
I had hoped, particularly after the Cyberpunk 2077 debacle a couple of years back, that the games industry was beginning to learn its lesson. Just because it’s technically feasible to launch a title in an unfinished state and patch it out later, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea; the damage done by a rocky launch can be difficult to overcome – if not outright impossible. For every success story like No Man’s Sky, there are dozens of titles like Anthem, Aliens: Colonial Marines, or Assassin’s Creed Unity that are too far gone to be salvageable. And even titles that manage to continue development, like Cyberpunk 2077, are forever tainted by the way they launched.
Who knows how many more sales Cyberpunk 2077 might’ve made had it been released six months later? The damage that game did to CD Projekt Red has set back the company immeasurably, damaging its share price and tanking its reputation with players. It’s an expensive lesson in how not to release a video game… so why have none of the other corporations in the games industry taken notice?
I didn’t buy Jedi: Survivor this month, even though I’d gone out of my way to save up for it and allocate money for it in my budget. Why? The reason is simple: I read the reviews, saw breakdowns of the PC port of the game, and decided to put my wallet away and wait. Electronic Arts lost what should have been a guaranteed sale because I’m not willing to buy an unfinished product. And make no mistake, that’s what Jedi: Survivor and all the other games listed above are: unfinished.
Unlike making a game for a console, developing for PC can be a challenge. Take it from someone who built their own PC last year: there are a huge number of different internal components from CPUs to GPUs, RAM to solid-state drives, and beyond. Ensuring perfectly smooth compatibility across an almost infinite range of potential PCs isn’t as easy as getting a game to run on an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, which don’t have this issue of varied internal components. And I get that, I really do.
But that isn’t a good enough excuse. I’d actually rather that a corporation delayed the PC port of a game than release it in a broken state, and I won’t be alone in saying so. It isn’t ideal to break up a title’s release by platform, and it’s something to be avoided if at all possible, but under some circumstances it can be forgiven – especially where smaller, independent studios are concerned.
I used to work in the games industry, and I know or knew dozens of developers at both small and large companies. Developers are great, passionate people who put a lot of energy and love into their work. Developers working on franchises like Star Wars, for instance, are almost always passionate fans who want to bring their story to life as best they can. These bad releases are not a reflection on developers – nor should anyone try to harrass or attack developers because of these broken games.
The fault here lies with games publishers: corporations like Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, and Warner Bros. Games. They’re the ones who hold the cards, and developers are forced to work to often unreasonable timelines. Even intense periods of “crunch” are often not enough to salvage a project in time, and a premature launch is almost always forced on a developer by a publisher. That’s undoubtedly what happened in each of these cases.
Crappy PC ports used to be fairly commonplace, but as the platform has grown and become more lucrative, that games industry stereotype seemed to be fading away. 2023 has brought it right back, and I’m now in a position where every PC game release is treated with scepticism. As players and fans, we shouldn’t be in the position of assuming a PC release will automatically be buggy, laggy, and an overall worse experience – yet here we are.
I’m not prepared to accept this as being “just” one of the downsides of PC gaming, either. Corporations need to make sure they’re allocating enough time and energy to their PC ports as they are for consoles – and if they can’t guarantee that a game will be in a playable state, the only option is to delay it. Ideally a game would be delayed on every platform, but in some cases it might be okay to go ahead with a console release and merely delay the PC port.
As consumers in this marketplace, all we can do is refuse to participate. It’s on us to tell corporations that we aren’t willing to pay their inflated prices to do the job of their quality assurance team, and that releasing games before they’re finished and before they’re basically playable is not acceptable.
One of the disappointing trends that I’ve seen, not just with PC games in 2023 but with a whole host of “release now, fix later” titles, is players and fans covering for and continuing to support these faceless, greedy corporations. Too many people seem willing to make excuses on behalf of big publishers, essentially doing the job of a marketing team for the. Some games, like Jedi: Survivor, have even received positive reviews on platforms like Steam and Metacritic, even as the reviewer admits that the game is in a poor state and playing it isn’t a great experience. Why say that? What benefit is there?
I’m also deeply disappointed in some professional outlets. Practically all of the titles above received positive reviews from professional critics, reviews which in some cases glossed over or outright ignored bugs, glitches, and other issues with the titles in question. There’s a stinking rot at the core of the relationships between some games corporations and certain media outlets – and while I would never accuse anyone of writing a paid-for review, there are clearly incentives given and threats made to keep review scores higher than they deserve to be in some cases.
I also don’t buy the excuse of “pandemic-related disruption,” not any more. That might’ve worked three years ago, but as the World Heath Organisation downgrades covid and society gets back on track across the globe, it’s beginning to stretch credulity to blame any and all problems on the pandemic. That’s a cheap excuse by corporations who don’t want us to know the truth: they’re greedily publishing unfinished games to grab as much cash as possible for as little work and investment as possible. That’s always been the case, but it’s been turned up to eleven in recent years.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this trend disappearing any time soon. For me, all PC releases are now suspect, and I will be checking out multiple reviews and tech breakdowns of the latest titles before I even consider parting with my money. I would advise all PC players to take the same approach – and to not shy away from calling out games corporations that misbehave. No other industry could get away with this – not in entertainment nor in any other sector. We wouldn’t take this kind of behaviour from other corporations and companies – so why should we be forced to put up with it with our games?
It is infinitely better to delay a game, continue to work on the issues it may have, and only release it when it’s ready. This is a lesson that the games industry really ought to have learned by now – but I guess we’ll have to do whatever we can to hammer the point home. Why should we accept low-quality, broken, unfinished games with promises of fixes and patches to come? We shouldn’t – and this awful trend of crappy PC ports has to stop.
All titles discussed above are the copyright of their respective developer, studio, and/or publisher. Some screenshots and promo images courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
In 2020, I played through Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – and I had an amazing time with the game! It’s one of my favourite single-player experiences of the past few years… and one of the better Star Wars stories, too! Rumours of a sequel were confirmed a while ago, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is set to launch in a few weeks’ time following a short delay. This time, I’m going to talk about a few things that I’d like to see from the upcoming title.
Jedi: Fallen Order was great – but it wasn’t entirely without flaws. I have no doubt that EA and Respawn Entertainment – the publisher and developer of Jedi: Fallen Order respectively – will have listened to fans and critics on at least some of the points that were raised. Although I wouldn’t say any of these things were horribly damaging, the sequel is an opportunity to take on board feedback, tone down things that didn’t work so well, and generally hone and refine the experience.
So this list will fall into two parts: things from Jedi: Fallen Order that I’d like to see changed, and new additions that I’d like the game to include. As I always say: this is just the subjective opinion of one person! I feel hopeful that Jedi: Survivor will be a fun ride whether or not any of these wishes are included when the game is released. If I suggest a change you’d hate, or exclude something that you think should be blindingly obvious, well, just keep in mind that all of this is just one person’s take. There’s plenty of room in the Star Wars fan community for different points of view.
It also goes without saying that I have no connection to Electronic Arts, Respawn, Disney, or Lucasfilm! These ideas are mine and mine alone, and I’m not trying to claim that anything listed below can, will, or must be part of Jedi: Survivor. This is a wishlist from a fan that’s been written up for fun – and should be taken in that spirit!
With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the list.
Part 1: Changes from Jedi: Fallen Order
As great as Jedi: Fallen Order was, it wasn’t an entirely flawless experience from my point of view. I covered a few of these points in less detail when I reached the end of my playthrough back in 2020, and having recently replayed the game I’ve found a couple of other issues that are worth discussing.
Although I’d still say I had a wonderful time with Jedi: Fallen Order, there’s always room for improvement! The benefit of several years’ worth of advancements in game design, as well as a new console generation releasing since Jedi: Fallen Order was launched, should mean that there’s scope to make improvements to the way Jedi: Survivor plays.
Change #1: A better in-game map.
I found Jedi: Fallen Order’s holo-map clunky, unwieldy, and difficult to use. I appreciate that it’s “lore-accurate,” very closely resembling projections that we’ve seen droids like R2D2 make elsewhere in the Star Wars franchise, but its design really got in the way of its utility – at least for me. The all-blue look, the 3D design, and large, expansive levels all came together to make the map hard to use, with it being difficult to pinpoint one’s location. The ability to set waypoints on the map would be useful, even if they didn’t appear outside of the map during regular gameplay, and a general overhaul to bring the map in line with maps used in other titles would be incredibly helpful.
Because of Jedi: Fallen Order’s large-scale levels, having a good map is incredibly useful, especially on a first playthrough. By the time I came back to Jedi: Fallen Order, a few well-trodden areas of some levels were familiar to me – but even then, it would still have been helpful if the map was easier to use.
Change #2: Fewer sliding sections.
During the scripted opening level of Jedi: Fallen Order there was an incredibly tense and exciting sliding section, as Cal and Prauf found themselves caught on a wet and slippery piece of a junked starship as it fell apart. But this mechanic was repeated too many times in Jedi: Fallen Order, with several long, boring sliding sections that added nothing at all to the game.
I’m sure sliding will be back in some form in Jedi: Survivor, and that could be okay as sliding is a fairly common 3D platforming mechanic. As noted, sliding sections can be fun – if they’re done right and if there’s a narrative reason for their inclusion. But I hope the new game tones this down, doesn’t make sliding a mandatory part of every level, and in a more general sense, uses this particular trope of 3D platform-adventure games far more sparingly. I don’t want to feel like I’m playing a 3D platformer from the 1990s when I sit down to enjoy Jedi: Survivor!
Change #3: No more backtracking.
A trope of many adventure games, going all the way back to the very beginnings of the genre in the ’80s, is that when the end of a level is reached, there’s an easy shortcut to the exit or overworld that doesn’t force a player to backtrack. In Jedi: Fallen Order, this unwritten rule of gaming was ignored for the most part – and that’s something I’d like the sequel to address.
Having crawled through a dungeon, solved puzzles, beaten enemies, and defeated the boss, it can be quite frustrating to have to then spend a significant amount of time running the whole route in reverse, going back through now-empty areas, past already-solved puzzles, with nothing to do and no objective except “get back to the ship.” These sections felt like unnecessary fluff; padding that may have been intended to make Jedi: Fallen Order’s relatively short twenty-hour runtime last a little longer.
Change #4: No more revisiting past levels.
In the same vein, Jedi: Fallen Order saw Cal return to the same levels multiple times over the course of his quest – with only a couple of smaller levels just being played through once. There’s scope to re-visit the same planet, if that’s necessary narratively, without revisiting the exact same part of the planet – and I think that’s where Jedi: Fallen Order tripped up.
I’d rather have eight smaller levels that I only play through one time apiece than four bigger levels cleaved in two that I have to return to later on in the game. This would allow for much more diversity in terms of level design, too, as only Kashyyyk’s two sections really managed to feel distinct from one another in Jedi: Fallen Order. I don’t want to see Jedi: Survivor go open-world, either, but I think it should be possible to do what many games have done since the inception of the medium and play through different levels or areas without returning to the same ones.
Change #5: No false choices.
Jedi: Fallen Order was a linear game without many places where the path before Cal seemed to branch. But at one point early on in the game, Jedi: Fallen Order seemed to give the illusion of choice – whether to visit the planet of Dathomir or Zeffo. But there’s no way to progress beyond the opening area of Dathomir until Cal has levelled up and learned a new skill – a skill which can’t be learned until other levels have been beaten. There’s no way to describe this as anything other than a totally false choice.
There was a technical reason for offering players the opportunity to visit Dathomir, as that planet was the only place in the game where players could get a double-bladed lightsaber. But this option could have been moved or relocated to Bogano or Zeffo – it wasn’t, if I’m remembering correctly, something that had to be on Dathomir for some narrative reason. The game’s story also worked better and made more narrative sense if Cal went to Zeffo first, then to Dathomir later. In short, it wasn’t a great idea to offer this false choice – and I hope there won’t be others like it in Jedi: Survivor.
Change #6: Ditch the checkpoints.
Checkpoints in older games came about as a result of limitations in hardware and programming. In the very olden days you’d have to write down a passcode on a piece of paper to be able to get back to the same area or level, but as games moved to 3D in the ’90s, checkpoints became the go-to way to save progress. By the turn of the millennium, though, this too had become outdated! It became possible for players to freely save their progress, and as a result there was no longer any need for fixed checkpoints.
Unfortunately, however, some recent games – particularly those inspired by the Dark Souls series – have brought back checkpoints… and I’m not wild about that. Checkpoints can mean players end up having to replay whole chunks of levels – and checkpoints in Jedi: Fallen Order were not exactly ubiquitous. In short, there’s no real reason why a free save system can’t be implemented in a game like Jedi: Survivor – so I’d like to see it happen!
Bonus: Current-gen only. Wish: Granted!
I would have put this on my wishlist, but we already know from Jedi: Survivor’s developer that the game will be current-gen only. That’s fantastic news, as it means the game won’t need to be constrained by being compatible with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – consoles that will be ten years old in just a few months’ time. This is a model that many more modern titles ought to adopt! Now that we’re well over two years into the current generation of consoles, it’s getting silly that so many games are still limited by decade-old hardware requirements.
There are still issues for some folks in terms of acquiring a current-gen machine, and I get that. That’s the fault of Sony and Microsoft for not producing enough consoles to meet demand. But if the games industry is to evolve and improve, at some point older machines from the previous generation will have to be left behind. Jedi: Survivor is one of a handful of titles on the horizon that will do just that – and I hope we’ll see some visual and mechanical improvements as a result.
Part 2: Additions and New Features
So those are a handful of things from Jedi: Fallen Order that I’d like the sequel to change or just remove outright. Up next, we’ll talk about a handful of additional features that I think it could be fun to include.
For this section, I’ll try to stick to things that seem plausible based on the kind of game Jedi: Survivor will be. I’m not going to suggest that Jedi: Survivor should be transformed into a role-playing game or an on-rails shooter! Instead, these are a few additional features and gameplay mechanics that I think could work well in this kind of linear, narrative-heavy, action-adventure title.
Addition #1: A vehicle or two to pilot.
One of my absolute favourite parts of Jedi: Fallen Order – and indeed of any Star Wars game that I’ve ever played – was when Cal took control of an AT-AT walker. Everything about that sequence was perfect: it was just the right length, the movement and shooting felt fluid and fun, and the walker felt unwieldy in exactly the way I’d have expected when I first saw them in The Empire Strikes Back decades earlier. This sequence was also a one-off, which made it all the more special.
I don’t think we need a second AT-AT in Jedi: Survivor – though that’s certainly a possibility! And I’m not suggesting that Cal should take control of the Stinger Mantis, with every journey between worlds turned into a mandatory spaceflight section. But if Jedi: Survivor could introduce a vehicle or two, similar to Jedi: Fallen Order’s AT-AT sequence, I think that could be incredible. Maybe Cal could take the controls of a starfighter for one mission, drive a landspeeder to reach an objective, or even do something as bold as hijack a star destroyer! Any of these vessels and vehicles could be a ton of fun to play with.
Addition #2: Carry over progress from Jedi: Fallen Order.
A big part of the story of Jedi: Fallen Order, and particularly the way in which narrative and gameplay intersected, involved Cal learning or re-learning a handful of Force skills. BD-1 also learned new skills along the way – and these skills became essential for completing puzzles and progressing through levels. With that in mind, I really hope that Jedi: Survivor won’t reset Cal.
Many sequels do something like this – where the player character, who may have been at a high level and mastered all of their skills by the end of the last game, appears to have lost all of those same skills at the start of the new game. In many cases it works fine, or at least passes by inoffensively enough. But because Jedi: Fallen Order did such a great job of weaving these gameplay mechanics into its story, it would be profoundly odd if Cal started Jedi: Survivor unable to use his basic Force powers like push and pull, or if BD-1 was likewise limited and unable to slice droids or climb ziplines.
Addition #3: Carry over at least some cosmetics from Jedi: Fallen Order.
This would really require some kind of integration between Jedi: Fallen Order save files and Jedi: Survivor – but it’s doable, as many other games have proven. In brief, it would be nice if players could retain their customised lightsabers from Jedi: Fallen Order, or at least if the cosmetic options that had been unlocked in the first game could be unlocked by default in the sequel.
We don’t know at this stage how other cosmetics will work, but many players – myself included – found a particular appearance for “our” version of Cal that came to define our playthroughs, so again it would be nice if this could be carried over somehow.
Addition #4: More cosmetic options.
A game like Jedi: Survivor isn’t going to come with a character creator – nor does it need one! But Jedi: Fallen Order was pretty basic in terms of its cosmetic options, so it would be great to see more outfits and more variety in the sequel. Cal could be given hair and facial hair options, for example, in addition to different types of outfit.
Jedi: Fallen Order included jumpsuits and ponchos, and there were quite a few different colours of each. Naturally, as soon as I found a pink poncho, Cal wore nothing else for the rest of the game! But this is an area ripe for expansion, and it would be great to see customisation options for pants, tops, jackets, shoes, and more. Some of these could be unlockable via exploration, and others could be found at in-game vendors, perhaps.
Addition #5: A story that doesn’t rely too heavily on the minutiae of Star Wars lore.
Some franchises can feel difficult to keep up with, and Star Wars is definitely one of them. I felt hopeful a few years ago, with the erasure of the old Expanded Universe, that the wider franchise might become more accessible… but a decade of films, television shows, animated kids’ shows, books, comics, games, and more has led to the same feeling of an overcomplicated franchise beginning to arise.
With that in mind, it can be a fine line to walk between creating a story that fits in with all of that lore and is still accessible to newcomers and a more casual audience. The inclusion of references and even characters from elsewhere in the franchise is totally okay – and expected, at least to an extent. But an over-reliance on minuscule details that most people won’t understand or know anything about can trip up a story.
Addition #6: Wrap up the bounty hunter story from the first game.
One of the odd things about Jedi: Fallen Order was its bounty hunter side-story. This storyline arrived in pretty spectacular fashion, with Cal being defeated and captured by bounty hunters. But it felt rushed, with the escape from the bounty hunters’ prison taking only a few minutes, and it was definitely incomplete. I don’t think there was a single mention of the bounty hunters after that episode, even as they’d occasionally show up as random enemies for the rest of the game.
There’s scope to do a lot more with this storyline. Heck, it could even become the sequel’s main story! But at the very least, I think we need to get some closure on this, somehow, by the time the credits roll. It could take the form of a single mission, multiple missions, or even just cut-scenes and dialogue… but one way or another, by the time the game ends this storyline should be wrapped up.
Addition #7: A story that doesn’t feel tacked-on.
Jedi: Fallen Order’s main storyline ended quite conclusively. The holocron was retrieved and then destroyed – and there was nothing left for Cal, Cere, and Merrin to do. There are plenty of opportunities for them to have another adventure, but any sequel story has to be careful – because it’s all too easy to wind up feeling unnecessary.
This is perhaps the most important point that we’ve talked about today. A story that brings back these characters needs to serve a purpose, and if it comes across as feeling like nothing more than a corporate-mandated sequel, that will be very disappointing. Star Wars hasn’t always gotten this right, with prequels and sequels telling unnecessary, tacked-on stories even in big-budget productions. So whatever this story is, and whatever Cal does next, I sincerely hope it’s going to feel worthwhile.
So that’s it!
That’s my Jedi: Survivor wishlist! I’m not sure when I’ll be able to play the game – money is tight at the moment, and with some hefty increases to some of my bills coming in April, I doubt I could really justify buying a brand-new, full-price game on release day – even if it’s one I’m as excited to play as Jedi: Survivor. But you never know, and I’ll certainly try to make space for it in the budget! I’d love to be able to play the game this year, at any rate.
I hope this was a bit of fun, and an excuse to look ahead to one of the most-anticipated single-player titles of the year.
After some disappointing entries in Star Wars’ cinematic canon, Jedi: Fallen Order felt like a breath of fresh air. As Star Wars continues to struggle, in my view at least, by doubling-down on legacy characters and stories of decreasing importance, I’m hopeful that Jedi: Survivor will see Cal, Cere, Merrin, and Greez continue to chart their own path. There are plenty of reasons to be excited for the game – and I can hardly wait to jump in!
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be released on the 28th of April 2023 on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S/X. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the copyright of Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment. The Star Wars franchise is the copyright of The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm. Some promotional art and screenshots used above courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.