Here’s something good to know: Ships in Star Wars: Squadrons are much harder to control than you might expect.
A bunch of embargoed previews and gameplay popped online early Thursday morning. It’s the first chance we’ve had to get a proper third party impressions of Squadrons, and a chance to see more of the flow of the game for ourselves. The videos below are still sanctioned through EA’s official Game Changers program, but combined with some local previews, they offer more context than we had before.
The main takeaways from all the footage I’ve seen so far: Firstly, the flying’s more complicated. It’s not as complicated as, say, Elite or Star Citizen, but it’s not as simplified as Star Wars: Battlefront 2‘s flying model either. No aim assist or leading indicators, either.
In the video below, the example given is from the A-Wing. The A-Wing has three different systems, and pressing 1, 2 or 3 will divert power from your engines, shields and armour. Maxing out the power on any system also enables different abilities tied to those systems.
So, if you max out your power, you can hit 2 on the keyboard, and it’ll enable an overcharge ability for your guns. Diverting the power to your shields — which can be directed towards the front or back with the mousewheel — gives you an overcharge shield.
There’s minute adjustments too, of course. But the systems are there for players to adjust between each system as they need them. Shifting shields to the back with the mousewheel, maxing out the power to get out of an enemy’s line of fire, quickly shifting power back to the guns for the quick half-second you have an enemy in your sights, readjusting things to get shields and power back on level, reassessing your position and the position of the enemies. There’s a nearby enemy capital ship, so shifting power again to the guns and blasting the hell out of that, before quickly pumping power and moving shields to the back as an enemy comes in to flank, lest you get a team-wide morale bonus.
Wait, there’s morale, you say?
So morale is a key factor in the game’s primary mode, Fleet Battles. As you take out enemy players, AI players, or AI-controlled capital ships like corvettes, you’ll get a team-wide morale boost. When that procs, you’ll be able to attack two defensive cruisers, guarding the enemy’s flagship.
As for the flagships, they all have their own subsystems that can be targeted individually. The situation can change too — the enemy can take out your own ships, or AI ships, and then you’ll have to circle back and defend your own flagship.
If you’re playing with a controller, left stick controls your throttle and roll. Pitch and yaw is controlled by the right stick, which is basically how Battlefront 2 played. The D-pad handles the handle management, with up sending power to weapons, down to shields and left to the engines, while right resets the whole lot.
The only kicker right now is that Squadrons looks like it’ll be launching with six “maps” — or locations, or whatever we’re calling where space battles happen. That’s fairly standard for a lot of games, but it might not be enough for some. We don’t know what the post-launch approach to content will be, especially since Squadrons is a smaller-scale Star Wars game from EA that’s not a mobile title.
Star Wars: Squadrons launches on PS4, Xbox and PC on October 2. I’m hoping it takes off, if only so it convinces EA to take more bets on a) smaller scale projects and b) the types of Star Wars games people have been asking EA to make since they got the license.