The hotly anticipated spiritual successor to the legendary TIE Fighter and X-Wing series has recently been confirmed by devs to be playable only in first-person mode. Ian Frazier, Creative Director for Star Wars: Squadrons, confirmed the game’s perspective would be locked in a recent interview with Gamespot.
"The whole game is designed from the ground up to be first-person all the way through," Frazier said during the interview, though he did state the spectator mode would allow for a third-person view - which will come as a welcome relief to those eyeing the game up for its esports prospects.
The decision is a departure from Rogue Squadron - a more arcade-style experience - where perspective was flexible. For Frazier and the Motive Studios design team, the reason for the choice is two-fold.
The first is a practical balancing choice: third-person view gives a wider field-of-view and would create a distinct competitive advantage versus those confined to the first-person view. The latter though is a more intriguing design decision.
“You are the pilot,” Frazier stated, “All the diegetic information is built into the HUD, so you could turn off all the game layer UI if you want and rely entirely on your instruments. We want that to be the core experience."
The view from a TIE Fighter cockpit. (Picture: Motive Studios)
Diegesis - ie. the narrative game-world and the objects and actions you can take within it - is paramount to the Star Wars: Squadron experience. In theory, Frazier is suggesting, the HUD and all the video game add-ons should be superfluous, and the player should be able to pilot their starcraft of choice via the instruments and gauges alone.
For a game that’s already confirmed it’s going to be playable in VR, that alleged level of immersion is set to be spellbinding.
Of course, these design choices aren’t without their pitfalls. One notable example is the huge discrepancies between the cockpits of Star Wars spacecraft. The wrap-around view of the X-Wing offers superior viewing angles to the front-facing, port-hole style of the TIE fighter, and that’s before considering the more glaring differential that TIE fighters notoriously have no shields!
(Picture: Motive Studios)
Considering Motive’s stated competitive integrity angle for locking players in first-person to prevent unfair advantages, this would seem to be something of a logical flaw in the studio’s reasoning. Frazier alleges it isn’t as simple as that, though.
The Creative Director said that when designing Star Wars: Squadrons the team looked back to the old competitive forums for the X-WIng and TIE Fighter games, where discussion abounded about why TIE Fighters were still competitive with their Rebellion, now New Republic, counterparts.
- Read more: Star Wars Squadrons: gameplay trailer, ship types, game modes, fleet battles, single-player, release date and more
"The answer then, in 1997, was you have a lot less stuff to deal with in an Imperial ship. And that is, in a sense, an advantage. I've actually found that to be shockingly true in our game."
Whether Imperial simplicity will actually even up the competitive edge of the X-Wing will have to be discovered on the battlefield.
Star Wars: Squadrons is set for release on 2nd October, 2020 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.