When the reveal trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was released, internet speculation was rife about one very specific element of it. Specifically, just around the 44-second mark, in which a very large and imposing alien in armor looks Cal up and down with a bemused smile on his face, before ordering his henchman to remind Cal why the Jedi are supposed to be dead.
Fans were quick to point out that this could be a Gen’dai, a race of intergalactic nomads who are nearly indestructible and live for thousands of years. Those who watched the 2003 Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series may be familiar with a character named Durge, who is perhaps the most famous representative of the Gen’dai race currently in the Star Wars canon.
So, let’s put an end to the speculation now: Yes, this is a Gen’dai. no it’s not Durge. His name is Rayvis, and he’s just as menacing as you’d think. To find out more, I spoke with Respawn’s Cinematic Director Dori Arazi and lead writer Danny Homan to find out all about the Gen’dai race, who Rayvis is, and why his presence in Jedi: Survivor is such a important element of the story.
Who are the Gen’dai?
First, let’s go into a little more detail about who the Gen’dai are. As I mentioned, they are a race of intergalactic nomads that are almost impossible to kill and live for thousands of years, but the reason why they are intergalactic nomads is because their peaceful planet was destroyed and destroyed hundreds of years ago. With no place to call home, the surviving Gen’dai began hunting bounty hunters, no doubt due to their incredibly tall stature and imposing nature.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about them from a biological point of view is that their body consists entirely of a huge mass of regenerative tentacles. Those impressive suits of armor you see aren’t so much to protect the Gen’dai, but rather to keep them from spilling out. Obviously, this has some very interesting potential for cool boss battles from a gameplay perspective, but for Arazi and Homan, it’s also an extremely interesting fight to explore narratively – for many different reasons.
“What makes the Gen’dai so interesting, at least in my opinion, is that in their own minds and in their own world, they’re very chivalrous,” Arazi said. “They have a code that they adhere to. It binds them to a certain code of honor for their behavior. It also binds them to their history and what is left of their people. So Rayvis isn’t just that “Grunt #7″ that can take down an army. He has a long past. It has seen a lot of history. It could be a thousand years old. He’s seen empires rise and fall, he’s seen the Jedi rise and fall, he’s seen the rise of the real Empire itself. So it has a lot of tragic history and a lot of depth that we’re trying to explore.”
Homan agreed and added “There is a perspective in this genre that is so long-standing. Seeing the Republic turn into the Empire, and you know, when we think about Kal’s journey and his own experience, every character he meets provides a new perspective on the Jedi and the republic. And Rayvis has seen it all. And so he knows, like any opponent, the weaknesses of his enemies and how to exploit them.”
A warrior knows a warrior
There are some interesting parallels between Cal and Rayvis that the Respawn team was excited to explore. First, both share the experience of being part of a largely extinct people. As Arazi puts it, “There’s something really charming about the juxtaposition between how Cal as a Jedi takes his struggle with his history and the history of his people, or should we say his species, versus how Rayvis he takes his story against his kind. Cal has struggles and questions and trying to find his place, while Rayvis comes with a lot of confidence in who he is and what he is and why he does what he does. And this conflict is very sparkly. It allows them both to be very reflective about who they are, where they are and what they’re doing.”
I asked if it’s accurate to say Cal and Revis are each other’s foils and was told that while it’s true in some ways, in other ways it’s not. Speaking about their relationship in the game, Homan adds that “A warrior knows a warrior, and even though they’re very different in stature, there’s a mutual respect for that strength.”
Bringing Gen’dai to the fore
As someone who hadn’t seen the Tartakovsky Clone Wars series, I had no idea who the Gen’dai were outside of a Wookieepedia entry. What I did know was that a Google search for “Gen’dai Jedi: Survivor” brought up a bunch of YouTube video results and Reddit threads from fans who were very excited about the idea of a Gen’dai being at the forefront of a major storyline. of Star Wars.
I asked Arazi and Homan what it was like to be able to shine the spotlight on this fight that is so beloved by those who know about them, but is generally unknown to the more casual Star Wars fan. Homan told me “I remember when I started working on this team I cried [to my mom] because she grew up with Star Wars and it was like that franchise that was so important to her. And he would never dream that I would start working on a game where we could expand the canon and cult.”
Homan continued, “Rayvis and the Gen’dai are a perfect example of this, where there are a lot of really interesting species in the Star Wars story, but the Gen’dai are So interesting. They almost have this vampiric sense of time and place. And I think for Jedi Survivor, that’s very important, because this game takes place in these dark times. Rebellion is years and years away and people feel lost. And so, aside from the empire, finding a character who feels confident about himself and his place in the galaxy is like a really interesting opportunity. And it’s because of his kind of qualities, his longevity and his vigor, but also his kind of… I think his survival mentality. You know, it takes a lot to stay true to yourself through the ebb and fall of a civilization, to the rise of an empire, and he did it. And I think it’s such a cool opportunity to be able to play a character whose genre is such a survivor.”
Arazi added, “From perspective and character to character, Gen’dai are just fun because… what do you do with them, right? “Oh, I’m a powerful Jedi, I have a lightsaber, I’m going to cut you to pieces…” does nothing. The dialogue of the violent construction of this galaxy is completely different with this character.”
To wrap things up, Arazi left me this regarding Rayvis and the Gen’dai: “We are all heroes of our own story and Rayvis is the hero of his own story. He doesn’t see himself as a bad guy. He is a knight in his own world.” Homan added: “It’s something you can respect at a time when people are so uncertain about the next day, let alone the next year, that he goes through it with confidence and pride. And there’s something very mystical about that.”
Mitchell Saltzman is an editorial producer at IGN. You can find him on twitter @JurassicRabbit