This article contains spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor improves upon Fallen Order in so many ways, but Cal Kestis is arguably the biggest beneficiary of those various improvements. In Fallen Order, Kestis sometimes came across as a generic protagonist in search of a personality and a purpose. In Survivor, we get to see a much more developed version of Kestis. He’s a lot more fun, and he seems significantly more confident in his abilities than he was before despite some serious external and internal challenges.
Actually, Cal Kestis’ enhanced abilities and generally more capable manner have a lot of fans wondering whether or not he’s one of the most powerful Jedi we’ve ever seen in a Star Wars video game.
That might sound absurd to those who haven’t played Survivor, but it’s actually a pretty reasonable question. In Fallen Order, it was strongly implied that Cal has natural gifts but that the events of Order 66 prevented him from receiving proper training. Throughout Fallen Order, we gradually see Cal grow into a Jedi Knight and learn all the abilities that go with that title. He’s green, but he’s growing.
In Survivor, Cal picks up right where he left off. He not only retains the abilities he previously learned but actually acquires quite a few new abilities along the way. Some of those new abilities (such as manipulating heavy objects with apparent ease and controlling complex minds) have previously been limited to some pretty powerful Force users. We even see Cal enter a trance-like state that seemingly turns him into a nearly unstoppable being. The implication seems to be that he’s already incredibly capable and growing more powerful all of the time.
So how powerful is Cal Kestis supposed to be in the grand scheme of the Star Wars mythos? It’s tricky to say for sure, especially since Cal’s power is being measured against necessary video game hurdles. A common battle droid can kill Cal relatively easily at higher difficulty levels, though the same is true of many Star Wars characters in similar games. It’s kind of difficult to use every combat sequence in the game as a proper measuring stick for his power.
However, Fallen Order and Survivor’s narratives do shine a little light on Cal’s overall power level. For instance, we see him face off against Vader in Fallen Order, and it’s clear that he is (at best) about as powerful as Luke Skywalker was when Luke faced Vader in Empire Strikes Back. Both are able to survive the battle and do some damage, but they are clearly overmatched by a superior force.
Cal doesn’t battle Vader again in Survivor, but given that Vader is able to overwhelm and kill Cere Junda in that game (a Jedi that we are led to believe is also more powerful than Cal at this point in his life), it seems reasonable to assume that Cal is significantly less powerful than Vader. Along those same lines, let’s also assume that he’d be no real match for figures like Yoda or Darth Sidious.
Interestingly, we do see Cal face two other Jedi in Survivor: Dagan Gera and Bode Akuna. It’s suggested that Gera is a pretty powerful Jedi from the time of the High Republic, and he seems to be surprised by how Cal is his relative equal in combat. Rayvis, a Gen’Dai who previously battled Gera, also suggests that Cal is the toughest opponent he’s fought since Gera. While Gera has access to some Force powers that Cal doesn’t (potentially as a result of his Dark Side abilities or his many more years of training), the implication is that they’re relatively equal opponents.
Meanwhile, Bode Akuna is a fully-trained Jedi who was so talented that he served as a kind of Jedi special operative during the time of the Clones Wars. Cal is certainly caught off-guard by Bode’s true nature, but when it comes time to fight, it’s not strongly suggested that Bode is supposed to be significantly more powerful than Cal. Again, better trained and more experienced, but not necessarily objectively more powerful.
So, if Cal isn’t a match for Vader but can stand up to other, certainly capable Jedi, where does that put him in terms of a loose kind of Jedi power rankings?
In terms of the current continuity, my suspicion is that Cal is probably less powerful than Rey. Whereas Rey is portrayed as a pure Jedi prodigy similar to someone like Anakin, Cal has had some training and still has quite a lot to learn. He doesn’t seem to be supernaturally gifted, but the potential for him to become an incredibly powerful Jedi is obviously there. It just takes him longer to get to the level we’ve seen other prodigies at a bit earlier in their careers.
Cal could conceivably reach Luke Sywalker’s levels of power one day given the Vader comparison mentioned above, but the Jedi he draws the most obvious comparisons to is actually Ahsoka Tano. Again, Tano has much more experience, but both are able to defeat Inquisitors, both display flashes of incredible abilities, and both are able to survive an encounter with Vader himself. It’s been argued that Ahsoka is somewhat underrated as a powerful Jedi, and it seems like you could say the same for Cal.
If we go beyond the current canon and focus on other Jedi from other video games, then we can reasonably assume that Cal Kestis is significantly less powerful than characters like Starkiller and Darth Revan. Those are some of the most powerful Force figures we’ve ever seen in video games, and it’s hard to imagine Cal would be able to best either based on how he is portrayed.
Actually, it feels like Cal may be closest to Kyle Katarn so far as video game characters go. Both characters had to advance their abilities the hard way, but it’s suggested they both benefit from a fairly strong natural connection to the Force that accelerates their progress. Kyle Katarn actually becomes an incredibly powerful Jedi during his later years, but Cal seems to be slightly more powerful than Katarn was in Jedi Outcast. Of course, Katarn was more willing to utilize Dark Side abilities (something Cal Kestis doesn’t do until late into Survivor), so make of that what you will.
For what it’s worth, Cal does seem to be incredibly gifted with a lightsaber. He’s one of the few Jedi we’ve seen effectively utilize several forms of lightsaber combat, and he tends to catch other powerful Force users off-guard once it comes time to fight. While Cal is obviously still growing his connection to the Force, it’s long been suggested that he is already a very gifted duelist. If Cal does creep above some of the most powerful Jedi in the canon, it would likely be as a duelist.
Granted, we’re obviously talking about an elaborate form of fan fiction, though it’s fascinating to try to figure out how powerful the Jedi games want us to believe Cal Kestis really is. So, where do you think Cal ranks in terms of the most powerful Jedi and Sith in the Star Wars universe?