Electronic Arts (EA) and DICE’s next-gen update of Star Wars Battlefront has just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and ahead of Gareth Edwards’ hugely-anticipated anthology epic Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, players are being treated to a brand new DLC, but it is worth the asking price?
Well, cost has always been an issue that has plagued the minds and pockets of Battlefront’s core audience. Upon initial release, the base game came in at a solid £40-50, and for that you received a collection of training modes, some single player and/or co-op battles, and well, a box. If you really wanted to experience the game the way the designers intended, you’d need to purchase the Season Pass. Presuming you’ve already paid your annual £39.99 for online gaming via the PS4 or Xbox One, the Season Pass too costs £39.99, and for that you gain full multiplayer access, multiple maps and upgrades, plus four additional DLC packs released throughout 2016. Outer Rim was good, Bespin was fantastic, and Death Star – likely the seminal release – was massively disappointing.
Now the fourth and final DLC, Rouge One: Scarif, is available to Season Pass holders for two-week early access (the individual DLC pack can be purchased from 20th December), and thankfully it is so great, that the hefty fees aren’t quite as bitter as they initially seem. Firstly, with this DLC comes additional game modes for Death Star (something many players demanded, and EA listened), so that’s a good start. Secondly, Rogue One: Scarif itself features a number of beloved game modes such as Walker Assault, Blast, Fighter Squadron, and Turning Point, but also a brand-new mode in Infiltration.
Across four beautiful new maps – some sprawling with plush tropical foliage, others cagey and ferociously tight – the war-torn landscape of Scarif is a joy to explore. It feels somewhat odd having the pandemonium of epic Star Wars battles unfold in an environment which feels vividly real (this is more Vietnam than Tatooine…), but the experience is all the richer for it. Blaster battles, aerial attacks, and grenade-launching all feel fresh and invigorating in this dense and feverish setting.
Infiltration in particular is a real highlight. A new three-phased mode in which Rebels must first breach the shield surrounding Scarif, by escorting a U-Wing to the Shield Gate. TIE Fighters dogfight with X-Wings as Rebel pilots evade copious laser beams and debris in order to escape. Personally, one is not a massive fan of the flight elements in Battlefront – particularly online, anyway – but the heightened ten-minute space combat here is quite frankly exhilarating. Once the Rebels have landed, their objective is to create a diversion by blowing up an Imperial Cargo Ship. Scarif Stormtroopers, Death Troopers, and more must defend their vehicle, whilst the Rebellion must evade a brutal onslaught to fulfil their task.
The third and final phase sees the Rebels attempt to complete their mission by stealing a collection of Imperial datatapes and fleeing in the U-Wing, which forces the Empire to get physical and break away from defence to secure their secrets. Tapes can be stolen and dropped via combat, so regardless of which side you fight for, awareness and discipline is far more important than soaring kill records. Ahead of this review, one played Infiltration for three hours, and never did the events unfold in the same manner. The mania of hustling, blasting, and protecting makes the mode extremely immersive, and taking different approaches to completing the objectives gives a satisfying rush. Chances are you will die an insane amount of times, because one game takes about 25-30 minutes – say ten for each phase – but who cares? When the erupting action is this much fun, and this forward-thinking, it is just a pleasure to be a part of the team.
Rogue One: Scarif also comes with additional weapon load-outs, Star Cards, and playable Heroes. The best new weapon is undoubtedly Jyn Erso’s versatile tool the A180 – a unique pistol which can be modified to either a Sniper Rifle, an Assault Rifle, or an Ion Blaster. Switching between weapon types is quick and easy, so dropping to close-combat before scoping an assailant at distance takes no time at all and can be done in the thick of battle. Equally, players can take on the role of either Jyn or Director Orson Krennic, and both are fantastic to control.
Whilst Krennic is most certainly defence-oritentated – summoning C2-B5 for shielding and scanning, and applying Armor Breaker for superior damage at distance – Jyn Erso is a ferocious bruiser; so much so that with successive kills and strikes, she gains charges for her savage Truncheon Surge. Watching Stormtroopers fly yards after giving them a brutal wallop is ludicrously satisfying. Both Heroes are well-worth adopting; you’ll have more brazen fun with Jyn, and more tactical success with Krennic. Because Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is without the Jedi, neither Heroes have any Force powers, which if you like consistency as much as I do, this is most pleasing indeed.
In addition to all this goodness, if you are a PlayStation player, you will also receive the new X-Wing VR Mission, specifically designed for the PlayStation VR headset. Sadly, this author doesn’t possess the required gear just yet, but rest assured, this will be played as soon as possible. Also inside the DLC is the chance to fly the U-Wing which has a number of attack abilities, and the opportunity to lean out and shower enemies with ammo; just like Bistan does in the movie.
So the big question is this: it is worth purchasing the Season Pass just to play Rogue One: Scarif, or should I wait until 20th December? Personally, waiting is the better option financially. The singular DLC will be cheaper, you would have seen the film by then, and chances are come January, the remaining DLC add-ons will be reduced, too. But if you can’t bare another day without getting into the thick of Scarif’s tropical mayhem, then jump in today; you won’t regret it. This fourth and final expansion for Star Wars Battlefront is the best of the bunch, and the game mode you’ll be returning to most throughout 2017.
Rogue One: Scarif DLC is now available for Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass holders on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Season Pass memberships are charged at £39.99 pp. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in UK cinemas in IMAX 3D on Thursday, 15th December.