Last night, we got our first proper gameplay trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor at The Game Awards, along with a March 17, 2023 release date. With that came a proper long look at Jedi hero Cal Kestis, a young man who’s clearly undergone some pretty massive changes since the end of Fallen Order.
For one, he’s got a new look – Cal ditched the poncho from Fallen Order and now has a more adventuresome, almost Han Solo look to him. He’s grown some facial hair, and his lightsabers are evolving as well as he grows more powerful and resourceful.
But the changes are far from just skin-deep. IGN spoke to Cal’s actor Cameron Monaghan ahead of the trailer release about how his character has been impacted in the five year time gap between Fallen Order and Survivor. And while he’s still very much the Cal Kestis we knew then, the plight of the Jedi and his own precarious position in trying to save the order are beginning to take a toll.
“Cal’s worldview is starting to shift, as well,” Monaghan said. “Desperate times are calling for desperate measures and it becomes very difficult for him to even understand what it is that he is fighting to protect, or where he should go.
“You have the Empire rapidly expanding, and very aggressively doing so, and expanding to even the smallest and furthest reaches of this galaxy. And I think that, from his perspective, going from planet to planet and seeing just an increasingly desperate situation must be very, very lonely. I can imagine that that would definitely weigh on someone.”
Although Monaghan denied that the visual comparison we drew between Cal and Han Solo went any further than the outfits (“No one is Harrison Ford except Harrison Ford,” he said), he did add that the two share some inadvertent similarities.
Jedi Survivor Slideshow
“[Cal’s] more matured, he’s more rugged, and he’s been weathered by time and by situation,” Monaghan said. “He’s still a pretty young man. But I actually think that he would look a bit older than what he actually is, because he’s been through a lot. And that was something that I wanted to be reflected in performance as well, that you see he’s still a young soul, but also, there’s a weight beyond his years. And there’s a wisdom and a self-awareness to him that I think is interesting, but also you have to be a little bit of a scoundrel at times to get by in the world. You have to be a little bit roguish, and you have to know when to fight back and how to do it.”
Given the galactic situation and the audience’s awareness of how it devolves further ahead of A New Hope, we asked Monaghan if there was any hope for Cal to personally get a happy ending to his story.
“It depends on what you define as a happy ending, right?” he replied. “If you affect change that is meaningful, and if you are able to accomplish the things that you set out to do, I think that that is in some way satisfying or meaningful.
“One of the interesting things that we’re doing with the exploration of the Jedi, is what it means to be on the light side of the force. Especially when you have situations that are increasingly more desperate and increasingly difficult, and you don’t necessarily have a right answer.”
Grim as all this sounds for Cal, the Cal Kestis we know can also be lighthearted. Especially around his buddy, BD-1. BD-1 is still with Cal in Survivor, even though his other crewmates like Cere are off doing their own things. And Monaghan is having a good time with the robot, too.
“We have a wonderful actor named Gideon Emery who is on set, and we have a 3D [life-sized] printed version of BD. [Emery] has a nose flute, or a nose whistle that he wears on his face. It’s like a little plastic piece that he goes… And so he will make expressive noises and stuff to mimic BD, and he puppets him, and kind of moves him along and brings him along.
“Gideon has been there since the beginning. We had one shoot where we didn’t have BD, and I basically was just like, ‘We are missing a character in the scenes.’ And so I was so thankful when we brought Gideon in, because he really does bring a wonderful dynamic and energy.”
While Cal and BD-1 remain a dream team, there’s one other character Monaghan said would be a dream team-up for him as Cal, and it’s a bit of an unusual one: Jedi Master Yaddle.
“Yaddle and Cal, exploring the universe, together forever,” Monaghan said wistfully, then laughed and added: “No, I don’t know. I think we get to see a couple of people that’s… Between the first game, this, I can’t really say for sure except that there’s some really cool stuff. And I was very excited to see what we got to do.”
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is planned for release on March 17, 2023 on Xbox, PC, and PS5. There’s still plenty of time to catch up on Fallen Order before it’s out, and given our “Amazing” review verdictwe recommend you do.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.