Why Star Wars: Squadrons has me so hyped

Star Wars Squadrons Lasers
Star Wars Squadrons Lasers (Image credit: Electronic Arts)

With Star Wars: Squadrons revealed, rocking beautiful graphics, deep customization, and frantic dogfights, many people are indeed paying attention. And thanks to full VR support from launch, no doubt many with head-mounted displays (HMD) sitting dormant are eagerly awaiting a new AAA title to jump into. I'll admit my interest in donning the VR headset and charging the batteries for my controllers has waned in the last few months, but seeing this beautiful gameplay has me shopping for HOTAS controllers and marking the calendar for an expected October 2, 2020 release.

Hype for a new Star Wars game

Any time a Star Wars game is released there is massive fanfare. Just look at (the second version of) Star Wars Battlefront II, which before turning itself around to become a genuinely great time today, reignited ongoing controversy over the ethics of loot boxes. With Star Wars: Squadrons, we're going back to a period immediately following Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, which many of us remember a lot more fondly than any time to do with the prequels and sequels.

People are capital 'P' Passionate about Star Wars, and I completely understand. I played days worth of the original Battlefront II and, more importantly, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and they're both still installed on some old PCs if I'm in the mood for a nostalgia break. I'm still undoubtedly not in as deep as a lot of fans, but I certainly snapped to attention at the sound of laser cannons and ion engines.

The game is being developed by EA Motive, the same team that helped with the development of vehicles in the remake of Battlefront II. It is, of course, being published by EA, which doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to releasing games in a finished state. Still, if it's anywhere near what the gameplay trailer makes it out to be, this is going to be one fun ride for anyone, no matter the platform. And since it's going to support crossplay, you'll be able to play with all your friends.

Native VR support from launch

Source: Nick Sutrich/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich/Windows Central)

An official Star Wars game centered solely around dogfighting is a huge deal for standard 2D gaming, but being able to actually feel like you're sitting inside the cockpit of the legendary spacecraft will be something else entirely. Whereas a lot of high-profile games will vaguely mention VR during development and perhaps add it after launch, EA is going all in with native VR support right from the start:

With full Virtual Reality (VR) support throughout the game and a cockpit view, you'll feel part of the action like never before.

The same support page goes on to mention full controller, joystick, and HOTAS support. That's great and all, but it's a shame there's no mention of motion controller support. Being able to reach out and adjust gauges, grab flight sticks, and flip down targeting systems would truly be awesome. Maybe that will come at a later time, but for now setting up a HOTAS system will suffice.

There's also the oddity of EA recommending PSVR or Oculus platforms despite the Steam page listing HTC Vive and Valve Index as other compatible platforms. There's no word on whether Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) will have official support, though the lines continue to be blurred since SteamVR integration and Valve's help designing HP's new Reverb G2 WMR headset.

All VR systems should technically be able to handle the game, and with cross-play enabled there should be no shortage of players to fill games without delay.

Star Wars Squadrons Gameplay

Source: EA (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: EA (screenshot))

I played a decent amount of Elite Dangerous with a display strapped to my face, and I was also one of the first to try and get No Man's Sky working with an HTC Vive using VorpX. Unfortunately, No Man's Sky was a disaster when it launched, but it has since been reworked into a stellar game with native VR support.

While Elite Dangerous is a dangerous time-suck that you can lose months of your life into, especially in VR, No Man's Sky — at least the spacecraft parts — is more arcade-y and doesn't exactly deliver the same competitive gameplay loop that something like Star Wars: Squadrons appears to focus on.

That's a good thing for Squadrons. Being able to jump into a dogfight with nine other players, all the while enjoying beautiful graphics and high-quality sound, should be quite attractive for a lot of VR users who don't really want to spend hours at a time wearing an HMD. I found both Elite Dangerous and No Man's Sky to be dangerously addictive, requiring hours of time to really get going. If Star Wars: Squadrons can nail the combat and offer an unlock system that's fair, it should prove to be the next big thing for VR.

It's been a long time since we had a full-fledged space fighting game in the Star Wars universe, and it's been awhile since I was this hyped for a AAA game. If EA releases the game with polish, it's going to be something special.

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Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.