Star Wars: Squadrons is an upcoming first-person space combat game that features a full single-player campaign, multiple gameplay modes, and crossplay support across PS4, PSVR, PC, PC VR, and Xbox One.
Excellent preview video from Star Wars HQ:
We haven’t gotten a chance to try the game for ourselves yet and no one has any impressions out for its VR support that we’ve found, but today a slew of hands-on previews dropped for the game’s non-VR format.
From what we can tell, only prominent non-VR gaming publications were included in the round of previews. After looking over the new impressions and watching several new gameplay videos, we’ve pulled together a list of a few takeaways worth noting.
There Are Lots Of Customization Options
We already knew there would be two types of customization in Star Wars: Squadrons in terms of cosmetic changes like paint jobs and the like, previewed above in the screenshot, as well as loadout customization. There are dozens of different components to pick from so not only will two two ships of the same class likely not look alike in a match, but they likely will not play alike either.
Once we know more about the customization options we look forward to digging in as much as possible. It’s also worth noting that you’ll be able to get little bobble heads as cockpit decoration items as well as holograms of characters and ships.
Additionally — there are zero microtransactions according to EA. Everything is earned in-game only.
There’s An Immersive Pre-Game Lobby And Hangar
When looking over all of the new footage and coverage for Star Wars: Squadrons today two things really stood out to me in the video preview from Star Wars HQ: there is a highly-detailed pre-game lobby and a hangar that lets you just sit in any of the cockpits outside of a match. Both of those things are going to tremendously help the game feel as immersive as possible in VR.
The pre-game lobby lets you look around the battle map at your teammates while aboard a capital ship. It looks like a really detailed and intricate environment. Then you can look over to the side at the Hangar door and go adjust your loadout, customize the ship, or just sit in the cockpit of any of your various Starfighters. I have a feeling this will be a great way to get used to the layout prior to diving in head first.
I cannot count the number of times an otherwise fun VR game has absolutely failed to maintain immersion due to flat, floating 2D menus. It’s reassuring to know that EA Motive seems to be approaching this game with immersion as a primary motivator.
Each Starfighter’s Cockpit Is Extremely Different
If you’re curious to see how each of the eight different Starfighters look from inside the cockpit, then look no further. This video from PCGamer breaks down each of the different in-game views to give you an idea of how not only your view of the battlefield will change depending on your ship, but also the placement and style of its instruments.
Picking a starfighter is just as much about leveraging its capabilities as it is adapting to its cockpit. Both VR and non-VR players will be allowed to look around freely, but VR users can (presumably) do so more easily without sacrificing ship control.
Gameplay Is Reminiscent Of Classic X-Wing And TIE Fighter Space Flight Sims
From what we’ve seen and read about Star Wars: Squadrons, gameplay is absolutely a crossover between a pure arcade-style shooter and a hardcore space flight simulation. It looks sort of like a halfway point between EVE Valkyrie’s relative simplicity and the sometimes overwhelming complexity of Elite Dangerous.
Managing ship power levels between engines, shields, and attack power will be a huge part of the meta-game skill cap and will likely factor heavily into your efficiency in combat. The moment-to-moment gameplay though, in terms of how it feels, sounds very reminiscent of the late-90s X-Wing and TIE Fighter PC space combat games.
Communication And Good Team Composition Is Crucial
While it may seem like only four different types of ships isn’t very many, it’s more than enough once you dig into the details. Team composition is key here. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of fighter-class ships like the X-Wing and TIE Fighter versus interceptor-class ships like the A-Wing and TIE Interceptor is crucial, plus the bombers and support class ships. Coordinating attacks and relaying crucial info during defense is ridiculously important.
More so than most any other competitive multiplayer game, I imagine voice communication over mic is going to be crucial here. Thankfully, every VR headset has a built-in mic so there isn’t much excuse.
We’ve reached out to EA for comment on when/if hands-on sessions will be available for the game’s VR format. For more on Star Wars: Squadrons, check out our coverage hub here and our big ‘Everything You Need to Know’ info dump right here.