What Star Wars: Squadrons Needs to Survive and Thrive
Star Wars: Squadrons has been a surprising move from EA so far. Coming in for a more moderate price and without any microtransactions, it feels uncharacteristic for the publisher. However, the game isn’t without some issues. The biggest ones are obviously in fixing various bugs that have popped up since launch. The first two patches have been dedicated to this, including the one released yesterday. Thankfully, issues like players abandoning matches also seem to be on their radar, so that’s good. Yet, if Squadrons is going to move forward and have a happy and healthy community, it needs some other additions.
The fact that the game mode Dogfighting exists without a ranked mode seems like the strangest launch decision. It’s the multiplayer mode you have to play initially before you can even unlock the only ranked mode, Fleet Battles. As strange as that is alone, dogfighting conceptually is the core of the entire game. Giving that mode the attention it needs would spawn more competitive gameplay than anything in Fleet Battles. While player vs. player dogfighting is important in Fleet Battles, the prominence of AI always puts a damper on that. I’d love to see the numerous squadron compositions and strategies worked out in a 5v5 CSGO-style faceoff at various ranks.
Balance is one of the most important components of a good multiplayer game, but I put it second for a reason. Without a good way to evenly compare ships and strategies directly to each other, it’s hard to say where they really stand. Right now the support ships have a mediocre-at-best role for Fleet Battles, but their heals, shields and other tools may prove much more powerful in competitive Dogfighting. I wouldn’t want to see them become overpowered in Dogfighting just to give them more recognition in Fleet Battles.
I know EA has gained a lot of praise for stating there wouldn’t be DLC for this game. I can agree with that sentiment. However, many games thrive on post-launch DLC, and I found the story and experience of the singleplayer fun enough that I’d like to see more. It would be fascinating to explore stories potentially with new squadrons and pilots. There is so much Star Wars lore out there and I love getting into the Galactic War from this perspective. They could even bring in some battles on planets to expand the game. I believe that would warrant some kind of “expansion,” or what we call DLC these days.
Star Wars: Squadrons is leaning hard on Fleet Battles right now. While it does have a decent flow mechanic and some strategies that can be explored, it is only one mode. After the addition of ranked Dogfighting, more AI-bolstered action could be enjoyable. Perhaps an event like Battlefield Rush-type event where one team attacks with limited respawns and the other defends. There could be objectives that spawn in AI corvettes or something along those lines. Maybe another mode would be an AI onslaught that goes X number of rounds with a ship or station to protect. There are more ideas than I have reason to type, but they would all build out this game with its solid mechanics to work with.
If EA and Motive want Star Wars: Squadrons to be more than just that neat little VR game that justified their poorly-used exclusive license to the franchise, these are good steps. Having a dedicated starfighter game with a strong online component is something I am happy to finally see in the mainstream. I can only hope that over the next few months it grows with its community and becomes the game it has the potential to be.