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Star Wars: Squadrons looks like the real deal, a first-person space combat sim to die for

The ‘definitive’ pilot experience, with optional virtual reality

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

On Thursday, Electronic Arts revealed the first gameplay trailer for Star Wars: Squadrons, the spiritual successor to the classic Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: TIE Fighter space combat simulations. The video, which is available on YouTube and embedded above, shows off the first-person, in-cockpit action.

Squadrons appears to take place after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and the destruction of the second Death Star. The game invites players to take flight in eight iconic starfighters and support ships, paired in evenly matched sets. Fighter-class ships include the X-Wing and TIE Fighter, while speeder Interceptor-class ships include the A-Wing and the TIE Interceptor. Bombers include the Y-Wing and the TIE Bomber, and the game’s support ships — both hailing from Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyinclude the TIE Reaper and the U-Wing.

The final game, which launches on October 2, will retail for $39.99. It will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam, Origin, and the Epic Games Store. Squadrons will also be playable — start to finish — in virtual reality, and will be compatible with PlayStation VR and PC VR systems, all with cross-play support.

In the single-player campaign, players will take on the role of the New Republic Vanguard Squadron and the Imperial Titan Squadron. In multiplayer they’ll have the opportunity to fully customize their pilots, including the facial features as well as their clothing. That customization also extends to the ships themselves, which players are free to paint in a variety of colors and with period-appropriate decals and other flourishes. Customization also can be applied inside the cockpit as well, with Elite: Dangerous-style bobbleheads and holographic doo-dads galore.

Stats for the TIE Interceptor and the A-Wing Fighter show fast, powerful ships without any shields. Image: Motive Studios, Lucasfilm/Electronic Arts
Image: EA Motive/Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm
Image: EA Motive/Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm
Image: EA Motive/Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

The trailer also states that the entire game — start to finish, and including all multiplayer modes — can be played inside VR. Outside of the PSVR system no other specific VR systems were mentioned, nor were alternate control devices such as joysticks and HOTAS (hands-on throttle and sticks) mentioned.

Multiplayer includes five-versus-five online gameplay in several different modes, but the most involved appears to be the mode called Fleet Battles. Here players vie for control of an entire battlespace through a series of linked attack and defense missions. The culmination is an all-out attack on an enemy capital ship, which will require the destruction of key components, such as the shield generator and targeting systems, to bring it down.

Fleet Battles will also be available as a single-player mode, or a cooperative mode, against enemy AI.

The narrative hooks to the larger Star Wars universe run deep, including cameos by Star Wars Rebels’ star Hera Syndulla and original trilogy ace Wedge Antilles. One cutscene in particular calls out the Nadiri dock yards while showcasing an MC75 Star Cruiser — the same model as the Profundity, commanded by Mon Calimari Admiral Raddus in Rogue One. The ship can be seen pulling in front of a massive Starhawk capital ship to screen the larger ship from incoming Imperial fire.

Image: EA Motive/Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

Action sequences of space combat included starfighters skidding in sharp turns as in Battlestar Galactica, and boosting into the fight as seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The in-cockpit HUD seems ripped straight from Star Wars: A New Hope, and features fully functional instrumentation. More than 50 ship modifications are available, including tractor beams, turrets, mines and more.

It’s worth noting that this is in-engine footage, but not all images that you see in this trailer will appear in game. We’ll know what makes the cut when when this game launches on October 2.

For even more details on the nuts and bolts of Star Wars: Squadrons, check out our interview with EA Motive creative director Ian Frazier.

Thrustmaster T16000M FCS HOTAS for PC

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Prices taken at time of publishing.

Thrustmaster is an old hand at flight sticks. Their 16000M series is compatible with games like Elite: Dangerous, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s also the control stick of choice for bounty hunter Din Djarin on Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian.

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