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Now that EA has shown off a cinematic tease and some gameplay segments of the recently announced Star Wars: Squadrons, we've decided to take a closer look at what exactly we've learned about the latest first-person, space dogfighting entry into the Star Wars universe.
Fancy yourself a bit of an A-Wing ace? A TIE Interceptor devastator? Maybe you're a Y-Wing warrior? Or just a regular old TIE Bomber. Star Wars: Squadrons has eight ships from the post-Return Of The Jedi (but pre-Battle Of Scarif) era just for you. Four apiece from the New Republic and Empire navies adorn their respective hangar bays for your perusal and.. Err... useal? Is that a word? I dunno, but what I do know is that it doesn't look like there's a B-Wing, which is making me upset. Maybe there's hidden ships? Maybe I'll be able to pilot a Cloud Car or a T-16 Skyhopper. After all, if somebody doesn't bullseye a womp rat in their T-16, is it even technically Star Wars?
The ships have been grouped into categories. Fighter class is obviously your standard TIE Fighter and X-Wing, and are described as being "flexible and versatile, and able to handle any situation". Interceptors - aka TIE Interceptor and the A-Wing - are nippy, with enough firepower to do a tonne of damage and dip before the enemy even knows they're there. Support ships - the TIE Reaper and U-Wing - are slow but hardy, and act as mobile interference to let the smaller crafts do their jobs, while the TIE Bomber and Y-Wing are bombers. They bomb.
There's been two modes announced for Squadrons so far: Dogfight mode and Fleet Battles. In Dogfight mode, you err.... Dogfight. You don't fight dogs. Which let me tell you, after The Last of Us Part II, is a huge relief. Your team of five versus the enemy team of five, last team standing takes home the win. Simple as that. Whether these battles will be solely populated with human players, or whether you'll be able to hunt down and take out AI 'teammates' to bump up your score is unknown, but the focus is very clearly on substance over style.
Then there's what's being touted as Star Wars: Squadron's signature mode (their words, not mine), in the shape of Fleet Battles. These tug-of-war style matches will be playable either solo, with a squad against AI, or with all-human combatants, and will have three distinct phases to them. Starting with a dogfight in the centre of the map, whoever eradicates the enemy fighters will gain the advantage and move on to the next phase, where they'll have to take out two smaller cruisers before moving to engage the capital ships. There, you'll have to target the subsystems of these veritable units of the sky to bring them down. That last part sound familiar? It should, because that's 2005's Battlefront II, baby! But, like, without the bit where you nip into the enemy ship for a scrap and a bit of sabotage.
You think the stock fighter is gonna get your through on a wing and a prayer? Have a word with yourself. You're part of Vanguard (or Titan) Squadron now, chief. And if there's one thing I know about Vanguard (or Titan) Squadron, it's that they're always looking for a leg up over those loathsome lot over at Titan (or Vanguard) Squadron. Well, over 50 legs up, to be exact.
Yes, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of ship upgrades to personalise your play style or role within the squad with things like different lasers, shields, missiles, target jammers and engine upgrades to hopefully outfox and out-fire your enemy. It's worth pointing out that there's 60 upgrades that we know of, and it's likely that you'll be able to mix and match these 'orrible lot to your heart's content. Happy hunting.
Praise the benevolent force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, because Star Wars: Squadrons will ship (ha) with a fully fleshed-out single-player campaign. How long will this campaign be? We don't know. But what we do know, is that it will focus on two sides of the same story. Yes you'll be playing as either Imperial ace Case Kassandora or New Republic hero Rao Highmoon (contender for the most Star Wars name ever) as they duke it out for Galactic dominance. It seems like these characters have names already for plot reasons, like Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect, for example, and to stop you from naming these very serious fighter pilots something completely ridiculous like.. Dexter Jettster or... Kit... Fisto...
We also know that customisation of these pilots will definitely be a thing - from the way they look down to what they wear, and indeed what kind of cute little bobbleheads they keep in their cockpits. Everything you need to give your pilots a makeover will, apparently, be unlocked during the course of the game with no microtransactions in sight, and I would love to be able to change the look of my fearless space ace on the go. Just imagine being able to change up your appearance dramatically to keep the enemy guessing. Mind games people. It's the art of war.
You can drift your starfighter in space. That's literally it. Skrrt skrrt.
It's been confirmed that, over the course of the single-player campaign, you'll be bumping into a whole bunch of familiar Star Wars faces. Well, a couple are confirmed, but you get it. We've got hero of the Rebellion Wedge Antilles, we've got hero of the Rebellion Hera Syndulla, and apparently many, many more.
As for friendly faces among the Imperial pilots and officers... There ain't none, but maybe we've got some memories in the making, you know? Maybe the real Imperial heroes are the friends we made along the way?
It looks like everything on your heads-up display will be shown on your cockpit, without any external messages or signals. Now, we already know the game is pushing the VR angle pretty hard, so it makes sense to have all the information you need front and centre. But more than that, it shows how immersive this game will hopefully be. Information in the cockpit will include: components, current laser charge, your starfighter's status (single, married, divorced, etc), a combat display, power management, throttle and, of course, myriad sensors.
If there's one thing I've been waiting for literally my entire adult life, it's the ability to actually play a game that genuinely makes me feel like I'm taking part in the epic space battles from the movies. And I'm not gonna lie to you, guys: I'm kinda excited about this one. It's looking pretty neat.
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