• Aaron Mendoza

A Comparison of Recent Star Wars Flight Experiences to Star Wars: Squadrons

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

The goal of this article is to provide a spoiler free comparison of recent, official Star Wars games that feature flight to the newly released Star Wars: Squadrons. This article was written using a copy of the game provided to Skyward Flight Media on September 30th, 2020.

During the lead up to Star Wars: Squadrons, I shelved all memories and hopes tied to beloved flight games and simulators of the 1990s and 2000s. Not out of negativity, but to realistically base my expectations on more recent flight experiences provided by official Star Wars games produced after LucasFilm was acquired by Disney in 2012.

As someone that has played Star Wars: Battlefront (2015), the Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission (2016) and Battlefront 2 (2017) from their launch days to their final content updates, I fully expected the experience of Star Wars: Squadrons not to measure up to the more flight simulator like presentation it had shown in its trailers. This is not because I thought the advertisements were lies, but because there had not been a title like this produced for quite some time in the Star Wars intellectual property. The facts are that the flight simulator genre is just not as consistently popular as first person shooters, action adventure games and other genres. Put bluntly: the more arcadey the game is, the more accessible it would be to players of all skill levels and in turn the easier it is to sale and maintain a player base.

With that being said, I had approached Star Wars: Squadrons fully prepared to be somewhat let down and began examining the game with a few different categories in mind: Spacecraft Selection, Baseline Specifications, Flight Performance, Power Management System, Component Modifications and Virtual Reality.

Spacecraft Selection

Galactic Empire spacecraft roster.

Star Wars: Squadrons sticks to a lean and mostly iconic selection of starfighters. The four spacecraft of the Galactic Empire and the four spacecraft of the New Republic make up the full roster of the game. The eight spacecraft are frequently used by the frontline forces of each side, as seen in Star Wars movies, TV series, games, comics and other media. Since the story of the game revolves around frontline squadrons, it makes sense that the equipment they have access to reflects that.

While a particularly rare TIE Advanced V1 is seen in the game, it is not something players can fly or unlock later. There are also no special campaign missions where players take a one-time flight in a high profile ship like the Millennium Falcon or have to fly the dreaded unarmed transport mission. As cool as it would be to have something like a never mass produced TIE Defender in the roster, trying to justify that without breaking the built up lore of the Star Wars universe would be hard. The addition of new starfighters in the future seems possible without breaking game balance, but there are no announcements about that at this time.

New Republic spacecraft roster.

The eight spacecraft are split between Bomber, Fighter, Interceptor and Support roles. Though they are given these designations they are more than able to be pressed into other roles beyond their purpose built role. There is no arbitrary damage increase or reduction system built into the game that forces players to only use the spacecraft for what the game states they must be used for. The forward mounted blasters of a Bomber will shred an Interceptor just as well a Fighter's would. What these roles do is introduce specific customization modules unique to that class of spacecraft. More on that in a later.

The only spacecraft availability restrictions that appear in Star Wars: Squadrons occur in the single-player campaign, and only for certain missions. This is done to introduce players to each spacecraft class. Effectively acting as a tutorial during certain parts of the campaign. The online multiplayer experience has no limits to the type of craft that can be flown. If the player and their allies want to run a flight of Support craft during a Dogfight match, power to them.

In Battlefront 2015 players could select from either a Fighter or Interceptor in two game modes. That gave a total of four possible spacecraft with weapons, abilities and specs that were not too different from one another. They were limited to having one primary weapon system and two abilities. Each of these craft were only accessible with Vehicle Tokens. Meaning players had to locate and activate these tokens mid-game to then fly the vehicles. Bombers were non-player controlled units that would attack specific targets depending on game mode, but mostly acted as units to protect as they neared an objective. Other craft like U-Wings, and noteworthy ships like Boba Fett's Slave I were available.

Battlefront 2 expanded its roster to 17 standard starfighters with an extra 12 ships classified as Hero or Villain (H/V) ships that had heavily increased stats. The 17 standard starfighters were separated between the three major Star Wars movie trilogies and sorted into Bomber, Fighter, Interceptor. Meaning that at any given time, anywhere between 6 to 10 of these craft would be available - with that number being reduced even further depending on how many H/V ships are in play at one time. All of that translates to an frequent access to 2 or 3 ships per match with the possibility of flying an H/V ship. Depending on the craft, all ships had a primary weapon system with three to four abilities unique to them that sometimes included missiles, turrets or jammers.

While Star Wars: Squadrons has a smaller roster of craft available, they are developed to take advantage of their built in systems without leveling up abilities. The weaponry, hulls and engines they can equip is diverse, powerful, and adds to the more tactical approach of the game.

Baseline Specifications

TIE Interceptor

Star Wars: Squadrons puts actual numbers to ship performance with noticeable differences in turn-rate, acceleration, shield recharge and overall has a good balance between all eight spacecraft. Remaining in line with Star Wars lore, the unmodified stats of each spacecraft are further adjusted by faction with Galactic Imperial TIEs having better overall maneuverability and the New Republic craft being stable platforms that utilize energy shields.

Further modifications can impact the baseline performance of each craft positively in some ways but negatively in other ways, allowing for unique loadouts that can push these spacecraft into roles they were not purpose built for.

This is a huge improvement over Battlefront 2015 in which each Fighter and Interceptor shared the same flight characteristics with no modifications available. In Battlefront 2, the Bombers, Fighters and Interceptors also maintained the same turn rate, acceleration rate, maximum speeds and hull armor as dictated by their class.

Flight Performance

X-Wing cockpit details.