The latest expansion for Star Wars: Battlefront offers up new maps, heroes, and modes, but is it worth converting those Imperial credits?
Proceeded by a trickle of free content, the first expansion pack for EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront dropped recently, introducing new heroes, weapons, maps, and game types. All of which are, to put it lightly, underwhelming, given the extrapolated cost of the pack (subscribers pay 49.99 for four expansions, so it stands to reason this pack is approximately $12.50.)
First, the good: the gorgeous and detailed maps from the core game are joined by a few new ones, and the level of design and attention to detail is still overwhelmingly grand. Each new map looks and feels like a Star Wars film, albeit, one of the classic trilogy ones. Smoke rises from futuristic-yet-antique-looking machines, the beeps and whirrs of droids echo through rocky caves, and the sky is lit up in a grand display of the cosmos. It’s a gorgeous environment, and reinforces my wish for a local multiplayer mode that would allow me to explore the locations and unearth all of the hidden details.
The Outer Rim also adds a new system and means for unlock through Hutt Bounties. In this mode, the player can purchase (using in-game credits) a specific challenge from Jabba, in hopes of earning a unique reward. These challenges, ideally, provide incentive for players to alternate from their standard weapon and card layout, breathing fresh life into a game that originally did little to reward it’s max-level players. While the bounty system is a nice addition, some of the challenges are very steep for the casual player, essentially dangling an unobtainable carrot in front of them. This isn’t a new concept to gaming, but it stands out in the otherwise all-skill-levels friendly Battlefront.
Finally, the new game type, Extraction, is a welcome addition to the core game, even if it does feel unfairly tilted towards the offense at this time. I personally would have preferred more game types utilizing spaceships or vehicles, but EA has chosen to stick to the ground game for this one. There are also ten new levels added to the system, as well as one new appearance unlock for the rebels (the Empire, sadly, is stuck with the same Dark Trooper for level 50). While it’s nice to see progress again, these levels don’t really bring much in the way of unlocks, and are mostly still cosmetic.
For every passing element in the Outer Rim, there are decisions that just seem strange. First, two new maps and a handful of guns (which technically can be unlocked even by those who don’t own the expansion) do not a sold expansion make. It’s nearly impossible to turn off the feeling that this is core-game content, and distributing it months late is an attempt to create a full game from the admittedly shallow experience offered to early buyers. The content feels padded by relabeling new map boundaries as ‘new content’.
Second, and ultimately the most disappointing from a fan point of view, is that EA seems determined to stick to the original trilogy for inspiration. While the prequels may have earned their detractors fairly, to ignore an entire half of a universe in order to milk out the most revisited side will eventually leave the game feeling stale. For example: the two new ‘heroes’, Greedo and Nein Numb, are a befuddling choice. Sure, Greedo fits in with the lawless atmosphere of Jabba’s palace (or he would have, had he not spent most of the original trilogy being dead), but Nien Numb is a pilot, best known for his odd laugh while co-piloting the Falcon in Return of the Jedi. Battlefront heroes are the video game equivalent of smashing action figures together, so why pick two characters that could, at best, have a minor following? Instead, why not toss in a young Obi-Wan and Darth Maul? Sure, it doesn’t make chronological sense to have them battling it out amidst the snow banks of Hoth, but neither does it make sense to have the Emperor storm a rebel base, defended by a green lightsaber wielding Luke. The Star Wars universe is full of dynamic and awesome characters that fans have been matching up in ‘who would win’ scenarios for years, and I sincerely hope EA realizes that before their run of the game is through. I’m also hoping they realize the immense potential of including content from Rogue One and The Force Awakens. In fact, the relative ease of converting the current graphics to match Rogue One’s time period may be what lands it in our hands.
Overall, the decision whether or not to buy the Outer Rim should come down to how dedicated you are to the Battlefront universe. If the thought of grinding out bounties for a gun or card that many players will never touch sounds appealing, this expansion might provide a few solid hours of entertainment. But right now, the base game cost plus the season pass has a long, long way to go before it earns it’s value.