Star Wars: Squadrons

Star Wars: Squadrons

Pros

  • Fly starfighters
  • Online multiplayer battles are intense
  • Feels like Star Wars
  • Looks great, sounds great

Cons

  • Short single player story
  • Limited choice of craft

Disclosure – Star Wars: Squadrons was provided to Blog of Dad free of charge for the purpose of review. The thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own, based on my experiences with the game. For more information, please visit my Disclosure Statement.

For many dads of around my age, the original Star Wars saga was a pretty big deal. Children of the 80s grew up wanting to be Jedi – to wield a lightsaber, pilot a starfighter and use the Force, for good or… otherwise. Star Wars was unlike anything else and it captured the imagination like nothing else.

Countless Star Wars games have gone some way to helping those young fans realise their Jedi dreams (with varying degrees of success), and a whole catalogue of new movies have introduced new generations of fans to the wonders of that Galaxy far away. Star Wars: Squadrons is the latest addition to the Star Wars universe and for a (not-so-young-anymore) wanna-be starfighter pilot, it is a dream come true! Be warned though, the life of a Starfighter pilot isn’t as easy as a certain force-using family would have you believe…

 

Star Wars: Squadrons – Background

Star Wars: Squadrons is what happens when dedicated Star Wars fans (with loads of talent) get together and start a project designed to bring Star Wars space combat into the modern day. Like many of us, the team at Motive Studios delighted in the official Star Wars games of the 90s. They wanted to put us back in the pilot seat and immerse us in top-notch visuals, sound and controls to make us feel the same wonder and awe that our younger selves experienced. And, you know, engage a whole new generation in the thrills of the space dogfight.

For my mind, the Motive Studios team nailed it.

 

 

What is Star Wars: Squadrons All About?

Star Wars: Squadrons is all about turning the awesome space combat in Star Wars into an immersive gaming experience. For anyone who has ever fantasized about being a starfighter pilot – this is the game to play.

There are single-player and 5v5 multiplayer options – more on those in a second. Whichever option you choose, the premise is the same – epic space dogfights! Squadrons is that simple – fly a Starfighter in 1st person perspective and try not to die while blowing others up – but it is deeply engaging and sure to dominate my precious free time for many, many hours to come.

 

The Starfighters

Star Wars: Squadrons offers eight unique starfighters – four from the Galactic Empire and four from the New Republic. Each starfighter has an opposing version, making four distinct classes. It takes some time to understand the benefits and negatives of each class, although those familiar with the Star Wars universe will already have a basic understanding of their merits.

 

Fighter

New Republic pilots can experience the thrill of the iconic T-65B X-wing, while Imperial pilots line up in the equally recognizable TIE/LN Fighter. These are the workhorses for each side and offer great all-round performance.

Bomber

Bombers are the heavy hitters of each fleet. The New Republic relies on the BTL-Y-Wing Bomber which is slow, but strong and powerful. The TIE/SA Bomber is similarly slow, armored and packs just as much of a punch.

Interceptor

Interceptors are fast and agile. They can’t endure much damage, but speed and maneuverability make them difficult targets and a valuable part of any campaign. The New Republic uses the RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor, while the Galactic Empire deploy the TIE/IN Interceptor

Support

Support craft do exactly what it says on the tin. They provide supplies and repairs, but can also disrupt enemy systems. They are valuable to have in a mission, but you have to convince someone to take that role first… The UT-60D U-Wing Support Craft is the ship of the New Republic and the TIE/RP Reaper is that of the Empire.

Loadouts

As you progress through the game, custom loadouts become increasingly important. Better loadout options can be purchased by earning Requisition – one of the two in-game currencies of Star Wars: Squadrons. They are extremely important – take some time to explore them and begin customising your craft to meet your style of play.

 

Controls

I am using a keyboard and mouse on my PC to control Star Wars: Squadrons. There are plenty of other options, including control pad, joystick and various H.O.T.A.S setups. The best way for me to describe the mouse and keyboard controls is easy to get started, hard to master.

I was comfortably flying within a matter of minutes. The single-player game immediately helped me to understand the basics of piloting a starfighter and the default setup is reasonably intuitive. However, once in the heat of battle (especially multiplayer online) it became apparent that I still have so much to learn about the finer details of starfighter control. From drifting to balancing power to targeting, there is a huge amount of finesse required to dominate. The more I play, the more I have begun to explore the finer points of dogfighting. But I have a LONG way to go. Take the time to study the controls before playing, then again fairly regularly as you wrap your head around each component. If you are anything like me, you will be discovering new aspects of the controls to up your game for quite a while yet.

 

Star Wars: Squadrons – Graphics

The visual experience of Star Wars: Squadrons is superb. The Motive Studios team were obviously motivated by the charm and aesthetic of the original trilogy and they have worked hard to faithfully recreate that world. With my PNY XLR8 RTX 2070 SUPER, Squadrons is smooth on a 1080p 144Hz monitor, with just about every graphics setting maxed out.
The cockpit of each starfighter is wonderfully detailed, with the 1980s vision of futuristic space technology on full display! The exterior of each craft is just as impressive. Capital ships loom in the distance and are impressively huge up close.
Starfighters explode into satisfying fireballs when shot down – a nice visual reward for every successful dogfight. The larger craft require sustained attacks that target various systems and the damage builds throughout the process. The ultimate, catastrophic breakup of these vessels is extremely pleasing!

 

Star Wars Squadrons

I haven’t yet bothered with VR as a part of my gaming setup. To this point it has felt gimmicky and not quite ready for mainstream. Star Wars: Squadrons might just be the game to change that. While I found the 2D experience from my virtual starfighter cockpit to be extremely immersive, I spoke to a few players who raved about their experience with a VR headset. The ability to easily look around and track enemies as they fly past does give a distinct advantage to VR players and it surely completes the immersive nature of the game. Paired with a H.O.T.A.S controller, it may just be the ultimate experience for those who have dreamt of being starfighter pilots since they were little kids!

PC Specifications

Minimum (non-VR)

OS: Windows 10
Processor (AMD): Ryzen 3 1300X
Processor (Intel): Intel i5 6600k
Memory: 8GB
Graphics Card (AMD): Radeon HD 7850 or Equivalent
Graphics Card (Nvidia): GeForce GTX 660 or Equivalent
DirectX: 11.1
Multiplayer Online Connection Requirements: 512 Kbps or faster Internet connection
Hard Drive Space: 40GB

Recommended (non-VR) / Minimum (VR)

OS: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor (AMD): Ryzen 7 2700X
Processor (Intel): Intel i7-7700
Memory: 16GB
Graphics Card (AMD): Radeon RX 480 or Equivalent
Graphics Card (Nvidia): GeForce GTX 1060 or Equivalent
DirectX: 11.1
Multiplayer Online Connection Requirements: 512 Kbps or faster Internet connection
Hard Drive Space: 40GB

Recommended (VR)

OS: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor (AMD): Ryzen 7 2700X
Processor (Intel): Intel i7-7700
Memory: 16GB
Graphics Card (AMD): Radeon RX 570 or Equivalent
Graphics Card (Nvidia): GeForce GTX 1070 or Equivalent
DirectX: 11.1
Multiplayer Online Connection Requirements: 512 Kbps or faster Internet connection
Hard Drive Space: 40GB

My Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7-6700 3.4GHz
Memory: 32GB XLR8 DDR4 3200MHz
Graphics card: PNY GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition
Hard Drive Space: 500GB XLR8 CS2311 SSD
Sound: EPOS SENNHEISER GSP 601 Gaming Series headset
Case: be quiet! Silent Base 801
Bandwidth: 50 Mbps Telstra NBN

 

Star Wars: Squadrons – Single-Player

Squadrons has both single and online multiplayer options. I started with the single player campaign, which is an original Star Wars story that tells the dual perspectives of ace pilots – one from the New Republic’s heroic Vanguard Squadron and the other from the Galactic Empire’s elite Titan Squadron.

The storyline is immediately engaging and, crucially, it teaches you how to pilot the Starfighters as you progress. I would highly recommend playing at least some of the single-player story before jumping into the heat of online multiplayer dogfights. Those are INTENSE.

There is a cast of original characters, as well as a few cameos from familiar Star Wars faces. While playing there is little doubt that you are deep within the Star Wars universe. The single-player gameplay takes you through an escalating conflict that has a decent amount of depth to it.

I haven’t completed the story yet, because I did have to brave the world of online combat (this review wouldn’t be complete without it…), but it is fair to say that I’m hooked and will be seeing it through to the end. My understanding of the controls, as well as some of the finer tactical points of dogfighting, have been greatly enhanced through the story mode (although anyone who has played multiplayer with me might dispute that claim). My only concern is that the single player story mode might be a little short. Then again, most people aren’t buying Squadrons just for single player…

 

Star Wars: Squadrons – Multiplayer Dogfight Mode

Dogfights are the simplest online experience. Just gather a squadron of five ace Starfighter pilots and go into battle for the New Republic or Imperial Forces. The idea is to simply take down more of them than they take down of you to win. Sounds easy? It aint.

Like any multiplayer online experience, you quickly find that your novice abilities lead to a distinct feeling of being cannon fodder. In my first few dogfights I felt supremely outclassed and I’m not embarrassed to say that I was shot down a lot more times than I scored. However, those early games are important for learning the key skills to eventually get some hits and even become competitive. As the games progressed my strategies became better and my death-to-kill ratio vastly improved. It might just be early days for me, but there is a distinct thrill every time I see an enemy Tie Fighter or X-Wing explode due to my accurate (lucky) shots.

You don’t have to have your own squadron of 5 to start a game. I played with two friends and we were automatically matched with two other teammates for each game. Those poor buggers didn’t know what they were in for… Once teamed up with your friends, you can communicate while setting up games, upgrading ship components and, of course, playing. There are short times during loading where voice cuts out, but for most of the time you can carry on the conversation. You can also communicate with all your teammates during the action, if they are equipped to do so. I used my excellent EPOS SENNHEISER GSP 601 Gaming Headset and EPOS GSX 300 External Soundcard combination and the experience was brilliant! Every communication came through clearly and I could speak at just above a whisper to my teammates and be well understood – perfect for enjoying Star Wars action without waking sleeping kids.

 

Star Wars: Squadrons

 

Star Wars: Squadrons – Fleet Battles Mode

Fleet Battles are a whole lot of fun, even if I haven’t managed to be in a successful team yet. They are a giant, space-based game of tug of war, with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing New Republic or Imperial flagship! They are intense, chaotic and require excellent cooperation and strategy – something my friends and I are yet to develop.

As a team you advance the frontline by dominating the enemy in intense dogfights, then carry out attack runs to take out enemy capital ships.

It is in Fleet Battles that starfighter choice becomes critical. Every time you are shot down, you have the option to respawn in a different class of starfighter. I’m definitely no expert at this yet, but it seems that cooperation with your teammates and attacking with a combination of different classes is the key to success. It also helps to know the different parts and subsystems of the flagships.

 

Star Wars: Squadrons

 

One thing that I have found is that multiplayer is best enjoyed with friends. When playing alone you occasionally come across chatty allies from across the globe (there is a 95% chance they will crack Star Wars-related jokes throughout the game), but tactics go out the window and it usually becomes a case of every pilot for themselves. Even having two or three other people you know and are comfortable with makes a huge difference to both the enjoyment and the potential for tactics. Don’t get me wrong – together my friends and I were just as terrible as everyone else, but by the end of our first session we were at least formulating basic tactics and working together to take down enemies.

 

Final Thoughts

Star Wars: Squadrons sets out with a simple mission – to immerse Star Wars fans in the world of starfighter dogfights. In that it absolutely achieves its objective. As a casual Star Wars fan of many years it is pure joy to gather a few friends and catch up while blowing rebel scum into oblivion. The single-player storyline is engaging and thoroughly enjoyable (if a little short), but it is the multiplayer dogfighting and fleet battle action that will keep me returning to Squadrons again and again.

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