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‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ review: an excellent game, made better in VR

Screenshot from ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’   | Photo Credit: Electronic Arts

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One of my favourite moments of Star Wars was when Luke Skywalker takes on the Death Star in his X-wing fighter, expertly piloting it into the claustrophobic walls of the shaft with Darth Vader hot on his trail. Lightsabers aside, Star Wars has always been about the giant space battles, as tiny Tie Fighters and X-Wings zip in between Star Destroyers. This was something I’ve always wanted to do and classic games like X-Wing versus Tie Fighter allowed that.

Now, Star Wars: Squadrons — which launched on October 2 — presents a new chance to fly space fighters, both on screens and in VR.

Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Developer: Motive Studios
  • Publisher: EA
  • Price: ₹2,499 on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC

In the ensuing chaos after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Empire is in turmoil, and the Republic has a new lease on life, taking the fight to them. The story masterfully jumps between the Empire’s Titan Squadron and the Republic’s Vanguard Squadron as they fight for control and freedom respectively.

Yes, you play a relatively unknown pilot, but the characters you encounter are big-screen worth it.

Otherworldly details

The story is interesting, but the stakes never get high enough to capture you. It is mostly standard fare, and you only get to experience it when you are in the hangar.

However, the beauty of the game happens when you are in the seat of your fighter. Squadrons, as a game, captures the feel and scale of a Star Wars space battle perfectly. Your little window out into space from your claustrophobic cockpit makes everything more real; I found just manoeuvring to avoid a star destroyer only to find another massive ship jumping in front of me to be visceral.

‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ review: an excellent game, made better in VR

Those familiar with the films would’ve seen the cockpits of these famous fighters, and the amount of detail that has gone into recreating them for Star Wars Squadrons is astounding. There are even tiny details like your pilot flicking little switches to bring the readouts to life. These details make dog-fighting a quasi-realistic experience as you glance at your readouts while manoeuvring to get your enemy in your sights.

Squadrons straddles that fine line between arcade style flying and fight simulation-like complexity. It is interesting how you can reroute power to your lasers or your shields or even your engines in the heat of the battle for that added defence or offense. The throttle is easy to use with the left stick, and things like de-accelerating quickly to make tight turns are critical to you not being blown to smithereens. As you play, you unlock the ability to set your own loadouts which is crucial to winning and finding your identity — especially in multi-player.

Screenshot from ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’

Screenshot from ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’   | Photo Credit: Electronic Arts

There is so much detail in each frame, with massive set pieces, that it is so easy to lose your target in the chaos. However, if you own a PlayStationVR or Oculus Quest, then this is the killer app that VR has been wanting for years. In this format the game takes on a whole new dimension. Turning your head lets you see the entire cockpit of the different spaceships you get to fly. Dogfights are made more real because you can make use of peripheral vision and all your senses to peel those layers of chaos. This game is best played in VR, and if you do own a flightstick, that is an added bonus.

Electronic Arts has been really doing their Star Wars games justice; from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to Squadrons, they have taken the mythos a lot further with excellent storytelling and incredible gameplay. While we have covered mostly single player with Squadrons, it also does have a robust 5v5 multi-player which is as engaging. Squadrons is an excellent game, made even better in VR, with a lot of organic ‘OMG’ moments to be had.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 3:48:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/gamespot-review-of-star-wars-squadrons-a-video-game-by-electronic-arts-made-better-by-vr/article32773602.ece

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