Star Wars Battlefront's Hero Blast mod is way more fun than the standard modes

For some content restoration mods, most of the work is already done. They’re the espresso shot of what Terms of Service contracts lovingly label User Generated Content, reaching deep into a game’s code to unlock dormant assets either unfinished or skipped over entirely to meet a shipping deadline. Some unearth forbidden knowledge we weren’t meant to see. Others draw widespread admiration for carefully piecing together an otherwise broken game. Still others—the best kind—foster the personalized sense of community oft-yearned in a multiplayer milieu of cold queue buttons and algorithm-fed matchmaking. Cue Star Wars Battlefront’s humble Hero Blast mod

The files pertaining to a Hero-only version of Battlefront’s team deathmatch Blast mode were first discovered last year by dataminer uninsipired_zebra. The reveal showed a screenshot of a private match lobby listed under the Hero Blast category, a 6 vs. 6 configuration for Imperial and Rebel teams, and an “XP3” designation suggesting a bonus mode for Season Pass owners. That aligned with earlier teases from developer DICE regarding plans for rewarding loyal Pass holders. Those plans apparently never coalesced, as Battlefront largely languished in major updates after the Rogue One-themed Scarif DLC released last December. Nearly six months later, a mod crafted by creator BDangercat using a custom launcher enables Hero Blast via invite-only matches. Modding, uh, finds a way.

The mode itself feels reassuringly near-complete. Menus, including the Hero selection screen, appear identical to other modes in the live game, but grabbing the Hero you want at a match’s start is a slightly wonky affair. Each player chooses a Hero one at a time instead of all at once seen in the similar Heroes vs. Villains mode, and I was sometimes stuck with an unfamiliar Hero by simply getting locked out of choices if I was further down the pick order. DLC characters and maps are all available for Pass-owning players, and rounds end after either 10 minutes or reaching a 50-kill score limit. Fights are intense, with victories often decided by single-digit point differences between teams. Bursts of skilled aim and clever ability usage showcase the fun of running around as an iconic Star Wars character—a well-timed gas grenade from Bossk or Darth Vader sniping a wounded Lando Calrissian with a long-range lightsaber throw all but screams for a John Williams-scored Play of the Game recap.

The deathmatch nature of Hero Blast is as straightforward as it gets. What keeps me playing is how such a diminutive mod has returned something a punishingly dividing DLC plan has largely driven away: a little piece of Battlefront’s soul. In his review, Andy Kelly wrote of Battlefront’s common design tempering the appeal of its smaller modes, saying, “Outside of the big 40-player modes, Battlefront is disappointingly generic, and no amount of beautifully crafted, authentically recreated nostalgia can mask that.” 

The mod doesn’t entirely fix this shortcoming, but it helps bring together a group of friends or strangers to enjoy a shooter for its social aspects instead of purely for its action—something missing from Battlefront with its lack of dedicated server support. A blanketing adoration for all things Star Wars has encouraged those who try the mod to keep coming back; this is Battlefront play stripped to its fundamentals, no 40-man jumbo maps, lumbering Imperial walkers, or floating powerup icons in sight. The mod flags everyone as a host, and inviting or being invited to a private lobby (the launcher includes an external website listing potential hosts) feels like a trip to the beach instead of an exhausting race at the pool for the Olympic gold.

That lighthearted approach to fun reflects in the moments shared between the 12 players during a match. The chat box lights up with compliments, taunts, memes, and genuine conversation about hobbies, favorite Star Wars films, and other subjects. In one round, my team met the enemy atop the Millennium Falcon parked in the middle of the Rebel Depot map where we all commenced an emote-off and laughed at the inaccuracies of the voice acting. In another, we all stood with rapt attention as the players controlling Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine re-enacted the climactic clash between father and son from Return of the Jedi, complete with full movie lines typed into chat, the famous saber lock, and an appropriately timed “good, good” from the cackling Palpatine, all set against the polished black backdrop of the Death Star interior map.

For unlocking such a small, forgotten part of the game, Battlefront’s Hero Blast mod accomplishes so much more than anything a Walker Assault, Cargo, or Starfighter mode could pull off. Beyond the wonder and nostalgia-tug of experiencing an exquisitely visual and auditory Star Wars experience, Battlefront fades as Just Another Shooter tossing players into the grinder of once-and-done mashups. Hero Blast nurses along Battlefront’s weakened identity by providing a social experience, a place to goof off and establish new friendships sharing a love for a good Star Wars game. It’s a far cry from earning the same reverence given to, say, a hero-packed Mos Eisley romp in Pandemic’s Battlefront 2, but it comes quite close.