Not long after EA announced Star Wars Squadrons, their first step in making a game for the X-Wing and TIE Fighter fans, another video dropped showing a little more of the game in action.
For people looking forward to the multiplayer component of Squadrons the customization aspects remind me of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with both cosmetic and functional changes that can be applied to your ships. It might seem like an odd comparison to make but in Modern Warfare each gun is still going to work like you expect just with a few tweaks around the edges (and some fancy colours) and I think this is the intent here too. It’s not entirely canon consistent but then I’ve not seen many pink sniper rifles in the army either.
With the price of the game being cheap compared to similar titles ($40US) the gameplay video makes me think that the game may actually be a little light on the content side. There’ll be a campaign and a couple of multiplayer modes but the longevity may be in part tied to grinding away for all the customization options. The original Star Wars flight sims had some extensive campaigns with A LOT of missions and that might be hard to replicate unless you try to keep things simple and avoided a lot of cutscenes that modern games lean on. It might also be because testing a big game now that supports a variety of devices (especially VR) isn’t easy at a time like this too.
There’s a great interview with the creative director via GameSpot’s YouTube channel (see below) that delves further into the work involved and how they’re balancing the game. The previous games did serve as some inspiration which encourages me as I was worried EA would think they’d know better. Some kudos for mentioning the Balance of Power expansion for X-Wing vs TIE Fighter which was a brilliant little expansion for the previously multiplayer only game. Worth noting there will be no third person camera in game to keep it fair for everyone (VR or not) too. Interestingly they felt that no single configuration would have an advantage in the game… except maybe those with a HOTAS setup for their PC or console which are going to be fully supported. And there will be no microtransactions in the game too.
One thing I’m hoping we might see more of in the future is an actual mission. 5v5 seems like the main thing here but prior games and the franchise’s canon did try to push the idea that the Rebels were vastly outnumbered. With TIE Fighters being about as armoured as party balloons they’ve always operated with a numerical advantage to compensate for that obvious flaw but and the technology back then wasn’t always able to represent that. So I really hope we see missions like Return of the Jedi‘s Death Star battle with a lot of ships on screen at once. The Battlefront games used bots to fill the skies with more ships and it does sound like they will be used here too for PvE but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it’ll also mean a seriously large number of ships pitted against you in the game.
I’m feeling a little better about the game now after seeing these videos but with just over three months until we see it in action it’ll be interesting to see how much it delivers on. Of the genres that Star Wars game have populated over the years the flight sim may have been the one where it’s presence was the most influential thanks to an incredible run of games from LucasArts. So we’ll know soon enough if the Force is with EA on this new iteration.
Star Wars Squadrons will arrive October 2nd for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.