Star Wars: Squadrons, or the flight simulator game that Star Wars fans have dreamed of for decades, has proven to be a surprisingly enjoyable and immersive interpretation of Star Wars space combat. From the cockpit instrument displays to the initially disorientating TIE Fighter window to the contextual radio chatter, no major detail has been overlooked. If you can play the game in VR, the experience is supposedly an overwhelming nostalgia trip. The game is practically a must-have for those who have longed to live out their sci-fi space fantasies. Yet, for all the praise that Squadrons deserves, one can't help but feel like it is also a proof of concept. The fact that the game was released during the waning months of the Xbox One/PS4 console generation, with no plans for DLC, would be enough to raise eyebrows.
Indeed, it's almost difficult to imagine that Squadrons was published by the same company that was responsible for Star Wars Battlefront 2's launch woes. Squadrons is a unique, self-contained gaming experience with a passable story that gives equal time to both the New Republic and Empire. It's undoubtedly one of those games that offers only one thing, but it does that one thing very well. In this regard, Squadrons is quite similar to Fallen Order, albeit with much less content. One would've expected sequel-era DLC or somesuch at the very least, but no such plans exist. The lack of gameplay variety further contributes towards the feeling that Squadrons is a testbed for something else. If future Star Wars games continue the trend started by Fallen Order and Squadrons though, it seems unlikely that anyone would complain.
The upgrade to next-gen hardware alone could make a world of difference. If there is a sequel to Squadrons, that could translate to more having ships/players in a match, actual planet to orbit transitions and vice versa, perhaps even small-scale fleet engagements similar to the Battle of Scarif in Rogue One. But why stop there? If the PS5 and Xbox Series X are as powerful as Sony and Microsoft say they are, then a next-gen Star Wars Squadrons can easily be expanded to cover multiple eras (i.e. prequels and sequels), more ship variants, more elaborate customization options and weapons, maybe even minor environmental destruction (think seismic charges from Attack of the Clones but toned down). And that's just for Squadrons.
For a next-gen sequel to something like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you could be looking at battles similar to those in the trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of course, given the time period of Fallen Order, it would make little sense for large-scale lightsaber battles to take place, but the concept remains. Again, more people on screen, environmental destruction, more interesting Force powers and physics interactions, things that would create experiences unique to Star Wars without straying from what made these games so well received. It's certainly not impossible seeing as how existing games, most notably Control, already let you interact with the environment (and enemies) in conceptually similar ways. The real test is creating an experience that makes sense for a Star Wars game.
Hopefully, EA's apparent shift to story-driven, self-contained Star Wars games also leads to more spiritual successors of LucasArts titles. Granted, Disney probably has a ton of stipulations in place that are stifling some of the more creative concepts, but one can certainly dream. A revival of the Bounty Hunter game or the 1313 project could certainly be an interesting direction, especially considering how popular The Mandalorian is. It would also be a great way to explore the gritty underworld of the Star Wars universe, potentially across multiple planets. There's also the possibility of interacting with the normal people of the Star Wars universe, those who aren't directly involved in the struggles of the Rebellion and the Empire. You could even tie in some Squadrons mechanics, though it probably would be more of a secondary feature than anything else. Regardless, it would do the franchise some good as the original trilogy era is starting to become overdone.
Speaking of different eras, if Disney does decide to expand on the Old Republic (or the High Republic) setting, then the floodgates for Star Wars games might finally be truly opened. The current selection of Star Wars games is adequate, but they can't compete with the literal world building that took place in the pre-Disney days. It might take years, decades even, if such thing were to happen at all, but the possibilities are endless. A Fallen Order-esque game that takes place when the Jedi and Sith were in open combat would be absolutely marvelous, at least from a thematic standpoint. A Squadrons-type game with a beefed up story would do wonders too, as it would let the game's hypothetical writers and artists go absolutely wild with new ship designs, characters, and mission design. Beyond that, we might see actual MMOs, RPGs, games that excel in building up a universe.
Alas, Disney controls the overall Star Wars franchise and the direction that the Star Wars games will go, but if there is a silver lining, it's that the chilly reception to the sequel movies might encourage them to explore other ways to expand the franchise.