Using a flight stick to play Star Wars: Squadrons is by far the most fun way to control your ship. Flight sticks and Hotas (hands-on throttle and stick) offer the greatest immersion and an unparalleled level of control. If you haven’t chosen a flight stick yet we have a great guide to help you pick the best setup for you. The next step is configuring your stick for the game. The process is fairly straight forward, but it can take a lot of time to figure out, especially if you haven’t ever used a flight stick before. In this guide, we’ll be covering the process for assigning keys and the best way to think about button assignments for Squadrons.
Assigning Your Flight Stick
The good news is that Star Wars: Squadrons will automatically detect most brands and models of flight sticks. The bad news is that you have to manually assign them before the game will let you use them. If you’re trying to assign buttons and the game isn’t recognizing any of your inputs, this is probably where you’re getting stuck.
Before you can start assigning your buttons, you first have to open the settings menu and navigate to the control page. At the very bottom of the list, in the flight stick category, you will see your options for assigning your sticks.
Squadrons allows up to three different flight stick controllers so you can use a stick, throttle, and pedals if you want. The game will automatically detect how many inputs you have plugged in. I set my stick to number one and my throttle to number two, but you can assign them any way you want.
Mapping Keys To Your Flight Sticks
The next part is where things can get overwhelming, especially if you aren’t familiar with flight sticks. The list of buttons to map is massive and you likely won’t even understand what most of them do. Further, a lot of them are redundant or not really even used.
I recommend first and foremost to play the campaign. The story mode introduces each new mechanic slowly and only once you’ve had an opportunity to learn previous mechanics. When a new button is introduced, the game will pause and explain what the button does. This is the best opportunity to map a new button.
If the button is unassigned, the tooltip will show a joy-stick icon with a 1 next to it and no other numbers. Once you understand the purpose of the button, you should move your mouse to see which button on your keyboard it’s assigned to – that way you can figure out exactly what it’s called in the button mapping menu. Next, hit the specified button on your keyboard to exit the tooltip, then pause the game, navigate to control, and select assign buttons.
Now, scroll through the keyboard buttons and find the key you just learned, look at what it’s named, then navigate over to the control stick menu and find that input. Once you do, simply click or pull the trigger on your flight stick to select the entry and press whichever button you want to assign it to.
It’s a bit convoluted, but once you do this process a couple of times you’ll remember how to do it. It’s best to do this process rather than assign all the buttons randomly and learn what they do later because you’ll have a much easier time remembering which buttons do what if you assign them with intention.
Button Mapping Philosophy
Every flight stick combination is totally unique, so you’ll have to experiment to discover which configuration feels the most natural to you. Even if there was a community template, I’d still recommended setting them yourself based on your own experience and the way everything feels. Some people prefer to twist the control stick to rotate while others prefer to use the peddles on the throttle. It’s completely based on how it feels to use.
There are a few principles that can help guide you, however, if you’re completely lost on where to start. Here are some tips that can help you decide where to put your controls.
- Weapon and auxiliary systems typically feel best on the stick. The trigger should be your main weapon and any button on the top you can press with your thumb should be your auxiliary weapons like missiles and bombs.
- Hat switches are multi-directional and are great for radial menus, but in the heat of battle, it can be really hard to precisely select the right input. Try to limit how many directions you’re using on a hat switch to four. For example, the hat switch on top of the stick is great for redirecting power to engines, weapons, shields, or neutral.
- Don’t be afraid to do things that seem unconventional. You don’t need to use your stick for pitch and yaw, you can assign yaw to buttons or paddles if it feels better to you. There are no correct configurations and the most important thing is simply that you’ll remember what buttons you’ve assigned.
Once you’re done, why not check out our Star Wars: Squadrons Fleet Battles guide. Maybe stay away from comp for now, though – Star Wars: Squadrons Competitive Mode is currently a disaster.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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