Star Wars: Squadrons is the latest game to come to the Star Wars gaming universe from EA, and it doesn’t fall through. Star Wars: Squadrons is a space flight simulator where you take control of one of 4 classes of starfighters seen through the franchises and fight against the opposing side which could be either the New Republic or The Galactic Empire. Throughout the game you switch between the two sides and fight for their own sides again.
The story of Star Wars: Squadrons follows two separate groups of fighters, one in the Galactic Empire, Titan Squadron, and one in the New Republic, Vanguard Squadron. As you play the story mode you switch between both perspectives getting insight into the characters and their purpose. This aspect is very interesting and definitely gives a new vantage point on the conflict between the two sides, showing the true traits of the sides.
Now I do have to say I do have a big problem with the story overall: I did not feel invested in any of the characters. As I played Squadrons, I felt as if the characters weren’t fleshed out or had little personality to latch onto which created a stale environment. I also felt that due to the switching of the sides, it made it hard to like the characters due to how whenever I was beginning to get interested, I was pulled away to the other side. Overall, the plot had an interesting take on storytelling, but ended up removing my immersion because of it.
On the flipside, the controls in this game perfectly immerse you but do have a learning curve in the beginning. When I first started playing I felt that it was hard to aim the starship in order to hit enemies and had to spend a considerable amount of time learning the travel time and the lead I needed to hit my enemies. One of the major things that did stand out to me after learning the controls is how tight they were and how well they felt after spending time with them. The controls in the game may have a steep learning curve, but once you figure them out flying and shooting is extremely fun.
Star Wars: Squadrons furthers the immersion via virtual reality support for all of the major headsets with compatibility for most joysticks and speed throttles. I have played a lot of different VR games and I can confidently say that Squadrons thrives in virtual reality. Not only are the graphics amazing but since Squadrons was built for VR, it allows for a truly immersive and breathtaking experience that I was not expecting.
Now there is one major drawback to the VR experience, I had major nausea and felt light headed. Since you are constantly spinning, moving at fast speeds, and your physical body remains stagnant, your brain cannot comprehend it and gave me the previously mentioned symptoms. These symptoms faded after a moderate amount of time in VR but returned in additional sessions. The VR is extremely immersive and amazing, but comes at a cost: feeling unwell.
Star Wars: Squadrons also offers multiplayer with either your friends or with random people through matchmaking. In multiplayer there are two different modes that you can play: 1. Dogfight and 2. Fleet Battles. In the Dogfight mode you play on a team of 5 players against another 5 players in a battlefield where you fight each other to see who will get the most amount of ships taken down. The team with the most ships kills will be the victor.
The other mode, Fleet Battles, consists of you and your team working together to get through the opposition’s fleet and to destroy their flagship. What I found by playing these modes was that the multiplayer is very well put together and fun but falls apart since the maps are a little too expansive and the matches seem to be too fast paced. Now I understand that in order to have an aerial playing field the area must be large but I feel that there were times when I had a hard time finding other players and when I did the battles lasted about 10 seconds. The multiplayer is very fun to play but can get old fast with large maps and short bursts of action.
Star Wars: Squadrons is an interesting take on the aerial shooter genre with a decent story and immersive VR. While it does have some flaws in terms of the multiplayer and story I feel as if the single player gameplay and the controls make up for it and can provide a fun experience.