Star Wars: Squadrons looks fully armed and operational
- Release date: 2 October 2020
- Availability: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
- VR availability: PSVR, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift
- Price: $49.95
Leaked earlier in the year under the working title Star Wars: Maverick, EA’s latest foray into the fertile galaxy far, far away continues later this year with Star Wars: Squadrons.
Slated to launch into hyperspace on 2 October 2020, Squadrons is set to include a single-player campaign and, if the balance of focus from the press release is any indication, a much bigger focus on the popular 5v5 competitive multiplayer model. Squadrons is blasting its way onto current-gen Xbox One and PlayStation 4, as well as transcendent-gen PC via EA’s digital platform Origin, plus Steam and the Epic Games Store.
Unlike the starfighter sections in Star Wars Battlefront II, Squadrons looks to be fixed in a first-person perspective, which makes it decidedly more X-Wing vs TIE Fighter space-sim than the Rogue Squadron arcade approach we were anticipating. The big (and pleasantly surprising) thing this perspective facilitates most of all is virtual reality, which will be supported on PlayStation VR, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift.
If the short-lived-but-fantastic (take a breath before saying the title out loud) Star Wars Battlefront 'Rogue One: X-wing VR Mission' is any indication of immersive quality, Squadrons may prove to be the kind of killer app that can help ship VR headsets.
Squadrons is set after the events of Return of the Jedi, in a period when the Empire has lost its latest Death Star, its Emperor, and the Emperor’s obvious successor in Darth Vader. Pick allegiances between New Republic or in-decline-but-still-fighting Empire, with your choice of iconic original trilogy-era starfighters. For the Imperials, this translates to a black-and-grey TIE affair: TIE fighters, TIE bombers, TIE interceptors, and the somewhat-out-of-place TIE reaper dropship/trooper carrier first seen in Rogue One.
This Rogue One non-starfighter theme carries over to the New Republic faction, too, with the U-wing, which may be primarily used as a troop transport, but at least it also operates as a gunship. We fully expect the TIE reaper to be repurposed for its barrel-rolling role in Squadrons.
Geekdom specificity aside, the New Republic offering is rounded out by the A-wing, X-wing, and Y-wing. But with a 5v5 multiplayer mode and four ships, it feels like developer EA Motive (which developed the Star Wars Battlefront II campaign) is keeping its Sabacc cards close to its chest on a likely fifth class to complement the current breakdown of fighter, interceptor, bomber, and gunship/support.
Whether that’s an all-new starfighter for both sides is yet to be seen – Baby Yoda knows there’s enough resurrected extended universe craft to add more options – but what will be new are at least two never-before-seen combat spaces, including gas giant Yavin Prime and shattered-moon Galitan.
EA Motive is promising you can unlock and upgrade both starfighter loadouts and cosmetics, which extends to customising your cockpit, ship exteriors, and the appearance of your pilots. Refreshingly, these upgrades are reportedly all earned via gameplay, which include hulls, engines, shields, and weapons.
We anticipate the campaign will be of a punchier length, given the AU$49.95 asking price, but you should expect to see some familiar Star Wars faces, including ace pilots Wedge Antilles from the original trilogy, and Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebels. In terms of dogfight depth, you’ll be able to divert power between engines, shields, and weapons, which suggests more depth than what we’ve played in recent starfighter modes.
Though not explicitly mentioned in the press release, the Steam page description and categorisation suggests there will also be a cooperative mode. Whatever mode you do play, expect it all to look gorgeous care of the beautiful Frostbite engine. Though not yet announced, fingers crossed there are plans on Scarif for a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X facelift.
What consoles will Star Wars: Squadrons be available for?
What the press release does mention is Squadrons will support cross-platform play out of the launch hangar, meaning it’ll be easier to find a game and you can easily play with your buddies across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and VR platforms.