Star Wars Squadrons announced

EA just announced a new space dogfighting game

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Mixed feelings on this one. It feels to me like Star Wars Squadrons could just as easily be brilliant as it might turn out a bit rubbish. EA hasn’t exactly been a reliable steward of the Star Wars franchise, but there are a lot of unanswered questions about this game, so let’s dig into it.

Squadrons is, I suspect somewhat deliberately, filling the role of a successor to the wonderful Rogue Squadron games. These were a series of brilliant arcadey flight sims set in the Star Wars universe, where you would pilot a variety of Rebel ships to complete different missions, some set directly on the events depicted in the original trilogy of movies, others just loosely inspired by the films or other extended universe material. They felt authentically Star Wars, with all the right music and dialogue clips taken from the movies, and even every knob and dial from an X-Wing command console was present and correct. The first game in the Rogue Squadron series is up on GOG, but the series high-point, Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was only ever released on the Gamecube.

This new game has dropped the “Rogue” focusing on the “Squadron”, because it’s a primarily multiplayer game, and you get to serve both the light side and dark side of the force. This is a 5 v 5 online multiplayer game first and foremost, although there is going to be some kind of single-player campaign too. Let’s just hope the single-player mode is not clearly an afterthought that didn’t get the attention it deserved, like with other EA games such as the Battlefield games and the Battlefront games.

There are some signs of change over at EA though. This is the first new title they’ve released concurrently on Origin and Steam, and it’s also coming to Epic Game Store for good measure. This marks a shift from EA, where we have seen back catalog games no longer be restricted to just being available on Origin, but this is the first instance in many years that an EA game is available on Steam day one. Unlike the back catalogue games that made their Steam debut recently, EA will not even require the installation of the Origin client in order to run this game, where instead they have implemented a system whereby you can link your EA Account directly with Steam. This will also allow full cross-platform multiplayer, where players on Steam, Origin, EGS, PS4, and Xbox One will all be able to play together.

Interestingly, much like the space flight mode in Battlefront 2, this game will be supporting VR, with the entire game being playable in virtual reality. This will place you right in the cockpit of your rebel or imperial ship, and I bet it would be a pretty special way to experience this game.

EA have also made a commitment that this game will not feature any microtransactions. After the international controversy about EA creating a Star Wars-themed casino for kids with their previous multiplayer focussed Star Wars game, Battlefront 2, and the sales success of Jedi: Fallen Order which did not have any microtransactions, it would seem that EA are exercising some caution, and showing concern for the reputation of themselves and of Star Wars/Disney more than concern for maximizing revenue from all users. They’ve not said no to any kind of expansion or paid DLC down the line, but the game won’t be balanced around driving further user spending at every turn.

We’re not really left with much else to form an impression on yet. The trailer starts with the proclamation that it is “in-engine footage”, but ends with the disclaimer “Not all images appear in-game”. I have no doubt that EA can and will make a visually attractive Star Wars game, they’ve done so several times already, but this trailer feels far more like a cutscene than an accurate representation of what we might be playing when this comes out. I’m not sure who they think they’re fooling with talk of it being “in-engine”.

Timeline-wise, we’re in the relatively safe period of shortly after Return of the Jedi. Trade talks at the senate are a distant memory, and whatever on earth The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to be about is a lifetime away. It’s classic Tie Fighters versus X-Wings, and it seems specifically centered on space skirmishes within that time period.

There’s going to be a full gameplay reveal during the EA Play Live event, scheduled for June 18, 4pm PDT. So that’ll be our first chance to get a proper look at it in action.

The game is due out on October the 2nd, and it’s a somewhat budget release, targeting a price of $39.99. We’re keen to give it a shot when it releases, what do you reckon? Is the force strong in this one?