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Tips For Playing Star Wars: Squadrons

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Image: EA / Lucasfilm

Star Wars: Squadrons is here and it’s pretty damn good, especially if you enjoy space combat and yelling out Star Wars references in the middle of battles. But it can also be a hard or frustrating game to wrap your head around at first, so here are some tips I’ve picked up after playing and reviewing the game.

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Complete the single-player campaign

This is easily the most important tip I can share and one which the game will also recommend. While you can jump right into multiplayer action after you finish the short prologue mission, I wouldn’t. Instead, play the eight to nine-hour campaign. This will help teach you the basics of combat and flying and help you practice. Also, the story is solid Star Wars action and adventure and worth checking out.

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Keep moving!

It is very tempting to slow down or even stop to line up your shots and destroy an enemy ship or station. Don’t do this! Stopping or slowing down will make you an easy target. Instead keep moving, weaving, and turning to avoid laser fire. If you do want to slow down to get a precise shot off, don’t stick around for a long and get back to moving quickly.

Manage your energy properly

All ships in Squadrons have at least weapons and engines that need energy. (Some ships, mostly on the New Republic side, have shields too.) Managing these two or three systems is very important during missions. If you are preparing to take a lot of damage, like say you are about to strafe a large capital ship, pop all your energy into shields. If you need to escape a situation or find yourself caught in a tractor beam, pop all your energy into your engines to boost out there safely. Finally, if you need to really do some damage, switch all of your ships’ energy to your weapons to deal more damage and fire more before having to wait for your guns to recharge.

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You can see your current energy settings on your ship’s console. Blue lights for engines, red for weapons, and green for shields.

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Screenshot: EA / Lucasfilm / Kotaku
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If you don’t know what a situation calls for or you just don’t need all your energy diverted to one system, just tap down on the d-pad (on PS4 and Xbox One) to balance your energy output to all systems equally. But don’t keep it like this for long. Managing energy is a key way to get an advantage during combat.

Use your squad to heal

You can hold triangle or the Y button to request a resupply from your squadron. While this does restock your supply of missiles, chaff bombs, and other special weapons, it does also heal your ship’s hull. Feel free to use this as much as you want, though there is a short cooldown between uses.

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When you are in a TIE fighter, which doesn’t have any shields, this becomes extremely useful to staying alive after taking damage, especially if you don’t have the repaid droid ability equipped. But honestly...

Always have the repair droid ability equipped

While this does mean you won’t have as many special weapons, I found it more useful in most missions. You won’t always be able to equip this during some singleplayer missions, but if you can, do it.

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Also, use your squad to get revenge

One tip that is only mentioned once or twice during the campaign is the ability to quickly target the last ship that attacked you and did the damage. Normally, if you tap the X button or the A button you can switch between possible targets around you. But if you quickly tap this same button twice, it will auto-lock onto the last bastard that shot you. Then tap triangle or Y and you can command your squad to attack that ship. This is an easy way to help get ships off your tail.

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And, use them to help defend stuff too!

Your squad is useful, so here’s another way to use them: Have them guard objectives. If you need to defend a station or a ship, you can tell your squad to focus on defending it while you fly around blowing up attackers. Simply tap the left trigger while facing your target and then tap the triangle. If you are locked on to an ally of a friendly unit, this will tell your squad to defend that ally. (You can tell if you did this correctly because you will see a big shield icon appear.)

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Just remember, if you ask your squad to defend or attack, the will stop the moment you ask them to heal you or do anything else.

Pay attention during the single-player briefings

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Screenshot: EA / Lucasfilm / Kotaku
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These briefings aren’t the most exciting, but will sometimes include valuable information. For example, during one briefing the game clearly shows where you should attack a ship to create a breach. But during the mission, when you reach that point, you are given a few different areas to attack. If you weren’t paying attention, you might shoot a few spots before finding the right one. But you can skip all that and hit the correct spot right away, assuming you paid attention to the briefing.

When using ion rounds, don’t go for kills

Certain missions will task you with flying support ships, like the TIE Reaper. These flying fortresses provide support for your squad and aren’t the best at killing things. They are often equipped with ion rounds, though other ships can use these rounds too. This ammunition can quickly stun an enemy ship, making it vulnerable to damage. But it won’t blow up these ships. So instead, when using these rounds, focus on stunning ships and moving on to stun more ships, instead of wasting time trying to kill.

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Freelook around your cockpit

Not the most useful tip, but you can double-tap the right stick on PS4 or Xbox One to unlock your camera while flying. This lets you look around your cockpit. Another way to do this is to wear a VR headset, like the PSVR headset on PS4. With this on you can actually look behind you while flying and fighting, which is more useful.

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Screenshot: EA / Lucasfilm / Kotaku

If the enemy ships or your allies freeze, restart

This is a bug I’ve encountered a few times and it’s annoying. But you can easily get things moving again by restarting the mission or restarting from the last checkpoint. Just know, the game will count this as a death and you won’t get the medal for completing the mission without dying.

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Tinker with all the settings

There are a LOT of settings and options in Squadrons and it might seem overwhelming to dig in and start messing with them, but I suggest you at least skim through here once or twice. You might find the game too easy or too hard and there are at least a few settings that could help improve your experience.

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You can also make the game more immersive by turning off the HUD elements or change how the game’s targeting system works. There are tons of control settings too. So take a moment and get in there and start tweaking.




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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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DISCUSSION

beardyface
FellowIdiot

For PC players:

If you’re using a HOTAS and/or joystick and don’t have a throttle that snaps back to the middle automatically, turn on Use Throttle Friction under controls. This makes your throttle drift back to 50% unless you hold the throttle up or throttle down key/button. 50% throttle is where your craft is most maneuverable, and where you’ll nearly always want to be when chasing a target.

Sadly this feels like a port of a console game, and clearly wasn’t properly tested on PC, many PC settings are broken or non-existent - i.e.: I can’t exit the game when playing with my joystick - the game assumes I’m using a joystick with at least 12 buttons (mine only has 4) and can map everything they need to navigate the menus to my joystick. In order to exit, I have to move my mouse around to make it think I’ve switched to keyboard/mouse, and only then does the esc button on my keyboard work. Also, in single player, I’m bombarded by messages telling me to “map unmapped controls,” because again, it assumes I have at least 12 joystick buttons, and if some of them are empty the game stops and warns me, which is very, very annoying. I have to move my mouse around to get it to give me a keyboard key I can press to clear the message.

The built in 20% deadzone is also atrocious (another clue that they only really tested this for console, as the deadzone is what you would need on a less sensitive console thumbstick), but luckily the devs have already said they’re looking at the deadzone issue as well as other HOTAS issues, which I hope include more range in the sensitive and deadzone settings, as I have to set my joystick sensitivity to 100% just to get to a point where it’s playable. There is a fix, luckily, which Dr. Bob points out in this thread, but how easy it is depends on how good your joystick software is at remapping axes.

I really want this to work, because it’s a ton of fun when it does, and I’ve not felt this exhilarated by a Star Wars combat game since X-Wing Alliance in 1999 - a full 21 years ago.