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From Rookie to Ace: Tips for Star Wars: Squadrons

Michael Bitton Updated: Posted:
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The successor to X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is finally here and it’s pretty damn good. But a simple arcade game it is not. Star Wars: Squadrons isn’t a hardcore flight sim, but its flight model and mechanics necessitate a bit more nuance than something like Starfighter Assault in Star Wars: Battlefront II. These are some tips to help you go from rookie to ace.

Play the Campaign

Seriously. It’s not as awesome as some of the older games, but what it lacks in storytelling it makes up for as a sort of extended tutorial. If you’re new to games like this, rusty, or just want to get better acclimated with the game’s mechanics, the campaign is a great way to do so.

Embrace the Drift

Star Wars: Squadrons may not be a 6DOF space sim like Elite: Dangerous, but its boost mechanic is good for more than booking it from point A to B in a straight line. Boosting opens up the ability to drift, which expands your possibilities for maneuverability considerably. Once you’ve got the basics of drifting down, you’ll want to start practicing micro-drifting, an advanced technique that’s practically necessary for high level play.

Use the Ping, Luke

Tunneling in on an enemy while you’ve got another on your tail is a habit you’ll want to break yourself out of quickly, but Star Wars: Squadrons also gives you some handy tools to get some help from your teammates and you don’t need voice chat to do it. If you’ve got an enemy on your tail, hit your Target Last Attacker bind to target them and then quickly tap your Cycle Target key to ping them to your team. This will mark the enemy making them a clear target to your allies, which is a frictionless way of getting them to assist you.

Power is Everything

Proper power management will separate the wheat from the chaff in Squadrons multiplayer. If you want to level up your play, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your various systems at the right times.

For New Republic players, the key tip you’ll want to be aware of is that shield decay is extremely slow. This means you can divert power to shields at the start of a match, reinforce your shields to full, and then switch out to another subsystem without losing anything. It takes about 3 minutes for overcharged shields to fully decay, but only seconds to fill up. Also, don’t forget to use your shield management binds to reinforce weak areas. If you’re taking fire from an enemy on your tail, reinforce your rear deflectors. If you’re going in for an attack run against a hard target like a capital ship or jousting with an Imperial, double up on your front deflector shields.

For Imperial players, you have the ability to quickly shunt power from your guns to engines and vice versa. This is an extremely potent tool in the right hands. You can go from max speed to max DPS in an instant and taking advantage of this mechanic will be key to your success given the lack of shielding.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

We’ll round out this series of tips with some general pro-tips that are helpful, but not necessary.

Easy Throttle Management: Squadrons turning “sweet spot” is at 50% of your max speed and there are a number of settings that make this easier to find in a heated moment, but if you really want to simplify things, go into the options and set your throttle management to steps instead of continuous, and set your step increments to 51%. This will break your throttle into three steps taking the guesswork out of throttle management. You’ll always be at either a dead stop, your sweet spot, or max speed using this setup. Handy!

Joystick Gremlin & Voice Attack: If you’re using a joystick, you should have Joystick Gremlin installed. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to rebind pretty much anything you want, however you want, set up response curves and even complicated macros. Voice Attack, another handy tool, will allow you to execute commands and shortcut macros using your voice. Combined these tools can really up to your play. They’re not necessary, but can certainly be helpful.

Got your own tips for your fellow pilots? Share 'em in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB