Star Wars: Squadrons is the big Star Wars game from EA this year, and the publisher has been in a sharing mood this week with lots of new details offered up in a new blog post. First of all, here are the ships that will feature in the game (not new information, but worth bearing in mind):
● T-65B X-wing starfighter
● BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber
● RZ-1 A-wing interceptor
● UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft
● TIE/ln starfighter ("TIE fighter")
● TIE/sa bomber ("TIE bomber")
● TIE/in interceptor ("TIE interceptor")
● TIE/rp reaper attack lander ("TIE reaper")
In a nutshell, though, each of the ships shares a few core features so you should be able to jump between them without too much difficulty. According to the post, Squadrons will be similar to space-sims like Elite in the sense that power management will be core, with players managing their energy use across three areas: engines, lasers, and shields. You'll have to find the right balance at any given moment, but according to EA Motive, maxing out one area will unlock a special ability that's otherwise unavailable (there'll also be a simple version of the set-up for more casual pilots to get their heads around). Charged engines grant a speed boost, lasers will become 'overcharged' after a time, and shields will becomes 'overshields' and be twice as effective.
The post also details the different classes that players will have at their disposal. Fighters are balanced for a bit of everything. Interceptors are designed first and foremost for combat. Bombers can take more damage than your average ship. Finally, there's a support class designed to boost the effectiveness of allies. Those are the broad strokes, but you'll find more detail in the blog if you want it.
Finally, the game's creative director, Ian Frazier, had plenty to tell us about the design of the cockpit and how they kept the internal layout of each ship in keeping with the source material. Frazier also mentioned an 'instruments only' mode where the HUD is altered for a more organic and immersive experience where you have to really analyse your internal systems.
"When we want to communicate the charge level of your lasers in an X-wing, we design the cockpit instruments for that as if we were Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) building the prop in the '70s. We don't say "put a red light there," we say "if you needed to physically build this using the sorts of parts that ILM had, how would it be built? Is that light a bulb? An LED? How would it be integrated into the dashboard and how would its light interact with everything around it. We ensure the screens are CRTs with appropriately curved monitors, and so forth.
"We also try to come at it from a purely fictional angle, pretending we're employees of Incom or Sienar Fleet Systems and then asking "how would we build this?" This was particularly the case with the TIEs, where there was no existing canonical guide [when we started development] as to how exactly those ships are piloted, which meant we needed to figure out the way things like the control yoke actually worked in a very practical sense. This was a ton of fun because it meant working with the team at Lucasfilm, animators, and mocap actors to land on an approach that fit with what we saw in the films but is believable in terms of how a real pilot would need to operate the controls to pull off complex manoeuvres."