A week after the release of Star Wars: Squadrons, multiplayer combat in this space dogfighting game remains as enthralling as ever. But there’s one thing that Squadrons' multiplayer is sorrowfully lacking: custom games.
Sadly, the diminishing returns of the multiplayer mode are starting to sink in and EA confirmed to Inverse that Star Wars: Squadrons wouldn’t be receiving any post-launch content. If there really isn’t any post-launch content planned, the least developer EA Motive can do is add private games and more custom game options to give players more control over the rules of their matches and the game’s longevity.
Right now, Star Wars: Squadrons features two modes - the shorter 5v5 Dogfights and large scale fleet battles — and six maps. The dynamic nature of controlling one’s starfighter during a battle and large-scale maps make the modes initially engaging. Unfortunately, as we noted in our review, you’ll still see everything the game has to offer outside of new challenges and customization options after playing for a couple of days.
We alone in this feeling either. In its multiplayer review, IGN also pointed out that their love for the game is “more of a steamy affair than a committed, long-term relationship” because of the lack of modes and maps. People have even asked for custom games on the official Reddit as far back as August. For a game with pretty thorough character and ship customization, there is a lack of options with multiplayer. For the best example of what this could do for a community, we could at games like Halo and Overwatch.
Games like Halo 3 and Overwatch had intense competitive multiplayer that was fantastic in its own right, but custom games allowed player bases to keep the game alive long after its release. With the depth of ship customization options, that same potential is within Star Wars: Squadrons and would help it stand out from other dogfighting games even more.
While we don’t need tools on the level of the Forge in Halo, some more in-depth match options and private games would go a long way. Currently, all players can adjust when going into a match is their faction as well as the map, difficulty, and if it’s a co-op match or not. The game also doesn’t let players play with 9 other friends in private lobbies, just supporting online play with a squad of five.
Imagine being able to create private custom match lobbies with friends where you had the tools to create interesting modes like 1v1 Dogfights with support-class ships or fleet battles where players are forced to change their ship or loadout after every death. Using just the maps and starfighters already available in the game, adding more custom game options would increase the game’s longevity, especially if the developers were to give players a ton of control over what they could adjust.
It would keep people returning to Star Wars: Squadrons, even as other multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War comes out and players start to move on. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be on the docket from the developer’s end.
During a pre-release presentation for Star Wars: Squadrons attended by Inverse, Creative Director Ian Fraizer confirmed that there isn’t much in terms of post-launch support. “I’m never going to say it’s impossible, but our philosophy here is old school,” Frazier said. “The game is a closed, complete experience so you don’t feel like we’re nickel-and-diming you or leaving pieces out for post-launch.”
While previous EA games like Star Wars Battlefront II were hurt by leaning too much into that games-as-a-service post-launch support, EA seems to have course-corrected a bit too drastically here. As of October 2020, no major updates for Squadrons outside of bug fixes and refreshing weekly challenges are planned.
This is extremely disappointing for fans of the game, but even so, it only bolsters the need for custom game mode options. As mentioned, it’s unknown how difficult this would be on a technical level, and some parts of the game’s structure or code could prevent this from being a reality, and there isn’t a large mod scene around the game yet.
It’s great that the developers decided to ensure Star Wars: Squadrons felt like a complete package at launch, but EA should also understand that unless a game gets continued support, it’s a game that players will inevitably lose interest in over time. If EA still doesn’t plan to introduce new modes, it should empower members of the community to create their own.