During today's EA Play livestream, publisher Electronic Arts and developer Motive Studios pulled back the curtain on Star Wars: Squadrons, an exciting new experience set in a galaxy far, far away. I also talked to Motive Studios about the project, and put together a breakdown of all of the key questions you are likely seeking answers to. Here's everything I learned:
What is It?
Star Wars: Squadrons is a space-combat game that delivers a single-player campaign and various multiplayer modes. Outside of seeing your character in cutscenes and in lobbies, you will never leave the cockpit once combat commences. It's all about dogfighting and living the Star Wars spaceship fantasy.
When Does it Release?
What Systems will It Be On?
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
What Star Wars Era is It Set In?
The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Battle of Endor is over, and the galaxy is now looking for order. The game is set between the original and sequel trilogy, yet retains the classic aesthetic for ship and troop designs.
What are the Multiplayer Modes?
If players just want to battle it out for kills, Dogfight mode is the avenue of play they’ll want to embrace. Dogfight Mode is a 5v5 battle with respawns, weapon loadouts, and is determined by kill counts. Star Wars: Squadrons’ signature mode is called Fleet Battles. Designed as multistage conflicts, Fleet Battles begins in a social hub that is used to devise strategies. Once you figure out what your team wants to do and launch from the hangar, you are tasked to push a frontline toward the enemy’s side. Depending on which way the line is moving, you must attack or defend two medium-sized capital ships. If you succeed on the offensive end, the final goal is to take out a flagship (like a Star Destoryer), beginning with its subsystems: shield generators, power system, and targeting system. When the flagship falls, a victor is crowned.
Can I Play Fleet Battles Single Player?
Yes, if you want to go it alone or just with a friend or two at your side, you can battle against A.I. opponents. If you battle A.I. the rewards won't be as great, but you will get something.
Where are the Maps Set?
EA Motive has announced six maps. The war will move from the gas giant of Yavin Prime to the shattered moon of Galitan and over to the icy ring of Essles. You'll also travel to Nadiri dockyards, a debris field near Sissubo, and to the Zavian Abyss. All of the maps are set in space, yet there's a chance they grace a planet’s atmosphere. None of the maps are set in terrestrial areas, meaning you don’t have to worry about crashing into the ground. Asteroids, debris, and ship hulls are still a concern, however.
What is the Single-Player Story About?
Little is known about the overall conflict, but the trailer above details one of the Empire’s missions: The New Republic is working on a top-secret Starhawk project, and the Empire’s spies have gotten word of it, and are sending in a team to investigate.
Who Do I Play As?
You’ll suit up as pilots in both the New Republic and Galactic Empire. These perspectives are used for multiplayer and the single-player campaign. You'll switch between the Republic and Empire from mission to mission in the campaign. For the New Republic, you will be following the pilots of Vanguard Squadron, and for the Empire your viewpoint is through Titan Squadron. Your co-pilots are characters created by Motive and Lucasfilm, but your viewpoint for both sides will be through characters you get to create. You can freely change these pilots' looks and attire. Motive Studios says you can select an alien as your character, but no alien languages (with subtitles) are in the game.
Can I Switch Ships?
While it’s in your best interest to figure out which ship syncs best with your team’s needs in the pre-match lobby, you can always retreat to the hangar mid-battle to change your vessel. You also get this option if you are shot down.
What is the Viewpoint?
Unlike most space or aerial combat games, Star Wars: Squadrons is only playable from the first-person perspective.
Which Republic Ships Can I Pilot?
The iconic X-Wing is front and center and is a part of Star Wars: Squadron’s “fighter” class of ship, which just happens to be the most versatile class. The X-Wing is well balanced in firepower and toughness. The A-Wing falls into the “interceptor” class, which are lightning quick and can maneuver through tight spaces. The A-Wing is a great choice for hunting down rival craft. The U-Wing, which debuted in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is the support class, delivering plenty of toughness, and according to the trailer, can keep allies “safe and stocked up.” The Y-Wing is of course the heavily armored bomber. You’ll want to use it against enemy flagships.
Which Imperial Ships Can I Pilot?
The traditional TIE Fighter falls into the fighter class and is balanced similarly to the Republic’s X-Wing, but has the edge in speed. True to its name, the TIE Interceptor is the Empire’s interceptor class option. The TIE Reaper, which is traditionally used to transport troops, is the Empire’s support class choice. The TIE Bomber is slow, but delivers plenty of firepower and fits into the bomber class.
Can I Customize My Ship?
As you progress through the story and multiplayer ranks, you’ll earn all two currency types that can be used to purchase all sorts of cosmetic items for your ship, including exterior paint colors, and interior cosmetics, like an Ewok bobblehead that sits next to your displays. Although you can only play the game from the first-person perspective, you can watch the action from the third-person viewpoint when you aren’t on the sticks. You can also unlock over 50 loadout components to change how you ship functions in battle. The components alter how your ship flies, fights, and survives. You can unlock things you wouldn’t expect like tractor beams and mines.
Can I Pick My Own Droid?
Sadly no, Star Wars: Squadrons’ ship upgrades don’t include different droids to pick from.
What Instruments Work on the Cockpit?
All of your heads-up display needs are built into the cockpit. In the center, you’ll find a circular screen that serves as the combat display. To its right on a triangular screen is the ship status indicator that tells you how your shields and hull are holding up. To the left of the combat display are two meters that monitor speed/throttle and power management. Above these meters is a triangular radar sensor that shows you where all of the objectives and ships are. At the top of the display is your ammo meter that shows laser charge and component counts for bombs and torpedoes.
Can I use a HOTAS rig?
The PC version fully supports joystick use as well as hands-on-throttle-and-stick rigs. We still don't know if this is an option for console.
Is There Crossplay?
Yes, you can play with any other players on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Can I Play in VR?
Yes! The PlayStation 4 and PC versions both offer VR support. If you are playing in VR, you can still battle against other players who are not, even through crossplay.
Are There Microtransactions?
Although you are earning two currency types that can be used to purchase goods as you play, you cannot spend real money on any items or to buy more currency. The game also doesn’t have a battle pass system, and as of now, Motive Studios isn’t looking at Squadrons as a living game. All of the planned content is in the game on day one.