For veteran PC gamers and longtime space sim fans, 2013 was a very exciting year. We saw Chris Roberts, the man behind Wing Commander and Starlancer, return to gaming with a new studio to break every crowdfunding record imaginable for Star Citizen, an exciting and ambitious space sim that supports practically everything gamers want from a PC space sim. We also witnessed the evolution of Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into one of the most impressive and exciting pieces of gaming tech on the horizon, tech that inspired a small team of developers from CCP Games’s EVE Online MMO team to craft a space sim concept into an actual game dubbed EVE: Valkyrie.
And for Star Wars fans, Disney signed a deal with Electronic Arts to help usher in the return of triple-A, industry-leading Star Wars video game experiences, something that began to fade away in the transition from the ’90s to the console-focused 2000s. With space sims making a long-awaited resurgence, PC gaming flourishing and Star Wars seemingly back on track, fans of the genre are still hoping to see a return of the X-Wing franchise. Instead, we have Star Wars: Attack Squadrons.
We first heard about Star Wars: Attack Squadrons back in July when Lucasfilm picked up a plethora of “Attack Squadron” related website domain names. We figured at the time that it could be one of the many Star Wars titles Electronic Arts was planning but as it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is being developed by new developer Area 52 Games, in conjunction with Disney Interactive and LucasArts.
There’s little to no information on the Area 52 official website but they claim to be comprised of industry veterans and develop PC and mobile games. Attack Squadrons is a free-to-play PvP space sim for PC that looks as if it’s made strictly for mobile, going by the depressingly dated visuals presented in the five currently available screenshots:
When did X-Wing windows become so tinted? The screenshots also depict notable Star Wars ships from the entire saga, including a Droid command ship from Episode I, and a Corellian Corvette and Imperial Star Destroyer from the original trilogy.
Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is strictly a 16-player PvP game with three basic modes: Free-for-All, Dogfight, and Base Defense. The idea is that players will pay for ships and ship customization options but we’re unimpressed with the initial unveil since it appears to offer so much less than the 14-year-old X-Wing Alliance game, and so much less than EVE: Valkyrie and Star Citizen are aiming to deliver – two IPs that have nowhere near as much brand recognition or resources.
Until we see gameplay that proves otherwise, this seems like a project designed to milk the brand and iconic ships via microtransactions and offers – from what’s described – nothing new or interesting. They might as well have re-released X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance with updated graphics. Even the cinematic teaser up top is unimpressive.
Let’s hope EA can deliver on the space sim sections of DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront reboot and that someone make a new X-Wing/Tie Fighter game. We’ll take another Rogue Squadron too!
Check out the official site here to sign up for the beta.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for more on Star Wars games and movies.