The end goal of any Fleet Battle in Star Wars: Squadrons is the destruction of the enemy flagship. The problem is, that means taking a small group of fighter craft up against a mighty MC75 or Star Destroyer, neither of which are known for being easy targets.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of the task in front of you, and even easier to spend most of the assault respawning in the hanger because of an ill-advised attack run. This guide should help pick out a few key strategies and play patterns to make taking down these behemoths a little easier.
Both the Imperial and New Republic capital ships come with a number of subsystems (four, to be exact) which can be targeted independently of the hull. Those subsystems comprise two shield generators, a targeting system, and a power system.
The shield generators (unsurprisingly) power the capital ships’ shields, and recharge them once they’ve been depleted, the targeting systems improve the accuracy of the AI turrets, and the power system overloads once destroyed, leaving the hull riddled with weak spots that can be destroyed for additional damage.
Star Destroyer Weak Spots/Subsystems
Generally, you’ll want to take out the shield generators first. Taking down fully recharged shields every five minutes is exhausting, and more importantly, stops you hitting those juicy subsystems. After that, targeting is probably the highest priority as it allows you to assault the flagship under significantly less fire.
Mc75 Weak Spots/Subsystems
There’s an argument to be made for rushing the power system, but only if you’re both fast and co-ordinated. You’ll want to burst the shields, then focus-fire the power system. With the power system destroyed, and the weak-spots on the hull revealed, you can disperse and look to take out as many of those weak spots as possible for maximum damage. It’s the highest damage assault choice, but definitely the riskiest too, so be warned!
Knowing where and what to attack is all well and good, but you’ve still got to get close enough to said flagships to actually deal damage. To do that, you’re going to need to know how to approach for an attack run. To that end, here’s the golden rule: never fly in straight.
The two best methods are either to follow your Corvette (New Republic) or Raider (Empire) and use them to draw fire and stay out of line of sight, or to circle to a flank and come in from nearer the engines. Make sure to angle your shields to the front (where applicable) and have your boost charged when you make your run, then gun it on the way out.
If you’re running a bomber with proton or ion bombs - or you’re a confident interceptor pilot - remember you can get underneath the shields to circumvent them. Bring those assault shield auxiliaries, max out your engines, and gun it with your finger on the bomb doors release.
As a final note, be careful about angling a run beneath a flagship - their tractor beams will catch you and hold you in place if you get too close to the hanger bay, which is an absolute disaster.
Capital ships are covered in turrets quite literally everywhere but the engines. The bombardment of missiles and laserfire makes getting in close, particularly as an unwieldy Y-Wing or TIE-Bomber, challenging.
Star Destroyer Turrets
If you’re running an Interceptor or mainline fighter, clear the way for your bombers by dealing with as many turrets as you can. Interceptors can start the task a little earlier by using their speed and maneuverability to get under the shields and start levelling turrets, but it is more risky.
Try to focus your efforts on one section (likely one side, near a shield generator), to open up an easier approach path. If you are in voice coms, this is great info to communicate! Consider turrets a priority once the shields are down and the generators are being focused.
Loadouts - i.e. make sure you have ion weapons
Do yourself a favour and make sure you have multiple loadouts of the same craft - particularly the fighters and bombers of both factions. They have the most flexible auxiliary options, including hefty ion and proton payloads which do wonders against capital ships.
A generic loadout like this isn’t going to cut it versus a capital ship. You’re going to want something more specialised. (Picture: Motive)
There are two mindsets about loadouts here. One: run a jack-of-all-trades bomber/fighter with mixed ion and proton payloads, and hope you survive long enough to unleash hell, or two: split up your ion/proton loadouts into two ships, pick up an assault shield, and boost in with the additional durability. Consider a SLAM engine to recharge your boost fast enough to get out too.
Either way, you’ll want to start with ion weapons to shred the shields as fast as possible, then switch to a proton and laser loadout to detonate the hull. Remember as well that ion weapons do additional damage to those all-important subsystems!
If you’re looking for some optimised loadout you can check out our thoughts on the best loadouts to be running in Squadrons.
Lastly, get used to dying... it will happen a lot. The important thing is to maximise damage before you go out in a blaze of glory. That means making sure you get your payload off - preferably on the right target!