Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

Tech

Star Wars: Squadrons’ multiplayer is the space combat game I’ve been waiting for

Published

on

It’s been a rocky few years for multiplayer Star Wars games. In 2015, EA revived the Battlefront franchise only to deliver a beautiful but shallow arcade experience that didn’t require much skill. This was then followed up by an improved and expanded sequel, which only reached its full potential years after it was nearly immobilized by an industry-shaking microtransaction controversy.

Despite this, Battlefront II turned out to be one of my favorite Star Wars games. It received a batch of updates that I believe made up for its rocky start and kept me coming back. These updates were mainly focused on ground combat modes, leaving Starfighter Assault, its space battle mode, to go without an update since launch. While it was a fun mode, it largely relied on its spectacle and speed over engaging gameplay. It was fast, fun, and dumb.

Star Wars: Squadrons, EA’s new combat flight sim, slows down the pace and replaces the mindless one-button abilities with intricate systems that require moment-to-moment decisions and long-term planning. The ability to manipulate these systems, like power distribution and shield allocation, can separate the good pilots from the great.

Image: EA / Motive

Squadrons lowers the player count to 10, split between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire. Both sides allow players to select from four classes: the all-around fighter, the dedicated bomber, a speedy interceptor, or a team-focused support ship. Rebel ships come equipped with shields and generally have great visibility, which comes in handy in VR. Imperial ships, with the exception of the TIE Reaper, trade shields for the ability to immediately transfer power from one system to another, providing a complete laser recharge or full boost refill. They also have worse visibility, due to the classic TIE fighter cockpit design.

Within each faction, the classes all have a distinct feel. Some are more maneuverable, while others give and take more damage. Modifications to your ship’s components can bend one class to mimic the role of another. You could outfit your fighter to be more effective against capital ships, or you could tweak your bomber to be more effective against other starfighters.

These modifications always come with a trade-off, a theme that permeates throughout the rest of Squadrons. Every benefit has a drawback. In order to raise your top speed, you may need to sacrifice your overall health pool. This allows for a lot of personalization in your starfighters and really changes the way you play. Some loadouts may benefit from an aggressive mentality, requiring you to get in close and get out, while other kits allow you to move a bit slower and deal as much damage as you take. The variety of possibilities ensures that no two matches of Squadrons are exactly the same, and you have to be ready to adapt to any given situation. The starfighter with the steepest learning curve seems to be the support ships, which handle like big space boats and are a bit slower.

Image: EA / Motive Studios

The two main multiplayer modes in Squadrons are dogfights, a short team deathmatch-type game mode, and fleet battles, a multistage objective-based mode focused on taking down the enemy’s flagship.

Fleet battles is the premier mode of Squadrons. Two teams go head to head with the ultimate goal of taking down the other’s capital ship. However, both teams must go through the other defensive line of fighters, corvettes, and frigates in order to make the final approach. Each side must work to boost their morale in order to push the frontline forward; each kill gives a morale boost, while each death takes some away.

A fleet battle begins with an initial dogfight. This is where interceptors and fighters are handy. The winner gets a morale boost that propels them into the next phase, while the opposing team has to pull back and defend their frigates. These serve as defense structures and are extremely valuable. They keep the frontline away from your capital ship while also providing a resupply point during the attack phases. Losing one has real cost and can make attacking the enemy’s flagship much more challenging.

The constant push-and-pull nature of this mode makes it much more engaging than the linear hand-holding of Starfighter Assault in Battlefront II. I found myself clenching my controller as our Nebulon-Bs were on their last legs, swerving my bomber around, setting full power to my lasers to take down the incoming corvette. I feel like I have agency over a battle and can turn the tide of the battle based on how well I play my role.

Image: EA / Motive Studios

Both modes are played on the same six maps, with size variations for the two modes. They offer great variety, and most of them provide excellent cover. In one round as a U-Wing, I led my team around an asteroid just above a Star Destroyer, using the squadron mask ability to hide our bombers from their scanners, setting us up for a perfect bombing run on their shield generators. In another round, I placed a turret mine around the corner of a debris field, just in front of our frigate, providing covering fire that would hit enemy bombers in their blind spot. There’s nothing quite like weaving through asteroids, dodging missiles, and laying mines around the bend for your pursuer to encounter.

That’s at the heart of what could make this an exciting esport: the potential for clever plays and team tactics. But whether this game has the steam to stick around is yet to be seen. After nearly 60 hours, I can feel the charm of the maps wearing off. With no upcoming content announced, I’m not sure moving up the competitive ranks would be worth grinding on the same maps over and over.

Ranking has also been a bit of a hassle at launch. For one, if any player drops out of a game, your whole game immediately becomes invalid for ranking. You could leave the unranked match without impacting your competitive rank, but it would count as a loss on your pilot record. So you’re forced to play a whole match down one or more players or sacrifice your ratio hoping the next round is better. At this point, my ranking is completely bugged. As soon as I finished my qualifying rounds, my rank reset to zero and my end-of-round rank screen glitched, with XP counting up to infinity. These are understandable issues to have at launch, but it’s been a bit discouraging as someone eager to climb the ranks.

Squadrons is the Star Wars game I’ve been waiting for. It challenges players and makes them sink deeper into its mechanics to improve. It maintains the spectacle of the Battlefront games while relinquishing control over the action to the player, raising the stakes for each strategy and decision. The big question is whether this game will have a prolonged life, especially in esports. EA continues to say that it has no plans for future content, so the future of Squadrons may be in the hands of the fans. Some are already forming their own tournaments, like the Calrissian Cup and Operation Ace. They may be Squadrons’ only hope.

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Netflix will offer its library for free to Indian non-subscribers for a weekend

Published

on

Earlier this month, Netflix said that it’s ending the 30-day long free trial that it used to entice people into getting a subscription. Today, during its earnings call, the company stated that it’s exploring new ways for people to experience its library before they get a subscription.

The first test the streaming giant is performing is a free weekend-long trial. The company will start this experiment in India, where it’ll offer its service for free on the weekend of December 4, as reported by Protocol.

India is the first of many countries where Netflix will test this two-day “Streamfest” to hopefully gain more subscribers. The company would want to compete with Disney+ Hotstar in the market, which has more than 8 million subscribers in the country.

[Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election]

“We think that giving everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have, the service, how the service works, really create an event, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up. So we’re going to try that in India,” Greg Peters, the chief operating officer for the company, said on the earnings call.

Netflix has tried various ways to promote its service in a content-crazy market. Last year, it launched a mobile-only subscription plan for Indian users at ₹199 (~$3) a month. The company has also tested byte-sized weekly plans in the country starting from under $1 for a mobile-only subscription. The company also said it’s committed than $420 million to produce local content in the last couple of years.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

A long-awaited Willow sequel is official, and it’s coming to Disney Plus

Published

on

After years of silence, Disney has confirmed that Lucasfilm’s Willow will receive a sequel, in the form of a TV series coming to its Disney Plus streaming subscription service. The pilot will be directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ John M. Chu.

Willow has largely remained untouched since its original release in 1988, but this long rumored sequel will join existing novels and a comic book that previously built out the world of the film. The original can already be streamed on Disney Plus, and this new series will join The Mandalorian as Lucasfilm’s second television spin-off on the platform.

The 1988 film, directed by Ron Howard, was a cult hit when it first premiered, a fantasy adventure about an aspiring sorcerer named Willow (Warwick Davis) tasked with shepherding infant princess Elora Danan to safety alongside a ragtag group of fairies and warriors played by the likes of Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Kevin Pollak.

[embedded content]

Not much is known about the sequel series beyond that it takes place years after the original film, but Ron Howard, now an executive producer, describes it as a “creative lean-forward” rather than a “nostalgic throw-back.” Willow himself will return: Warwick Davis, also a beloved Star Wars veteran, is set to reprise his role.

For Lucasfilm, this Willow series comes after five years of focus on Star Wars exclusively. Now that the Skywalker Saga is wrapped, I’m curious to see what other classics the company might bring back if Willow succeeds. I’m particularly interested in an American Graffiti series; there’s definitely enough teenage angst for a TV show if Riverdale is any indication. And yes, Indiana Jones and Labyrinth are still in the mix too. A fifth Indiana Jones continues to inch its way to production. And while not affiliated with Disney, a sequel to Labyrinth from Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is also in the making.

Disney has made it clear that Disney Plus is the future of the company, and it needs all the new content it can get even with The Mandalorian returning for a second season and WandaVision on the way. A Willow series on Disney Plus, and perhaps other future Lucasfilm spin-offs, might help.

Though there’s no announced release date for this new series, the original film is available to stream on Disney Plus and remains as charming as ever. All the better for fans new and old to reacquaint themselves before the next adventure starts.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Quibi apps arrive on Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV

Published

on

Quibi, the troubled streaming service focused on “quick bites” of mobile-first content, has just launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Fire TV. The company quietly announced the change in an updated support article.

These apps follow Quibi’s ongoing attempts to get more eyes on its content after launching as a mobile-only app. The company first made content more shareable in May, and followed that soon after with AirPlay and Chromecast support.

Unfortunately for Quibi, these changes to the initial mobile-first strategy may have come too late. A new report in The Information claims that co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has attempted to sell Quibi’s programming to Facebook and NBCUniversal while telling others he may have to shut down the company entirely.

Quibi has struggled to scale since its launch, dealing with a lackluster reaction to its first collection of content and a drop in subscribers after its 90-day trial offered at launch ended. The pandemic has likely played a role in dissuading customers from resubscribing, but really Quibi has never made a great case for itself in the first place.

It’s great for Quibi fans that there’s multiple more ways to watch the service, but if the company doesn’t right itself, soon enough there won’t be any way to watch at all.

Disclosure: Vox Media, which owns The Verge, has a deal with Quibi to produce a show, and there were early talks about a Verge show as well.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending