The High Republic is a big part of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Adding something new to a universe as beloved and familiar as Star Wars must seem an impossible task. Can you imagine how hard it is to show someone a new Star Wars droid, city, or planet, and convince them that this thing has been here all along, you just haven’t seen it yet? What a bonkers thing to try!

And yet developers at Respawn Entertainment, the folks behind Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, have thrown their hat into the ring with aplomb, not just crafting new Star Wars characters and locales (on top of those already present in the excellent Jedi: Fallen Order) but veering away even more fully from the established film canon to explore the newest era of Star Wars: The High Republic.

The stones on those people.

[Ed. Note: This post contains minor spoilers for the first act of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.]

This is one of the biggest surprises lurking in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor — the game really gets into the High Republic era. It’s not shy about this. Its plentiful databank entries reference the era constantly. It’s the time period during which many of the Jedi ruins and Breath of the Wild-esque shrines you encounter were constructed, and it’s where the game’s villain, Dagan Gera, hails from, as Cal Kestis learns after waking him up from a centuries-long nap in a Bacta tank.

Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

On the one hand, this is pretty cool! The High Republic is a new part of the Star Wars canon that up until now has mostly just existed in books and comics; seeing its iconography rendered in three dimensions is neat stuff. Respawn’s inclusion of these elements also signals serious commitment to anyone unsure of how invested Disney-era Star Wars is in this part of the timeline. Video games take a long time to make, and they have a pretty long shelf life, so this narrative turn seems like a sign that the Powers That Be are interested in telling stories in this setting for a little while.

But also: The High Republic doesn’t particularly mean anything yet. The setting is only just starting to be explored in depth (you can read our primer on it here), and while it’s introduced some new characters who’ve already become fan favorites, like the angsty Jedi Elzar Mann or the sentient alien rock Geode (Not a joke! He’s a rock!), the stories set in the High Republic era have not quite made a case for themselves yet. There are adventures aplenty, but it definitely still feels like a publishing initiative more than a fully realized place full of its own unique stories.

Consider its closest analogue: The similar-sounding Old Republic, an era thousands of years before the movies that, importantly, had two wildly popular Knights of the Old Republic video games associated with it. Now that setting is its own distinct flavor of Star Wars, with further books and comics fleshing it out. The High Republic, set only a couple hundred years prior to prequel and original trilogy eras, doesn’t quite have its KOTOR moment yet. Of its various stories — the rise and fall of Jedi space station Starlight Beacon, the growing menace of the Nihil space pirates, and a few Force-related mysteries — it mostly feels like a nice way to hang out with some new Jedi.

Art from the Star Wars YA novel The High Republic: Path of Deceit, depicting a young Jedi with blue skin and a gold lightsaber standing beside a woman clutching flowers to her chest, and both of them behind a robed woman with her hands outstretched.

Image: Lucasfilm

Jedi: Survivor fulfills a vital function in further establishing the High Republic as a setting worth getting invested in by having beloved characters from Jedi: Fallen Order get wrapped up in its history. Soon, this setting will be bolstered even more by The Acolyte, the forthcoming (and mysterious) new Disney Plus series set in the era. Fleshing out the High Republic will be a long game, and more importantly, it’s a different game than the one being played by the stories spinning out of The Mandalorian and the animated Star Wars series.

Right now, The High Republic comes across like a bunch of tabletop RPG sourcebooks full of interesting tidbits to tug at, with no proper story to draw people in. Jedi: Survivor is a pretty good lure for fans curious about this new setting, but they may be surprised at how much of it is still just potential.

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