EA: Playing ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ in VR Will Be “more like being a real pilot”

Star Wars: Squadrons is coming to PC, consoles, and VR headsets on October 2nd. And while we got our first look at gameplay of the upcoming dogfighter in a special premier last night, it’s still not entirely clear what’s at stake for VR players.

The game’s creative director Ian Frazier sat down with Gamespot in a video chat where he touched upon subjects like the game’s progression system, the choice to nix microtransactions, and what sort of difficulty levels there will be across both the single and multiplayer modes. Because the game can be played entirely in VR though, Frazier dedicated some time to talking about the game’s VR implementation.

“I personally prefer VR because of the immersion factor, but playing in VR is more like being a real pilot, and being a real pilot is hard,” Frazier told Gamespot.

Image courtesy Motive

Frazier explained that some of the game’s ships—notably the very open X-wing and the comparatively closed TIE Fighter—create some natural bottlenecks for players. The X-wing offers a much more open canopy, which in turn gives the player more things to focus on, and viceversa.

“Being aware of all your instrumentation, physical space—it’s very challenging for many players, so we found that 2D, and/or being in an Imperial ship, [those things] kind of counterbalance what you’re losing and what you’re gaining in terms of focus,” Frazier continued.

Image courtesy Motive

Still, it’s clear VR players will have some material advantage over players on traditional monitors. The deadly combination of a VR headset and HOTAS setup in capable hands may be a boon for players with the stomach for twisty-turny action, best exemplified by what Frazier calls ‘drifting’, or using the ship’s airbrake to make a tight, sudden maneuver.

The lack of VR motion controllers would be a blow to in-cockpit immersion though, however Frazier says that players will be able to turn off HUD elements and rely on the ship’s interior instrumentation—a VR-native design choice if there ever was one.

While we’re still waiting to see the VR mode action from inside a headset, it’s heartening to hear that VR seems to have always been a part of the game plan with Squadrons.

EA’s Montreal-based Motive Studio says they specifically took learnings from Starfighter Assault and the Rogue One: VR Mission at the beginning of the game’s development. Frazier calls his team’s work like “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as Criterion were the first to implement VR in EA’s Frosbite engine with Rogue One: VR Mission.

“If [Criterion] hadn’t done that, this would have been a whole lot harder for us to build. The whole ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ thing, it’s very much a big part of the outstanding work that team did to make this game possible.”

Star Wars: Squadrons is slated to launch on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 2nd, priced at $40. You can check out the gameplay trailer below.