“Star Wars: Squadrons” wants to start where simulation and arcade meet. It reminds me of the classic “X-Wing” and “Tie-Fighter” from the 1990s, which as a fan of “Star Wars” made my dream of wild space battles come true. You can find out in the test whether EA’s new flight game delivers on its promises.
Lightsaber fighting and powerful magic weren’t the coolest thing about “Star Wars” for me even as a teenager: I wanted to fly in an X-wing between star destroyers or attack a Corellian corvette in a tie bomber. “Star Wars: Squadrons” is therefore exactly my kind of game, in the 90s I already plunged tons of hours into “X-Wing” and its successor “Tie Fighter” – which, incidentally, were inspired by the series legendary “Wing Commander”. They were all space combat games on the border between simulation and arcade.
Not a flight simulator and yet authentic
The gameplay of “Star Wars: Squadrons” begins here: The basic controls of the various Empire and New Republic space vehicles are not complex, but they do leave room for pilots to perform various tricks. Players can change the orientation of the shields with the push of a button, vary the power supply to the ship’s systems, and learn any of the advanced flight maneuvers.
“Star Wars: Squadrons” uses the same trick in the design of the cockpits: They are wonderfully detailed and appear authentic, but the instruments and displays also function as a clean user interface. Nothing is too complicated or confusing, the controls are immediately found in the various spaceships of the Empire and the Rebels. Other UI displays can be turned off in the game options, especially the optional VR mode, so fans can immerse themselves in “Star Wars: Squadrons” right to their ears.
Ships can be equipped differently before take off. Here, too, the developers paid attention to the balance: for example, I can choose a balanced armor, more stable against laser fire or effective against rocket fire, each at the expense of the other type of damage. The loading can be tailored to suit your own fighting style, but I found the effects of the game to be only slightly noticeable. There are eight different ships in total, four per faction.
Detailed cockpits look especially good in VR.
The space pilot is just a job too
The gameplay is simple: there is a mission briefing on the mothership, then I board my ship, choose the desired loadout and go into space. There I usually have to complete a number of objectives – such as “Destroy all fighters”, “Protect the corvettes” or “Attack the Star Destroyer’s defense systems”. Unfortunately, these challenges vary little across the campaign, and the story doesn’t have any particular replay value – only a handful of achievements such as completing the mission within a certain time frame invite you to replay the missions.
Clear working elements can be found in all ships.
But I really love space combat, and the places are awesome and different, the vast space is never the same. The colors and environments are varied and offer a great “Star Wars” experience: in a mission that I fight in the middle of a gigantic space cemetery, another takes place against the backdrop of a space station on an asteroid belt. Once again, I see the lights of a populated planetary surface below me as a savage space battle rages around me.
“Star Wars: Squadrons” can only be played in first person. So if you want an outside view of your plane, you have to get used to it. From my own experience – I can only play racing games from the outside – I can say that it works better from an ego point of view than I thought it would.
The campaign: interesting characters, little interaction
During the campaign, I will be playing both an Empire pilot and a New Republic pilot. The events take place after “Return of the Jedi Knights” and show me the different perspectives of two rival space combat squadrons. Their actions continually influence the fate of the other faction. It’s beautiful and done in a nice pace, although the paths of the two teams never really intersect in an epic showdown – although the game gives me hope until the end.
Detailed numbers, interesting characters…
Image: © Screenshot ALLUMER 2020
… The depth flashes here, which is unfortunately hardly shown.
Image: © Screenshot TURN ON 2020
Even if the motivations seem credible…
Image: © Screenshot ALLUMER 2020
… Unfortunately the potential is wasted here.
Image: © Screenshot TURN ON 2020
I surprisingly like the characters from “Star Wars: Squadrons”. The story is more of a standard job – it’s about a secret battleship that the New Republic is developing to defeat the shattered Empire. But the characters I know during the roughly eight-hour campaign reveal a depth that I didn’t expect in a gameplay-centric game like this. Unfortunately, there’s virtually no way to interact with them – the purely optional dialogues between missions cannot be swayed. Outside the cockpit, I can look around, but the character cannot be moved – the real gameplay only takes place in space. The potential is wasted, but I can understand that the development of “Star Wars:
Multiplayer: Many hours of flight are hidden here
The multiplayer mode of “Star Wars: Squadrons” can be played on all platforms and offers an optional ranking system. You face off in teams of five, either in classic air combat or in a booming space battle that brings a little more dynamism to the game. A bar at the top of the screen indicates whether a team can attack or should. instead protect its own escort ships. If these are destroyed, the mothership is in danger. This creates a constantly changing front. Like in the space battles of “Star Wars: Battlefront 2”, the loadout and ship type can be changed before each respawn, and the victory looks just as epic – if successful! Space battles can also be started alone or with friends against the AI, “Star Wars:
Visually, the space in “Star Wars: Squadrons” has a lot to offer.
“Star Wars: Squadrons” is a complete experience that fans of space combat should not miss. Fans of “Star Wars” have a lot of atmosphere. The game looks brilliant, but offers a manageable amount of in-game content. While multiplayer is really fun, long-term motivation is the big question mark – there’s no battle pass nor of microtransactions. And it remains to be seen if EA will deliver more content. For the fact that it is not a full price title, we can be satisfied with the overall package. “Star Wars: Squadrons” is a fun game that, similar to “Jedi: Fallen Order”, creates its own niche.