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How to win Fleet Battles in Star Wars: Squadrons

Stay on target. No, really.

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An Imperial squadron in the briefing room in Star Wars: Squadrons Image: Motive Studios, Lucasfilm/Electronic Arts
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.

Star Wars: Squadrons’ single-player campaign does a decent job of teaching players how to fly a starfighter. The game’s opening few missions slowly build in complexity, ramping up the difficulty nicely for new players. By contrast, the tutorial for Fleet Battles barely scratches the surface.

Your first few rounds of the five-on-five multiplayer mode will either drag on endlessly or go by in a frustrating blur. That’s because the Squadrons doesn’t do a great job of telling you when you’re going about things the wrong way.

In this Star Wars: Squadrons Fleet Battles guide, we’ve written a detailed tutorial to the complex multiplayer mode’s three main phases, and included our best tips for actually winning a round.

Tip #1: Communicate

A close-up of a New Republic pilot and her astromech droid inside an X-Wing. Four other ships of different makes and models pull up behind her. Image: Motive Studios, Lucasfilm/Electronic Arts

Communication is key to coordinating your strategy in Star Wars: Squadrons’ Fleet Battles. You don’t want to fill the airwaves with mindless chatter, however. No one cares if you just scored a glorious kill. As the late Han Solo said, don’t get cocky.

If you’re lucky enough to be playing in a party of five, then one person should be designated as the squadron leader. They should be giving the orders and calling out targets. Having more guns firing on a target — focusing your fire at a single point on the map — will go a long way toward pushing the battle in your favor. But so too will having everyone on your side stay alert. Every member of your squadron should be feeding back information and observations as needed. When the enemy changes up their strategy, be prepared.

How you communicate depends entirely on how many people you’ve got in your party.

If you’re going in with just a small group of friends, or you’re flying alone with a bunch of randos, it’s probably best just to turn off voice chat completely. Use a secondary system like a party, Discord, or even a mobile phone to stay in voice communication with your friends.

Make generous use of Squadrons’ in-game ping feature to call out targets for everyone else. Ping designates the target that you’ve got highlighted on your HUD and broadcasts it to everyone else on your team, allowing them to accept that target as their own.

Tip #2: Start with a dogfight

A TIE Interceptor chasing after an X-Wing in Star Wars: Squadrons Image: Motive Studios, Lucasfilm/Electronic Arts

When a round of Fleet Battles kicks off, it’s basically a jump ball. Have your squadron spend the opening moments of the fight shooting down as many enemy players as you can manage. That’s the best way to move the ticket counter in your favor. Keep your squadron together, and crash into the enemy line with as much firepower as possible.

Avoid the AI fighters at first if you can, since they don’t score you as many points. Once the majority of enemy players have been shot down, then you can swing back and pick off the AI while you wait for them to respawn.

There’s a few strategies that we’ve found that work well in these opening moments:

  • First, remember to angle your deflector shields to the front. It might not be a bad idea, actually, to take an Assault Shield along for the ride. It will beef up your forward shields and, when paired with a Repair Droid, can help you survive the first wave.
  • Next, remember that you can dumb-fire many of your missiles without locking on. If someone is screaming right towards you, end that game of chicken straight away by putting a Concussion Missile through their canopy.
  • You’ll also want to make use of the target my attacker feature. It’s a good way to figure out who’s actually shooting at you, and do your best to shake them if possible.
  • Finally, consider your primary lasers. Perhaps you’ll want to opt for burst-fire style guns, since you’ll have a nice, long look at the enemy in the first few passes. They can help you get more damage on the target in a hurry, but only if you’re at close range. There are also a few sets of lasers that work well at longer range. If you and the rest of your squadron have exceptional aim, you can take out a few fighters on the other side before they even get in range.

Remember that you can repair and rearm at the cruisers on your side of the battlefield. If you don’t get shot down in the first wave, your side will have a better chance of taking the initiative in the second phase of the battle.

Tip #3: Kill Raiders and Corvettes as soon as possible

A Corellian Corvette crosses the T in front of an Imperial Raider, and gets torn apart.
Cover art for Fantasy Flight Games’ Epic Multiplayer Expansion for the second edition of the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. It features a Raider and two Corvettes.
Image: Fantasy Flight Games

Depending on who wins the jump ball, the next phase of Fleet Battles focuses on an engagement between capital ships. If you’re playing on the Imperial side in Star Wars: Squadrons, you’ll be asked to neutralize two New Republic Nebulon B-class frigates. If you’re flying for the New Republic, your targets will be two Arquitens-class light cruisers.

If you’re on the offense, pick one or the other and send everyone in the squadron off to kill it. Focusing your fire is important, as it’s a footrace to bring one of the big ships down before the other side gains back the initiative. With the capital ship itself targeted, keep an eye on your dashboard to see how much life it’s got left. Targeting the individual turrets scattered across its surface will make attacking it easier, but isn’t necessary to get the job done.

During this phase, some smaller capital ships will jump into the system and begin orbiting the frigates or light cruisers. The Imperial ship is called a Raider (originally created for the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game), and the New Republic ship is called a Corvette (also known as a CR90 Corellian Corvette, it’s the same kind of ship that Princess Leia tried to outrun Darth Vader with in Star Wars: A New Hope).

If you’re on defense, destroy the Raider or Corvette capital ships as quickly as possible. Doing so will net you a nice bonus and help swing the battle back in your favor. If you’re on offense, you can use them and their shields as cover for your attack.

If you find yourself respawning during this phase, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a support ship or even a bomber. Use the Y-Wing’s Proton and Ion Bombs and the TIE Bomber’s devastating Beam Cannon to lower their shields and tear those capital ships apart.

Tip #4: Coordinate your attacks on the final capital ships

A diagram of an Imperial Star Destroyer shows each of its vital systems.
The shield generators, targeting systems, and power systems are all in different places on an MC75. Plan accordingly.
Image: EA Motive, Lucasfilm/Electronic Arts

When you finally get the green light to attack either the Imperial Star Destroyer or the New Republic MC75, time is of the essence. You’ll only have a limited window of opportunity to strike, and if you waste your ships in piecemeal attacks, then you’ll be left twisting in the wind.

Choose which component to attack first. Prioritize the shield generators and then the targeting system. The former will reduce the ship’s ability to protect itself, and the latter will reduce its ability to fight back.

Approach the big ships from the side and, if possible, in the company of other members of your squadron. Coming in head-on exposes you to more of the AI controlled turrets at one time, while presenting more targets to those gunners splits their fire more equally among you all. Jink left and right on approach — you’ll be surprised how well it spoils the AI’s aim.

Ignore enemy fighters and use components like the Assault Shield and powerful engines to break through their defensive line. Once you’re over the target, keep your sights locked on and do as much damage to the big ships as possible before you get blown up. If you do manage to survive the trip in, remember to angle your deflector shield to the rear on the way out. If you can survive long enough to make a second pass before getting shot down, you’ll bring your team closer to winning than if you have to start your attack run all over again from the other side of the map.

Finally, once you’ve whittled down a capital ship’s health, sections of it will begin to turn black and smoke. Don’t waste time targeting and firing on those sections of the ship as they won’t cause any more damage. Instead, look for the small, blue breaches in the hull that are venting gasses. You’ll be able to ping these breaches for other members of your squadron to hit, and target them with missiles at range. Keep at it, and you’ll finally bring the big ship down.

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