Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order last year set the bar on how a Star Wars story can be told, mixing excellent combat with an interesting story that had me engaged until the end. Star Wars: Squadrons went a different way offering a totally different experience which is fantastic on its own merits.
Microsoft Flight Simulator in Space
At its core Star Wars: Squadrons is a flight sim letting you unleash your piloting skills for the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire. The controls are built around that as you use the left stick to rotate your ship and the right stick to increase and decrease speed.
This takes a while to get used to as in the heat of combat I would be so focussed on who I was trying to take out that I wouldn’t realise I was upside down and had to try to reorientate myself. This was especially apparent when I flew over to the top of a ship trying to figure out what it was before realising I was upside down approaching the bottom of a star destroyer.
Then there is the action. Triggers provide a range of weapons/support actions depending on how you customise your loadout. I suspect my struggles in multiplayer are because I kept loading out with as much offense as possible because I want to be shooty shooting and not supporty supporting. That and my complete lack of talent.
With a rebel yell, more more more
We all know how a story mode can be tacked on to basically teach the ropes of an arcade game or multiplayer game, and in some ways Star Wars: Squadrons campaign is. The whole story basically teaches you new ships and loadouts until the end, but in contrast to other games there is enough here that I would recommend the game for the story alone.
The plot basically follows the defection of Lindon who was an Imperial pilot. Lindon leaves after being tasked with killing refugees from Aldeeran. On the spot he defects and helps their ship get away from the imperial attack. You then follow the story as an Imperial pilot who is helping hunt him down, and a rebel pilot working for Lindon. Each level consists of one side making strategic plays and you take out the other side to help get there as you start each mission as either your customised Rebel or customised Imperial pilot.
The plot isn’t overly deep, or significant in the world of Star Wars but for that I liked it. It was nice to pull back and experience a smaller scale conflict in this massive universe that doesn’t have the same stakes as the Jedi being exterminated, but is significant to the people involved. Some decent dialogue and voice acting made it an absolute blast for the ten hours I was in it, and the time between action was small enough that it doesn’t waste any of your time.
Through the eyes of the Empire
One of the huge benefits to the PS4 version is the PSVR capability. Personally I spent all my time in VR playing in practice mode where I could tackle what I wanted when I wanted.
Both of the ship’s cockpits felt cramped and claustrophobic, which is unsurprising given what we have seen of them in the movies but it was so different looking around inside the cockpit itself. The big problem with it is the common VR issue, which is the requirement of an iron stomach at the best of times, so imagine spinning around in a tie fighter in VR.
My stomach was not my friend after 20 minutes. But that is a limitation of the tech, the experience itself was awesome.
Not the definitive Star Wars experience
At the end of the day Star Wars: Squadrons isn’t the most revolutionary game, and doesn’t do much to propel the property forward. Instead what it offers is a fun side experience that is well worth your time. Flying an X-Wing has never been so much fun.