Squadrons’, And I Hope It Works

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Star Wars Squadrons is a game. Developed by Motive and published by EA, it released on October 2 to solid reviews and plenty of praise from long time fans of Star Wars starfighter games, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a good long time. It costs $40, and it’s available on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. And, as far the story of where this game is going, that’s sort of it. Here in 2020, that’s a remarkable thing.

Bug fixes and the like aside, EA and Motive have no plans to introduce new content for Star Wars Squadrons, a strategy that’s nearly unheard of in the modern industry for anything but smaller, bite-sized indie games. Creative director Ian Frazier outlined the approach in an interview with Upload VR, where he doesn’t completely close the door to more stuff—the video game industry is rarely definitive—but sounds pretty resolute in the studio’s strategy.

“We don’t want to say ‘it’s almost done!’ and then dribble out more of it over time, which to be honest is how most games work these days,” he told UploadVR. “So we’ve tried to treat it in kind of an old-school approach saying, ‘you’ve paid the $40, this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.'”

It’s funny to think that selling a game for a price and having that just be the end of it seems like such a radical idea, because that’s how game’s were sold for the majority of the industry’s lifetime and it makes a sort of basic sense in a way that “releasing a ton of new maps and such for free” doesn’t. But it’s incredibly uncommon,

Star Wars: Squadrons is seeing significant VR play

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EA released an infographic on Twitter that shows 15% of Star Wars: Squadrons players are experiencing the game in VR. That’s actually quite a lot, considering it’s available on PS4, PC, and Xbox One and is fully playable with or without VR.

After playing and reviewing Star Wars: Squadrons (I loved it by the way). Playing in VR with a HOTAS control stick is the best and most immersive way to enjoy this game. The implied stat here, if you read between the numbers, is that 85% of players haven’t gotten the full experience.

It’s also worth noting that when they ran the numbers to get this data, the total player count includes Xbox One users who don’t even have a VR option on their console. That means, of the total potential VR userbase, more than 15% have played in VR. For a game that’s only a week old, it’s a good number.

Let’s also consider that most HOTAS setups are sold out, lots of headsets are back-ordered, and it’s a busy time of year so a lot of people may be holding off on buying the game until they can get all the gear they need to experience it fully. Or, maybe some people have opted to get a VR headset and it hasn’t arrived yet, so they played it without VR.

All of this is speculation, but I think it’s safe to assume that over time, more people will experience it in VR, which is an exciting prospect. The full infographic has lots of interesting details on it, such as that the X-wing and TIE Interceptor (not the standard TIE) are the two most popular ships. Nearly 600 million starfighters have already been destroyed in the first week.

Here is the full infographic from Twitter:

Star Wars Squadrons PC Performance Analysis

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Star Wars Squadrons is the latest Star Wars game from Electronic Arts. The game uses the Frostbite Engine, so it’s time now to benchmark it and see how it performs on the PC platform.

For this PC Performance Analysis, we used an Intel i9 9900K with 16GB of DDR4 at 3600Mhz, AMD’s Radeon RX580 and RX Vega 64, NVIDIA’s RTX 2080Ti, GTX980Ti and GTX690. We also used Windows 10 64-bit, the GeForce driver 456.55 and the Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.9.2 drivers. NVIDIA has not added any SLI profile for this game, meaning that our GTX690 performed similarly to a single GTX680.

Star Wars Squadrons CPU scaling

EA Motive has added a respectable amount of graphics settings to tweak. PC gamers can adjust the quality of Texture Filtering, Lighting, Shadows, Screen Space Shadows, Effects, Volumetric, Post Process, Mesh, Anti-aliasing and Ambient Occlusion. There are also options for Flim Grain, High Dynamic Range and Lens Distortion.

Star Wars Squadrons PC graphics settings-1Star Wars Squadrons PC graphics settings-2Star Wars Squadrons PC graphics settings-3

Unfortunately, we were unable to benchmark the game on different (simulated) CPU systems. Star Wars Squadrons allows PC gamers to install the game on five different PC systems every 24 hours. The game had already blocked us during our GPU benchmarks, so we couldn’t really afford to wait two more days for our CPU benchmarks.

Now the reason we’ve decided to go ahead and skip the dual-core, quad-core and hexa-core tests is because the game does not require a high-end CPU. Our Intel i9 9900K was able to push a minimum of 270fps and an average of 277fps at 1080p/Ultra. Furthermore, our Intel i7 4930K was able to offer a constant 144fps experience at the same settings. And while this older CPU was bottlenecking our RTX3080, we were at least getting really high framerates.

Star Wars Squadrons CPU benchmarks-1

Due to its relatively low CPU requirements, we can safely classify Star Wars Squadrons as

Best HOTAS Flight Stick For Use With Star Wars Squadrons And Microsoft Flight Simulator

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The one-two punch of Star Wars: Squadrons and Microsoft Flight Simulator are making flight sticks a surprisingly hot market in 2020. HOTAS controllers on both PC and consoles are selling out, including the Thrustmaster Warthog stick-and-throttle combo. Some controllers are available through preorders or backorders, though, so if you’re okay with waiting for your new flight controller, that’s definitely a good option.

Thankfully, Star Wars Squadrons creative director Ian S. Frazier has said the Star Wars flight game should work with “any” HOTAS setup. However, it can still be hard to find a quality flight stick and even harder to find one that you can put your money down on. That’s why we’ve collected the best flight sticks you can order right now. We’ve also curated a selection of gaming headsets that feature excellent audio quality for better immersion as well as comfortable headbands and ear pads.

Also, if you’re planning on installing the game to your Xbox One, you may not have enough room. That’s where external hard drives come in handy, so check out our guide to the best external hard drives you can buy right now to make sure you have enough space for Microsoft Flight Simulator’s incredibly huge file size.

Note: The prices shown below indicate a product’s standard list price and may not reflect any current discounts or other fluctuations.

Flight sticks

There are many different options for flight sticks, and right now, Logitech’s popular X52 and X52 Pro models are available for back-order. These are most commonly seen in military aircraft as well as Airbus planes. Some sticks come with throttles as well, making for a more complete experience without the need to buy anything extra.