Battlefront's Outer Rim DLC packs in lore, but the shooting stays shallow

Ya koon tacha poonoo nee sah gee

Ya koon tacha ka poonoo nee sah.

Ya koon tacha ka poonoo nee sah

Jabba the Hutt is laughing at me. The corpulent crime boss rumbles ominously in Huttese, relishing my damning choice to strike a deal with him. What little light that struggles through his throne room’s smoky haze is gridded onto the walls and floor through slatted vents. A stronger light source rests in Jabba’s pudgy palm: a small holoprojector emitting a faint blue glow in the shape of a blaster pistol. I’ve just agreed to a contract with a Hutt for that pistol.

The galaxy’s ugliest kingpin and his Tatooine stronghold are the best parts of Outer Rim, the first major DLC release for Star Wars Battlefront. It’s a sizeable start for Season Pass holders—four new maps, a new mode, four new weapons, two new heroes, new Star Cards, and a raised rank cap to 60—and a decent foundation for a DLC roadmap covering roughly one year. Where the luster fades lies in the exact same pitfall encountered at launch: a sustained lack of depth.

That’s been something of a two-sided problem for Battlefront in the four months since its release. I’ve heartily recommended it to friends seeking an approachable multiplayer shooter layered beneath a lavish dedication to the Star Wars films. I’ve also steered people away from it for its formulaic kill-die-respawn design that, unless in the boots of a hero, permeates its infantry or vehicle combat. As Andy wrote in his review, Battlefront’s soul feels hollow.

An occupational hazard of buddying up with Jabba holes in the floor

An occupational hazard of buddying up with Jabba: holes in the floor.

Palace of spine parts

Outer Rim doesn’t buck that trend, but the fan in me still loves its nods to Star Wars lore. The new Jabba’s Palace map helms that admiration as a twisting, close-quarters infantry arena liberally sprinkled with authentic touches. It’s hard not to stop and ogle at the details, such as Jabba’s docked sail barge, the throne room’s triggered trapdoor, or the steadily decaying remains of the slain rancor below. The hastily stashed corpses of Gamorrean guards and the still-displayed, now-thawed carbon unit once imprisoning a frozen Han Solo makes the place feel like Skywalker and crew left just days ago.

The new 12-player Extraction mode naturally pairs with the Palace’s smaller scale. Rebels escort a hovering pallet of precious cargo on a set route throughout the map while Imperials defend and delay for as long as possible. It’s a mode intimately familiar for Team Fortress 2 Payload veterans—and though the inclusion of hero support occasionally adds exciting, tide-turning moments, Extraction isn’t anything wholly innovative. The cargo often lies untouched in favor of dreary deathmatching until the expired timer delivers an Imperial victory, so Extraction feels lacking of a strong incentive to focus on the objective similar to the larger Supremacy or Walker Assault modes. On the upside, it’s a grand opportunity to steep future content ever deeper in Star Wars nostalgia—Han Solo’s horizontal exit from Cloud City to Boba Fett’s Slave I practically designs itself.

A new Sullust map takes place in a sweltering smelting foundry

A new Sullust map takes place in a sweltering smelting foundry.

I spent some time trying to figure out how Outer Rim’s two lesser-known heroes managed to squeeze in alongside the great Darth Vader or Princess Leia, but their comparable deadliness trivializes the matter. The Rebels get Nien Nunb: he was Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot in Return of the Jedi, a chuckle-happy Sullustan who’s ace at area denial and chokepoint defense with his proximity bombs, pulse cannon, and a superpowered turret. I liken him to a beefy version of TF2’s Engineer class who can quickly set up an entrenched hardpoint—perfect for Extraction or other attack/defense modes—while retaining enough mobility to cover flank routes with bomb traps and his souped-up version of the DH-17 pistol.

Far more fun and interesting is Greedo, the ill-fated Rodian bounty hunter—he's better remembered as a ventilated corpse in A New Hope’s famous cantina scene—who joins the Empire. He favors a risk-reward playstyle that increases his damage and the type of grenade he can lob out as he chains together kills. (His ultimate grenade, the Thermal Imploder, is a marvel of DICE sound engineering.) It's thrilling playing a hero who steadily ramps up his threat and efficiency by pushing the front lines, a mechanics-based encouragement to perform heroic deeds and get aggressive. And while it's weird seeing the lowly Greedo chum beside Palpatine as if he had the Emperor on speed-dial the entire time, he’s a burst of creativity that Battlefront could use a lot more of.

The new Extraction mode focuses the action around a slowly moving cargo payload

The new Extraction mode focuses the action around a slowly moving cargo payload.

Numbers and letters

Less exciting are Outer Rim’s assortment of weapons and extra Star Cards earned through Hutt Contracts, a variation of Battlefield 4’s assignment system where meeting killstreaks and certain weapon criteria bestows an unlock of some sort. They’re themed less around direct damage boosts and more for utilitarian purpose. Gun names still aren’t memorable enough to pick out from one another, and determining what to use between monikers such as the Relby V-10 or the DT-12 gets cumbersome.

For all its devotion to its source material, Outer Rim hasn’t notably altered what makes Battlefront grow stale after a while.

The two pistols and two targeting rifles are side-grades at best; their tap-fire characteristics—strongest seen in the DLT-19X’s sniper-style single-shot mode—feel overly niche, and I wound up reverting back to my original arsenal after a few trial rounds. Ditto for the new Star Cards: the Dioxis gas grenade, health-boosting Stim, or hard-hitting Scatter Gun (which is really a slightly longer-range Scout Pistol) sound appealing on paper but sport little extra practical use compared to the direct punch of a Thermal Detonator or handy Jump Pack.

For all its devotion to its source material, Outer Rim hasn’t notably altered what makes Battlefront grow stale after a while. There are definitely gems of easygoing fun to find, particularly when going crazy as Greedo or beating back a savage defense on Extraction. Overall, though, it suffers the same lack of punch hampering Battlefront’s vanilla content, and its returns don’t quite shore up the stiff $50 Season Pass price. It'll be nice to have when it inevitably comes bundled with the game down the line.

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