BD-1 | Is the plucky droid Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s true star?

BD-1 makes a great companion, but does their expanded role in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor signify that the SWU has started to take droids seriously? Sarah Louise investigates…


In the Star Wars universe, there are few concepts that unite all species. But one idea holds true across the galaxies: nobody respects droids. 

That was until 2019, when a small flag was raised in support of droid rights. EA released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a Metroidvania-like adventure introducing a host of new characters. Developed by Respawn, the game’s story purports to be about Padawan Cal Kestis, who, after meeting a bipedal droid called BD-1, fights to rebuild the Jedi Order following the Great Jedi Purge.  

The sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor not only continues this story but also does something else, something important: it centres the narrative on BD-1. That droid flag is now flying!

Think of it this way: the Cal Kestis Saga can easily be interpreted as the story of how a small, cunning BD unit with vital information meets and recruits a Padawan to act as transport and company on their mission to safeguard force sensitive children and build them a new home. Because that is exactly what happens in the games. Cal may be the playable character, the hero and the star of the ad campaigns, but as Survivor shows, he’s also a meat puppet. And it’s the droid who’s pulling the strings. Cal would probably fail all of his missions without the pivotal assistance provided by BD-1. 

BD-1 is the droid you’re looking for

BD-1’s elevated status in Survivor is no mistake. Danny Homan, Survivor’s lead writer, has always been invested in BD-1’s journey.  In a recent Substack newsletter he wrote that, “to the writing team, BD is a main character.” 

When designing BD-1’s narrative arc, Homan worked on the groundwork laid by Fallen Order lead level designer Jeff Magers. Although perhaps Magers had not yet fully realised BD-1, telling Shacknews that their creation came from wanting to continue the “the Jedi fantasy of being with a droid,” mentioning previous pairings Luke and R2 and Rey and BB-8. Although Magers saw the character as a “companion” and not a service, he also saw the droid’s skills as an asset to gameplay above character: 

“BD-1 works really great from a gameplay standpoint, because he is an exploration droid.” 

In the same piece, Fallen Order narrative lead Aaron Contreras could see BD-1’s potential, calling them “…your best friend. He’s always looking at Cal, checking his emotional state…He’s got medicine, he can hack stuff, and fix stuff, he’s sort of a little swiss army knife of usefulness.”

Homan clearly expanded on these ideas, ensuring that BD-1 was never considered as merely a tool. He saw the droid as someone capable of exploring the common theme of how hope endures during dark times, explaining that: “No character epitomises [the endurance of hope] more for me than BD-1.” 

Homan also put his money where his mouth is, ensuring that a motion-captured actor (Gideon Emery) was hired to bring BD-1’s unique persona to life. This may explain why BD-1’s journey goes far beyond the Wookiepedia entry on BD droids, which refers to them simply as small with two legs “designed for navigation and repair.” However, the description does emphasise that BD units are specially designed for “exploration of dangerous and remote areas.” 

BD-1 certainly relishes exploration and never shows fear. Beneath that small stature is a fervent intellect and a desire to acquire knowledge that’s so strong the droid frequently puts themselves in danger. Because nobody understands more than BD-1 that knowledge is power. 

The Survivor

BD-1 has always exhibited strong personal drives. Once the droid of Galactan archaeologist Eno Cordova, BD-1 was tasked with recording and storing holographic messages containing the location of Force sensitive children. BD-1 studied as hard as their master, acquiring Cordova’s love of knowledge, making it extra sad when those same memory drives had to be purged after the events of Order 66.

The droid was lucky to come across Cal, who not only helped BD-1 regain their memories, but also regularly upgraded their abilities and, notably, encouraged that pursuit of knowledge. In Survivor, this shows itself in myriad ways. Often, BD-1’s admiration for the natural and technical worlds is so strong that it threatens to consume them, a very human-like behaviour. BD-1 also knows that being a best friend takes more than just providing stim packs. They can calculate exactly when to break out the holo memories to cheer up Cal. This created a strong bond between the two, with Cal frequently heard throughout the game commenting “careful over there,” or “that was brave,” as well as regularly thanking BD-1 for their service.

And this is where BD-1 comes into their own as a main character: because they’re treated like one. Take their experiences with Cordova. The archaeologist offered the droid a kindness which few characters in Star Wars ever do, which was to ask BD-1 for permission to wipe their memories before doing so. BD-1 fully understood the consequences of this action and freely agreed to it. When the pair parted ways, Cordova was confident that BD-1 would succeed in their quest to protect the Jedi order.

Cordova: I believe in you. As I always have.”


Credit: Respawn.

This respect has been nurtured by Cal, who is well aware that BD-1 is indispensable. Of course Cal needs BD-1. The droid knows how to slice a quick route back to the Mantis, has excellent GPS capabilities and is extremely helpful in a fight.

But it’s the reverence that Cal holds for BD-1 which is so revelatory. BD-1 boops to no man, and when Cal meets a new character (and he meets many across the events of Survivor) he immediately introduces them to BD-1.  This elevation of status continues into the other interactions that BD-1 has. 

Mercenary Bode Akuna frequently addresses the droid in private chats (even with a language barrier) and Nightsister Merrin often makes jokes at BD-1’s expense. Because again, like all Star Wars heroes, nobody’s perfect, and BD-1 has a habit of being a little too earnest at times. The droid also gets to nurture new droid relationships (for example, with High Republic droid Zee) beeping at all the right moments. Everybody likes and respects BD-1. 

Lastly, in Survivor, BD-1 has had a bit of a glow-up. They look great and their combat skills have improved, now able to slice and dice B2 and Probe Droids. BD-1 also discovers a new talent – being able to manufacture and spray a substance called Koboh to help secure pathways across game environments. 

Thief, lockpick, orienteer, librarian, scientist, engineer, politician, soldier, friend. If Respawn make a third game in this saga, then BD-1 has earned the right to be its lead character. To paraphrase Cal: “Some day, someone’s going to have to face The Empire, why not BD-1?”

Read more: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review | Strong with the Force

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