IntroductionStar Wars Squadrons is the answer to everyone—including us—craving a modern reboot of the thrilling Star Wars X-Wing space fighter combat SIM experience from the 1990s. Until now, the Star Wars gaming experience was restricted to the forgettable multi-player FPS-focused Battlefront series, and the vastly better Jedi: The Fallen Order single-player action title. An X-Wing style space-combat game was missing, so here it is.
Squadrons has a story mode that fits into the official canon. Following the destruction of Alderaan, Darth Vader sends Imperial forces to hunt down any survivors of the planet, and an Imperial Navy captain tasked with this mission decides to defect to the Alliance. Years after the Alliance's victory over the Empire in the Battle of Endor, this captain leads his own ship and must defend the construction of an advanced Alliance warship. His former protégé and wingman from the Empire, the game's first playable character, is eager to seek vengeance for his betrayal. The game earns its name from the main set piece—squadrons of popular fighters from Star Wars, the Imperial TIE fighters and the Alliance X-wings; specifically, the Imperial Titan Squadron and the Alliance Vanguard Squadrons. The other game modes are multi-player dogfights (essentially team death matches) and fleet battles where up to five players compete to take out each other's capital ships.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward—zero grav fighter combat in space, where you choose from four spacecraft classes (fighters, interceptors, support, and bombers). An ideal squadron must have a healthy mix of all classes to be effective. Typically, a joystick or thumbsticks are better suited for this, but a keyboard and mouse combo is just as intuitive. Your perspective and combat viewport is mostly from your fighter's cockpit. Progression includes plenty of upgrades for your spacecraft, including droids that lend special abilities.
Published by EA and developed by Motive Studios, Star Wars Squadrons is based on the Frostbite 3 game engine by DICE. Frostbite makes a comeback to the Star Wars game franchise after a brief trip to the dugout with the Unreal-powered Jedi: The Fallen Order. Besides interior hangars, Frostbite powers expansive battle arenas filled not just with fighters, but also capital ships, cruisers, asteroid fields, and planets. The game uses only DirectX 11 and is fairly light on hardware requirements. There is no support for raytracing or DLSS. In this mini review, we put it through the paces with our selection of graphics cards.