Star Wars Squadrons is the latest offering from Electronic Arts via their hotly debated exclusive Star Wars license, and – in short – it’s a blast.
Most reviews for this game (or any other EA Star Wars) over the internet probably won’t go five sentences without bringing up EA’s past transgressions, but I’ve already covered those to an exhaustive degree on this website, so feel free to go check out those blogs if you need a recap.
(Shawn Corey Carter once said, “If you want my old shit – buy my old albums”.)
Building On Hope
Star Wars Squadrons is everything I’ve wanted to see from an EA Star Wars title in the last decade. It’s brave, unique, it’s fun as hell, and it’s just very authentically Star Wars – and that’s the highest praise I can give it.
Squadrons immediately caught eyes upon its announcement when EA confirmed that the game would only be $40. Many immediately jumped to the conclusion that Squadrons would end up being a game-as-a-service, or be some sort of high-profile tech demo for something greater to come – but the truth is… Squadrons stands on its own as a very fun, incredibly unique, and genuinely excellent package.
Squadrons feels like a counterpart (a dyad, if you will) to 2019’s Jedi Fallen Order, which was an exclusively single player experience (and my GOTY). While Squadrons isn’t exclusively multiplayer, the bulk of the time you’ll be spending with the game is likely in the game’s multiplayer modes, as Squadrons’ single player campaign is a short – but very sweet – experience.
Breath of Fresh Cockpit Air
Squadrons’ single player story puts you in the boots (and cockpits) of two pilots. One who flies for Vanguard Squadron of the New Republic, and the other who flies for Titan Squadron of the crippled Galactic Empire – still licking very fresh wounds after their crushing defeat at the Battle of Endor.
Both Squadrons are very unique casts of characters in terms of species, gender, orientation, personality and ideals. Gunny, AKA Vanguard Leader, is Mimbanese – one of the more odd looking creatures in the Star Wars Galaxy. While EA Motive could’ve easily went for a more “accessible” option to be the face of one of the game’s factions, they let Gunny’s experience, personality, and piloting chops do the talking (supplemented by an excellent performance by Rebecca Wisocky). To me, this is one of the game’s greatest successes.
Conversely, Titan Squadron (on the side of the all-human Galactic Empire), still manages to showcase some impressive diversity, without making it feel like the game is desperately waving its hands at you to notice it. Varko Grey, Titan’s Leader, casually drops in conversation that he fights so that he might one day reunite and retire with his husband. I can’t remember ever seeing a main-line Galactic Empire character being openly gay, and I found it really fulfilling that Squadrons features such a diverse cast of characters without making things feel shoe-horned in just to check a diversity box.
Squadrons’ campaign is fourteen missions long, which clock in at just about 30-45 minutes apiece, depending on how frequently you crash your ship. The story itself is not breaking any new ground – and sees your main characters through missions full of sabotages, rescues, escorting and rescuing allies, and all that other heroic pilot stuff that you love about Star Wars.
There are a handful of intriguing call backs to Star Wars: Rebels (and even Star Wars: Resistance!) that I noticed, and I’m sure there’s lots of other easter eggs that other players will pick up as time goes on. All in all, it’s a rock-solid Star Wars story, and it feels self contained without short-changing the player. Squadrons’ campaign does at times tow EA’s line of feeling like a “cinematic extended tutorial” for the multiplayer, but anyone who’s played Battlefront II’s campaign (which I adored) will find a lot to love here as well.
Unfortunately, there were some odd bugs here and there in Squadrons’ campaign. I found myself waiting behind an ally’s ship, only to realize they were frozen or stuck in place. Other times, textures didn’t load in the way they should, and once – I collided with a capital ship and got stuck inside of it. I am sure most (if not all) of these issues will eventually be fixed, and they didn’t really take away from my experience with the game, but I felt like they happened frequently enough that they needed pointing out.
You Need A Pilot
In terms of the multiplayer – and I’m not going to mince words here – Star Wars Squadrons has a pretty steep learning curve. Is this a bad thing? Not really. Could it turn off more casual players? For sure. I’ve never played a flight sim game in my life, so getting used to Squadrons’ different techniques, systems, and tricks were definitely challenging. I can definitely say that playing the campaign really helped to get a hang of things, so don’t skip it, unless you want to spend more time being in a cloud of space dust than you do in a spaceship.
Squadrons has two multiplayer modes, Dogfights and Fleet Battles. Dogfights are standard 5-on-5 “Team Deathmatch” style battles, where the first team to 30 kills wins the match. Fleet Battles are much more complex, as two teams of 5 players engage in a pulse-pounding tug-of-war in space to eradicate the others’ capital ship.
Fleet Battles are definitely the focal point of Squadrons’ multiplayer, and require lots of communication and strategy. Finely tuned attack patterns, well executed bombing runs, and clutch support performances all feel just as hectic as they do in the movies, and Squadrons’ level of difficulty really makes you feel fulfilled when you’re able to pull off a maneuver, attack, or kill that turns the tide of battle.
In particularly tense battles, I often find myself screaming “YES!!!!” like Poe Dameron, sweating bullets in a cockpit after pulling off a kill or escaping a dangerous situation. Squadrons’ multiplayer is SERIOUSLY fun and addicting, and is even better if you have a full squad(ron) of four other friends to communicate, celebrate, and banter with.
All of Squadrons’ experiences put you – and keep you – right in the cockpit of eight different iconic Star Wars ships, and the best part is that you can customize them to your heart’s content. There are tons of different customization options in the game, both cosmetic and mechanical – all of which you can use to fly your way, and look good while doing it.
Everything That Has Transpired…
Star Wars Squadrons has a ton of heart, packed into what may not seem as the neatest package. But what it lacks in polish – it makes up for in exciting, unique, pulse-pounding gameplay. To quote a famous pilot – “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”
At $39.99, Star Wars Squadrons is worth taking a chance on if you’re just looking for something different, and is an experience not to be missed by any self-respecting Star Wars fan. I love this game.
- Squadrons features a solid story, filled with surprising cameos and awesome new characters
- Dogfights and Fleet Battles are challenging and rewarding in all the right ways. If you get a chance to play with a full party of your friends, Squadrons’ multiplayer delivers flat-out unforgettable experiences
- The overall presentation of the game is slick, lightweight, and offers tons of customization options to satiate flight sim vets without scaring off new pilots
- I encountered some visual hiccups and texture inconsistencies
- Squadrons does have some bugs that, while annoying, didn’t sully the experience too much
- EA’s lack of planned future support is disheartening
- Star Wars Squadrons’ shortcomings are drowned out like a screaming TIE Fighter thanks to its unique gameplay, attractive pricepoint, and pulse-pounding action. This game is impossible not to recommend.
Final Score: 4 screaming TIE Fighters out of 5.
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