Whether you love the old Star Wars dogfighting games of the 90s, or you’re new to the franchise and want to experience the feeling of flying through space in a TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Squadrons is well worth the time.
It also feels worth the money when you look at the game’s $39.99 price tag. There are no microtransactions in the game, no add-on purchases, what you see is what you get.
If you want to unlock things for your ship, all you have to do is play the game’s multiplayer. It’s fair.
Star Wars: Squadrons Review | Out of This World
A lot of thought was put into the way Squadrons is set up, and it shows. For example, Squadrons opens with an accessibility menu. It’s the first thing you see. If you need to adjust these settings, the game makes it so you’re able to get things set up immediately.
No digging through menus to find things, it’s right there from the very beginning.
The character creation is kept simple, letting you pick from a lineup of preset faces before giving you two body types to choose from and an array of voices to match up with your character. Ultimately though, the look of your character doesn’t impact much outside of customizing the cutscenes that you see.
You’ll see your character pop up, reminding you that you’re part of the story, and then you’ll forget about what they look like for a while as you go back to flying ships like the T-65 X-Wing. It’d almost have been better had the game put you in the shoes of one specific, designated character for each side.
In that instance, that character could’ve had a more flushed out backstory. Of course, you aren’t really here for the story anyway, you’re here to fly ships and Squadrons has you fully covered in that regard.
In total, there are eight ships that you can fly in Star Wars: Squadrons, all of which we’ve listed below.
- T-65 X-Wing Starfighter
- BTL Y-Wing Bomber
- RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor
- UT-60D U-Wing Support Craft
- TIE/LN Fighter
- TIE/SA Bomber
- TIE/IN Interceptor
- TIE/RP Reaper
Each ship feels distinctly different. It’s the most noticeable when switching from the perspective of the New Republic to the Empire. With the New Republic, your ships are more defensive and have regenerating shields which make them a bit more forgiving in certain situations.
Meanwhile, the Empire’s ships often feel more offensive, with the Reaper being the only Empire ship where you’re given shields. It forces you to develop strategies not only for the situation that you’re in, but also for the ship you’re flying. The farther you get in the campaign, the more natural this back-and-forth starts to feel.
The ability to play from both the Empire’s Titan Squadron and the New Republic’s Vanguard Squadron is the best part of the campaign. It keeps you invested in each mission, and helps push the story forward.
Unfortunately, the actual story itself can feel somewhat flat even though the characters themselves are wonderful. We understand that Squadrons isn’t going to have a grand narrative focus like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Squadrons is above all else a Star Wars game about flying ships in space, simplistically speaking.
However, there are sparks of promise within the game’s story within the game’s characters. Their stories are interesting, some of the conversations you have with them are interesting, but you’re never fully invited in as a participant which makes it feel as though you have no real impact on anything.
Characters talk at you, not with you. The story keeps you effectively locked in a formula of exciting battles, stagnant cutscene dialogue, and then back to exciting battles. The campaign is like a 10-hour tutorial to help prepare you for the real meat and bones of the game, its multiplayer.
The multiplayer in Star Wars: Squadrons is phenomenal both when playing Fleet Battle and Dogfight. We spent a bit more time playing Fleet Battle because it offers the chance to relearn some strategy after the campaign without feeling like we’ve let other people on our team down with our ineptitude.
Fleet Battle is more along the lines of a Team Objective mode whereas Dogfight is essentially Team Deathmatch. With Fleet Battle, you can do things like assault cruisers and defend frigates and so on and so forth.
It goes without saying, but real people are way harder to hit than AI opponents. It takes some getting used to after putting 10 hours into the game’s campaign. Once we grew comfortable with both Fleet Battle and Dogfight, it was impossible to stop playing.
The multiplayer in Squadrons can be really addicting and we often found ourselves doing the classic “just one more match” before continuing to play into the early hours of the morning. What Squadrons lacks in its campaign, it more than makes up for in its multiplayer.
Other things Star Wars: Squadrons has going for it are its visuals. During our time with the campaign and also our time playing multiplayer modes like Fleet Battle, we were constantly taken aback by how beautiful the game looks.
Every aspect of the flight process feels immersive from the time you take to complete pre-flight checks to reading the instruments in the cockpit itself. The game can be played in VR on PC and PS4, though VR isn’t required to play Squadrons.
Likewise, you can use things like the Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS 4 to add to the game’s realism. The game supports any HOTAS setup so you aren’t required to use that particular one, we’re just citing it as an example.
We like having those options available, even if we don’t use them ourselves.
Lastly, we want to take a moment to talk about the game’s music and sound design. Hearing the music during the campaign brought us back to the first time we saw Star Wars, and the first time we played the LucasArts Star Wars games in the 90s.
The sound design for the ships adds to the immersive visuals for a complete, well-rounded experience. In the end, Star Wars: Squadrons won’t be remembered for its campaign but that doesn’t mean it won’t be remembered.
If you want to feel, really truly feel, like you’re flying a TIE Fighter or an X-Wing, Star Wars: Squadrons is a must. Even if you have zero interest in Star Wars, the feeling of being a starship pilot is exhilarating in and of itself.
- $39.99 price point, no microtransactions.
- Gorgeous visuals.
- Thoughtful design from its accessibility menu all the way to the ways in which you’re guided through missions in the game’s campaign.
- Eight playable ships that all feel distinctly different, yet are equally fun to play.
- The music and sound design hits you right in the nostalgia in the best possible way.
- The story isn’t memorable, even though many of the characters in the story are. It never stops feeling like a really long tutorial.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.