The first of four planned DLC releases for Star Wars: Battlefront, EA and DICE take players to the Outer Rim in a new expansion that packs in four new maps, two new heroes and a brand new game mode. While relatively generous in terms of the quantity of content encompassed within it, it’s when we look at the quality of this offering that Outer Rim feels more like a Jek Porkins than a Wedge Antilles.
Starting with the maps, they’re a varied bunch certainly but those expecting any new massive destructive playgrounds to accommodate the Walker Assault, Supremacy or Fighter Squadron modes will invariably be disappointed as these new ones only cater for the sixteen player game types such as Droid Run, Blast and, of course, the new Extraction game mode.
In regards to the maps that we actually have, there are definitely some good ones for Battlefront players to get stuck into. First up is Jabba’s Palace, which with its windy corridors, multitude of chokepoints and brilliantly engineered wraparound layout, make it a perfect choice for many of the sixteen player game modes. There’s a metric ton of fanservice here too, as players will recognise Jabba’s throne room, the Rancor pit, Jabba’s droid stash and of course, the iconic door to Jabba’s Palace and the long, cavernous corridors which lead away from it.
Next up is Jabba’s Garage, which mixes internal cavernous environments with a brief spell of outdoors action all set against the backdrop of a warehouse which houses the barge of the infamous Tatooine gangster. While perhaps not so tightly designed as the palace itself, the garage nonetheless proves to be a fine fit for the sixteen player game modes; the open air main chamber of the garage providing a neatly placed killzone where players can clamber all over the barge itself to avoid and return fire against the enemy.
Elsewhere the remaining two maps arguably veer towards the uninspiring. Set in a Sullustan refinery, these two maps follow a similar structure to the Tatooine maps, with one taking place within the interior and the other showing us glimpses of the outside. The problem is, they just don’t excel in any particular area. Devoid of both the tight level design and the fanservice of the Tatooine maps, it won’t take long before you tire of your battles through the dull industry and grim fire of the Sorosuub pipelines and refinery maps.
All in all, the maps are a mixed bunch and when compared to what they could have done with the Outer Rim setting; a pitched 40-man Supremacy or Walker Assault battle on either Mos Eisley or Anchorhead for example, it’s obvious that both would have gone down far better than the insipid maps set on Sullust. Nevertheless disappointingly uneven design aside, there is no denying just how good these new maps look, with Battlefront’s liquid smooth framerate and frankly insane attention to detail still doing a great job of caressing your retinas six months on after the base game’s original release.
Away from the maps, we’re treated to just one brand new game mode – Extraction. A rather intense affair that tasks the Rebel team with escorting a shipment of cargo through a number of enemy checkpoints, it is up to the Imperial team to stop the Rebels from offloading their contraband before the timer expires. An entertaining game mode for sure, Extraction works well on most maps (Jabba’s Palace in particular appears tailored for it), with open areas and claustrophobic corridors alike allowing both sides to use the idiosyncrasies of each area to their advantage.
Where the Outer Rim expansion trips up a bit further, is in the pair of new heroes that it brings to the table. The Imperial folks get bounty hunter Greedo, while the Rebel side has Sullustan ace pilot Nien Numb to add to their ranks and well, calling them ‘iconic’ is as much a stretch as calling Jar Jar Binks a worthwhile character that didn’t want to make you lobotomise yourself with a rusty spoon.
Lack of celebrity status aside, it is Nien Numb who is the more satisfying to play. An engineer type character whose deployable turret gains damage with each kill made, the Sullustan also boasts a wide ranging arsenal that includes proximity bombs, pulse cannon blasts and devastating orbital strikes, making him quite an interesting prospect to say the least. On the other hand, his Imperial counterpart is far less compelling. A gunslinger whose abilities upgrade with each kill, Greedo’s precision shot and grenades feel all too cookie-cutter when matched against Nien Numb’s impressive number of ways to put his foes in the ground.
A somewhat shaky start to Battlefront’s planned programme of DLC, Outer Rim dilutes an excellent new mode in Extraction with some relatively boring heroes and a couple of maps that really don’t bring anything new to the table. While there isn’t quite enough here to convince fans to hand over the money for the season pass then, there is still a fair old whack of entertainment to be had with the aforementioned new mode and two new Tatooine maps, so naturally, your mileage may vary. Regardless, here’s hoping that the next expansion, set on Bespin’s Cloud City no less, can more fully realise the potential of Battlefront’s expanded universe.