When I first started up Star Wars: Squadrons, I didn’t know what to expect. EA was releasing a Star Wars game that wasn’t full price but just at only $40 dollars, had me wondering what the catch was. I mean, this is EA we are talking about here, but to my surprise, Squadrons isn’t just a great Star Wars game, it’s an excellent flying sim that makes you feel like you are a part of the Star Wars universe. Read on for our full Star Wars Squadrons review.
Great Shot, Kid! That Was One in a Million
The game’s entire system revolves around you flying for both sides of a faction war in a galaxy far far away. You start by creating two pilots, one for the Empire and the other for the newly formed New Republic. The game takes place just after episode six that sees the Empire on the defensive after Endor’s battle in Return of the Jedi. The pilot creator isn’t intense, but you can customize your voice, uniform, helmet, and emotes and gives you just enough things to unlock to keep you chasing cool looking items. Once you create both sides, the campaign is around 8-10 hours of a pretty generic story about the New Republic building a weapon that can defeat the Empire, while the Empire works to find out its location and destroy it. You fly in 14 missions, switching between the Empire and New Republic perspectives and the tasks themselves are very fun. Developer Motive has done a fantastic job making you feel like you are flying in these epic battles. You fly the entire game in the first person, so the immersion (especially in VR) is a significant factor playing the game. You get to know your squad flying with you, each with a personality that makes them stand out. The campaign falls flat in-between missions, and this is where you see that the campaign had a smaller budget due to its cheaper price tag. You go to mission briefings and get to chat with your squad with this strange click and go to talk to them UI (If you have ever played any Telltale series game, you will understand what I mean). Talking to your squad-mates on both sides can be interesting at times, but it’s all entirely optionally, and all I could think while I was getting a mission brief was “hurry up and let me get to flying again.”
Pilots Don’t Blame Their Equipment
Everything in Squadrons feels right at home in the Star Wars universe, which is especially true for gameplay. Each faction has four ships, the X-wing, A-wing, Y-wing and U-wing on the New Republic side and the Tie Bomber, Tie Interceptor, Tie Fighter and Tie Reaper on the Empires. All of the UI is built right into each ship’s console, so knowing your speed, missile count, hull integrity, shield strength, and lock-on marker requires zero on-screen UI. I turned off every assist once I got to know each ship reasonably well and had one of the most immersive experiences I have ever had in a Star Wars game. The developers have done such a great job making each ship feel unique and bring a particular role to the table. Bombers are perfect for attacking capital ships for massive damage, and they have better shielding, but the downside is they are relatively slow and take longer turns. You can customize parts of your ship, which change depending on what kind of playstyle or role you enjoy most. You can make a Tie Fighter a jack of all trades ship where everything is balanced, or you can tune it, so it is best suited for a hit and run role by upgrading the engines to give yourself more speed but at the cost of less hull integrity. I enjoyed unlocking new parts to experiment with what worked best for each mission and my playstyle. As the game’s lifespan increases, I could see some builds that come out as overpowered, so here’s hoping Motive continues to watch what is being used the most and balances it the best they can.
The Best of the Best Run With a Good Squadron
Outside of the campaign, there is an online multiplayer which allows for further customization. You can unlock decals, bobbleheads, ship colour designs and more all by just playing the multiplayer. The two modes included are Dogfight, your standard 5v5 deathmatch and a large-scale mode called Fleet battles. Fleet battles are still 5v5 but bring in AI-controlled ships and tasks both teams to earn points by shooting down fighters to earn points. Once one team has earned enough points, they will go on the attack and try to take out the two capital ships that the defensive team must protect. Once both ships are taken out, the final stage begins, and the attacking team must take out the flagship to win the match. Teams on the defence can earn enough points to push the attackers back and go on the offensive, a tug of war if you will, and it’s enjoyable but a lot more enjoyable if you have teams that communicate. Being able to call out to a teammate that you have someone on your tail and they come and save you is one of the most gratifying things about the multiplayer because it gives that sense of you are a squadron; you back each other up, exactly how we see it happen in the movies.
The biggest flaw with multiplayer is the maps. Only six maps are in the game, and while many of them are beautiful to look at, some are just too wide open to be able to escape an enemy who is chasing you. What usually ends up happening is you will start flying around in a circle trying to get sight of the person behind you. I have had quite a few instances where I was trying to attack someone, and it would end up being a 2-3 minute case of nothing but going up and around in a circle, and would only end because a teammate would come in from a different direction and shoot the ship I was chasing. Motive has already confirmed to have no post-launch content for Squadrons, and while this is usually a good thing ( your $40 goes to the full complete game, yay!), the map variety becomes stale quickly.
Star Wars Squadrons surprised me a lot. Being a $40 game with a full campaign, fairly deep progression and some enjoyable multiplayer modes, I was shocked that all of this came from the company that launched Star Wars Battlefront 2 a few years ago. Squadrons fly on that perfect line of arcadey feel and simulation, with settings that allow players to bring it more in line with what they want out of the game. EA seems to have finally figured out what players want with their Star Wars licenses, although it took quite a few years to get it right.
- Excellent controls that let the player choose how realistic they want the game to be
- A lot of unlockables to craft your ship and pilot
- Makes excellent use of the Star Wars licence; first person perspective makes it feel authentic.
- The $40 price tag is very nice to see
- Multiplayer maps leave a lot to be desired
- The campaign is genetic, point and click between missions is jarring
- No post-launch content hurts, especially since this game could use it
Star Wars Squadron review code provided by the publisher. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.