Even diehard game enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find a game that, after just a little over a month since its release, has the player base asking, “OK, now what?” While Star Wars fans and gamers alike expected Star Wars: Squadrons to play out a little differently compared to most triple-A releases, asking about the game’s future just a month into its lifespan was probably not in the conversation.
Thankfully, on Wednesday afternoon, the developers at EA posted to Twitter and the Squadrons website that there is some fresh content on the way to support the game. Customizable game lobbies, four new components, and a brand new map (Fostar Haven, for Fleet Battles and Dogfight Mode) are all expected to be added in the coming months. Perhaps even more exciting is that two new starfighters, the New Republic (and Alliance variant) B-wing and the Imperial TIE Defender are being added to the roster of starships. No more than three months after the same developers said that there were “no plans” for major content updates or DLC, it looks like we will be getting our first taste of post-launch content.
Maybe I’m getting out over my skis by saying this, but what comes after we’ve gotten this new update? Sure, there might be smaller additions like what we received with The Mandalorian add-on content a few weeks ago, but what else of actual value can we expect? Now that EA has shown it’s hand and their willingness to take on bigger projects with their post-launch support of Squadrons, how can we willingly accept there won’t be more? I have a few ideas just in case anybody on the EA Star Wars: Squadrons team is reading…
With the addition of Fostar Haven, EA has expanded their Squadrons map rotation to seven that are playable in both Fleet Battles and Dogfight modes. Seven is a good number: it’s not too many, and it’s not too little as to where the matches would get stale. Each map is also distinct and provides unique obstacles that players can use to their advantage (or in the case of the asteroids on Galitan – disadvantage).
Even though I think that seven is a good number, I also think that there could be room for a few more. Fostar Haven was the last location when it comes to what was featured in the campaign, but there is room for EA to expand and add locations of iconic battles from later in the Galactic Civil War.
How cool would a map loaded with Alliance corvettes, capital ships, and Star Destroyers be set over Endor with the Second Death Star looming in the background be?! The opportunity for close quarters dogfights that weave in and out of the clearances between active capital ships would bring something fresh to the game.
How about bringing the space battle over Jakku to life as well? If the developers wanted to use the Starhawk in a multiplayer setting then canonically that would work. The “Battle of Jakku DLC” for Battlefront was one of my favorite DLCs from this past decade and I think there are plenty of us who would love to play that battle out for ourselves. Just like the potential Death Star II map, the developers have the opportunity to pack a lot of AI starfighters and capital ships into a massive arena to create the climactic feeling of the final battle of the Galactic Civil War.
There are a lot of static obstacles in the game, but having ships with active cannons could add an extra level of drama to these potential maps. Instead of asteroids or debris floating around space, fully operational destroyers and cruisers with the Death Star or a war-torn Jakku off in the distance would bring a whole new aura to Squadrons.
DIFFERENT GAME MODES?
The EA Star Wars team is no stranger when it comes to adding more ways to play online post-launch. Throughout the duration of support for Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) and Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017), the developers added many of the player-base’s favorite game modes in DLC. Extraction, Sabotage, and Capital Supremacy are just a few of the fan favorite modes that came post-launch to both Battlefront games. All of these beg the question: If Battlefront can receive multiple game mode updates, why can’t Squadrons?
The answer is: They absolutely can. Adding another huge game mode like Fleet Battles would be ideal, but more quaint modes could provide just as much fun as well. As much as Squadrons has been praised by players, one of the negatives to the game is that it can get stale sometimes with only two modes to choose from.
Personally, I would love to see a Capture the Flag game mode make its way into the game. Place a flag pickup under each of the capital ships on a Fleet Battles size map and each team tries to return the flag to their own hanger – now that sounds like fun! Having the capital ship’s turrets and tractor beams active could provide an additional challenge to grabbing the flag. In addition, having the flag carrier’s weapons turned off would put a huge emphasis on staying close as a squadron and using teamwork to win the game.
On a less serious note, a racing game mode could be a blast as well. One of the more challenging parts to the game (speaking mostly for myself) is navigating yourself through the debris that litters a lot of the maps. Racing through the tight corridors in the Esseles listening post, slipping around asteroids on Galitan, or making your way through broken Star Destroyers on Sissubo against other opponents would be an interesting change of pace for this game. Trying to find the best load out to make your fighter go as fast as possible in and around tight obstacles also seems like a unique way to use the game engine.
The biggest question surrounding the future of Star Wars: Squadrons is if new fighters will be added into the game. The B-wing and the TIE Defender are the two ships that almost everyone guessed would be added next and lo and behold they were. I found it surprising that neither ship was worked into the base game since both are ships many fans know and love. Needless to say, after these are eventually released, are there any more ships from this era left to add into the game?
In fact, there are actually a lot of Imperial TIEs that aren’t included in the game that could make intriguing additions to the roster. The Inquisitor TIE, or TIE Advanced V1, which was in the first mission of the campaign, is not on the multiplayer roster. The TIE/rb heavy starfighter, as seen during the Kessel Run in Solo: A Star Wars Story, could be a more weapons-oriented fighter class, with less regards to engines and maneuverability, in the game. The TIE/ca Punisher starfighter, a bomber with four times the standard TIE Bomber payload, could be added as a capital ship destroying specialist. There are also a handful of experimental TIEs that were seldom used in the Imperial Navy like the TIE/ag Aggressor and the TIE/ph Phantom (shown below).
The New Republic is beleaguered on the number or starfighters that they used to fight the Empire. However, one ship that could make an appearance in Squadrons is the ARC-170 starfighter. The New Republic, or Rebel Alliance at the time, retrofitted a few of the old Clone Wars workhorses in Canon and used them during the war. The ARC-170 could be a great balance to the TIE/rb heavy starfighter as a fighter class with a heavier focus on weaponry. Another Clone Wars era ship that the Alliance championed was the Z-95 Headhunter. This ship, one of the predecessors to the X-wing, functions more as an anti-starfighter class ship rather than a balanced fighter. The Z-95 might be a nice alternative to using the A-wing if a player doesn’t feel comfortable with that ship.
I would expect that the cosmetics and in-cockpit items will continue to be released as time goes on. Just like with The Mandalorian season premiere, there will be copious opportunities to continue adding smaller items like that into the game. But, I don’t think that particular aspect of support is what is nagging at the player base right now.
A simple surface analysis of Star Wars: Squadrons might have you worried, however, there’s no need to fret. If the developers at Dice and EA choose to continue down this path of adding new maps, game modes, and starfighters in their post-launch support, then they do have some options to go to. Nevertheless, Squadrons has already lived up to the expectations of so many fans that anything beyond the December and November updates will be bonuses. And while the prospect of new maps, game modes, and starfighters seems like a daunting task to accomplish with the next generation of consoles taking over, I have zero doubts that the developers of Squadrons will continue to listen to the passionate fan base they have secured.