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Star Wars: Squadrons: everything we know about the space combat sim

(Image credit: EA)

Star Wars: Squadrons is zooming into hyperspace soon, bringing a fresh combat-focused Star Wars space sim to the PC for the first time in more than 20 years.

EA calls Star Wars: Squadrons "the definitive Star Wars pilot experience." It's an exciting pitch for people who've been waiting for a dedicated starfighter game, with a focus on ship simulation and dogfighting over lightsabers, since 1999's X-Wing Alliance.

Squadrons doesn't just look like a return to the classic style of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: It takes inspiration from '90s Star Wars games while simultaneously trying a lot of new stuff. The story is set around the original trilogy and the ship cockpits look straight out of (a much prettier) TIE Fighter, but there are also customizable pilots and tons of new weapons to unlock over time to lure in players today. Strap in for everything we know so far about Star Wars: Squadrons.

What's the Star Wars: Squadrons release date?

It's coming soon. Star Wars: Squadrons was only announced in June, but it's coming on October 2, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

On PC there will be plenty of places to buy it: The Epic Games Store, Steam, and Origin. Squadrons will also feature HOTAS support and be playable in virtual reality at launch for PSVR and PC VR headsets, though we don't have any details on headset compatibility for VR yet. It also features full cross-play, so you can squad up with your friends regardless of console.

Here are the Star Wars: Squadrons trailers

Two trailers for the game are out now: the reveal, and a gameplay breakdown which explainshow this game is actually going to play. Check them both out, and keep your eyes peeled for some familiar character Easter eggs…

(Image credit: EA)

What kind of game is Star Wars: Squadrons? 

Star Wars: Squadrons is a first-person space combat sim where you pilot a starfighter and blast away enemies with precision. Don't expect the simplified combat of Battlefront's ship battles.

There's a singleplayer mode in Squadrons, with two story campaigns for the Empire and the Rebellion, but the focus of the game is its multiplayer. Multiplayer includes a 5v5 dogfight mode and the signature mode, Fleet Battles, a longer, multi-stage bout that will be an intergalactic push and pull between two teams.

Fleet Battles are also 5v5, but with more structure than regular dogfights. To win, you'll have to make it through three stages of a battle, first winning a dogfight, then bombing an enemy capital ship, before finally attacking a giant flagship and destroying its weak points. Star Wars: Squadrons' multiplayer is built around online play, but you'll also be able to play with and against AI pilots instead.

Squadrons isn't aiming to be a realistic space flight simulator. In an interview with Polygon, creative director Ian Frazier said "When you look at our flight model, your ships don’t move like a ship would actually move in space because ships in Star Wars don’t move like ships would move in space. They move like ships move in Star Wars. There isn’t any real one moment in the cinematic history, to really go back to your question. There’s no one specific moment. We’re really looking at the classic trilogy, elements of Rogue One, and kind of puttin’ them in the stew, and then the game emerges." He describes the gameplay as similar to a WWII dogfight, citing inspiration from videos of aerial combat in World War II.

In both singleplayer and multiplayer you'll be able to play as pilots from the Empire or Rebellion, each with unique ships (though they all fit into the same classes). Squadrons is developed by Motive Studios, which also collaborated on Star Wars Battlefront 2, and will be running on the Frostbite engine, the same as the recent Battlefront games.

What are the starfighter options?

There are eight ships in Squadrons, and they're separated into four different classes. Before you start a match you're placed in a lobby with teammates where you'll be able to talk with your team and choose a strategy.

  • Fighters (X-Wing, TIE Fighter): The most balanced ships, ideal for dogfighting
  • Interceptors (A-Wing, TIE Interceptor): Quick and nimble fighters with lower defense
  • Supports (U-Wing, TIE Reaper): Help out your team and crowd control enemies
  • Bombers (Y-Wing, TIE Bomber): Slow but powerful ships that deal hefty damage to objectives

You'll be able to customize your ships and pilot with unlockable cosmetics and weapon types.

Will Star Wars: Squadrons have loot boxes or microtransactions?

Gamers everywhere can relax: Star Wars Squadrons isn't trying to be a live service game. Ian Frazier, creative director at Motive Studios creative, stated that Star Wars Squadrons won't have any microtransactions.

"We're trying to say with this game that we have a $40 price point, we want to feel generous to players, and we want it to feel like a complete experience. Like 'You gave us your $40. Here's a game that you will love. Thank you.' That's it," said Frazier in an interview with Game Informer.

How does Squadrons tie into Star Wars?

Star Wars: Squadrons is set just after the events of Return of the Jedi, and the main story will explore the state of the galaxy through two pilots named Case Kassandora and Rao Highmoon, one a member of the Empire and the other in the Rebellion. 

We know about a few Star Wars cameos already. You can catch a glimpse of Rogue Squadron's Wedge Antilles from the movies, and Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebels.

In the campaign and multiplayer you'll zoom past many new Star Wars space places including Esseles, the Nadiri Dockyards, Sissubo, Galitan, and the Zavian Abyss. But there will at least be some familiar scenery, like a battlefield in orbit of Yavin Prime, where the Rebels had their base in A New Hope.