When is Star Wars: Squadrons coming out?
What platforms will Squadrons be on?
Watch the Squadrons trailers
Shortly after the game leaked on the Xbox Store, EA formally revealed it with this announcement trailer:
The company then followed it up with a full gameplay trailer that reveals more concrete details about how Squadrons plays:
Finally, this isn't really a trailer, but it's much better. Hunted is a CGI short film made in collaboration with Motive Studios, Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light & Magic. Set before Squadrons, it introduces Titan Squadron leader Varko Grey, a TIE pilot who you'll fight alongside during the Imperial half of the game's campaign. Oh, and it has some of the best dogfighting we've seen from anything Star Wars in quite some time:
What will gameplay be like?
As the name and concept art give away, Squadrons is an aerial combat game that follows in the footsteps of the classic X-Wing series, right down to setting it all in a first-person perspective, with the game's UI represented within the controls and displays of the ship itself.
Unlike those games it's set after the original trilogy, though not by much. It takes place just months after the events of Return of the Jedi, with the remnants of the Empire fighting for revenge against the Rebellion - now the New Republic.
The game includes a single-player campaign in which you'll alternate between the two factions in a story that includes cameos from the likes of Wedge Antilles and Hera Syndulla.
You'll play as both sides across the campaign, with the chance to customise your pilot for each faction - more on that later.
"The New Republic has only recently changed from a rebellion into a legitimate government with a galactic war on its hands," explains writer Jo Berry of the game's specific setting. "Meanwhile, the Empire has lost its Emperor, and the cracks are starting to show. Some Imperials are loyal, some are in denial, and while everyone agrees that the rebels must be destroyed, there are disagreements about what strategy to take—and who should lead."
The whole campaign will be first-person, like the rest of the game, and will also be fully playable in VR.
Ships and customisation
Across the campaign you'll get to control each of the eight ships included at launch, which are broken down into four categories:
- Fighters: X-Wing and TIE Fighter
- Interceptors: A-Wing and TIE Interceptor
- Support: U-Wing and TIE Reaper
- Bomber: Y-Wing and TIE Bomber
Each ship is also fully customisable, with over 50 different components to let you tweak the appearance, weaponry, shields, engines, and more, to make your fighter feel like your own.
Ship components are broken down into six categories:
- Primary Weapons
- Auxiliary (x2)
Note that some ships don't include Shield Generators, so will have one fewer customisation slot. Primary weapons, auxiliaries and countermeasures are all 'active' components, meaning they change your abilities: what weapons you can fire, whether you have missiles or a repair droid, or whether you use signal jammers or decoys to avoid enemy attacks.
Hull, shield, and engine components are all passive however - they'll just give you permanent stat buffs and debuffs, so you can balance how your craft flies. That gives you the chance to balance maneuverability and hull strength, or slot a shield that gives you extra protection against blaster fire but makes you more vulnerable to missiles.
There are also cosmetic customisations for both your pilots and your ship. You can customise each pilot's (one Republic, one Empire) flight suit right down to the gloves, along with different voice styles and heads - including unlockable non-human options for the New Republic side.
As for your ships, you can customise the exterior paint job and decals, but also the cockpit interior, with dashboard miniatures, knick knacks, holograms, and hanging flair.
The devs have confirmed that you can turn all of this off if you prefer hardcore accuracy to the films however, so there's an option to only see other players' starfighters in their default, movie-accurate states.
You'll be able to set up to five loadouts for each ship too, so you can quickly swap between loadouts during a match - though you can't create new ones on the fly.
There will also be more customisability for more advanced players. Once you've mastered the basics (or if you're just cocky from the get-go) you can turn off all UI elements except those shown on cockpit controls, or switch from the simple default power management system to a more complex one with granular power adjustments between your ship's various systems.
Once you've completed the campaign and mastered the eight ships, you'll be let loose on the game's multiplayer, which includes cross-play so it doesn't matter which platform you play on.
EA has detailed two modes so far. The first is Dogfight, a relatively simple 5v5 fight between two teams, in which the aim is simply to rack up kills.
Fleet Battles sound more exciting. These are multi-stage encounters that include a dogfight, followed by the chance to attack or defend two cruiser ships, and finally the attack or defence of a flagship.
Before each Fleet Battle you'll get the chance to meet up with your squadron in a social space to plan strategy and adjust your loadouts accordingly, before you head out into the fray. You can play this competitively, or simply run it as co-op against a team of enemy AI.
Finally, everything in the game will be unlockable simply through play through two currencies (one for cosmetics, one for mechanical components), with no plans for micro-transactions or DLC. EA hasn't ruled out adding more content down the line, but at launch at least you'll get the whole thing for your £35/$40.
VR & HOTAS
Squadrons should be even better on PC and PS4, where it will enjoy full VR support for the entirety of the game - both single-player and multiplayer.
EA has confirmed that the game will support every major VR headset, but curiously recommends PSVR or Oculus on an official support page. We're not sure if Oculus headsets will boast any additional features versus other PC headsets, but we know that both Vive and Valve Index are supported.
The game will also include full HOTAS (hands-on throttle-and-stick) controls on both PC and console. The PC support is baked in already, while the console support will be included in a day-one patch. EA hasn't yet confirmed specific stick support yet though.
For more exciting games to look forward to, take a look at the best upcoming games of 2020.