It came from behind
When you want to make an MMO feel more like Star Wars, what's the best way to transport gamers to a galaxy far, far away? Easy. Add more spaceships and explosions--in space. In Star Wars: The Old Republic's upcoming free-to-play expansion, you're getting just that. In Galactic Starfighter, you can hop into your own starfighter and engage in 12-vs.-12, free-flight, PVP matches.
At any character level, you'll be able to hop in a match from the new Hanger interface. The Hanger is where you can customize various starfighter types, which include the fast and nimble Scout, the all-around Strike Fighter, and the long-range Gunship (with more classes on the way). Everything from blasters to engines to ordnance can be earned and upgraded, which makes changes to the appearance of your fighter so you won't feel like a clone (trooper?) of every other player.
In the cockpit, you control the pitch and yaw of your starfighter with the mouse. Your speed and roll are controlled with the keyboard (WASD). At first, the control scheme feels a bit awkward, but after a few minutes, I could pull off quick banks and simple maneuvers easily. Dogfighting is much more complicated than simply flying and shooting. Players also have access to class specific abilities that include missile lock-breaking maneuvers like barrel rolls and retro thrusters as well as shield boosts. Then there's power allocation, which allows you to change the recharge rates of your shields, weapons, and engines, for additional strategery. It's all very intricate and skill-based. Plus, with all those tactical controls, you could start spouting lines to your squadmates like "switch all power to your front deflector screen," or "accelerate to attack speed," and even, "cut the chatter Red 2," just for kicks.
Check out the following slides for more info and images.
You won't be flying alone--you can pick a co-pilot out of your existing companions.
Not all maps are in space, as you'll also play matches on planet surfaces.
Everything on your fighter is customizable, including the paint, engine trails, and even the blaster bolts.
Once you choose your ship class, you'll be able to refine your playstyle through component and skill upgrades.
The map environments are much more than empty space next to bulk cruisers.
Domination match types task you with capturing these big, green satellites.
Every ship type plays a different roll. For instance, the gunship's railgun makes it a long-range sniper.