Star Wars: Squadrons review: A fun, compact package

EA Games
EA Games /

Take flight and engage in large-scale, immersive, and epic starfighter battles across the galaxy in Star Wars: Squadrons.

Title: Star Wars Squadrons
Developer: EA Motive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed on), Xbox One
Release Date: October 2, 2020

It’s been way too long since there has been a prominent Star Wars flight simulator of sorts. The most prominent flight simulators as of late are games like Elite Dangerous, EVE, Ace Combat, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is a market that I feel hasn’t really been tapped into too much and it’s a shame because these titles are technical marvels in their own respective ways.

Star Wars: Squadrons, released in early October, reignited my interest for arcade-style, flight simulator starfighting games. I grew up absolutely loving games like Star Fox and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. I got my fix for flying in games by playing things like Air Superiority in Battlefield or Starfighter Assault on EA’s Battlefront II. However, when Squadrons came around, this was a game I had on my radar— no pun intended. The best way to describe this game is if you took the Starfighter Assault mode from 2017’s Battlefront II and turned it into its own standalone game with more depth.

This game isn’t priced at your typical new AAA title either, and there’s a reason for that. While I do greatly appreciate that this is an EA Star Wars game with no microtransactions or day one season pass, Star Wars: Squadrons is a short game. It was also noted that there aren’t plans to go forward with post-release content in the form of additional starfighters, maps, or story expansions. To add to that, there are only three modes to play upon booting the game up. You have a full-fledged campaign mode with an original story, solo or online co-op fleet battle modes against AI fighters, and standard multiplayer.

Where most players will start off is probably the story mode. The cut scenes, the music, and the scenery are all so well-done and that acts as a strong way to immerse yourself into the Star Wars: Squadrons universe. It’s another original story under EA’s team, but it takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi. The story is nothing to write home about, but I do like the fact that you alternate between the two main factions as the story progresses. You get to interact with and see both sides of the story unfold from a first-person perspective as a pilot under the Republic and the Empire.

EA Games
EA Games /

It’s not all doom and gloom though; the package we get is a hearty one. Like I said before, it’s got a lot of depth. Unfortunately, you cannot play this game through a third-person perspective for balancing reasons. Everyone is pitted in a first-person cockpit point of view in the various ships. Here’s where the immersion fully takes off, though.

You have your standard UI items on the list like objectives, seeing player and objective names above their vehicles, and crosshairs. Everything else you’d see like your weapon status, ordnance, countermeasures, hull integrity, and other cooldowns are all on your ship’s dashboard. This really feels like you’re sitting in the cockpit of something like an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter and managing your systems in combat. It’s quite difficult to adjust to at first, but I appreciate how these details give you an authentic Star Wars fighter pilot experience. Pair that with the customizations you can unlock for your ships whether it’s cosmetic or loadout related and you can really fine-tune the way you want to play.

EA Games
EA Games /

Each side gets four different ships to play as, with different roles to assume. You have your standard-issue, iconic X-Wings and TIE Fighters as your all-around class. There are New Republic A-Wings and TIE Interceptors as their Imperial counterparts which excel in taking down enemy pilots, which are the more nimble of the selections at the cost of durability. You then have your bomber-class ships like Y-Wings and TIE Bombers which have better durability and objective-based offensive capabilities. Finally, you have the support class ships such as the U-Wing and TIE Reapers which help defend objectives and reinforce your teammates.

There is definitely a steep learning curve to mastering this game, and experiences will definitely vary depending on what kind of controller setup you have. You can either play with a standard console controller, mouse and keyboard if you’re on PC, HOTAS controllers, or VR headsets for PS4 and PC players. I feel like I’m missing out on the Star Wars: Squadrons experience by not playing this with a VR headset. This game is definitely built with virtual reality in mind as the main experience.

Star Wars: Squadrons
EA Games /

You have immersion that adds depth to the game and there are the various ship classes you can use, but the game goes beyond that. Each class feels different and has a unique playstyle. The dashboards are different and the game plans are vastly different every time. This isn’t a game where you just maneuver your ship, dodge obstacles and incoming enemy fire, and shoot back. There is a ship system allocation feature that adds a whole layer of tactical play. Your standard starfighter tactical systems consist of diverting them by ship thrusters and maneuverability, firepower, and defensive systems.

For example, I’ll have an enemy capital ship in my sights and I’m in a prime position to attack. I’ll allocate my tactical systems to shields so I can go for a strafing run and take reduced damage instead of outright getting vaporized on my approach. Maybe I have someone on my tail and I need to lose them; I can switch my ship’s systems to focus on my thrusters and outrun them. Of course, you can always go with the default balanced allocation, but the specialized allocations can give you the competitive advantage if done right.

It’s not the type of game you can easily jump in and out of or not give your full attention to either. These dogfights and scenarios presented to you can be quite extensive and intense. Sometimes I caught myself marveling at the scenery or focusing too much on one pesky target. The next thing I know, I’m coming to a complete stop because I’m about to collide with debris or go into enemy territory. One quick warning before picking it up, though: make sure to take breaks because this is definitely a game that can cause eventual motion sickness from all the intricate maneuvering and details.

EA. . Star Wars: Squadrons. 8.0. <em>Star Wars Squadrons</em> is a complete, albeit, small package. It really delivers the most authentic <em>Star Wars</em> dogfighting experience to date. The music, the visuals, the details inside your ship, the sounds, it’s a nerd’s dream turned into reality. The learning curve in the game is a bit steep, but rewarding along the way. If you’re able to, try different compatible gaming peripherals to get an even more enhanced flight experience than I did.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.