Greetings Dark Jedi Brotherhood!
I guess a game came out this weekend?
Star Wars: Squadrons seems to be getting a bit of buzz even outside of the fandom. I think with good reason, it is a very solid game. I’m not going to say that it is life changing but it seems like a pretty solid value, even for those of us who are not flight sim super fans.
It’s just too bad this game won’t meet our requirements for support. The score screens don’t have the information that we need and there are major issues with reporting the different modes to the club site. It is really too bad because this is a very good game that only costs $40 that is cross-platform and multiplayer. We were so close to having a new Star Wars platform but it seems the developers didn’t consult with us before rolling this out. Maybe in the future they will make the changes needed so that we can support it.
Not sure if anyone actually fell for that but I was obviously kidding. The game is ready to rock for our purposes.
On to the actual report.
I will go into some detail about the different modes further in the report but for those just looking for the details on support here are the basics:
Fleet Battles vs. AI (PvE): Four Clusters of Earth per round. Modifiers for groups size are 2-3 member groups and 4-5 member groups.
Ranked Fleet Battles (PvO): Four Clusters of Fire per round. Modifiers for groups size are 2-3 member groups and 4-5 member groups.
Dogfights (PvO): Two Clusters of Fire per round. Modifiers for groups size are 2-3 member groups and 4-5 member groups.
For more information, please see the Supported Games wiki page.
I will be keeping an eye on these but any adjustments would be at most up or down one cluster in total value. I am also going to add Pendant of Blood support when I have more data on player progression.
Both modes include two squads of five pilots on each team. The main difference is the objective and victory condition of the match.
Fleet Battles: Each side starts with one large flagship, two frigates and a corvette. There is generally something in the middle of the map, like debris or a space station, that allows for some great dodging/chasing. Each side also spawns AI starfighters that are worth points but much less than player pilots. To destroy the enemy flagship there are a few steps you need to progress through:
Acquire Morale: To begin a battle or to push the enemy attackers back you have to gain morale by downing enemy ships. Player starfighters are worth more than AI starfighters and the enemy corvette is worth the most.
Destroy Frigates: The enemy capital ship will not be vulnerable until the both frigates have been destroyed. Even if you could damage it, good luck. With player ships respawning on top of you, a swarm of AI starfighters and the guns of both frigates and the cruiser firing, you will not last long that far from your squad anyways.
Destroy Flagship: Easier said than done. The good news is that you can target different subsystems on the ship and the turrets. Shields do recharge if you don’t destroy the generators. There are also tractor beams that will send you back to your hanger bay quickly, especially when your speedy interceptor is now stationary.
Dogfights: Two squads of five again but no capital ships, no corvettes and no AI fighters. Much faster paced than fleet battles and the matches are general shorter as well.
A few other notes on match types:
AI or Matchmaking?: When it comes to choosing to play against AI or other humans, I am going with other humans right now. Normal level AI seems brutal right now as compared to people, almost omnipotent. AI seems to know immediately where you are at every moment and seems to be much easier to be sneaky against other people.
Ranked: Don’t let this scare you, it is literally the only way to play against other people in fleet battle mode. There is no ranked queue for dogfighting. So while ranked queues may have a bad reputation in other games I suspect it will be different in this game. There are quite a few tiers to climb so hopefully the lower ranking brackets should hopefully be a bit more calm than in other games.
I have been having a lot of fun and I have never been a flight sim enthusiast. I was not hyped for this game at all. But Motive has put together a game that, to the uninitiated like me, seems robust enough to satisfy hardcore fans of the genre while also being accessible enough for plebs like me.
The first thing that hooked me was the look and feel, they nailed the feel of the Galactic Civil War era. Outside of a few story missions in Battlefront, we are seeing ships up close for the first time that weren’t even thought of back in the TIE days. Flying alongside a Raider-class corvette into battle is very cool, for example. The Clone Wars were also only just something Obi-Wan mentioned in passing back in the TIE days and being able to flit around the wreck of a Ventator-class Star Destroyer is a nice little addition that makes the map feel like it belongs in the Star Wars universe.
For those who might be scared to pick the game up because they are like me and not flight sim experts, I would say "do not be afraid." While nobody would consider me dominant, I am more than holding my own in matches at a very modest skill level. I don’t feel like I am spawning and instantly dying, which was my biggest fear. My biggest tip, don’t be afraid to run! Especially in Fleet Battles, living to fight another day is very important. Giving morale to the enemy team either helps keep them on offense or helps push back your team’s assault. In the words of the late, great Graham Chapman (as King Arthur), “Run away!”.
I initially was kicking myself for not getting a flight stick, now that they are sold out many places, but I’m not having any issues using my gamepad. I haven’t dug too much into control remapping but they do seem fairly robust. If you are looking to push the highest levels of rankings, I’m sure a gamepad will become a hindrance. But, if you are like me and just want to enjoy a fun and authentic Star Wars experience don’t obsess too much over not having a $400+ HOTAS set up. You will still have a blast.
This game could have very easily been released as free-to-play with microtransactions. It could have even made more cash that way than charging $40 once but I appreciate the decision. All of the ship upgrades and cosmetic items are unlockable through regular play. Honestly, the bigger problem might be that people complained so much about DLC and microtransactions that fans of the game may regret that there won’t be much post-launch content. We'll see if the developers may have over corrected but that may have been a good idea after Battlefront 2.
My hope is that this is a bit of a proof of concept for them and we could see it flip into a fully-fledged sequel if it is successful. Not that I am pining for microtransactions but features like challenges against friends, custom maps (or missions!), more story and/or new eras would be highly desired in a follow up.
Want to see your name here? All you have to do is host a club-wide gaming competition.
October 2020 GMRG Competitions hosted by the Fist office.
Star Wars: Squadrons Launch Party hosted by the Fist office.
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Regards (and Happy Flying),
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