[Editor’s Note: This review is just for Star Wars: Squadrons’ single-player campaign. For our thoughts on PvP, read our Star Wars: Squadrons multiplayer review.]
Like the Force itself, the single-player Star Wars: Squadrons campaign is a balance. The balance between playing as both New Republic and Empire, between arcade and simulation style controls, and between fun, flashy action and blunt exhibition dumps. It’s packed with great fan references and charming new characters (if misused) all crammed into a series of accessible cockpits for jumping and piloting without mindless air combat. Squadrons struck a happy medium between the point-and-shoot simplicity of the classic Rogue Squadron series and the incredibly detailed simulation of Elite: Dangerous. You can, for the most part, just grab a controller and start chasing enemy ships – but there’s also a nuance to tweak your throttle for better turn, swapping power between engines, weapons, and shields in style. of big old X -Wings games and counter missile locks. Things like these make the flight more engaging and give good pilots a chance to shine without requiring you to literally learn how to fly a spaceship to play. Star Wars: Squadrons Multiplayer Review “The thrill of using incredibly detailed TIE Fighters and X-Wings to sneak in and out of Star Wars: Squadrons (mostly) maps filled with opportunity as you battle other players. in 5v5 air combat is an absolute treat. Its flight and power management systems reward quick thinking, and its customization centers around personal preferences rather than power upgrades, but it feels like there is so much more to do with it all. At the moment there are only two modes with six cards shared between them, alongside a simple progression to keep everything together, making my love for its flight more a hot affair than a committed, long-term relationship. ”- Tom Marks Read the full multiplayer review here. Score: 7 The Empire Strikes Back The campaign spends its roughly seven hour mission streak jumping between the dueling prospects of a crumbling Empire and a freshly formed New Republic just after the events of Return of the Jedi . The way he weaves the stories of two rival squadrons together sets up clever storylines, sometimes allowing you to ambush your other half only to have the next mission to swap perspectives so you can face the consequences of your own actions. It’s very cool and developer Motive Studios continues to prove that they know how to perfectly integrate a game into the Star Wars universe. Part of that has to do with its cast of interesting characters, mostly made up of your teams on either side of the conflict. Whether it’s the war-torn Imperial Shen with a battle-scarred helmet he never takes off or the slightly Force-sensitive former racer Keo on the rebel side, each is distinct enough and well. designed to stand out in its own way – so so much so that I could see any of them as a companion to the Knights of the Old Republic or the Mass Effect without them feeling out of place at all. Any of your teammates could be a Mass Effect companion without feeling out of place. “In fact, I hope they will appear in an RPG someday, because they aren’t used very well here. Finding out more about them and their background is almost exclusively limited to optional conversations in your hangar between missions, which often seems difficult for an information dump filled with exhibits. These stories are well written and acted out, but they are somewhat unimportant during the events of the squads. I’ve always enjoyed listening to them, but it’s unfortunate that you were able to ignore each one of them and that wouldn’t affect your experience of the main story at all. This story is entertaining, however, centered on the New Republic’s development of a new type of warship and the hunt for the Empire to keep that weapon out of combat. It’s definitely fun throughout, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly memorable. Neither side really cares about the bigger conflict, you’re not asked to make choices or even question what they’re doing, and your two rival teams never even face each other directly like I did. hoped – now that would have been fascinating. It seems like a missed opportunity not to do something more interesting with this unique campaign format, where we have perspectives on both sides of the conflict. That said, it provides more than enough reason to get into the cockpit and do some really fun missions. Most of the goals boil down to ‘you’re in space and you have to shoot X stuff’ (which is the whole principle), but the story setup for each makes them feel more diverse than that, especially when you jump between good guy and bad guy at every step or two. One mission sees you hijack a Star Destroyer, while another takes you in and out of ship debris while using ancient energy cores as a triggerable minefield. The combat itself is so good it never got bored, although there were times I wished there was a bit more objective variety here – for example, it would have been cool to see more of scenarios centered on piloting in tight spaces or perhaps closer to the surface of a planet (or a moon-sized space station, although the galaxy is short of those from this period) . Fortunately, the places you go always show how amazingly beautiful the squadrons are. Even though the goals are starting to look the same, sneaking through cloudy nebulae or around broken moons sets them apart in amazing ways. The missions are action-packed, but most start out smart slowly and give you the chance to take in some of the awe-inspiring sights they have to offer before the turbolasers start to fly. This show is featured in the cutscenes as well, which often overshadow those optional hangar conversations and make them feel like an afterthought by comparison. Climb into the Cockpit These decadent sights and sounds also extend into the cockpits, with each of the eight ships (four on each side) sporting a fully personalized and incredibly detailed interior. The user interface is even integrated directly into the actual ship console, meaning you need to familiarize yourself with each new interior the first time you use them. I promise it’s more fun than it looks, thanks to the intuitive visual language established for things like radar, power distribution, and throttle control. All of that detail rocks and goes a long way in making each ship distinct – for example, the Imperial Support Ship, the TIE Reaper, sat you to the left of a cockpit designed for two, which initially caused me minor collisions. with things to my right as I got used to the fact that my view was not centered. And while the four classes of ships – Fighter, Interceptor, Bomber, and Support – are shared between the Empire and the New Republic, each faction has its own twists and turns that go beyond cosmetics. Most importantly, the TIE Fighter, Interceptor, and Bomber don’t have any regenerating shields, but generally make up for this with more hull strength and agility than the New Republic armored fleet. Each ship also has different weapon, hull, shield, and engine options to further differentiate them, although what you can or cannot choose will depend on what mission you’re on at that time. Every playable Star Wars: Squadron Ship there’s no real progression or unlocking throughout the campaign – it’s left to multiplayer – but it was still nice to let the reins slowly loosen as more options were offered to me. Adjusting your loadout can have a drastic impact on the performance of your ship, and the normal difficulty leaves plenty of room for experimentation without being easy. This means that there aren’t a lot of replayability options here other than trying higher difficulties or different loadouts for your own amusement, but each mission also has basic achievement style goals to achieve – it There’s always one for not dying during a mission, one for completion time, and two for special mid-mission side objectives that can provide a bit of extra challenge (but not a lot). To Infinity and Beyond Squadrons also has full VR support on PC and PS4, as well as full HOTAS (flight controller and throttle) support on all platforms, which is hugely impressive. . I used an Oculus Quest with a link cable on a PC, and besides having to awkwardly watch 2D cutscenes (which I imagine is part of the reason Hangar chats are set up as they are), it’s just a phenomenal way to play. You can admire every inch of the detailed interior of his ship, track enemies with your head, and more easily marvel at the beautiful space around you. The fact that you can play any of this game in VR is nothing short of amazing, easily earning it a place among the best VR games available. Add a HOTAS into the mix and it gets even more awesome, and I almost never want to go back to a controller. It sounds cliché, but the immersion of slamming the throttle and twisting the stick to get in and out of Star Destroyer debris is exhilarating. I had the chance to try three common flight stick options on PC with varying efficiency: the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, the ThrustMaster T.Flight HOTAS 4, and the Hori HOTAS Flight Stick (the latter two were provided to us by the manufacturers for this review). Whichever you choose, you’ll probably have to play around with the remap controls a bit, but Squadrons makes that pretty easy to do. Star Wars: Squadrons in VR with a HOTAS is just a phenomenal way to play. “Using the T.Flight was just amazing for that, with more than enough buttons to comfortably map everything that is important – Squadrons don’t have as many inputs to handle as a simulation like Elite: Dangerous – and compatibility on PS4 and Xbox One as well, depending on the model. I also loved that the throttle notches snap into place in the middle position, which is important in squads to allow you to turn tighter faster. The Extreme 3D Pro was an equally solid option, although its small throttle and knob layout made it a bit difficult to use. The Hori HOTAS, on the other hand, does not feel suited to squadrons at all. It doesn’t have that crucial stick twist you need in space flight, and too many of its inputs are mapped to seemingly designed two button presses with only Ace Combat 7 in mind (which it sort of was). . To be fair, this is a stick primarily for the PS4, and it only appeared as a gamepad on my PC, so I’m going to have to give it a try on PS4 after launch. And for those who really want to get into the heart of their Star Wars simulation dreams, you can thoroughly customize what UI elements do or don’t display, adjusting exactly how much you want. trust your own eyes and your dashboard readings. It’s the extra touches like this – along with a slew of wider accessibility options – that make squads feel like so much more than the fast and dirty Star Wars-themed dog hunter. that it could have so easily been.