Star Wars Squadrons – Is this closer to being the next TIE Fighter?

I’ve been a flight simmer for decades but during that time there have also been a few space sim games that have stood out to me and have captured my imagination nearly as much as my experience with flight. One of those titles was TIE Fighter and it was perhaps one of the best Star Wars game experiences that I’ve ever had. Given the way things work these days I wasn’t ever expecting to have another space combat focused title at all but I have been proven wrong and it looks like EA is giving us one! Let’s have a look and see what kind of promise it might have for those of us who prefer a deeper sim experience.

This actually looks fun!

Although maybe this has vibes that more closely mimic the promise that X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter had, it’s nice to see that there is a bit of a return to the space combat genre in the last few years. The expansion of that genre again after such a long period inactivity is also a good thing for the flight sim genre and we’ve seen that through more specialized peripheral makers and more emphasis on PC gaming and support for new technologies like VR.

The announcement trailer is more of a cinematic showpiece but it helps set the stage

That’s where Star Wars Squadrons seems to come in from. Everything that I’ve learned since the cinematic trailer came out on Tuesday suggests that this is meant to be something that has more depth than what we saw from Star Wars Battlefront’s space combat sequences. With VR support being baked in from the beginning and HOTAS support confirmed it seems that the developers are at least attempting to bring in some more serious features while still appealing to their console audiences with gamepad support.

In an interview on Polygon with creative director Ian Frazier I found the most poignant comment for me was this one on their inspiration.

First and foremost, it’s inspired by World War II aerial combat footage. You see that in the original films, even down to the fact that the TIEs have green lasers and the Rebels have red lasers. That’s because those are the colors of the tracer fire in World War II for the Axis and Allies. There’s that heritage you see there, and so we’re trying to keep that same kind of theme.

Ian Frazier in an interview on Polygon

This of course drove the movies creative process as well but I take it as a positive that it also seems to be inspiring Squadrons too.

A little depth

There does appear to be some depth to this game’s flight mechanics that maybe isn’t as detailed as Elite: Dangerous or Star Citizen but also not quite as simplistic as Battlefront 2. We’ve seen the ships slide in and out of standard flight and there are systems to manipulate so that you can give more power to shields, weapons, and engines just like in the original TIE Fighter. There are also a variety of ships to fly from the classic X-Wing, A-Wing and Y-Wing to the TIE Fighter, TIE Bomber, and TIE Interceptor to a few more Squadrons specific additions to the line-up that help provide a more supporting role. The ships will apparently have up to 50+ modifications to customize your ship (and probably some micro-transactions too for the cosmetic stuff).

Eschewing a game-like HUD and third person view, it looks like the appropriate information is actually in the ships cockpit like a real sim.

I was against the 5v5 idea for multiplayer but after thinking on it a little I think this might actually be fun and keeps the battle size manageable. Getting a group together to fly dedicated roles keeps the battles focused and fun.

There are a bunch of different gameplay modes too. Single player seems to be a cinematic experience that helps train players on how to play. Then you move on to the various PvP versions of the multiplayer experience with ‘Dogfights’ which is a straight up 5v5 while ‘Fleet Battles’ is a multi-stage event with both AI and human pilots mixed in fighting in a larger scale battle.

Different ship classes will have different roles and they bring us many familiar types from the movies and games.

For those of you out there who are space sim fans and who may also be Star Wars fans… this looks more promising than anything that I’ve seen in a while in letting you experience the star fighter pilot fantasy. It’s not a serious flight sim in the way that we have DCS World, IL-2 or X-Plane, but it does seem like it has the kind of detail and perspective that might make this satisfying for fans of more serious sims.

We’ll see if this pans out into a fun space sim experience that offers up a nice diversion from some of the more serious simulations that most of us enjoy while also having a good experience. This is still very much a game based on a fictional property rather than a replication of something in the real world but it does seem to be taking more serious pathway which I like. VR is confirmed (TrackIR is not yet confirmed) and HOTAS support is apparently in so this has potential.

Star Wars Squadrons is coming October 2, 2020 and will retail for $39.99 on PC via Steam, Origin, and the Epic Games Store as well as on on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one for sure.

An in-depth video showing off gameplay and game mechanics

Other resources

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Fernando says:

    Played the classics. I’m in !! Hope they will add TrackIR.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jonathan Holmes says:

    It looks closer to the old XWing Tie Fighter series than I expected. As above hope for Trackir

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blue 5 says:

    Tie Fighter – along with FreeSpace 2 – were benchmark games that have never been beaten for sheer quality and involvement with the player. Unfortunately, the amount of effort required for such a single-player experience vs. the relatively easier focus on MP has tended to leave is with shallow games intended for DF servers (remains true – to a degree -of both IL-2 and DCS without add-on campaigns). I hope this will try to follow TF and X-Wing but fear I will be very disappointed.

    My immediate worry stems from a comment that the SP campaign will alternate between the 2 sides, which kills any immersion and again smacks of cheap development.

    I would accept a base game with simple campaign as long as it came with a powerful but not unintelligible mission editor (like DCS) from which can flow user-made SP campaigns and / or DLC like that produced by BlackSix.

    But if they try to follow the MP-focussed flop that was X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter then a huge opportunity will have been missed.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I fear you’re right about the single player experience. I’m not sure yet on the structure except that you can choose to experience things from both sides. It sounds to me that the single player is more there to prepare you for the multiplayer experience.

      I played XvT quite a bit but the technology for multiplayer matchmaking just wasn’t where it is now so I have some hopes that it could be a lot of fun. This is also being priced at $40 so I’m expecting a smaller gameplay experience.

      Like

      1. Blue 5 says:

        If they can recapture some of the originals’ spirit but with current tech it would be amazing.

        I presume that they have to get the all-clear from Disney re: plot, which will be interesting. The old EU books had a wealth of great narratives on which to draw: surviving SSDs, Imperial faction civil wars, strange new / ad-hoc weapons etc. I wonder what latitude the Mouse Factory will allow?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. bigalrico says:

    Give me TrackIR support and the ability to use my setup of pedals, throttle and flightstick and I’m ready to serve the Empire 😀 I really hope EA isn’t fucking it up this time and we see a great SW game from the beginning !

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Simfan says:

    Hotas yet no TrackIr support would be a real showstopper for all of us.
    Of course there is … VR and if I look at the cockpits it becomes clear that VR (and MP) is the focus.
    This seems a simplified “Eve Valckyrie : Warzone” in a Star Wars Setting.
    MP is the only way to enjoy this arcade game and this means it will probably enjoy limited long-time interest.
    No mission editor to me means that I, personally, would play this for a week or so and then forget about it (not unlike most EA games).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Voidhunger says:

    Im absolutely sure it will be arcade crap for kids, which is sad.

    Id like to have hardcore T-fighter single player game, Something like IL2/DCS in Starwars universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. harryvoyager says:

    I’m probably going to pick it up and give it a go. It may be good, or it may be bad, but I always loved the Y-Wing and it would be fun to try and see if I could do a go as a dedicated Y-Wing pilot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blue 5 says:

      Whaaaaa…?

      A-Wing all the way, dude!

      Liked by 1 person

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