Star Wars: Squadrons is EA’s latest release since acquiring the Star Wars license from Disney. The publisher has had a few hits and plenty of misses over the last few years. But this new game aims to continue the positive momentum following the release of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
For the most part, it is successful in that goal. That’s even though this is a budget title rather than the traditional AAA release that players will expect from EA. Fortunately, that doesn’t really affect just how well Star Wars: Squadrons plays or how it looks.
Star Wars: Squadrons will appeal to a lot of fans of the series just because of the setting. The game takes place not long after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Emperor is dead and Imperial forces are on the run. Meanwhile, the burgeoning New Republic is attempting to seize control and establish itself as the galaxy’s government. It’s an interesting setting and explores a time that is largely untouched in the world of Star Wars. And by associating with the original trilogy, it is attractive to new and old fans alike.
Another unique aspect of Star Wars: Squadrons is that the story doesn’t simply focus on one protagonist. Instead, the narrative switches between what players might traditionally see as the good guys and the villains. Throughout the story, players will take control of both a pilot from the New Republic and Imperial navies. What this does is give players a different perspective on events. It effectively shows how the Empire is not just filled with baddies who hate democracy.
Overall, the story should take around eight hours or so to complete. That’s pretty short compared to many other titles but it is still filled with quality. As a budget title, Star Wars: Squadrons doesn’t feature fancy cutscenes and interactive dialogue. However, the story adds plenty of motivation to keep going and gives some context to the gameplay. Perhaps the best thing about the campaign, though, is the cast of compelling characters it introduces.
There have been two types of space combat games set in the Star Wars universe. Games like 1998’s Star Wars: Rogue Squadron are more arcade-based, emphasizing fast-paced action. Then there is the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series, which debuted in the early ’90s. These titles focused on creating a realistic and authentic simulation of what piloting these craft would be like.
Star Wars: Squadrons leans much more towards the latter. What that means for the player is that this game is no walk in the park. There’s a lot of information to take in as you will have to manage every aspect of your craft’s functions.
For the most part, this revolves around balancing the various systems. Each situation requires different tools, forcing you to divert power where appropriate.
Need to outrun an enemy or catch up to your squad? Then send extra power to the engine. Head into battle against a foe with much more firepower, though, and you’ll want to boost the shields.
Much of the gameplay in Star Wars Squadron centers around this delicate balancing act. Outside of the nitty-gritty of piloting, Star Wars Squadrons is basically a game about learning the strengths and weaknesses of each ship.
The campaign does a great job of introducing the player to every mechanic and feature. So, by the time you head into multiplayer, you should have a good understanding of the basics.
It’s a good thing, too, because the online modes are even more challenging. There are just two modes to choose from, although there’s a good variety in terms of maps and ships. Fleet Battles join the classic deathmatch mode, adding a layer of strategy and complexity to proceedings. Ultimately, there’s something for everyone, whether you want a quick intense battle or a dramatic tactical skirmish.
There’s a good argument to be made that Star Wars: Squadrons is the best looking game based on the franchise. The fact that much of the action takes place in space might have helped that. But Motive has created a beautiful looking game.
There’s a huge amount of detail in all of the iconic spaceships, cockpits, and locations. This brings everything in the game to life, properly immersing you in the world. It’s impressive just how good the game looks considering it is not a full-priced release.
The soundtrack is just as great throughout the campaign. Composer Gordy Haab has managed to capture the essence of the magnificent John Williams orchestral score from the movies.
However, he has also added his own twist and introduced a few new themes. That ensures the soundtrack feels like an addition to the series rather than just completely derivative. In terms of the sound design, the effects are all authentic and instantly take you back to the classic movies.
Star Wars: Squadrons proves that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was not just a flash in the pan. The publisher is clearly capable of releasing quality Star Wars games, in a variety of different genres.
The sheer quality of this game should also give fans hope that future releases will be just as impressive. There’s a good story, great multiplayer action, and a superb presentation. Ultimately, that makes Star Wars: Squadrons a must-play for all Star Wars fans. The game is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.