For all the slickness of its design, its impressive and intuitive gameplay controls, its attention to detail, what sucks you in with 'Star Wars: Squadrons' is the feel of it.
It's hard to describe it precisely, but it's that feeling of being behind the control stick of something fast, loud and angry and barely being able to keep your wits about you. The dogfighting feels blitzed and just on the edge of chaos, but it never once comes away from your grasp. If you got shot to pieces, you know to readjust your strategy, reconsider some of your choices for weaponry and shields, and just fly better.
Normally, most games would give you a couple of crushing defeats before you'd get fed up with it. 'Star Wars: Squadrons' makes every single explosion of your TIE Fighter or A-Wing feel like a teachable moment. You're going to get blown up in the most spectacular fashion in the opening missions, because the controls take time to get used to. It never feels like it's done purposefully awkward, you just need to get to grips with it. What's more, when you feel yourself getting better, you start to see how balanaced each of the four fighter classes are, and how each choice you make for them completely alters your gameplay style.
The A-Wing, for example, can be outfitted with every kind of speed boost imaginable and will have you zipping across missions and multiplayer maps, but if anyone manages to pin you down, you'll be an easy kill. On the opposite end, you can load up the TIE Bomber with hardened hull, a temporary shield generator, and an arsenal of missiles and auto-cannons, but you'll have to fly smarter and think evasion in order to survive.
Veteran players will recall the likes of 'X-Wing Alliance' or 'X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter', and how each craft's weapons, shields, and engine powers could be shifted on the fly in order to best suit the moment-to-moment decisions in any one skirmish. It's the same system here, and even on a PS4 controller and without HOTAS, it's surprisingly nimble and gives you the tight control you'll need to fight and fly your way out of a tricky situation.
In comparison to something like 'Elite: Dangerous' or even 'Ace Combat 7', the controls in 'Star Wars: Squadrons' have a decent learning curve and require only that you pay attention to what the craft you're flying is telling you. If it's blindingly fast, you'll need to ease off the throttle in order to make quick turns. If it's too jittery on the stick, you'll have to reconsider your weapon of choice for something that can cope with it. You can be as detailed and considered as you like, or you can simply just fly the thing and blast whatever comes into your cockpit window. The game is broad enough in scale and scope that it allows for both play styles simultaneously.
As for VR, playing it on the PS4 Pro makes for a thrilling experience and the game is clearly built with it in mind, rather than it being an additional consideration. In fact, on a couple of craft, you actually gain an advantage by playing in VR as you can quite literally look up in your cockpit and see where your target is rather than having to refer to your targeting system or radar. Of course, like all VR, you can only stomach it for short periods of time before it becomes disorientating and nauseating.
The single-player campaign is well-written, and does its best to go beyond a glorified tutorial for multiplayer. That said, you can clearly tell when some missions have been dropped into the running order to get players familiar with a certain craft or scenario in multiplayer, like the Fleet Battle mode. Still, the story is rich with familiar faces and characters, and the ability to customise your Imperial pilot and New Republic pilot is a nice touch and gives it more personality than you might initially expect.
Multiplayer is where 'Star Wars: Squadrons' truly lives and flourishes, and there's every possibility that it could become a fascinating esport with the right encouragement and offerings by EA. Intriguingly, EA has been quite hands-off about it so far, most likely waiting to see if the game will catch on naturally than trying to force it into existence.
If your hesitation about buying 'Star Wars: Squadrons' is that you'll get bored of it eventually, or that its focus is more on multiplayer than single-player, rest assured that while they're not completely unfounded, you'll have so much fun with this that it'll go to the back of your mind and be forgotten within a couple of hours of swooping your X-Wing around space.