Including the Death Star in Star Wars Battlefront is an obvious choice. The legendary attack on the Empire’s ultimate weapon has been featured in numerous games, and rightfully so. It’s an exciting and captivating experience. While I personally enjoy DICE’s exceptional ground battles more than their aerial combat, Battlefront would benefit from additional maps and modes for the latter to create a more well-rounded gameplay experience.
The expansion has sparked a renewed interest in the game among players, which I can understand. The idea behind it is solid. However, as someone who has assisted in destroying the Death Star multiple times (and missed out on the opportunity countless others), my optimism for the DLC is not as high as I initially anticipated.
Star Wars Battlefront: Death Star (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: September 20, 2016 (season pass) / October 4, 2016 (standalone purchase)
MSRP: $14.99 ($49.99 for four expansion packs)
The main attraction of this game is Battle Station, a fresh mode that unfolds in three unique stages. The initial phase involves the Rebels gradually eliminating waves of TIE Fighters in outer space. Once all the enemies are cleared, computer-controlled Y-Wings will arrive to weaken a Star Destroyer, revealing its vulnerable spots for human-controlled ships to attack. This cycle repeats several times until either the ship is destroyed or the timer expires, resulting in an Empire victory and the end of the game.
Assuming the Rebels are successful, Battle Station transitions to the Death Star’s interior after a brief loading screen. The Rebels must navigate on foot to reach R2-D2, who will be controlled by one lucky player and guided to an extraction point with the team. However, if the Empire can prevent this with a strong defense and continuous respawns, the game will end. This scenario occurred frequently during my sessions, and even as an Empire player, I didn’t want the game to end prematurely. Many players share this sentiment and hope for the game to continue into the third round, which takes place on the Death Star’s surface.
In this space battle, the Rebel Alliance and the Empire are engaged in a fierce conflict with a heightened sense of urgency. Every few moments, three Rebel players are chosen to destroy the Death Star. These players must navigate through designated checkpoints in the trenches to reach the exhaust vent. Meanwhile, other players in the match, including Luke Skywalker in his Red Five X-Wing and Darth Vader in his TIE Advanced, are either assisting or hindering the mission. If the initial team fails, another three players are selected to take on the task. This cycle continues until the mission is accomplished or the time limit expires.
When it comes to defense, Battle Station doesn’t offer much of a departure from Battlefront’s Fighter Squadron mode, which is just average in my opinion. However, the offensive gameplay is much more thrilling. The sense of urgency is palpable, especially during the trench run where the success of the entire team rests on your shoulders. You must navigate carefully to avoid crashing while also maintaining enough speed to evade TIE Fighters.
Regrettably, reaching that stage requires a considerable investment of time. The Battle Station mode can be tedious, and it’s necessary to complete the preceding two rounds before confronting the Death Star. Moreover, the more I engage with it, the less impressive it appears. While it boasts impressive visuals, that’s about it.
The game captures the essence of the original trilogy with great accuracy and authenticity. However, the space battles seem to prioritize style over substance, lacking the liveliness of the Star Destroyer or the Death Star. While the visuals and audio are impressive, I found myself more engrossed in Rogue Leader’s portrayal of the Battle of Yavin. After playing Battle Station for a few nights, I feel satisfied and don’t feel the urge to continue. Nonetheless, I had an unforgettable victory where I made a significant impact.
Fortunately, Death Star offers more than just one mode and a new map for Fighter Squadron. One of the additional modes is Blast, which is essentially a team deathmatch. While it may seem like a lackluster addition, I personally enjoy playing it, especially on the new map set within the station’s halls. The attention to detail is impressive, with even the trash compactor making an appearance. The overall design is faithful to the film sets, although it may not be as visually striking as some of Battlefront’s other locations.
The map boasts swift blast doors and tight spaces, ideal for launching unexpected assaults. However, my primary concern pertains to the game’s score limit, which is insufficient. Often, when I join a Blast match, it is already concluding, and I am swiftly redirected to another game mode, such as Battle Station. This results in prolonged waiting periods during loading screens, which can be discouraging and diminish my desire to continue playing after a few rounds.
The latest equipment available in Battlefront does not bring about significant changes. The K-16 Bryar Pistol and TL-50 Heavy Repeater both feature an alternative firing mode instead of a zoom function. Holding down the trigger will cause you to move slowly and charge up a shot that can eliminate an enemy in one hit. However, missing your target will leave you vulnerable as the weapon overheats instantly. While I personally struggle with accuracy, the design of these weapons is well-balanced and not overpowered. Additionally, the new Star Cards include the Laser Trip Mine, which functions as expected but also has the added bonus of disrupting enemy radar. The stationary Medical Droid is another new addition that emits healing energy to both you and your allies.
The expansion introduces Chewbacca and Bossk as the new hero and villain characters, respectively, adding more depth to the game. In skilled hands, both characters are formidable. Chewbacca has the ability to launch explosive bolts, with up to eight per shot when his trait is fully upgraded. He can also roar to boost the abilities of nearby allies and use a ground smash attack to eliminate regular soldiers with a powerful shockwave. As expected, Chewbacca is a force to be reckoned with. However, his design is a letdown, appearing outdated and out of sync with the rest of Battlefront.
Out of all the characters, my favorite is the bounty hunter Bossk. While Luke and Vader are impressive with their lightsabers and jumping abilities, they lack the survivability that Bossk possesses. With each kill, Bossk regains a portion of his health, allowing him to stay alive for an extended period of time if played strategically. His weapon of choice is the Relby-V10, which can fire Micro-Grenades that detonate upon impact. Additionally, he can escape dangerous situations by dropping a poisonous Dioxis grenade while leaping away. Bossk’s heat vision is also a useful tool, as it enhances his cooldown rates, damage, and sprinting speed. However, it can be challenging to differentiate between allies and enemies based solely on their heat signatures, and flash grenades can pose a significant threat. Overall, Bossk’s abilities make him a formidable opponent, reminiscent of the Predator.
In summary, the Death Star expansion for the game has its ups and downs. Despite having only one expansion left, I was hoping for more from the Battle Station feature and greater compatibility with the new maps. While the nostalgia factor may make it an easy sell for some, I personally feel disappointed. While it does help complete the overall season pass, I wouldn’t recommend it as a standalone purchase. It’s either all or nothing at this point.
[This review is based on the final build of the DLC provided by the developer.]