Star Wars: Squadrons is an incredible game to play in VR as it makes you feel as though you’re right there in the cockpit of an X-Wing. When I first started playing, I joked about being given access to a TIE Fighter because if I’m anything, a pilot is not it. This inexperience really showed as I learned the controls.
For example, I'd sometimes do an accidental barrel roll instead of accelerating. I’m sure it looked hilarious to fellow pilots, a newbie doing barrel rolls while everyone else is flying straight and normal. Everyone has to start somewhere I suppose, and to be fair, I was using a PS4 controller.
The game has made me really want to buy a HOTAS. Before Squadrons, I would have held off because of how expensive they are, but I now see why people spend the money. The visual immersion is there, adding tactile immersion is the next logical stop.
Without a HOTAS at my disposal, I've had to resort to the classic method of practice to master my piloting skills using a PS4 controller. The longer I played through the campaign, and random multiplayer matches, the better I got.
Playing a multiplayer match with me now, you’d have never known how bad I was at the start of the game. It's a great feeling.
Even better, I have a better understanding of how each ship works in the game, and I've found that it's the ships themselves that keep pulling me back to Star Wars: Squadrons.
My favorite ship in Star Wars: Squadrons is the RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor. It’s a glass cannon of sorts, built for speed and agility but not for taking damage. To me, it felt like the sports car of Star Wars: Squadrons.
I used to own a Mitsubishi 3,000 GT and driving that car gave me a similar rush to the A-Wing. When I’d put the 3,000 GT in gear there was no hesitation, it was aggressive and ready to go and you had to be ready to handle that.
Similar to Squadrons, I was a newbie when it came to cars like the 3,000 GT. I actually learned how to drive stick shift in the 3,000 GT. It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. I had to learn fast because I had no other choice, I had nothing else to practice on.
Learning how to pilot an A-Wing in Squadrons feels similar. As a new pilot you don't start with the A-Wing, you work your way up to the A-Wing. As challenging as the car and the A-Wing can be, they're also the most rewarding.
I remember driving the 3,000 GT on empty California highways late at night once I'd mastered driving it and it felt like I was flying. With the A-Wing, I'm already flying, but it also feels like driving. It's just you and the vehicle whether it's a car or an A-Wing. It's cozy.
All of these memories that the A-Wing brings to the forefront of my mind may be why I’m so smitten with it, I don't know. All I know is that it's my favorite ship, though that doesn't mean it's the only ship I fly. The other ships are designed so well in Squadrons that it's easy to step away from the A-Wing in order to take turns flying each of the seven other ships in the game.
The TIE Fighter can be a joy to fly in Star Wars: Squadrons. It’s a small, nimble, zippy little thing with the best engine sound. The scream of a TIE Fighter as it blasts through space is incredibly haunting and it immediately commands your attention.
It’s interesting to think about how the sound was created, with sound designer Ben Burtt combining elephant noises slowed down and mixed with the sound of cars on wet pavement. Both are normal sounds but blended together in such a way as to make them sound otherworldly.
When you hear a TIE Fighter, you can't help but feel immersed not only in the Squadrons, but the Star Wars series as a whole.
I feel like Star Wars: Squadrons is commendable not only for the effort put into making the ships feel different and making them look unbelievably gorgeous, but also for complementing them with the authentic sounds fans know and love.
Combining everything together into a single package, Star Wars: Squadrons is one of the best games to play if you’ve ever dreamed of piloting an X-Wing or TIE Fighter (or an A-Wing).
Going a little further, as spoiled as the game makes you feel with the quality of these ships, I do wish there were more ships available in the game.
In the past, Ian Frazier, the Creative Director for Star Wars: Squadrons, has stated that there are no plans for post-launch DLC. What you see in Star Wars Squadrons is what you get.
“Never say never, so to speak, but as far as our philosophy goes we’re not trying to treat the game as a live service. We don’t want to say, ‘It’s almost done!’ and then dribble out more of it over time, which to be honest is how most games work these days. So we’ve tried to treat it in kind of an old-school approach saying, ‘You’ve paid the $40, this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.'”
In this day and age, it’s rare (and honorable) for a big title to forgo having gamers spend more money on DLC or things like a Battle Pass. Adding to this all-in-one complete package free of DLC and live service gimmicks, there are no microtransactions in Star Wars: Squadrons.
You unlock things for your ships by playing the game, not by spending money. As a gamer, I appreciate being able to buy a game and enjoy it without being asked to buy more things on top of that original game purchase.
Free DLC is a different story, though.
Sometimes it’s nice to see things added to a game you’re already enjoying, and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way to honor the promise of not asking players for money while also adding things to help spice things up a bit.
For example, it’d be fun to see a TIE Silencer, TIE Striker, Y-Wing, or even something out of left field like a Naboo N-1 added to the game. If the ships are confined to the game’s multiplayer component, blending all of these ships together could work.
It depends on the developers and the opinions of gamers playing Star Wars: Squadrons as well. If gamers don’t want ships added to the game, or they only want one or two ships in particular, their voices should be taken into consideration.
I also realize that it costs money to develop content for games, so if it’s too much work to configure an entirely new ship or two, maybe make them cosmetic skins for existing ships in the game?
Players could unlock them for free through the game’s multiplayer like they do other cosmetics like paint and holograms. Yes? No? I don’t know, I’m just throwing things out there because I really love the eight ships that are available in Star Wars: Squadrons and because I love them so much, I wish there were more of them.
If you’re wondering what all of the ships are in Star Wars: Squadrons and whether your favorite(s) made it into the game, here’s what you can fly:
T-65 X-Wing Starfighter
BTL Y-Wing Bomber
RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor
UT-60D U-Wing Support Craft
It’s a fair list, with each side getting four unique ships. All eight of them feel different, sound different, and can all be used for something. You may have only one “best ship” in the game, but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t equally fun to fly.
All of them are just designed so incredibly well from the way they feel to the way their cockpits look and the sound effects that complement them. I know I keep gushing over the same things, but I can’t help but be impressed every time I play Star Wars: Squadrons.
It has that “wow factor” every time you sit down in a ship like the TIE Fighter or X-Wing, or take a look around a hangar and see all of the ships parked there. Star Wars: Squadrons feels like the Microsoft Flight Simulator of Star Wars dogfighting games in that the ships come first and everything else comes second.
I like that, I appreciate that. It's what I want from a game like Squadrons and it's why I can't stop playing the game.
If you’re on the fence about the game, I personally recommend it. Come because you love Star Wars, stay because the ships are unbelievably awesome.
Star Wars: Squadrons is out now and can be purchased for $39.99 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.