Star Wars for many of us have a special place in our hearts. From the movies to the games to the books. We all have our favorite moments and favorite characters that we just have a connection with. But not all the characters move like an alien or a person, but more in the line of spacecraft such as the X-Wing and Tie fighters. But does Developer MOTIVE Studios and Publisher Electronic Arts allow us to live out that Star Wars moment in glorious Virtual Reality? Right now, without a doubt, the answer is yes, yes they do. Let’s find more with Star Wars Squadrons for the PlayStation VR.
There have been many games over the years that gave us a chance to fly in our favorite Star Wars spacecraft from Star Wars: Tie Fighters to Star Wars: Xing series to many others. Back on November 16, 2015, we were given the fun of Star Wars Battlefront, but there was something even more in December of that next year as anyone who owned the game was able to play the free X-Wing VR mission. I still remember the first time being that close to seeing an X-Wing to actually getting in and seeing the detail of that X-Wing, from the controls to space itself. And after that glorious mission when I just had this amazing moment inside an X-Wing and the dust settled, I looked and saw the scores that to this day the leaderboard is still active and I have to say sorry PlayStation Brah…sorry.
I knew then that one day we would get the Star Wars VR battle treatment that we all have been waiting for and deserved and that light at the end of the many hopes and dreams came true with the release of Star Wars Squadrons. But where would this fall in the line with the movies, of the story that is Star Wars? If timelines are of any importance, Star Wars Squadrons are set after Return of the Jedi in split into different parts. For one, you have the story that is set between two perspectives between The New Republic and the Empire. The part is multiplayer, which we will get into in a minute. So as much fun as it would be to jump into a dog fight in space and trust me it is, it won’t help you or any of your other online teammates. So if you don’t want to look like a true rookie, it is strongly advised that you take the story mode.
I will say that being inside the Tie Fighter for the first time gives you a whole new perspective of what it would have been like in the movies and really makes you appreciate the directive art style George Lucas has and why is so proud of the franchise. Continuing with the story mode, you are actually playing from two different perspectives of two different pilots with each trying to their part in succeeding in the missions where The New Republic is trying to win the war against the Empir and the Empire trying to succeed and in doing so must stop The New Republic. It’s almost like an internal struggle in a way of good vs evil or light vs dark and that is why when given the chance to customize the two characters, I actually named them the same and made them look identical. But when you really start to switch between the perspectives you start to feel that good vs evil balance of playing on the good side then it switches to the evil side and dealing with whatever results of the mission the other side has progressed on.
What you will need to do is find the right control setup that works best for you. For me, I selected the left analog stick to be my pitch and yaw (up and down) and my right analog stick to be my throttle and rolling. Again, pick what’s best for you and the great thing is you can change it at any time. But it’s not all about just flying and hoping you have that killer shot, you will also have to focus on the shields, power, cycling targets, and weapon power. That’s why the first mission really gets your feet wet. And don’t worry if you crash and burn either by being shot at, hitting another ship, or getting too close to the burners, because when you come back, you start pretty much at the last checkpoint you reached.
In between the missions is when you can converse with the other characters and really start to understand what is going on. I will say that if you were hoping for the in between missions to be in VR, I am sad to say they are not. Not that it takes away from anything, in fact, when playing in VR and it shows a cut scene it’s almost like watching a movie with the power of VR, you get that big screen movie experience.
But I understand with a game like Star Wars Squadrons, that many players want to get into the action and have that battle experience. So with that said, let’s talk about the multiplayer experience of the game. When you start you are given some options to decide upon, Quick Match and Multiplayer & Training. Even though you can jump into a quick match, you may want to go through some of the training because it’s a different game out there in space when AI is replaced by real players. In the Multiplayer & Training, you have some options such as Dogfight where it’s 5 vs 5 combat aka The New Republic vs The Empire. In Fleet Battles, there are dogfights, and Morale is thrown in which you can build by eliminating players, the AI fighters, as well as destroying an enemy Raider, Cruiser, Frigate, or Corvette. But the real goal is to destroy the enemy’s flagship before they destroy yours.
When dealing with the multiplayer, you will need to pick your ship that hopefully will be the right choice for your style so you can win the war. Each side has 4 different ships. The New Republic has the X-Wing (fighter), Y-Wing (bomber), A-Wing (Interceptor), and U-Wing (support) and over on the Empire side, you have the Tie Bomber, Tie Interceptor, Tie Reaper (support), and Tie Fighter. But it’s not just the ship you get to pick, but your layout as well, which can come in handy if you have the right combination. And I will say even though my first match didn’t go the way I had hoped, in fact, I got slaughtered cause I was trying to go all in and take everyone out.
But that’s when I started to learn that no matter what, that sometimes going at it alone here, is not the best thing to do all the time. In my first couple of matches, which are a blast to be a part of, I started noticing how the other team would almost have a tag team partner waiting. So that’s when your maneuvering skills come into play. Not only are you trying to not get shot, but you also have to watch out for missiles, which you can evade, but that is going to require you to move and get up close with other materials such as asteroids to move around in and out of. But maneuvering and shooting are not going to be the only things you will need to worry about while flying and dogfighting, because you have to worry about your shields, power, boost, and weapons and when to shift power to those areas. So it does take some strategic thinking when playing.
Oh, I also wanted to mention that when you are customizing your ship, you can change things from the paint jobs to the holograms to even decorative pieces hanging from inside the cockpit that the more you can play that the more will have the option to become available.
There are some things that I wish were here and hope get added. For one, the cut scenes. I know it’s not in VR, but it would still give that extra bang if it was. I enjoy the movie like experience, but would love to see the immersion of the cut scenes in VR. Another thing is when you are talking with the characters I do love how there are these Star Wars references put in, but this is VR and I want to be able to walk around freely and see more of the detail that was put in up close and not just look at a certain point to move. And the last thing that I hope gets added at some point in the future is some DLC with additional ships, more places, and even some familiar faces.
Let’s look at the graphics. Developer MOTIVE Studio did an awesome job in the amount of detail that they added to make you feel like you are on these ships. From the controls to the holograms from inside to the radars, everything is as crisp and as sharp as can be. When you throw in the sounds from Star Wars that we all know as soon as we hear them, what those sounds are, and having them brought to life in both non-VR and Virtual Reality, Star Wars Squadrons is something that should not be missed.
Star Wars Squadrons gives us that Star Wars battle treatment that I and many of us could have hoped for and more. It’s has a heart in the story of as I mentioned earlier almost like an internal struggle between good and evil, light and dark that some of us can relate to on levels that some may never experience. But with enough belief, practice, and the right squad on your side, who knows how far you will go?
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have to go squad up.