Four years after the release of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, developer Respawn brings us an ambitious sequel in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Along with some notable performance issues, the new game reaches some impressive technical high points. On top of all that, it’s a rare current-gen-only release, targeting the PS5, Series X, Series S, and PC. Lighting, shadows and animation are all excellent, but the main feature is the inclusion of meaningful ray tracing on console and PC, along with RT reflections and global illumination. We’ve gone into the PC version’s issues in some depth, but the good news is that while the PS5’s build isn’t far from perfect, it’s possible to get a great experience out of the game.
Weighing in at 150GB install, Jedi Survivor Respawn is a colossal effort from the team, mixing Dark Souls-esque combat amid gorgeously rendered cutscenes, Metroidvania-style progression, and a sprawling world design. From the spectacular cityscape of the game’s introduction to the flourishing greenery of Koboh, the first truly open area, there’s a great sense of variety here.
In fact, it’s in these first two areas – the city and the open fields of Koboh – that we see Unreal Engine 4 being pushed in two different ways. City provides a more tight environment that shows how ray tracing is used for indirect lighting, lighting shaded areas, even colored ones, by tracing the path of light as It bounces off its source and off nearby geometry. In large expanses such as Koboh, RT reflections are used for bodies of water such as lakes, streams, which replaces the normal screen-space reflection method which looks realistic even though the details of the world being reflected are not from your point of view. Is out of. SSR is still used elsewhere, such as in the puddles in the town early in the game, but where RT appears is impressive.
Unfortunately, RT lighting, shadows and reflections all come at a cost – and without the RT toggle, it’s a performance penalty you’re stuck with in RT-heavy areas of the game. For example, the entirety of the initial city area suffers a frame-rate drop to around 45fps in 60fps performance mode, while resolution targets are also cut compared to Fallen Order to achieve these new features.
Interestingly, there are only a few select differences between the 30fps and 60fps modes, with areas looking more similar than we’d expect when swapping between the two modes. Plant density and shadow draw are the only two noticeable differences, but it doesn’t claw back much performance – so resolution is the major differentiating factor instead. In the (default) 30fps resolution mode, the resolution dynamically scales from 972p (45 percent of 4K) at worst to 1242p (57.5 percent of 4K when looking straight at the sky). Cutscenes offer higher resolution, up to 1440p.
This base image is reconstructed with AMD’s FSR2, using information from previous frames to produce a higher resolution result. While it generally provided a solid copy of a high-resolution image, the FSR 2 suffered from obvious artifacts in motion, including fine details such as grating losing definition and occlusion artifacts caused by character movement in the foreground. The raw bases depict the pixel structure.
As you might expect, the 60fps display mode uses a lower range of internal resolutions, with menus suggesting a 1440p target (compared to a 4K target for resolution modes), but actual pixels between 648p and 864p. Upscaled with FSR 2 reveals the numbers in between. 1440p. It’s rare to see sub-720p internal resolution on the PS5 as we do here, but cutscenes at least switch to a 30fps cap and therefore run at a higher resolution.
So the PS5 ships with a stunning core visual feature-set, but at a significant cost to image quality. In terms of performance, the 30fps mode provides more consistent performance despite some minor issues in the early part of the game – occasional screen-tearing in the top third of the display, frame-rates as low as 20fps in some cutscenes, and scripted cutscenes and There are some hiccups during the transition from gameplay.
Later areas, such as Koboh, tend to be worse off in areas with reservoirs; Here we saw frame-rates in the teens and 20s. Overall, the 30fps mode makes a good amount of sense, especially given its advantage in image clarity, but its performance profile could definitely do with some tweaking to sort out the worst drops.
In 60fps display mode, the first city area is problematic, starting at a solid 60fps but dropping down to 30s in some sections – the screen in the top third of the display explodes whenever a frame drops. A VRR capable display should help smooth out frame-rate variations, but the magnitude of the issues here means you should still expect perceptible degradation. With its low rendering resolution, the 60fps performance mode is a tough sell – and it seems to lack customisation. The mode gets better later on, where areas like Koboh often lock to 60fps, but areas with water again cause problems.
I’d love to see improvements to the mode with subsequent patches — and in fairness, Respawn has promised that there are several patches in the works over the next few weeks. Although the situation here suggests a real uphill battle to lock on 60, especially if the team is determined to avoid giving up on other settings.
Even taking a quick look at the PS5 it’s clear that Jedi Survivor needs more work. For all the promise of its visuals, the game’s performance isn’t up to par – and I also experienced animation glitches, collision bugs, and an apparent software crash. It will be interesting to see how the Series X and S versions fare given the issues affecting the PC version, but for now Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is one of the more compelling releases we’ve had in a long time – good and Bad both. Let’s just hope it delivers the quality of life fix that a game of this caliber deserves.
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