A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Themes of courage, pride, and revenge run throughout. The story suggests war is as much about the people fighting next to you as it is the governments, politics, and ideologies you serve. Online play encourages teamwork and communication.
Positive Role Models
The New Republic officers and pilots are repeatedly heroic, risking their lives for friends and allies in the name of a free and democratic galaxy. The Imperials, meanwhile, are largely bloodthirsty and hedonistic, motivated by revenge and power.
Ease of Play
In-game tutorials explain the controls, and the lowest difficulty setting makes the single-player campaign very easy to speed through. But learning more sophisticated strategies, which require a thorough understanding of each ship's capabilities, how to manage loadouts, and how to effectively allocate power to various systems -- important tactics on harder difficulties and during online play -- takes time to master.
Violence & Scariness
Players engage in fast-paced space fighter battles, with action viewed from a first-person perspective from within a cockpit. Ships explode in fireballs and pilots can be heard yelping in pain as they die. Flying missions as an Empire pilot, players are forced to shoot down civilian transports and medical frigates.
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The word "bastard" is heard in voiced dialogue.
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Products & Purchases
This is an extension of the Star Wars universe and could encourage kids to seek out and buy additional franchise merchandise.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.