Eric Warner Opinion Editor
Ever wanted to take flight in some of cinema’s most famous spaceships? Prepare to take flight for either the Galactic Empire or the New Republic in “Star Wars: Squadrons”.
“Star Wars: Squadrons” is a first-person flight simulator set in the Star Wars universe specifically in the immediate aftermath of “Return of the Jedi” following the destruction of the second Death Star, the “death” of the Emperor, and the rise of the New Republic. The game was released on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on Oct. 2 and was developed by Motive Studios and published by Electronic Arts. Players get to pilot from the cockpits of up to four types of ships for each faction. For the New Republic, previously known as the Rebel Alliance, players can choose to pilot an A-Wing, U-Wing, X-Wing or Y-Wing. For the Galactic Empire, players can choose to pilot a TIE Bomber, TIE Fighter, TIE Interceptor, or TIE Reaper.
The story of Squadrons focuses on two characters that players can create and customize to their liking with one character siding with the New Republic and the other with the Galactic Empire. In the New Republic campaign, players join the famed Vanguard Squadron and go on to defend the mysterious Project: Starhawk operation that can turn the tide of the war in the republic’s favor if successful. Meanwhile, in the Galactic Empire campaign, players join the infamous Titan Squadron who aim to destroy the New Republic and any traitors who join them at all cost, including the mysterious Project: Starhawk operation. On both sides, players will become acquainted with their fellow squad members and get to pilot and customize all types of starfighters.
In terms of gameplay, squadrons are incredibly immersive. The amount of detail put into making the cockpits of these fictional starfighters is simply incredible, especially in this game’s virtual reality mode. This is the closest players will get to flying a ship as realistic as possible in a galaxy far far away. To add to this immersion, the developers at Motive Studios chose not to add a heads-up display, but rather imbed all controls and starfighter components into the cockpits themselves. Meaning, if a player wants to divert their power to their engines, they’ll have to look at the power displays on their fighters’ dashboard. Players can adjust various components of their fighter to adhere to the changing needs of their battles. Unfortunately, this amount of detail does make the game a bit difficult to fully comprehend.
It has a very difficult learning curve and its lack of game types doesn’t aid making players want to come back again. The only game types besides the story mode are dogfights which is basically a fiver versus five fighter deathmatch and fleet battles, which also picks squadrons of five against each other but this time in multi-staged, objective based contests where players have to take out enemy fighters, destroy capital ships, and perform bombing runs on the enemy’s flagship. The other mode is simply fleet battles but with only bots. Despite the learning curve and lack of game types, this game does have potential to become a viable Esport. It takes a lot of skill to be good at this game and effective squads can certainly make a tournament very interesting.
Currently, EA has no plans to release any downloadable content to this game. Ian Frazier, the Creative Director on Squadrons, said that according to UploadVR, “You’ve paid the $40, this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.” This is a bit disappointing as there are a lot of elements to make squadrons feel like a more complete game such as adding B-Wings, TIE Defenders, and more game types such as Capture the Flag as well as maybe different kinds of boss battles like squads trying to take down a Super Star Destroyer.
The story of squadrons isn’t anything really new and the gameplay, which surprisingly lacks the diversity to keep players coming back. On the whole, “Star Wars: Squadrons” is a really fun game that is sure to excite fans of Star Wars, but leave all who play it wanting more due to its narrowness in game types and high skill level required to enjoy multiplayer. I would give this game a 7.5/10.