How to drift in Star Wars: Squadrons

(Image credit: EA)

There's a mission early in the Star Wars: Squadrons campaign that tries to teach you how to drift—a fancy flying maneuver that you can use to pull a 180-degree turn at maximum speed. Like in racing games, drifting is a useful trick in Star Wars: Squadrons. But that tutorial doesn't do a good job of teaching you how to drift.

I spent at least five minutes trying over and over again, unsure of what I was doing wrong. The good news is that pulling off a drift in Star Wars: Squadrons is actually quite simple. Nail it once, and you'll be able to repeat it with ease.

Here's a quick guide to getting drifting right, and getting past that clunky campaign tutorial.

Star Wars: Squadrons - How to drift

Drifting in Star Wars: Squadrons is an important move for dogfights. Pulling off a drift could easily make the different between life and death as you shake an enemy fighter that's right behind you, or unexpectedly about-face and take them head-on.

To be able to drift, there are just a couple prerequisites. First, transfer all your power to engines and set your throttle to full. Let your boost meter build up for a couple seconds (you can tell how much charge it has by looking at the yellow bar next to the speed gauge in your cockpit).

Once you have a little boost built up, press the boost key. On a HOTAS, it's important to press boost, not hold boost. Your speed will increase and you'll hear a noise signifying your engines have just gone into overdrive.

Now, when you're ready to drift, smash the joystick hard in any direction and hold the drift button to drift. On a HOTAS, by default this is actually the same button as boost. On a keyboard, it's a bit different—you hold down the Shift key, which is different than the Boost key (Spacebar). It's also different on a controller—by default, you hold Right Trigger to drift while boosting (clicking in the left stick).

Your ship should quickly spin around, but if you're not sure you nailed it, there are some telltale audio cues. Your pilot may let out a quick "Now this is podracing!" style whoop. But you can also hear your engines make a dramatic noise as they go from full-blast to zero power momentarily, and the yellow boost gauge in your cockpit will flash.

After a couple practice tries, it should come naturally. And don't forget, you're in space—you don't have to just drift to the left or the right. Try upside-down!

How to get past the Squadrons drifting tutorial

There are three problems with the drifting tutorial in Mission 3: Through Enemy Lines:

  • The VO from fellow pilot Keo tells you "When you're ready, turn as hard as you can and then cut your engines to drift," but if you're playing on a flight stick, that's not actually what you do with the controls.
  • The VO makes it sound like you need to start drifting before you reach a particular waypoint and drift into it, but you don't.
  • If you get it wrong, Keo just says you'll get it next time, but there's no indication of how you messed up.

(Image credit: EA)

Here's how you do it right. Line up at the first waypoint with all power to engines, and then boost, aiming for the second waypoint. Your path should take you underneath the bottom-left corner of the Star Destroyer's bridge.

Keep all power to engines and fly straight into the the second waypoint without turning. Once you reach the second waypoint, the game will pause, and give you an on-screen prompt for how to drift.

Now follow the on-screen instructions to drift.

(Image credit: EA)

You don't move your throttle at all, despite Keo's confusing instructions. Instead, you hold down the boost button while turning hard on the joystick. And bam—you should be all done, and ready to fight some more TIEs.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).