Star Wars: Squadrons is out now, and it promises a kind of experience we haven’t had in a Star Wars game for a while- one that’s completely focused on flight and aerial combat. Given that focus, it isn’t surprising that it’s a thorough recreation of that experience. As such, there’s a lot of systems and mechanics to grapple with in Squadrons, and here, we’re going to go over some tips and tricks that should make your initial hours in the game significantly smoother.
So let’s start off with something basic:
NEVER STAY STILL
This should go without saying in a game about space battles, but it cannot be stressed enough. Staying still for too long in Squadrons is a surefire way of getting yourself killed very quickly. Battles are very busy in this game, and chances are, you’re always getting shot at by somebody. You may be tempted to stop every now and then to get your bearings, or perhaps to have more stable aim and accuracy, but it’s better to get used to the fact that you always have to stay on the move and adapt your strategies accordingly.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT STARFIGHTER
There are four different classes of starfighters in Squadrons, and you have to think about which one will be best for any situation on hand. Not only do you have to keep your team’s composition in mind, you also have to be aware of each class’ unique attributes. Interceptors and fighters are great for dogfights, thanks to their speed and maneuverability, but if you’re going up against a capital ship, you might be better off with a bomber.
Speaking of maneuverability, that’s one of the most important things you need to keep in mind while playing Squadrons. As we mentioned, given how busy battles are, you’re always in danger of being on the receiving end of a deadly attack, and you’ll often find yourself being chased by enemy ships or shot at with rockets or missiles. Boost drifting is a technique you should learn early on, then, because not only does it give you the speed you need to outpace others, it also gives you the maneuverability needed to zip around corners and make tight turns to throw them off your tail.
TIMED OBSTACLE COURSES
Squadrons’ practice mode lets you fly your ship through timed obstacle courses, and while surely play second fiddle to the campaign and the multiplayer, they’re a great way to practice your flying. Running through obstacle courses will help you get familiar with all the ships and learn new tricks to help with speed and maneuverability, so do yourself a favour and don’t ignore them.
Power distribution is a crucial mechanic that you’re gonna want to get the hang of early on. Each ship has 2-3 power systems- engines, weapons, and depending on what ship you’re flying, shields, and Squadrons allows you to reroute power to and from specific systems as and when you need to. If you find yourself in need of making a quick getaway, rerouting to engines will give you a quick boost. Rerouting to weapons recharges your, well, weapons more quickly. Meanwhile, rerouting to shields recharges your shields. Be mindful of what situation you’re in and what it calls for, and think about how you want to distribute power accordingly.
If you fill the power meter of any of your systems enough, you will overcharge them, which, as you might imagine, can give you an edge in certain situations. So if, say, you reroute all your power away from your shields and your engines to your weapons, your attacks will hit much harder. Rerouting all the power to the engines will give you a significant boost in speed. Finally, rerouting all power to shields will give you an additional layer of protection.
Focusing your shields is something else you’ll have to keep an eye on. Starfighters that are equipped with shields have them in the front and in the rear. By default, shields are balanced across both positions, but you can choose to focus them in one place to make them stronger there and leave yourself open at the other end. Depending on what the situation calls for, focusing shields can be an extremely useful tactic. If you’re being chased by several fighters in a dogfight, for instance, focusing rear shields can save your life. Similarly, flying straight at a capital ship while its turrets are shooting at you is much safer with the front shields focused.
You’ll find yourself on the receiving end of missiles quite often in Star Wars: Squadrons, but anyone who shoots a missile in the game first has to complete a lock. When your HUD tells you that someone is locking on to you, that’s your cue to try and throw off their tracking so that they cannot shoot at you. Move erratically, take sharp turns, make use of the aforementioned boost drift, overcharge your engines to give yourself a boost- basically, just make yourself a hard target so that whoever is trying to take you down can’t lock you as a target.
What if someone does manage to complete a lock and shoot a missile at you thugh? Well, it’s still not game over- not yet anyway. You still have the opportunity to evade missiles. Though it’s much harder, your focus now should be on making sharp turns to ensure the missile misses its target. This is best done at half throttle, so that you don’t use all your speed, but still have enough maneuverability.
Countermeasures are another great way of avoiding being hit by missiles, and can be deployed to shake an incoming missile. Timing is important here though- when missiles are about to hit you, two sets of four white arrows facing each other will show up on your HUD, and turn red as the missile draws closer. When two or three of the four arrows have turned red, that’s usually the best time to deploy a countermeasure. It’s worth keeping in mind that countermeasures are limited though, so use them as a last resort- try to shake a missile before that if you can.
Leveling up is the only way you’ll get Requisition to unlock starfighter components, so obviously, that’s going to be crucial. There are some quick and easy way to farm XP and level up fast though. Simply play Fleet Battles vs the AI and set the difficulty to easy- focus on the objectives, and by the time the battle is over, you’ll have a ton of XP. Rinse and repeat. It’s not as much fun as playing actual, proper Fleet Battles, of course, but if you’re looking to level up fast, this is the way to do it.