|Star Wars Squadrons|
|release date||October 2, 2020|
|Genre||Combat space simulator|
Before the release of Star Wars: Squadrons, it was unknown what to expect. The game was positioned as a combat space simulator in the Star Wars universe with a story and multiplayer. The development was carried out by the Canadian studio Motive Studios, responsible for the main campaign of Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and EA became the publisher, which was straining after the microtransaction scandal. The company understood this, so they immediately declared that we understood our fault and nothing like this would happen, and the internal store was imprisoned exclusively for cosmetics.
Even after playing Star Wars: Squadrons for a certain amount of time, I find it difficult to say who this game is for. Therefore, let’s talk about it in more detail, voice the pros and cons, and draw conclusions based on them. It’s up to you to believe them or not, and the details, as usual, are below in the review.
The plot of Star Wars: Squadrons is designed to prepare players for multiplayer, but it’s here with drama and a more or less cohesive story. Yes, and the duration of 7-9 hours is sufficient and does not look like an appendage to the network game, as it was in the same Battlefront 2.
Events unfold after the death of Palpatine. The Empire is weakened, but still resisting, and the New Republic has not yet grown stronger, but is already beginning to crush the enemy and is even developing a secret superweapon to finally deal with it. It is around this mega-gun that history revolves: Republic pilots protect it, while the Empire and its allies try to destroy it.
During the story, there will be a couple of unexpected twists and turns, difficult conversations and showing the situation from different angles so as not to make anyone look bad. But for the most part, the Republicans are collected and decisive, and the Imperials are vicious and insidious, so it did not work out to present the current situation in a neutral, thoughtful and from all sides, although there was an attempt.
There are almost no memorable characters in Star Wars: Squadrons, they are all different, both in gender and in personal preferences, and there are enough Asians and African Americans in the local editor, but they don’t give you a choice between alien races. Sometimes some heroes familiar from cartoons and lore come to visit, but most of them are little known, which means that fans of the universe will recognize them.
The tasks are the same, but the developers tried to diversify them, so each mission is a new incredibly beautiful location: a piece of space against the background of a destroyed planet, against the backdrop of a ship dump, against the backdrop of a huge space station, against the backdrop of an enemy fleet, against the backdrop of a battle, and so on.
In missions, you have to not only destroy enemy fighters, but also save ships with civilians, protect important objects, bomb dreadnoughts, and so on – they don’t let you get bored, so the plot is fun and cheerful, occasionally interrupted by cutscenes and flights to the station.
At the space bases, you will have to spend part of the time receiving tasks, communicating with the heroes and periodically visiting the hangar to your iron horse. They don’t allow you to fully walk around the station and you have to turn the camera on the door, character or ship, and then press the action button.
We will play for both sides, so after choosing the appearance of the pilots, which will be shown a couple of times, they will be allowed to fly on both the X-wing and the TIE Fighter, as well as on bombers, support ships and interceptors, which we have seen more than once in films, cartoons and others games. All this is presented gradually and explained in detail, the main control chips, combat techniques, speed gain and even space drift are analyzed.
Based on the trailers of the game, the gameplay seems sparse and monotonous. And it is really limited by the actions of the pilot and the first-person view from the cockpit, but they squeezed the maximum out of it. If you wish, you can view the insides with a huge number of toggle switches and buttons.
There is almost no interface in the classical sense, and only subtitles, task details and designation markers are displayed on the screen. All other indicators, including speed, amount of health, armor, missiles, bombs and other things, are on the panel of the spaceship. Of course, this gives the gameplay an atmospheric and realistic feel, but sometimes you still want to switch to a third-person view, especially during heated battles, when the cockpit limits your view.
There is no such problem when playing in VR. Gamers are satisfied and say that it is in the virtual reality helmet that the view from the cockpit is done as it should and the side and upper windows of the enemy can be seen perfectly.
Apparently, when playing on consoles or PC, it was not possible to make a full turn of the pilot’s head during battles. You can still turn it here, for this you need to press a certain button, but then you can’t fully manage and fight, but only enjoy the beautiful view from the windows.
Star Wars: Squadrons – though arcade, but still a spaceship simulator, so it is played accordingly. There is little realism here, which means you can crash into something and fly off. But for the most part, “simulation” is manifested in not the easiest control and study of the capabilities of ships. Here you have a choice of different main guns, hulls, armor, shields, rockets, bombs, torpedoes and so on. True, in the story campaign, I almost didn’t notice the difference between changing weapons and it’s much easier to change the type of ship for a task.
It will not be easy to complete missions even at a medium difficulty level, but arcadeness lies in intuitive actions from the very beginning of the game, although you have to get used to it a little.
The first couple of hours are hard. It’s especially not easy to follow a target and keep aiming for a long time to open fire or launch a rocket. And here the arcade is minimal and even fans of hard aviation sims should like it. At the same time, there are no lead markers, which means that the basis of shooting is still arcade, but it may have been deliberately complicated in order to somehow attract fans of aviation sims or more hardcore games in the universe from the past.
Ships don’t feel differently in control, although ideally they should. They only have visually different appearance, dashboards and weapons: it is better to extinguish all small targets with fighters, the main thing for bombers is to get to a large vessel and drop shells on it, support ships provide partners with supplies and armor, and so on.
The skills of working with the energy of the ship also help to successfully fight. Our capabilities depend on where we feed it: we gave more to the engines, which means we fly faster and maneuver more successfully, added power to the shields – the hull can take more hits for a while, and transferred everything to the guns – now they reload faster and shoot more powerful.
Separately, you can play energy shields, but only on ships of the New Republic. The Imperials were deprived of this opportunity. By default, the shield is distributed over the hull, but if desired, it can only be directed to the front or rear of the ship. This helps in certain situations when you need to fly towards a dreadnought bristling with cannons or move away from a fighter.
Management is more convenient on the gamepad, although there are those who have gone to a bunch of mouse and keyboard. They already write on the forums that they tried joysticks for flight simulators and it even plays tolerably well, but there is a slight delay and twitching of the picture.
The story campaign of Star Wars: Squadrons is just a warm-up before multiplayer, and the developers are focusing on it. At the same time, there are only two modes so far, five-on-five team battle and fleet battles, but then, probably, they will add more, because this is already not enough.
In the first mode, we fly and wet the enemy vessel side by side with live pilots. In the second, two space fleets converge with the main dreadnought, support ships, bombers, fighters and others. It turns out that the spectacular pile is small, where you need to gradually destroy the enemy flotilla, periodically protecting your own. If you wish, you can train yourself with AI, or with friends and AI, and then join the battle with real players. But even so, there will be five gamers on both sides, and artificial intelligence is responsible for the rest of the vessels, the effectiveness of which depends on the chosen complexity.
A full-fledged PvE and PvP season with ranked matches and rewards has already been delivered, and from the in-game store you can only buy cosmetic buns for the salon, a unique helmet or coloring.
Star Wars: Squadrons looks bright and modern. The graphics are beautiful and polished at first glance, but a closer look at the ships and stations reveals rough work with shadows and minimal detail. That is, everything is fine from afar, and then there is a calculation for the enthusiasm for combat, where you do not pay attention to visual trifles.
This move is not caused by the laziness of the creators, but by a limited budget. The game is even based on Star Wars and under the wing of EA, but this is not an AAA project, it costs less and it has relatively little money. After all, they first need to understand whether players need such a product in order to further develop something similar, but much more epic and expensive.
From the unpleasant – poorly rendered hair when choosing characters. It is clear that they did not try hard on them, because the main character will not be shown again, but this is still a strange sight in 2020.
There is no Ukrainian and Russian voice acting, but there is a menu translated into Russian and subtitles. True, most of the conversations take place in the cockpit during flights, which means that reading subtitles if you do not know English will be problematic. So get ready to skip some moments in the plot.
The music is epic, all the sounds are familiar from the movies, and sometimes even goosebumps, especially when firing lasers from the cockpit of the TIE Fighter with a characteristic “pee-pee” or you hear the growing power of the orchestra, and a couple of star destroyers emerge from the portal.
There were no lags and glitches in the console version of the game, there were no crashes and slowdowns. PC gamers rarely complain, but there are occasional discussions of mediocre optimizations and frame rate drops.
Star Wars: Squadrons is a strange game that it is not clear who was created for. This is a relatively expensive experiment designed to indicate the number of interested audiences and collect feedback from gamers in order to work on bugs and do something close, but more expensive in the future.
Squadrons is not a full-fledged simulator, so it cannot attract all the fans of this direction, because they complain about simple controls. At the same time, casual players have to bother that they don’t really need it. What remains are gamers who love to play good games regardless of genre, Star Wars fans who consume everything they get, and VR lovers. It turns out that there are not so many target audiences, but these groups cannot be called small either. And add an average price tag, good advertising and future discounts, then it’s a great option to play co-op with friends, shoot in space and plunge into a familiar world. A tempting prospect, but how it will be in practice is still not clear.
In the meantime, I can definitely recommend Star Wars: Squadrons for purchase, because there are no big minuses in it, they made the game smart and beautiful, and the gameplay limitations are already initially clear so that they turn out to be unexpected after the first inclusion.