A hail of green laser fire tears dangerously near the cockpit of my X-Wing as I speed through the debris of a downed Star Destroyer. A TIE Fighter gives chase, and my astromech unit warns me that a missile strike is imminent. I spin my X-Wing and dive through a narrow gap in the wreckage, shrinking while scraping a wall. Right now, the Star Wars fantasy of piloting an X-Wing is howling with excitement, showing just how thrilling air battles between Rebellion and Empire can be. Developer Motive Studios has created a fantastic multiplayer experience that delivers the visual details and thrills of epic Star Wars space battles, but only unleashes direct hits into online space, struggling to captivate with its single-player content. . Star Wars: Squadrons takes place after Return of the Jedi, with the Second Death Star scattered across the cosmos and the Empire retreating while searching for ways to strike back at the rebels. This era gives us the stunning ship designs of the original film trilogy, but with more firepower than Luke Skywalker had at his fingertips. Whether I’m in an A-Wing in a fighter role against a TIE Interceptor or a Y-Wing bombing an Imperial flagship, each ship feels distinct and is a blast to control. The movement is so smooth and precise that you can jump along the surface of an asteroid and meander safely inside a space station without tarnishing the hull. And even if you do, the game forgives the damage, allowing you to quickly correct the flight path. Unlike most space shooters, Squadrons is only playable from a first person perspective. It’s an odd design considering how iconic these ships are, but the locked-down perspective makes sense given how many systems the player has to watch out for at any given time. Rather than littering the HUD with these meters, most of them are visible in the ship’s cockpit, and they all perform admirably, allowing for quick readings of ammo, radar and, most importantly, how power is. balanced throughout the vessel. With the click of a button, the player can adjust the power to favor shields, weapons or speed. I was constantly changing for various needs, and it’s always nice to get that extra boost in thrusters or set off more laser blasts to take down a TIE or A-Wing. The loadouts of each of the eight ships can also be altered in a number of ways, such as switching a stationary laser to detonate fire or relinquishing the hull integrity of shields. The number of components that can be swapped out is quite large, allowing the player to adjust performance in several strategic and satisfying ways. No matter which ship I piloted, the one-on-one battles against other player controller ships are almost always intense. These duels can be quite long, as the targeted ship can run away, dance back and forth through crowded airspace to avoid laser fire, and possibly gain the upper hand and start fighting back. If an opponent is protected and healthy, you are ready for a good fight. Missiles will be dodged with countermeasures and repair kits used to recover health. The maps are also well designed, offering surprisingly crowded areas for painful pursuits and open space that can be used to lure enemies into traps if you coordinate with your teammates. The online multiplayer mode in Squadrons is limited to just two avenues of play: Dogfight, which is extremely fun and is determined by the death toll, and Fleet Battles, the heart and soul of this experience which fights awe-inspiring wars. wear. Fleet battles move towards a mobile front that requires you to take offensive and defensive positions. Victory is achieved when your opponent’s flagship is destroyed, which takes time; victory can come down to barely visible bursts of health on the two opposing flagships. Both multiplayer modes are 5v5 conflicts. The small number works well for dog fights, as the cards adapt it. Fleet Battles could use more players, but the scale seems huge thanks to the healthy presence of AI-controlled ships, many of the greater variety. Both modes offer plenty of exhilarating air combat moments, gorgeous backgrounds to fly against, and iconic Star Wars music and sounds to set the tone. Once the match is over, experience points are accumulated and money is distributed to purchase new cosmetic items for your ship and pilot, including wacky bobbleheads that are always visible in the cockpit. The player can use a different earned currency to purchase new ship components to add even more depth to loadouts. I love EA’s stance of not having microtransactions or DLCs, but the unlockable cosmetics well is surprisingly shallow and relies too much on alternate colors for the same item. I only had a dozen objects in my eye and the unlocking time is not long. While multiplayer is great on its own, and has depth in just being fun to play, not having that carrot hanging in front of you to get new things that interest you is detrimental to the desire to play more. While the Squadrons single-player campaign features a number of cool Star Wars characters, most of the story is told while they stand in a hangar or at the briefing table. It doesn’t have a lot of impetus, although the narrative setup for a mysterious “Starhawk” project is quite good and remains an intriguing point of focus for the entire arc. When the plot is delivered mid-air, the dialogue is rough and lacks impact, and there are moments that could be framed more clearly. Piloting all the ships in the single player experience is still fun, but enemy AI doesn’t fight well and that’s the worst part of the whole game. The AI path is a mess too. Watching a TIE Fighter fly straight into an asteroid and then slowly spin on its axis to break free made me cringe. Some of the set pieces are good, but most of the campaign missions play out like mini-tutorials, teaching new tactics even late in the game. All Squad content is fully playable in VR and is perfect for this medium. Thanks to a headset, the battles feel like a lot bigger (although they are exactly the same as on TV), and I loved being able to take a quick peek at my astromech unit each time. time she chirped. A variety of flight sticks are also supported, although I didn’t play around with one for my review. EA has included a full suite of accessibility options and cross play is supported for all systems, including VR. Squadron single-player mode can shut down frequently like a faulty hyperdrive motivator engine, but multiplayer continually impresses and is worth the price of entry on its own. Flying in formation with a group of friends made me smile, and it was just the calm before the storm. When the lasers start to fly, Squadron Multiplayer can be simply exhilarating and a great test of skill, pushing players to be smart in the cockpit to outdo and outmatch their opponents. Given how enjoyable it is to pilot an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter, it’s a multiplayer experience that I’ll be coming back to continuously, even though EA doesn’t support it with new content. It’s just fun to play, offering something different from most competitive games today.