A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Star Wars: Squadrons is a space combat simulation game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PCs. Players alternate between taking on the role of a New Republic pilot and an Imperial pilot. The action's presented from a first-person perspective within a cockpit. There's no blood or gore, but players will see ships bursting into flames and hear people crying out in pain over the radio. Plus, while playing as an Imperial, players are tasked to shoot down innocent civilian ships and medical frigates. The New Republic pilots are clearly the good guys fighting for a righteous cause, but as the game progresses, the story becomes more about the camaraderie between pilots and officers in each faction and, in some cases, the grudges they hold. Multiplayer modes encourage players to work together and communicate as a team. Parents should also be aware that this game has potential to draw kids even deeper into the sprawling Star Wars franchise, including related merchandise and paraphernalia.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
STAR WARS: SQUADRONS is set after the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the second Death Star. It focuses on a pair of space fighter squadrons: the New Republic's Vanguard squadron, which is working to defend the construction of a powerful New Republic flagship, and the Empire's Titan squadron, a group of TIE pilots assigned to destroy it. Players alternate between both squadrons, attacking installations -- including civilian craft and medical frigates -- to weaken the growing power of the New Republic as an Imperial TIE fighter ace, and conducting raids on Imperial ships and carrying out escort missions as a rising star in the New Republic fleet. The short solo campaign serves to acquaint players with a variety of ships and weapon loadouts, as well as become accustomed to the controls, ship systems, and strategies used. Once the story mode is over, players will be prepared to take on competitive online play, where they can pick a fighter and loadout and either engage in deathmatch-style dogfights or jump into bigger fleet battles, where squadrons must work together to take down enemy corvettes and battleships while simultaneously evading or engaging with swarms of AI and human-controlled fighters. As players level up, they'll earn additional ship loadout options and cosmetic upgrades.
Is it any good?
The story and characters are a bit of a snore -- and morally complicated -- but the space combat is a lot of fun. Star Wars: Squadrons gives equal time to pilots on both sides of the war between the Galactic Empire and the New Republic, for better and worse. This setup makes sense for multiplayer, since players will sometimes be forced to take on the roles of Imperial pilots when playing online, but it makes for tricky storytelling. For starters, as an Imperial, you'll be assigned missions that involve the destruction and death of presumably thousands of innocent civilians, which makes it hard to really get on board with any of the Imperial characters we meet. The writers combat this problem by making the Imperial story more about personal revenge after a betrayal and defection, but shooting down innocents is still a hard pill to swallow. And the fact that half of the already short story is given over to the Imperials means we don't have as much time to get to know the real heroes in the New Republic. It all nets out to a bit of a disappointing Star Wars tale.
On the other hand, the campaign does a fine job of introducing the many subtleties of space combat and gets you ready for online play, where most players will spend the bulk of their time. The benefits and drawbacks of each available ship -- from the speedy and agile A-wing to the slow but powerful TIE Bomber -- are explored in carefully scripted missions, which also introduce various weapon, shield, and hull loadouts as well as targeting and resupplying. The story also offers an opportunity to get a feel for how and when to shift power in each of these ships, boosting shields when necessary (useful when flying into battle against a capital ship from long range), shifting energy to engines to beat a hasty retreat, or funneling all power into weapons to deliver a fast and massive strike. All of this information and experience is invaluable in online play, where human opponents tend to be smarter and faster than AI pilots, different ships are required for specific scenarios, and the odds of success depend directly on the skill of the pilots involved. Star Wars: Squadrons isn't a must-play Star Wars game, but fans who love the franchise's classic starfighters are bound to have quite a bit of fun sitting behind the joysticks of their favorite ships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Star Wars: Squadrons is broken into bite sized bits that let players finish a mission or match in about 15 minutes, so when you sit down to game, do you have some idea how many matches you want to play in a single session?
Looking beyond simple nationalism and ideology, what might motivate a soldier to fight to the death? How does this happen when one side is clearly in the wrong?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: October 2, 2020
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
- Last updated: October 29, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love sci-fi
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.