Star Wars: Squadrons, everything you need to know

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With Star Wars: Squadrons, Electronic Arts makes a very bold promise to its most critical fans. Promotional material calls this game the “definitive” Star Wars space combat experience, and it’s a powerful claim to make in 2020.

The classics have been there for several generations – Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: TIE Fighter – burst onto the scene. The shadow of these games still hangs over the entire genre of flight simulation as examples of what the gold standard should be. Stack slightly more modern classics like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and even titles of the current generation like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, and suddenly the kind of space combat becomes a very competitive place.

After the failed launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2, pressure is put on EA to keep its promise. Since talking to creative director Ian Frazier, I think his team might be able to succeed.

Star Wars: Squadrons is currently in development for consoles and Windows PCs. Space combat simulation puts players in the cockpit of eight iconic star fighters and support ships from the Star Wars cinematic universe. It gives them all the tools they need to fight, including a five against five multiplayer PvP mode. It also allows them to experience the full game – from start to finish, including a single player campaign – in virtual reality, if they can afford it.

The game is expected to launch on October 2 for $ 39.99 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam, Origin and Epic Games Store. It will also be compatible with PlayStation VR and PC VR systems, and includes support for cross-play on all platforms.

I talked to Frazier for more than half an hour. Our conversation covers topics such as the intricacies of the game’s flight model, how its narrative fits into the broader Star Wars timeline, and how the systems themselves all work. We’re also touching on control inputs and seemingly weird features – like the continuous beam laser coming out of a TIE bomber – that don’t seem to belong to a galaxy far, far away.

Here is the complete transcript of my interview with Frazier, slightly modified for clarity.


Polygon: Tell me about your team.

Ian Frazier: Our team is a mix of people in terms of their background stories. We have people from Bioware. We have people from the original Motive team who were on Battlefront 2, the solo campaign. And, of course, new people we have hired along the way.

As it seems to be coming together, we have, as you might expect, a lot of Star Wars fans. Lots of people who came into the business precisely because they wanted to work on Star Wars. And one of the things that was fun with this project is that I’ll say it this way. One of the questions people have been asking a lot lately is, “Hey, what were your inspirations? Does this game come, you know, X-Wing or from Rogue Squadron or whatever? And the answer is sort of: “Yes? “Because depending on the person and, in some cases, only on the person’s age, we have different inspirations within the team. You have people coming there and they remember Rogue Squadron and love it, and what inspires them. I’m an old fart, so I remember X-Wing and TIE Fighter, they are a great inspiration to me. And you get a lot of these different types of Star Wars fan juice threads from different angles.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

When I fly with one of these hunters, what film am I in? Am i Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Am i Solo? Where did you anchor the experience in the cockpit of the fictional Star Wars universe?

When we first started, we actually considered more than just Star Wars as a point of comparison. So we first watched the original movies. The classic trilogy. We watched a lot Rogue one, because it’s just a great movie. He does incredible things with space battles that we thought were a great reference. It does something that we try to do even with the game, is that if you take a freeze frame of A new hope and you put it aside Rogue one, they don’t really look alike. Rogue one has more technical quality. It’s better produced because it’s been decades, but they managed to find the style and flavor. So it’s really very, very good as an original.

I think it’s similar to what we’re trying to do. We don’t want the game to look old. We want it to feel appropriate for 2020. But, at the same time, when we watch these movies, we want to make sure that we are evoking the feelings of the original. If you go ahead in VR and take a close look at the screens of our cockpits, you will notice that we built them in a way that resembles the way ILM would have built an accessory in 1977. This is, of course, wrong. We do everything in a video game, but we try to build it according to the physical realities of the manufacture of these accessories in the late 70s.

Another thing we did early on was that we looked at many different franchises. We watched Star Trek and we watched [the reboot of] Battlestar Galactica. We looked at other sources to say, “How are they different? What is Star Wars only? And there are a lot of different things that are just Star Wars. With few exceptions, these are not as many attrition battles. It’s more about these quick and fast dog fights.

First, it was inspired by World War II aerial combat imagery. You see that in the original films, even from the fact that the TIEs have green lasers and the rebels have red lasers. This is because these are the colors of the Second World War tracing fire for the Axis and the Allies. There is this heritage that you see there, and so we are trying to keep this same type of theme.

When you look at our flight model, your ships don’t move like a ship would actually move in space because the ships in Star Wars don’t move like ships would move in space. They move like ships move in Star Wars. There is no real moment in the history of cinema, to really come back to your question. There is not a specific time. We really look at the classic trilogy, elements of Rogue oneand put them in the stew, then the game emerges.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

I play a lot of space combat games. I was in it Elite: Dangerous last night. I will be in Star Citizen tomorrow. I can’t wait to get started In the dark [previously[previously[précédemment[previously Starfighter Inc.]. But these three games are managed completely differently. With the exception of In the dark, which amounts to piloting an Apollo capsule. It’s not as fun as it might be in my opinion, but you Elite and to some extent Star Citizen, and these ships fly more like land planes.

Tell me about how your flight model is unique, how it is Star Wars and how it differentiates itself.

I think from where we started we came back to a lot of classic games. I watched Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter – this whole series – because they’re in the first person like us. What was unique about their flight model 20 years ago, compared to, say, Starfighter Assault[modede[modefrom[modede[modefromStar Wars Battlefront 2].

We tried to start off with something that looked, again, like that kind of WWII simulation base, in terms of how ships behave, how they move. It’s, as in your example, more earthly. Then, once we started overlapping things like energy management, we said, “Okay, how do we use things like energy management to take this basic type of World War II, but then amplify it? What does the accelerated version of this look like? “

For example, we went as a team and we saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the opening scene where you know, Poe boosts and he goes under the shields, and he does his crazy kind of reckless maneuvers. We loved what it looked like, we loved what it did, and we said, “Okay, well, in our context, how do we get something of that flavor and feel?”

Our ships don’t move like a ship would move through space because the ships in Star Wars don’t move like ships would move through space

You see him doing this kind of rotational movement through one of the turrets. Can we do this mechanically? Can we strike something that suits Star Wars and that does it. And we did, actually.

We have a drift maneuver implemented in the game. This is just one example – but if you put your power to the engines: First, putting your power to the engines accelerates your ship and makes it better. In addition, where you sit on the accelerator also determines your turning speed. So that combination of things is a way to be better in air combat per se.

Another reason to maximize engine power – not only to put a few pips in it, but to maximize it – is that when it is at its maximum, it builds up as a boost load, and it’s a finite amount of super speed crazy woman. And you can’t spin very well when you do this. You can do a little, but this is really for blasting forward. Every dog ​​fighting game has the death loop problem. You are stuck in the loop. They chase you, you chase them and you can never escape. So part of the reason why we have this boost is to solve this problem – in addition to getting my throttle neutral, and having the power of the engines helps me to spin.

On top of that, if you boost, you can then cut the type of boost halfway through. This completely stops your engines, so you have a brief moment of drift where you can whip in a 180 and shoot them. Or do what you want! Change course and press Boost again, if you have more juice. So there are things like that that we tried to do to go beyond the heart of World War II, but to give it something a little bit more special.

Screenshot of a Star Wars: Squadrons gameplay trailer showing the elements of the head-up display in a TIE Fighter. There are sensors, indicating the location of allied and enemy ships. There is also a combat screen, which shows the target's orientation, and many more.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

What about artillery? I don’t see any crosshairs in your trailer.

There is a sight reticle, but not a head reticle. This can just be turned off for trailer capture purposes, but there is normally a crosshairs in the game.

You must also direct them correctly. It changes color to let you know you’re going to hit it, but it doesn’t show a crosshair on the head.

It’s not like my pistols are all gimbals [a type of assisted aim common in space combat games] and aim for me.

Not all pistols are universal joint. There is convergence towards them, as in X-Wing. The lasers converge at some point in space, and depending on where you fire, and you have to sort of move forward and backward relative to your target to try to hit this ship. There are some weapons that are [gimbaled], but most of the time things are fixed and then they change their point of view depending on where the transmitters are.

There is no main reticle because we really wanted you to look at the world. We wanted you to watch the ships and stay in the environment, and we got the impression that by the time we added a radical leader, it started to become more of a user interface game and less of a Star Wars pilot game. It’s a subtle thing, but just, for us, it was a bridge too far.

You talk about what I get by putting all my power on the engines. What do I get when I put all my power on weapons and shields? Or is there another category that I don’t know about?

These are the three main categories, assuming you have a ship that has shields. Not all.

Putting points in the laser period accelerates the recharging of the lasers. So you can shoot more, no matter what type of laser you have equipped on your ship. Similarly, putting power in the shields accelerates the regeneration of your shields, whatever the specifics. But, what if you maximize one of these systems? In the case of lasers, this will overload the lasers. An engine overload is creating a capacity that will increase, the moment you stop maximizing the motors, you will bleed slowly. It decays and you don’t go to zero but you lose your afterburner fuel. With maximum power in the lasers, once they are fully charged, they will continue to charge so that you move to a double bar, and all of that double bar does additional damage.

An interior view of the hangar of an Imperial Star Destroyer. A TIE Fighter is up to what is equivalent to concrete blocks, is redone. Other ships are suspended from the ceiling and stormtroopers are spinning in the foreground.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

So these are my 20 millimeter guns, to put it in terms of World War II.

More or less. And, once you’ve burned that down, it’s normal functionality. But you can still make this supplement.

Likewise, the shields receive a double layer of shields. If your shields are balanced, it’s an extra layer of protection around. If you hijack your shields – like you’re focusing them for the front or the back – then it’s extra protection, extra on this side, and you can still hang on the other side a little bit.

Shield have [adjustable] forward-aft orientation and – something else we really like – is that not all ships have shields. We didn’t think it was great to just have a hull for the other ships. So we wanted to give them some sort of equivalent but different capacity. Ships without shields have a fast power conversion capability, using some of the same buttons and inputs. You can quickly redirect the power from the engine to the lasers or vice versa.

Basically, it seriously weakens the other system when you do that. If I completely remove all of the juice from my engines and throw it into my lasers, I can get supercharged instant lasers, which is great. But my ships like put-put-put for those few seconds after I do that. Likewise, I can’t shoot at all for a few seconds if I go the other way. But it can really help these ships, like TIE fighters who don’t have shields, they can do things you don’t expect and get out of a jam when they need them.

A list of components entering starships in Star Wars: Squadrons. Items include microbust engines, ion jet engines, muti-lock missiles and more.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

Play something like EliteThe CQC mode becomes very old after a while. Playing Star CitizenArena mode gets really old after a while. It’s because there are a lot of different ships, but they all do a little the same thing.

Then you go to something like the Fantasy Flight table games, and you have all these different ships with different techniques, different loads and different pilots. I’m looking at your list of ship components. Tell me where all these things come from. Where did you get all the variety of stuff from Star Wars history?

There are many different sources. We try to stick to canonical sources, or invent new things and work with Lucasfilm to bring them to life.

I think conceptually, the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniature Game is absolutely an inspiration to us. A group of us on the team love this game. As for the details, we are not like, “I want this X-Wing mini countermeasure. Most of them wouldn’t really translate into video games anyway. But we look towards the films, towards the shows.

X-Wing Miniatures Force Awakens Starter Set Gallery

The first edition in a set of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Photo: Charlie Hall

As an example, if you look closely at our trailer – and some people have noticed – there is a point where you see a TIE bomber using a channeled laser, like a constant beam. “TIE bombers don’t do that!” Well, by default, you’re right. This is not the case. But we let the players modify their ships in the game quite heavily. And one of the weapons we allow, and this one is actually allowed on both factions, is a composite beam and it’s inspired by the blade wing beam in Star Wars Rebels, where they took the ‘hyperdrive of the prototype of wing B in order to have this crazy and charged laser.

It’s not exactly one by one, but it’s the inspiration for that. While you’re using it, you barely turn around and you’re really a seated duck, but you shoot an incredibly powerful weapon to the death.

So, we have a lot of things like that. That’s something I’m proud of in the game. We don’t just have, you know, “My lasers do 5% more damage! No, it’s bulky stuff – even for the passive – that makes a real difference.

A T-65 X-Wing arrives for a landing inside a capital vessel of the New Republic.

Image: EA Motice / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

There is a hull that you can take on some ships, a Reflec hull, which makes you more fragile, such as directly reducing your hit points on the ship, the health of the entire hull of the ship. But it automatically hides you, hides you from the enemy radar after you have crossed a certain distance. So this is the kind of thing that can really help you get behind enemy lines, surprise them, or escape. There are a lot of things like that, both for the passive and the active, that help this problem you are talking about, this fatigue. “Every fight is the same! “Well, once you have all seven different locations on your ship for different components and, you know, the other four on your team who can all take their own business, suddenly you get a lot more variety and much more to follow. , even in basic combat, not to mention Fleet Battle mode.

To make things more competitive and make things more interesting for your players, what did you ask Lucasfilm for? What did you need to create or allow tradition to make this game more fun?

How do you balance the New Republic and the Empire? History says that TIE fighters don’t have shields, so we don’t have shields on our TIE fighters. That’s one of the things – we don’t even let you tweak them to make shields, because we felt like that kind of part of what makes a TIE Fighter a TIE Fighter. So we didn’t want to let the player change that. It’s pretty basic. But, you know, when it comes to tuning, “How many hull health points does a TIE Fighter have?” There is nothing, there is no canonical answer to that. Maybe something vaguely implied by different sources, but not something strict.

So while we are working with Lucasfilm, we are largely talking about the abilities we want to do, the types of liabilities we want to do and talking to them about what makes sense. What is viable for this type of vessel? What is viable for this kind of change? Which does not canonically. “In this period, this thing would not have existed yet. So they can’t really use it. “

Example: we have no hyperspace tracking in our game, because it is not yet invented in our timeline. And we don’t want to, so it’s okay. But, we try to make sure that we somehow respect what makes sense chronologically, and that we never do anything – how to say it. Because of our position in the timeline – because we’re looking for Endor, we have quite a bit of flexibility around this idea that, “Well, you know, the war has taken a turn. The Empire said, “We got that! We will easily win! “And now, suddenly, they’re going,” Oh, maybe, maybe not. “” And so both sides are starting to tinker a little bit more, and that’s why we see these two faction changes in our game, and why you see things you don’t see in the movies. Because it’s a little later, they started playing with different things. But the baseline, what you see by default, is always what you would see in Return of the Jedi.

What appears to be Wedge Antilles, inside the cockpit of an X-Wing Fighter, in Star Wars: Squadrons.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

But we also see real fleshy narrative hooks to parts of the Star Wars cannon from all over. Hera Syndulla is in there. Have i seen mr Compensated antilles? Did he give me a boost?

Ehhhh, maybe. There was a guy who looked a little familiar in one of these cockpits.

Okay, so put that in the Star Wars timeline – for Star Wars nerds – and talk about the other canonical books and movies and things that people should be exploring before this game launches.

Well, I mean, there is nothing that you need to read by any means to configure. But you know, if you’ve seen the original movies, you’re ready to play this game. If not, you’re still ready to go, but much of the fun comes from familiarity with the movies. . I think if you saw Rogue one it helps a little bit just because it founds it. There’s a whole ship in the game [the U-Wing] it comes from Rogue one. As far as our framework is concerned, it’s a bit of a complicated answer, actually. The overwhelming majority of the game – all of PvP, all of multiplayer, the vast majority of single player history – takes place after the Battle of Endor, like a few months after Endor, but long before the Battle of Jakku. You see one of the military campaigns that makes us say “Maybe we can win! To really win at the battle of Jakku. So there is that, and I can’t go into details, but our story plays a pretty important role in how the rebels are ultimately able to win there. So this leads to big events. As far as the start of the game is concerned, it’s a little different.

We actually start with a prologue. So when the game starts, it takes place right after the death star detonated Alderaan. I’m going to say it now, because people are going to tell us that we made a mistake, but we didn’t make it. When you watch our character creation sequence, you will see the Rebel symbol and not the New Republic symbol. This is because in character creation you are always a rebel. So you create your characters for this moment that happens in the period of the original films. There are certain things going on that help set up our story, and after the prologue ends, we say, “Okay, would you like to continue with the story? Do you want to discover PvP? “We kind of open up the game for you. And that’s the big leap in time. As soon as this little prologue is finished, you are now in the meat of the game, which is entirely post-endor.

In many ways, virtual reality has been … I mean “loss leader”. It was speculative. You see so many developers saying, “Well, now we have to create a version that is not virtual reality because nobody plays this game.” Why was it important for your team to make it a game VR? And again, a VR game that I can experience is starting to end entirely in VR. That’s what your trailer says.

Yes. It’s not false.

We started the game and the initial prototype was up and running very quickly. Much faster than normal. We were very pleased with it. We made it work in a week. And we did it in VR at the end of the second week. So this game is like, really, really, really, from scratch, both 2D and VR.

And why? I mean, you sort of hit the nail on the head. From a business point of view, to talk about how we are “optimizing the amount of money this game is going to bring in”, VR makes no sense. It’s a much smaller audience than the wider market. But why do we do it? It’s because we think it’s cool.

Not to give the super obvious answer, but we started this project and we said, “You are sitting in a cockpit. You have a fixed repository. You are immersed in this role of pilot on both sides, of the two factions. It’s a game that fits naturally into VR. You don’t need to wear it in VR. It’s a game that is capable of being – which not all designs are capable of – but this design was capable of supporting both types intrinsically from the start. And who doesn’t want that?

I know not everyone has VR, and that’s fine, but if you do or think about it, we thought it was an incredible opportunity to let the players do something that they like … I don’t know about you but play the Rogue one Mission VR in the first Star Wars Battlefront It’s incredible. And you see that and you say to yourself, “Can I just have a lot more? And we thought, “Well, yes. Yes. You can. We will build this. So that’s what we do with the squadrons.

A wing of loose TIE bombers taken with a volley of continuous beam lasers in Star Wars: Squadrons.

Image: EA Motive / Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm

Tell me about my devices. First of all, is my Track IR Go to work?

So I’m pretty limited in what I can say there. What is on our website is what I have the right to say. We will support HOTAS [hands-on throttle and stick] and traditional joysticks – joysticks also without accelerator – on PC. I cannot yet say whether or not we will have this on the console. I cannot yet say the specific material that we will take or not take care of. All of this will happen later, so keep your eyes open. But I can say at the bare minimum that we will support HOTAS on PC.

I imagine the design is this controller game was a bit of a challenge.

You are not mistaken.

Tell me how it will feel different from Battlefront 2Air combat on a controller.

First, it depends on whether or not you use the default values. We have our default controller scheme. We have several different ones, if other things seem more comfortable to you. It’s not like there’s only one. But, beyond that, even on console, we have a really robust customization system so you can remap everything. Remap the sticks. Remap the buttons. It’s quite detailed, especially on the console side. PC users expect a little more from that, but on the console side, it’s a little more rare. So these are not just presets.

So I can, for example, put the roller on my triggers.

You can remap whatever you want.

Votre bande-annonce indique que tout peut être déverrouillé en jouant au jeu. Que puis-je m’attendre à voir pour DLC sur toute la ligne?

Ce que nous essayons de faire, c’est d’essayer de créer un jeu un peu old school et c’est une mentalité. Vous nous donnez vos 40 $, nous vous donnons le jeu. C’est une expérience totalement autonome. Ce n’est pas, « Bon, d’accord, voici une partie du jeu et le reste sortira la semaine prochaine. » Non, c’est tout le jeu. Donc, à ce stade, nous ne parlons pas de service en direct ou de DLC ou d’autre chose. Je ne dis pas que c’est impossible, mais ce n’est vraiment pas notre objectif. Nous optons pour un jeu que vous achetez et que vous n’aimez pas.

Pouvez-vous me parler un peu de la boucle du méta-jeu? Vers quoi je travaille en multijoueur? Comment puis-je développer mes compétences et mon escadron?

Je ne peux pas entrer dans trop de détails à ce sujet. Je peux vous dire que lorsque vous jouez, vous allez débloquer deux types de devises différents. L’une de ces monnaies est destinée aux produits cosmétiques, pour donner à votre pilote un look et un son cool. Pour donner à vos navires un aspect et un son cool. L’autre est plus mécanique. C’est ainsi que vous obtenez ces composants qui vous permettent de modifier le comportement de vos navires. Et pour être très clair, c’est une progression orthogonale. Ce n’est pas un laser de niveau un, un meilleur laser de niveau deux. Nous ne le faisons pas parce que nous ne voulons pas déséquilibrer les règles du jeu. C’est comme « Eh bien, vous savez, le laser qui ressemble plus à » – j’utilise juste des termes de tir normaux – « plutôt à un SMG. C’est donc une sorte de jet et de prier. Et sa portée est un peu plus courte. Il a ses propres compromis. » Mais je veux le laser qui frappe comme un camion, mais qui prend 20 minutes pour se recharger. Pas littéralement 20 minutes, mais vous me suivez; cette idée de compromis, de types d’armes et de composants qui sont meilleurs ou pires dans différentes choses. Et là où l’aspect équipe entre en jeu, c’est: «D’accord, je fais ça. Que prends-tu? Que prend-elle? Comment travaillons-nous ensemble avec nos chargements pour être une stratégie efficace. “


Elite: Dangerous, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaires et le prochain Microsoft Flight Simulator. C’est aussi la manette de contrôle de choix pour le chasseur de primes Din Djarin sur Disney Plus » The Mandalorian.

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