A Comparison between Star Wars: Squadrons and The Old Republic's Galactic Starfighter

When evaluating how much I like all the Star Wars films, one of the things I often look at is what their sequences involving starfighters are like. Each of the films has at least one, and some are among the most iconic sequences in their respective films.

This is not to say that I feel a decent or even great starfighter sequence automatically makes such a product “good” as a whole. For example, one of my least favourite Star Wars films, Attack of the Clones, has a sequence which I would probably just place outside of my top five. Sure, the film scores more than a handful of points for it (most of which go to the glorious sound design of the seismic charges!) but nowhere near enough to make up for the majority of its flaws in the grand scheme of things.

When it comes to Star Wars games, I tend to view things just a little differently. Unlike with a film, where a starfighter sequence tends be expected as part of the main plot, starfighter experiences in games depend heavily on the game in-question. Either the entire game is built around them (Rogue Squadron, TIE Fighter, X-Wing), they’re a compulsory part of some campaigns (Battlefront II, LEGO Star Wars), or they don’t feature at all apart from maybe some turret sections (Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Knights of the Old Republic, The Force Unleashed). In the rarest of instances, they are present but are so much of a side thing that you can play the entire game however you want without once having to encounter them (The Old Republic).

Thus, while I still look out for them, I do not always include “has a decent starfighter experience” as part of my criteria for evaluating a game. For example, SWTOR’s original starfighter experience is anything but “fun” to me, since it is purely an on-rails shooter. Furthermore, it eventually ramps up the difficulty to an obscene level and thus becomes impractical as an activity. 2014’s mini-expansion Galactic Starfighter, on the other hand, brought in an entirely different starfighter experience which I still am a huge fan of to this day.

I was therefore quite excited to learn that EA would be publishing a new Star Wars game which focused purely on the starfighter experience. Squadrons is basically a massive love-letter to the starfighter experience from the developers, and it can easily be regarded as “the modern X-Wing game”. It also shares several similarities with SWTOR’s Galactic Starfighter mode. As such, I have chosen to dedicate today's post to a comparison between both games.

To some people playing Squadrons, this choice of comparator will be more than a little bit odd. There have been several starfighter-based games across the years, and many of these will be closer in spirit to Squadrons than Starfighter. However, I have not played all these games and it has been well over a decade since I have played those which I owned. Due to changing focus away from the PC to the PS2 and PS3 between 2004 and 2011, I believe that I can say with confidence that it would have been over sixteen years since I played any game which can be deemed “more relevant” for comparison purposes. Thus, even if I were to pick those games up again, I would still refrain from focusing on them as it would be wrong for me to present myself as a voice of experience after a gap of nearly two decades.

This should go without saying, but this is not meant to be a comprehensive review of Squadrons as a game. Any bugs, game issues, or specific story details will not be discussed. This is purely meant to be a comparison between one game and another for the features that they include.

On with the show!