Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Star Wars: Squadrons a new Rogue Leader?



When Star Wars: Squadrons was announced from EA Motive, I didn't know what to expect!

Microtransactions blighted Star Wars Battlefront II at launch, before a 180-degree u-turn under pressure from Lucasfilm's parent company Disney, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order triumphantly emerged from the dark side to top many Game of the Year (GotY) lists for 2019. Fans (myself included) are hoping for a sequel from Respawn Entertainment.

Was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a one-off return to form for a franchise with a storied gaming history from Atari coin-ops and 8-bit arcade clones such as 3D Starstrike for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (you could imagine your Quickshot II Turbo joystick as the yoke of an X-wing fighter) to the founding of Lucasfilm Games in the early eighties? Could Star Wars: Squadrons be a Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for a new generation?

When Star Wars: Squadrons appeared as a 10-hour free trial for EA Play subscribers, I breathlessly donned a flight suit in search of a starfighter simulator worthy of classic LucasArts' X-wing and TIE Fighter. To my unalloyed joy, I discovered a first-person flight simulator that didn't induce motion sickness - always a plus - and managed to evoke cherished memories of playing Star Wars Arcade during student nights at SegaWorld, Bournemouth.

The prologue introduces a single-player (SP) campaign, set, like Star Wars Battlefront II, in the wake of the destruction of the second dreaded Death Star (Return of the Jedi), where you play as the New Republic and scattered Imperial forces. The opening mission is filled with fun Easter eggs and rich characterisation wrapped in spectacular visuals. Especially if you have PlayStation VR (PS VR).

Grahame Alexander Robertson, friend and fellow Star Wars fan, shared his firsthand experiences of PS VR: "By rights, it should be a PS VR system seller. Probably the best VR experience on PS4 by a long stretch. Sitting in the cockpit of iconic Star Wars ships, reading and responding to the controls, and flying them... isn't that the dream? The thrill of dogfighting over the bow of a Star Destroyer is visceral. The fact they've added genuinely fun and story-driven missions just adds to the experience. Best played with headphones to complete the experience of fellow pilots shouting instruction and encouragement..."

Grahame pointed out that The Mandalorian DLC adds new cosmetics including The Child AKA Baby Yoda from today. A timely addition with the second season premiering this Friday, directed by series showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man), exclusively on Disney+.

I'll continue to play the campaign once the full game is on EA Play (bundled with Game Pass Ultimate from 10th November). But, it's abundantly clear the single-player Force is strong with this one. In the meantime, as The Sims 4 is included with EA Play, I'm going to get Star Wars Journey to Batuu.

Classic LucasArts titles Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango will be available from Thursday. Following the news of Cyberpunk 2077's latest delay, these, along with Destiny 2: Beyond Light, will keep my busy this November on Game Pass Ultimate.

Are you playing Star Wars: Squadrons? Let me know in the comments below.

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