Hop in the cockpit of your favourite Rebel or Imperial starfighter and enter the fray with intense interstellar dogfights. The fate of the galaxy is at stake as you pilot X-Wings and Tie Fighters on both sides of the battle through an immersive narrative storyline or gripping multiplayer action. Star Wars: Squadrons is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Star Wars: Squadrons Details
Step into the shoes of someone from a galaxy far, far away
Who among us can say that they never dream of what it might be like to exist in the Star Wars universe? I know that growing up Tatooine and Dagobah were prime locations in my daydreams—nestled somewhere between the Batcave and an NYC sewer. Did you know you can make a lightsaber by sticking the rod of a croquet mallet into the rubber grip of a bicycle handle?
Star Wars: Squadrons is just the sort of game that a kid in the 80’s could only dream about. It’s not the lengthiest or most expansive experience. It has a modest campaign and a narrow multiplayer scope. However what it does, it does extremely well.
For that reason I think the focus of Star Wars: Squadrons is just right. It doesn’t strive to be a massive catch-all title, cramming in every multiplayer mode and feature player’s can name. Instead it calls its shot, picking a few strong modes to couple with a decent storyline, and works on immersing gamers in a lifelong fantasy.
The life of a pilot
Star Wars: Squadrons features a roughly 8 – 10 hour campaign. Here you’ll take turns playing for both sides of the fight. Players swap between performing missions for the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire.
The story isn’t overly engaging, but it’s entertaining enough to do the job. It takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi, where (decades-old spoiler alert) the Empire is on its heels after their defeat at Endor. It’s a fun peek into both perspectives on the aftermath.
What I actually really like about the campaign is how it doesn’t attempt to be too grandiose. The story doesn’t try to pile on major revelations or throwback to events and characters purely for fan service. Instead it does a great job of simply immersing players in the fantasy of the day-to-day life of a Rebel/Imperial pilot.
This goes a step further with the hanger interactions with other NPC characters between missions. A lot of time between the action is spent simply shooting the breeze with your fellow pilots. These are enjoyable tidbits that really make you feel like just another one of the crew.
Epic dogfights in outer space
The gameplay itself is a significant improvement on the already stellar space battles in Battlefront II. Piloting an X-Wing or Tie Fighter is an absolute thrill. The controls are intuitive and responsive enough that anyone can get the hang of it, but there’s also a level of skill that requires patience and practice to become an elite pilot.
One friend pointed out to me how happy he was that you can actually stop your spacecraft in a stationary position—something I took for granted but now see is a huge improvement. The game is also far more forgiving with collisions. One one hand it’s nice not to blow up every time you clip some debris. On the other, the immersion suffers a bit when you can pinball off large objects at top speed with near-impunity.
Multiplayer takes on two forms. Dogfights are simple and straightforward deathmatch affairs. Fleet Battles on the other hand are 5 v. 5 events with goals and multiple stages to get through—almost like a single-path MOBA battle. These require strategy and communication with your teammates and offer ranked play for competitive players.
The great news is that Fleet Battles can also be played with AI bots. It’s an option I always appreciate deeply in multiplayer modes. This lets players improve their skills before stepping in against higher skill opponents, or even simply enjoy the mode entirely as a solo gamer.
An incredible virtual reality experience
Of course the place where Star Wars: Squadrons shines brightest by a mile is in VR. I’m currently playing with the Oculus Quest 2 via Oculus Link, and I’m simply blown away by the experience. If you are curious to know more about the Oculus Quest 2, you can read more soon in my upcoming review!
Star Wars: Squadrons is far and away one of the premiere experiences available in VR right now. It genuinely feels like you are sitting right there in the cockpit of an X-Wing or a Tie Fighter. Typically I get VR fatigue well before I grow weary of a game itself. This is one of the first games where I find I have to pull myself away when I could actually keep playing.
As great as the game looks on my ultrawide monitor at high settings, I can’t imagine wanting to play in any mode other than VR if given the option. Any lack of variety in game modes is made up significantly simply by the fantasy come true that is piloting a ship in a virtual Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Squadrons is a smaller game done very well, with a VR mode second to none right now
Star Wars: Squadrons doesn’t bank on being everything to everyone when it comes to content. It has a modest-length campaign with a serviceable narrative and fun NPC interactions. Long-term playability ties itself to just two multiplayer modes right now, but those modes are really enjoyable.
VR is the saving grace that really elevates Star Wars: Squadrons to must-play status. It’s easily one of the best VR experiences out there right now. Stepping inside the cockpit of an X-Wing is a degree of wish fulfillment I wasn’t sure I would ever see in my lifetime. It works incredibly well, and I can only imagine what future VR experiences might be like based on what we are lucky enough to have available today.
+ Outstanding in VR
+ Great mechanics that improve on previous modes from Battlefront II
+ Solo and AI bot options in Fleet Battles
– Limited modes and variety in multiplayer
– Collision forgiveness can infringe on immersion
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF STAR WARS: SQUADRONS
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5