Ever since EA acquired the Star Wars license in 2013, many fans have felt that the company hasn’t made the most of the property at their disposal. After four years, the company had only released two core console titles Star Wars: Battlefront and its sequel. The latter, Battlefront II, opened to criticism regarding its use of microtransactions, but later improved on these issues by adding extensive free content over the following years. EA has since ridden that positive wave by releasing a well regarded single-player focused game Jedi: Fallen Order, developed by Respawn Entertainment. This year, the team at EA Motive released Star Wars: Squadrons – a flight-sim that calls back to well-loved games of Star Wars’ past – most notably the X-Wing & Rogue Squadrons series.
While Star Wars: Squadrons does feature a single-player mode, one that introduces players to the core-functions of flying these ships, this review will focus purely on the multi-player aspect of the game and how well it works as a Star Wars Flight Sim.
Star Wars: Squadrons features two core multiplayer modes for online. The first, titled Dogfight is a traditional team-deathmatch setup in which a group of 5 fighters from the Empire & New Republic face head to head with the core goal of taking out as many of each other as possible. Quite frankly, Dogfight does what it says on the tin – providing players with the opportunity to get straight involved in a classic starfighter battle akin to those seen in the movies. While the mode itself isn’t exactly original in concept, the fact that you’re facing actual players in a first-person view really cements the feeling that you are genuinely flying these ships. It’s a testament to the design work of the controls, designs of the ships, planets etc – the amount of love put into this game is incredible and you definitely feel it when you play.
The second mode for Star Wars: Squadrons multiplayer is called Fleet Battles and is Squadrons’ defining feature. With 2 groups of 5 players from each faction, Fleet Battles is a multi-stage, objective focused contest in which both teams are trying to take down each-others’ flagships. However, to get to that phase, players must win a dogfight and proceed to take down the two capital ships guarding your flagship. This isn’t as simple as it sounds though, as throughout this – a tally is counted depending on how many ships you lose, which can give leverage to the other team and allow them to make a run on your flag-ship. Fleet Battles is an intense, yet super-enjoyable mode which always keeps players on their toes, and for those with headsets – allows players to communicate with each other to create a game plan whilst fighting. It was during one of these online modes, which took me all the way back to watching 1977’s Star Wars (or A New Hope) – and the Battle of Yavin sequence. The desperate scramble, heartbreak, stress, and pure joy and ecstasy – those were all things you saw during that movie’s flight sequences, and that’s also what you feel during this game.
One of Star Wars: Squadrons‘ greatest strengths, unlike the fun yet…simplistic flight modes from the Battlefront series, is that makes you feel like you’re really piloting these ships. Like any flight-sim, Squadrons provides you with different controls so that you’re using the whole of a controller. Rather than just simply using a joystick to fly and maneuver around the map, you have to actually keep in mind your speed, shields, laser-strength and trick-out your starship depending on the type of mission you’re attempting. This customization is great because it helps keep players engaged with their customizations, not just relying on the same layout every time you play the game, and adds another layer of realism to the experience. You really feel like Wedge Antilles, or Poe Dameron togging switches and pulling away from Star Destroyers.
Unlike the Battlefront Series, Star Wars: Squadrons multiplayer has cross-play enabled which allows friends to play with each other regardless of whether they own an Xbox, Playstation or PC. This extra addition, which honestly should be a mainstay for all multiplayer games in the future, just provides more of an incentive to pick up the game on whatever platform best suits your need – as it won’t penalize you for not having a particular console.
A lot of credit should also be given to the overall visual and sound design for the game. Utilizing the extensive film-library sounds from Skywalker Sound, as well as having accurate depictions of ships, once again adds to the immersion that the game provides. The maps we have in the game are also varied and give you a nice mix of backgrounds – from the pinkish skies of Yavin Prime to a debris field in space.
While there’s much to enjoy in Star Wars: Squadrons multiplayer, the biggest issue with the game is its minimal amount of customizable options and maps. If you’re really into the multiplayer modes of the game, it won’t take you too long to unlock the different colour-schemes for various ships and your pilots. And as for the maps, it would have been nice to add more distinction from the core solo-story of the game by implementing visual maps. Of course, it makes sense to use what you already have – but you can’t help how extra-special it would have been to provide maps from some of the well-known space battles in the franchise’s history. Especially when you have Denis Lawson reprising his role as Wedge for the core story player, it could have been an interesting idea to have maps dedicated to The Battles of Scarif, Yavin, Endor etc.
These would make for excellent future updates and DLC to keep gamers interested in the game for years to come, however, EA has seemingly confirmed that there will be no more DLC content for this game – which would be a shame.
At the end of the day, whether you have a VR headset/flight stick combo or just an average console/controller, Star Wars: Squadrons multiplayer provides the ultimate Star Wars flight-fantasy for the current generation. There’s never a dull moment as you constantly focus on utilizing your piloting skills in a galaxy, far, far away. While there’s a lack of additional movie-based maps that you would have expected to have found in games of old, the overall experience still makes you feel firmly part of the Star Wars Universe – the ultimate compliment.
Star Wars: Squadrons is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Star Wars: Squadrons
- Rating - 8/108/10
At the end of the day, whether you have a VR headset/flight stick combo or just an average console/controller, Star Wars: Squadrons provides the ultimate Star Wars flight-fantasy for the current generation.