Posted on 05 Feb 2021 by L Coulsen

Star Wars: Squadrons

The Defence

Developer: Motive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action, Simulator
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 01 Oct 2020

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K
AMD Ryzen 3 1300X
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: Yes
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 7700
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
AMD Radeon RX 480
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: Yes
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

It’s been a while since we’ve had a full-blown, Star Wars flight sim.  Battlefront II had a robust, arcadey space battles mode, of course.  But, well, it was arcadey pick-up-and-play, and part of a larger game.  So when EA announced a new, multiplayer focused dogfighting game, many of us were skeptically optimistic.  Then it was announced as a budget title, at half the price of a typical game, and we started to worry.  Oh my.

The Trial

Now, Squadrons is here, and…well, my fellow Judge has more than 30 hours logged and I have just a wee bit more. It’s still on the arcadey side, but that’s not a bad thing. It is a budget title, and you can kind of tell, but it doesn’t really feel like one. It’s a double-A, if you will. Visually solid, without being particularly stand-out, but still generally rather impressive to look at. Especially in motion. During dogfighting, it can be difficult to judge a sense of speed and scale, but when skimming close to a larger vessel, or environmental details, you can really feel just how fast even the slower ships can be.

Though it has a relatively low ship count, effectively only five, with the Republic and Imperial variants being, well, variants, there’s not a huge sense of individuality on the surface. A fighter is a fighter, a bomber is a bomber and so on. Despite this, each ship does feel distinct, helped greatly by well detailed interiors and other little quirks. Such as most Imperial ships lacking shields and, quite noticeably, the way the shape of each fighter affects the direction its fire comes from. A TIE Interceptor feels very different from an A-wing simply because the former’s four lasers come angling in from the corners of the cockpit, whilst the latter has only one on either side. They’re flavour changes, but they are differences nonetheless.

Further, with multiple ship components, some shared, across six (five for most Imperial ships) different slots, there’s a modest amount of depth that does allow you to tweak your chosen vessel more to your liking. You can make Interceptors even faster, bombers even more durable, that kind of thing, but also pretty much fully change a ship’s roll completely. Whacking dumbfire rockets on an A-wing or TIE Interceptor makes them an absolute beast at taking down the smaller capital ships.

Intensify Forward Fire!

The recent introduction of the two new ships, B-wing and TIE Defender, have mixed things up even more. And were a most welcome surprise for a game we were told was going to be nothing more than a low tier, fire and forget cash grab. Even that was an oddly welcome change from EA’s usual business model. The upfront honesty part I mean. It helped take a lot of the edge off of expectations. Which is probably, at least in part, why Squadrons was such a surprise. A genuinely solid game, that’s received quite commendable support since launch.

But even then, there’s just something about the simplicity that makes it a fun game to play all the same. Whilst it’s not a truly deep game, it has enough range that it never feels shallow. And though it’s very easy to pick a favoured ship/loadout and never using anything else (pink A-wings ftw!) the ebb and flow of matches does greatly, organically, encourage swapping and changing as need requires. With even support ships being worth using for more than just healing your squadmates.

Sound design isn’t anything particularly noteworthy, but serves its purpose competently. The use of recognisable Star Wars music goes a long way toward making it feel better than it really is, but there’s nothing that truly stands out. Having said that, there isn’t anything lacking either. Sound effects do what they need to do with a suitable level of, voice work is solid, and Dennis Lawson even reprises his role as Wedge in the single-player. Though he sounds very, very different than he did forty years ago.

That Doesn't Look Good.

The campaign itself is, likewise, nothing truly outstanding, but it does do a very good job of showcasing how the game’s systems work. With missions and objectives that are varied enough to stop it from feeling like nothing more than “fly to x and shoot y” despite that, well, being what it actually is. Meanwhile, the inter-mission downtime has some very strong writing and voice work, with the Imperial pilots, in particular, being very well fleshed out and much more strongly Humanised than you often find with this kind of thing.

Honestly, I was more invested in the Imperial side of the campaign. I just found the other pilots in Titan squad to be more engaging and interesting. Whilst Vanguard squad was a bit too…we’re the good guys and we’re going to save the day, if you follow my meaning. So, despite them getting the A-wing, I spent most of my time during their sections wondering how long it would be before swapping back to Titan squad compatriots. Not that Vanguard’s sections were bad, just that Titan was more engaging.

The Verdict

It’s actually surprisingly difficult to say all that much about it one way or another. There are no real complaints, with only a few things that stand out as being genuinely impressive. It’s just a generally solid, fun game to play.. All in all, Star Wars: Squadrons is a budget title in all the best ways. It hasn’t tried to outdo itself, hasn’t overextended and has focused on creating a tight, well focused and fairly well polished, arcadey flight sim. It’s easy to jump in for a single round, with them averaging about 20 minutes, but engaging enough that you can sink in hours at a time. It’s just an all around good game.

Case Review

  • Middle of the Road: Squadrons is just an all round solid game, nothing truly excels, but everything delivers.

  • Simplicity: Ship components offer enough to not feel shallow, without being overwhelming.

  • Online: A multiplayer focused game means dealing with other people, and everything that entails.

  • Speed: At range almost non-existent, but up close you feel like a bullet.

  • Campaign: It feels a bit disconnected from the main bulk of the game, but that’s a very minor complaint.

4 Score: 4/5
A really solid, fun and easy to play Star Wars flight sim.


  • Accessibility: Continuing their trend of catering to as wide a playerbase as possible, there are a lot of ways to tweak the game to enable an easy play experience. Various colourblind modes as well as UI scaling are particular standouts.
  • Controls: There are a few quirks that make tweaking your gameplay experience easy, whilst everything else is just what you'd expect. Customisable controls, full controller support and nothing overly complex.
  • Game Options: Squadrons has a robust suite of graphical options that allow for quite a wide degree of customisation. It’s also rather well optimised, so even lower end rigs shouldn’t have much trouble running it at max settings anyway. Anti-aliasing and sharpening options, in particular, allow for an impressive image quality even when other options are reduced.


3 Score: 3/5

Star Wars: Squadrons was supposed to be a return to the old days of Star Wars flight sims like X-Wing and TIE Fighter. Instead we got an arcade style space shooter with no mouse deadzone option. For all my misgivings, I did have fun with the game’s campaign – the Imperials especially, mainly because the good guys are just one good guy trope away from winning the TVTropes bingo. The Imperial team are much better characters, well fleshed out within the constraints of the story, and with more interesting objectives in most of their missions too.

Multiplayer was always intended to be the meat of the experience though and for a budget title it delivers pretty well. The maps could use more variety, literally half of them are just open space with a different skybox and may as well have just been a single map. Ships show way more variety with each feeling unique and capable of an impressive amount of variance in their capabilities when you get into customizing your shields, weapons, hull, and engines. All customizations have a trade-off; more speed for less hull, more shields for no recharge if they’re broken. Except the X-Wing pulse laser which is just a straight upgrade and feels way more powerful than the other primary weapons available.

My personal experience with the game has largely been negative. While I initially had fun with it, the multiplayer mode’s issues of bad matchmaking, near weekly server issues, bad hit detection, and players disconnecting literally every single game. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got a well balanced game, if you lose one of your team you just don’t have enough ships to keep up with the enemy and you might as well quit and try again. With all that in mind, my recommendation comes with one more caveat: if you can pick it up for sub 20 quid, you’ll get your money’s worth easy.

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