Where previous expansions have expanded Battlefront’s homage to the original Star Wars trilogy, its fourth and final add-on takes us somewhere completely new. Unsurprisingly, Rogue One: Scarif is based solely around the upcoming Star Wars spin-off hitting cinemas later this week. Given the secrecy that surrounds such endeavours, it’s quite unexpected that players can explore this exciting chapter in the Star Wars saga before seeing it on the big screen. Well, at least that’s the case for season pass holders.
This same group of dedicated fans will also know how each Battlefront expansion takes shape. One central location on which a cluster of new maps are themed, one new mode, two heroes, and a small suite of new loadout options. For £12, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck even if the implementation is a little awkward – we’ll get to that later.
Scarif, then. For a planet that seems to be mostly comprised of sandy beaches and pockets of dense jungle, there’s a decent amount of variety in the map designs. Although the overriding aesthetic remains constant, DICE has managed to sculpt this luscious setting to fit its most iconic game modes. Beachfronts become a no man’s land as players sprint into the water, seeking refuge in the dense foliage beyond. It can be annoying at first, though you’ll get used to the amount of greenery there is, especially upon realising its potential use for springing ambushes. Most maps are also peppered with tokens that can call in either a TIE Striker or U-Wing. The latter has you sitting aboard one of the new ships, gunning down enemies from the sky above.
Rogue One’s new game mode, Infiltration, is fun enough, though it does feel as though it’s been lazily cobbled together. Here the developers have sandwiched together three rounds as rebel and imperial forces go head to head. The first of these is a welcome twist on Battlefront’s drab space battles in which the attackers must reach an end zone while piloting a small number of U-Wings. It’s an interesting take on the game’s dogfights and one that forces a more tactical approach to play. The moment U-Wings come into play, they’ll be set upon by a swarm of TIE Fighters, making for some awesome set piece clashes.
If the rebels succeed, their next task is to simply capture one of two control points. Basic stuff, really, and with another successful objective under their belt, they’ll have to carry flag-like objectives to an extraction zone to seal the deal. With three flags constantly active, there’s pressures on both the attackers and defenders to mark each route and push back the opposing team.
As touched on before, Infiltration can be great fun, though the Frankenstein-style assembly won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The transition between each of the three rounds is clunky and time-consuming, in particular. It’s particularly frustrating if you love the third round style of gameplay, as chances are quite high that many matches won’t reach this final part.
With Rogue One we see two new playable heroes enter the fray – Director Orson Krennic and so-called “troublemaker” Jyn Erso. They both have their own unique playstyles and abilities. It’s hard to say which is more capable of the two, though Krennic’s revolver-like blaster and shield droid give him a slight edge over the offense-based Erso.
It’s been ages since I last played Battlefront’s hero-centric game modes, however, with eight new characters thrown into the mix, these modes are now much more fun with plenty more options to explore and mess around with. It’s just a shame that these will only blossom for those who shelled out for a season pass.
While there’s only one new star card in the expansion, Rogue One’s pair of blasters are among the best available in the game. Modeled after Krennic’s own weapon of choice, the DT-29 is revolver pistol that has a manual reload instead of standard overheating. Jyn’s A180 is much more versatile by comparison and has quickly become a favourite among players. Its primary fire isn’t all that mentionable, but with the press of a button, you can swap out the barrel for either a sniper, ion, or rifle module. It’s effectively a four-in-one blaster that can dominate at any distance.
To get the most of out of Rogue One – or any Battlefront expansion for that matter – there are some awkward, frustrating hoops to jump through first. Instead of simply adding the new loadout options to your current arsenal, you’ll need to unlock them via Hutt Contracts. Using in-game currency unlocks challenge-like bounties that need completing in order to earn the sonic grenade, DT-29, and A180. While some players will enjoy chasing these side objectives, some of the requirements require a ridiculous amount of time, luck, and skill.
We’re also at a point now where other studios have adopted a smarter approach to post-launch support. Overwatch and Uncharted 4 are both fantastic examples in this respect, both receiving a regular stream of new maps, guns, and mode completely for free. By focusing on microtransactions and cosmetic items, Blizzard and Naughty have managed to avoid segregating their players and matchmaking queues based on who purchased which map pack.
There’s certainly lessons to be learned going forward and hopefully, when EA debuts Battlefront 2 next year, it will be far more progressive in its approach. Until then, however, Rogue One: Scarif is still a great romp and a strong send-off for Battlefront’s hugely successful return.