Star Wars Squadrons could've been great, but it ain't. This is what happens when you give development of a game to people who don't understand what made the older Star Wars flight sims great.
This is nothing but a dumbed down version with flashy explosions made for the fortnight generation. I'm not beating around the bush, it is terrible. I know I said that about Mafia: Definitive Edition, but that was only an unfaithful remake. This is literally a terrible game.
First off, one of the most important things in a flight simulator, Hotas / Flight Stick support is completely broken in the game. How is it broken? There is a fixed 50% dead zone on the stick, even if you set the dead zone to 0% in the menu (which is at 0% by default anyway) you won't get any yaw / pitch unless you move the stick 50% of its way. And even then you get minimal movement. Basically the exact opposite of how it should work. I don't understand if they did zero playtesting with a stick, or if the people doing the testing had never even seen a flight sim before in their lives, and thought this is good.
But that's not the end of control issues unfortunately. The control layout is a mess. the classic energy management that was so great in the predecessors made by totally games is out the window, replaced with a convoluted maze of keys and functions that achieves no extra functions, arguagbly less, in a very contorted and unintuitive way. For example the old version had two keys, one for laser power, and one for shield power. You didn't need an engine power switch becauase any power not assigned to lasers or shields automatically went to engines. Now you need a separate key for that too. And all of them only go one way. In the original after maxing out the lasers, you could press the key again to reduce it to zero again. Basically an infinite loop. Here you cannot do that. If you want to transfer power from lasers to shields, you first have to increase shields to max, but that willl shyphon energy away from engines as well, and then you have to increase engines to max again.
Same shit with the shield balancing. Old version: One key, perss once = forward focused. Press twice: Rear focused. Press again: Balanced. Guess what? Now we have three keys for this too! Brilliant!
Plus they introduced a so called drifting mechanic, disregarding how blasphemous that sounds in a flight sim, it would be an useful tactic, had they not restricted its availability to maximized engine power. It's basically a way to do a 180 very quickly. But useless in a battle where you don't want to divert power from lasers. That are already very limited. Even with laser power maximized you can only fire a few shots before draining all energy. So fights become a boring, dragged out cat and mouse game, where you do salvos of 3-4 shots and that's it.
This is made worse by the cheating AI in story mode. The enemy fighters accelerate much faster and have infinite top speed compared to you. Even when I'm on full engine power and full boost the enemy ships will outrun me like I'm standing still whenever they want to.
The Field of view is extremely limited by the cockpit, in the tie fighter basically 3/4 of the screen is wasted. So you can barely see anything, let alone get your bearings in 3D.
At the sime time mission areas are tiny, and if you fly just a little far away the game immediately warns to go back or fail the mission.
The missions themselves are extremely dumbed down. They are all revolving around you, and what you do. Like you are the center of the universe. Unlike in X-Wing and Tie Fighter where you were only a wheel in a machine, here you are put on a pedestal. Heck it is so dumbed down that your targeting system can only target mission objectives. And the mission does not progress until you complete the last objective. In the old games everything was time based. If you didn't finish your job before the next wave of reinforcements tough luck. Here there is none of that. The next wave only comes after you dispatched the last part of the mission.
There is also no room for strategy on how you are approaching objectives. You are told what to do down to what part of the enemy ship to target and with what weapon. I felt completely like a puppet being dragged around at the same time as being the center of the universe, if that even makes sense.
And the story? It's derivative and badly written. Think XCOM:Chimera Squad, filled to the brim with forced diversity and annoying squadmates. I skipped 90% of the conversations because they all seem like written by 5 year olds.
I did not finish the game yet, I'm only about 1/3 way in the campaign. But I doubt finishing it would change my opinion on any of the above.
So the only positive thing I can say about the game is the graphics. But I heard there is a stuttering issue at high fps, which I did not encounter.
I'm not disappointed, as somewhere back in my mind I always expected that they'll mess up this slam dunk. Well they did.
I'm not doing the regular pro/con shootout and scoring as this is not a full review just a preview. Don't wait for a full review either, I'm not wasting any more of my time on this garbage pile.