When it launched earlier this year, Battlefront’s first premium expansion, Outer Rim, wasn’t exactly met with the warmest of receptions. Despite introducing a new game mode, a handful of maps, and numerous loadout options, it featured many of the same locations that appeared in the vanilla release and only featured smaller maps. In short, many who had purchased Battlefront’s pricey season pass became very concerned.
Bespin is hardly a ground-breaking slab of content, though seems infinitely more appealing than Outer Rim. Although both expansions more or less contain the same amount of add-ons, this second major content drop allows players to explore one of Star Wars’ most memorable locales. The cloud city of Bespin is certainly up there with Endor, Tatooine, and Hoth, playing host to some of the original trilogy’s darkest moments.
With five new maps to play, DICE takes fans on a thorough tour through several key landmarks. When playing larger game modes such as Turning Point, Supremacy, and Walker Assault, most of the action will take place within Cloud City and its vast urban complex. There’s a great sense of scale though DICE manages to cleverly box players in, allowing for various types of combat scenario to unfold.
Slightly smaller, we have the Administrator’s Palace – a locale Star Wars fans will recognise immediately from The Empire Strikes Back. Surrounded by a network of floating walkways, the map’s core resembles a knot of lengthy corridors, punctuated by tight stairwells.
Meanwhile, Bioniip Labs transports us to a more obscure area of Bespin. In many ways it feels like a shrunk down version of Cloud City, boasting much of the same scenery but in a far less open space.
We have the iconic Bespin’s Carbonite-Freezing Chamber. For those who don’t remember, this is where – spoiler alert! – Han Solo finds himself encased in a block of metal before being carted off to Jabba’s Palace. It’s also where Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have their first lightsaber duel, though there’s little opportunity to recreate such moments here. Instead, players will weave their way through a dimly lit tangle of access tunnels while scrapping over several strategic points.
Finally, those who love Battlefront’s simplified brand of dog fighting, Bespin also serves up a new airspace in which to play Fighter Squadron. As in the Administrator’s Palace, the views here are phenomenal, replicating vistas from the timeless Star Wars sequel.
Next to Bespin’s quintet of playable maps comes a new game mode: Sabotage. As with many of Battlefront’s existing modes, one side defends objectives while the other seeks to attack and destroy it. However, in Sabotage there’s a nice little twist. If the rebels manage to blow up their three targets, they’ll need to fall back to an extraction zone and hold it until the timer runs out. If Imperial forces manage to save at least one generator though then the match ends then and there.
After several hours of playing Sabotage, we experienced an even split between those premature Empire victories and matches that were extended for the Rebels to try and extract. The latter are far more tense by comparison, seeing both teams completely switch their style of play. There’s also that crazy point when the transition occurs, as Imperials look to capture the rebel extraction point in a co-ordinated blitz maneuver.
After soaking in the atmosphere and sabotaging a generator or two, players wanting the most of Bespin will begin exploring the new weapons and star cards. It’s worth mentioning that these aren’t available right away. For those who drifted away soon after launch, you may be unfamiliar with Battlefront’s Hutt Contracts, these are purchasable challenges that, when turned in, unlock additional loadout options.
Although not too gruelling, these bounties create a barrier between players and some of the loudout possibilities. That said, Bespin’s pair of blasters don’t exactly turn the game on its head. The X-8 Night Sniper may be able to pick out heat signatures, but is one of the slowest, riskiest weapons to use in close combat. The EE-4 is bound to draw more fans though, its burst fire capable of tearing through pockets of unsuspecting enemies.
As for Bespin’s star cards, we’re looking at a strange trio, though all useful nonetheless. The Scout Binoculars can pick foes out from afar, tagging them for your entire team to see. Meanwhile, the Shock Grenade makes for one of the game’s most annoying thrown weapons, forcing enemies to hammer the square button to break free of its effects. Perhaps even more annoying is the Disruption star card. In using it, players overheat the blasters of surrounding targets for a few seconds. It’s like playing Battlefield or Call of Duty and having someone temporarily rip a gun from your hands.
It wouldn’t be Bespin without those Cloud Cars now, would it? They may be a little more cumbersome than your ordinary TIE Fighter or X-Wing yet they help add some variety to fighter battles. They can also be deployed in some of Bespin’s larger ground maps, picking off infantry while menacing any AT-STs in the area.
It’s been nice seeing lesser known characters such as Greedo and Nien Nunb step into the spotlight, but heroes still remain a fairly small part of the Battlefront experience. This time around, Lando Calrissian joins the fray alongside Dengar the bounty hunter, both equipped with a primary weapon and three unique skills. Sure, there’s some novelty to be had in experimenting with their playstyles, though we’d hesitate to call them a stand-out feature.
Another aspect players may find underwhelming is lack of customisation options. In fact, we’d call it shocking. Aside from a selection of head swaps and fancy Stormtrooper variants, Battlefront offers very few ways for players to express themselves. Along with the pricing of its downloadable content, this is one area of the game that DICE should be looking into.
Bespin is currently available to those who own a season pass and, for the most part, we’d say it was worth the price of admission. DICE has done a fantastic job in capturing the cloud city’s beautiful aesthetic across its five maps. While only two or three of them stand-out, they add some much needed diversity to the current stock. And while Sabotage may not be a completely original mode, it has already provided us with several hours of tense and enjoyable play.