Star Wars: Squadrons, developed by EA Motive and published by Electronic Arts, is a space combat game set in the Star Wars universe for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Squadrons features both a single-player campaign mode and online multiplayer options. The campaign mode is a fun, self-contained story, even though it feels rather repetitive.
The campaign mode of Star Wars: Squadrons takes place after the Battle of Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi. The New Republic has just been established and the remnants of the Empire are struggling to fight back following the Emperor’s death.
The player’s time is split between two squadrons – Titan Squadron in the Imperial Navy and Vanguard Squadron in the New Republic. In Titan Squadron, you fight against the New Republic to take down a new secret weapon they’ve constructed, while as Vanguard Squadron, you strive to protect the weapon and escape from the Empire.
Star Wars: Squadrons’ campaign mode serves two functions. The first is, obviously, a new story set in the Star Wars universe. The second is essentially a long tutorial for the game, introducing the player to all flyable ships so they don’t flounder and fail in the multiplayer modes.
However, even though the campaign includes tutorial popups well into the end of the story, it doesn’t feel drawn out and overdone. You are continuously learning new techniques and new ships throughout the campaign, but each ship flies so differently that I didn’t feel like the game was holding my hand or drowning me in instructions.
The combat itself is incredibly fun to play and one of the most immersive Star Wars video game experiences I’ve ever had. Star Wars Squadrons places you in the cockpit of all the universe’s iconic ships and lets you loose.
Initially, I was worried about how Squadrons would control since I’m a console player, not PC, and flight simulators have historically been way easier to approach with a mouse and keyboard. The team at Motive did a fantastic job of making the game approachable to a controller, however.
The controls were overwhelming at first. Every single part of the controller is used, constantly, to fly your ships correctly. However, one of my favorite things about the campaign is that there was a real sense of growth and accomplishment as I got better at flying and controlling multiple kinds of fighters. The feeling of powering down my engines quickly with the left stick as I turned with the right, boosting forward and spinning underneath a Star Destroyer, using the face buttons and triggers to shoot down TIEs and fire off missiles was truly a dream come true for a lifelong Star Wars fan.
I appreciated the actual storyline of the campaign mode as well. It’s a rather self-contained story, having larger meaning for fans who are really deep into Star Wars lore, but still being completely understandable for those who have just seen the movies and may have no idea who Hera Syndulla is.
Now, Not everything about the campaign’s pacing is fantastic. In fact, as someone who discovered a real affinity for flying A-Wings, I was disappointed at how often I wasn’t able to fly with the New Republic. I wanted to fly X-Wings and A-Wings and help the good guys take down the Empire, but a majority of the story focused on Titan Squadron and hunting the New Republic down.
Instead of an even 50/50 split, I felt like it was more 25/75, with 75% focusing on the Empire. The game really centered on killing the New Republic, making me feel like I should have been rooting for the bad guys all along. The characters were great and I loved speaking to my crewmates, both in the New Republic and the Empire, but I didn’t want the Empire to win, even though it seemed like the game did.
Additionally, the missions are fun, but it’s because of the flying, not because any of the objectives are anything to write home about. In fact, most of the missions are pretty repetitive. X-Wings show up, shoot them down. There’s a big ship, destroy its shields. We need our transport to live, escort it to the jump point. Etc. Etc. There’s not much variety.
Luckily, the gameplay itself is so fun and challenging that, in the end, the lack of variety didn’t really matter to me. When I started to think about the game more in-depth, however, it did feel like I had been doing the same thing for the past 10 hours once credits rolled.
Overall, though, Star Wars: Squadrons is exactly the space combat flying simulator I’ve been looking for from modern Star Wars video games. The flying feels smooth and the environments are absolutely stunning, making you feel like you’re really in your own Star Wars movie, piloting an X-Wing to victory. The story itself is a quick, understandable, and interesting plot that’ll mean something to hardcore Star Wars fans and entertain those who digest the series more casually. Plus, the characters are captivating and lend depth to the short campaign. Star Wars Squadrons’ campaign mode is both a thorough introduction to the multiplayer mode and a great Star Wars story in general.
Star Wars: Squadrons is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Star Wars: Squadrons
- Rating - 7/107/10
Star Wars: Squadrons is exactly the space combat flying simulator I’ve been looking for from modern Star Wars video games. The flying feels smooth and the environments are absolutely stunning, making you feel like you’re really in your own Star Wars movie, piloting an X-Wing to victory.