On October 2, we can all take flight into space and live out our fantasies as Star Wars pilots when EA’s Star Wars: Squadrons finally launches. For those veteran players who are yearning for a hit of nostalgia, you will be glad to know that this new entry has a lot in common with the classic that is X-Wing and TIE Fighter. In a new developer update, we get a detailed explanation of how the power management system works in Star Wars: Squadrons, the different starfighter classes, and how the team is bringing these vehicles to life.
Your trusty steed
There will be eight starfighters at the players’ disposal:
- T-65B X-wing starfighter
- BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber
- RZ-1 A-wing interceptor
- UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft
- TIE/ln starfighter (“TIE fighter”)
- TIE/sa bomber (“TIE bomber”)
- TIE/in interceptor (“TIE interceptor”)
- TIE/rp reaper attack lander (“TIE reaper”)
Each starfighter will come with its own unique handling and functionality, but certain base features are similar across the board. Primary weapons, countermeasures, the hull outfitting, the engines, and two auxiliary abilities such as missiles or repair droid are standard. Some starfighters will also have shields. As long as you are relatively comfortable with one Starfighter, you will be able to competently pilot the others in Star Wars: Squadrons.
For players looking to get the most out of their systems, the power management system in Star Wars: Squadrons is integral to the experience. Power can be diverted to three subsystems: the engines, lasers, or shields. While balanced power will usually be enough, prioritizing a certain subsystem will increase its efficiency. The tradeoff is lower efficiency in other areas. By having a particular subsystem at max power will unlock a unique ability that is not available usually.
Maxing out your engines not only increases the top speed, but also grants a powerful speed boost. On the lasers front, they will recharge more quickly, and allow pilots to overcharge the lasers for more destructive power. As the Star Wars: Squadrons devs share, it also “you’ll have up to double the laser output available since you’ll first use the overcharge and then use regular laser fire.”
The New Republic ships and the TIE reaper will see shields recharge faster when power is maxed out, but also let you charge up overshields up to 200% for both the front and rear of the starfighter. In addition, you can divert the overshield on the front or the rear, leaving the opposite side vulnerable, depending on the situation. For the starfighters without shields, pilots can “instead use a power converter to rapidly divert all power from one part of the ship to another.” This is perfect for when “you need an immediate laser overcharge but are willing to have barely functioning engines, or an instant speed boost but with little to no offensive capabilities.”
Of course, there are always tradeoffs if you decide to have maxed out subsystems. It all depends on whether you need speed, power, or protection at the very moment. A simple button press will allow you to recalibrate the ship’s power to an evenly distributed state instantly. Or you can always opt for the basis, simplified power management system in Star Wars: Squadrons.
Your ship’s hull integrity is also an important part of the formula. As it does not regenerate like shields, damage to the hull can be life-threatening. To alleviate that, astromechs and repair systems can get you back to fighting shape. Returning to a hangar in your flagship will also repair your starfighter back to full health. Support starfighters can also help on that front, in addition to providing ammo resupply. Flying under an allied cruiser or entering your capital ship’s hangar will replenish your munitions as well.
Pound for pound
Starfighters come in four classes: Fighters, Bombers, Interceptors, and Support ships. Between the opposing factions, each class is relatively matched up perfectly. The big difference is shields, which only comes on the four New Republic starfighters and only on the TIE reaper. To balance things out, the other three TIEs will boast better speed, agility, and offensive capabilities.
For a balanced starfighter, look no further than the Fighter-class ships in Star Wars: Squadrons. While it is not particularly great in any specific area, its general usefulness will do well for any situation. When it comes to dogfighting, the Interceptor-class ships are the prime choice. They possess high speed and good damage, but are equally brittle. These glass cannons will do a lot of damage, as long as you can protect them or avoid dangerous situations.
The tankier Bomber-class starfighters can take it and dish it back out. When it comes to taking on enemy capital ships or cruisers, they are essential to the fight. However, they are not too shabby at dogfighting, either. Lastly, the Support-class ships will provide a solid foundation on which battles are lost and won. Aside from repairing and resupplying other ships, they have other capabilities in Star Wars: Squadrons as well. Tractor beams can slow or even stop enemies in their tracks, mines can be dropped to cordon off areas, the Support-class ships can even deploy turrets to help out.
A labor of love
With Star Wars: Squadrons putting players in the seats of starfighters for the entire experience, it is imperative that they feel authentic and just right. Not only do they have to look good, but their gameplay value and design mechanics have to integrate perfectly as well. Creative director Ian Frazier elaborated on the process, pinpointing the cockpit as a vital part of the design process. The aim was to make cockpits as “realistic as possible while matching the aesthetic from the films and incorporating the necessary gameplay information as naturally as possible.”
This meant going back to the ’70s in terms of design. Following in the footsteps of Industrial Light & Magic, the developers designed the cockpits to be built out like a real prop. That is not all, as the fictional side of things come into play as well. Particularly so for the TIEs, with no canonical guide to help them, the team had to map out just how everything worked in a practical sense.
“This was a ton of fun because it meant working with the team at Lucasfilm, animators, and mocap actors to land on an approach that fit with what we saw in the films but is believable in terms of how a real pilot would need to operate the controls to pull off complex maneuvers,” Fraizer added. The developer even built actual cockpits for motion capture.
It all comes down to delivering the perfect, authentic experience. If you truly want to enjoy the hard work put in, you can enable the Instruments Only mode, which turns off all in-world UI elements. Relying only on your senses and the cockpit instruments, this is immersion at its best, especially so in VR.
Star Wars: Squadrons will take flight on October 2.