People have wildly varying opinions about basically everything in the Star Wars universe: the movies, the books, the comics, the games especially, but we can all agree on the spaceships. No matter how good or bad the media that contains them may be, the actual spaceships in Star Wars are objectively cool when observed in a vacuum (not sorry), which is one reason why people have clamored for a return to the classic LucasArts X-Wing series for so long. I don’t have to care about who’s related to whomst or why tiny bugs in my bloodstream make space magic work when I have a rad spaceship and can shoot lasers at other rad spaceships. This is not a difficult concept!
Star Wars: Squadrons, announced earlier today by EA and Motive Studios, may take us back to those halcyon days of first-person dogfighting when it launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PSVR, PC, and non-PS VR on October 2. Taking place between Return of the Jedi and whatever that seventh movie was (Skywalker Rising? Shadow of the Skywalker? Something like that?), Squadrons has players picking sides in the intergalactic battle between the Empire and the New Republic, née Rebel Alliance, and living out their fighter pilot dreams in either 5v5 “Fleet Battles” aimed at destroying the other team’s flagship, or good ol’ fashioned team deathmatch (with spaceships!) in Dogfights mode. Either way, online multiplayer will be fully cross-platform with both consoles, the PC, and VR versions sharing the same pool of players. (EA hasn’t mentioned what precautions, if any, will be in place to keep PC players from having an advantage over console players, or vice-versa.)
Aside from the multiplayer stuff that will likely make up the bulk of people’s interest in the game, Squadrons will also include an “authentic” story mode that has players controlling two customizable pilots, one on either side of the conflict. I’m not really sure what an Authentic™ Star Wars Story® is, or what differentiates it from a knock-off, illegal Star Wars story, but I’m gonna guess that it’s the volcano-head guy that drinks milk by pouring it into the top of his volcano head in the Star Wars Holiday Special. I’m pretty sure that Disney has disavowed the existence of the volcano-head guy that pours milk into the top of his volcano head, so if you see him around, the Star Wars story you’re experiencing probably isn’t authentic.
In its announcement, EA is very clear that Star Wars: Squadrons will have a progression path entirely based on gameplay: “As players move up the ranks, they’ll earn components to modify and enhance their starfighters such as weapons, hulls, engines and shields; gain cosmetic items to customize their cockpit, ship exteriors, flight suits and helmets; and receive bonuses, all unlocked via gameplay, in a clear path for progression.”
As you might recall, the last Star Wars game from EA and Motive Studios was Star Wars Battlefront 2, which was initially lootboxed and microtransactioned to hell so thoroughly that it spawned global interest in regulating the video game industry for such practices. This is an impressive feat for a single game to accomplish, and even though EA and Motive continued to adjust the game as the years progressed, such has its legacy endured. Getting out in front of that narrative in Squadrons‘ first announcement is a smart move, and I hope that Squadrons takes to heart those hard-learned lessons. I also hope that I can put a baby Yoda in my cockpit.