Star Wars Battlefront is a game that’s taken up quite a few of my evenings lately. Although I’ve got a full review dropping very soon, I wanted to take moment to talk about the new Battle of Jakku DLC.
The DLC is free for everyone but currently only available to those who pre-ordered the game. I could be cynical and talk about the obvious fact that this promotion looks like it’s serving content that could have been on the disk, but it is what it is. Instead for now I’d rather talk about my experiences with the content itself and leave the grumbling for another day.
Anyone who has spent any time with Battlefront will know that it shines in its presentation and Jakku does not disappoint there. An undeniable highlight of the new maps is that, regardless of what mode you’re playing, during the the match a giant Star Destroyer crashes into the planet (which I’m taking to be a fun reference to one of the recent tie-in novels, as well as The Force Awakens). This event is marked by the scream of its engines as it drops in the distance. The first time it happened I actually stopped just to watch the final moments of the crash unfold.
Look up and the sky is full of laser-fire, depicting the tense combat between the Rebels (or fledgling New Republic at this point) and Empire. Meanwhile the ground is littered with the wrecks of Imperial war machines, providing important cover.
Map #1 – Graveyard of Giants
The first of the two maps is one of the most open in the game, even by Hoth standards. Essentially it’s a giant patch of sand covered in scrap from ships and transports.
Although at first I found it a little bland, on repeated plays I could start to see its charm. Common contact points are ringed with debris creating semi-closed off rooms, while providing new incentive to bring out the jetpack and leap inside. At first it looks like a map for fans of long range weapons, but play carefully and tactically enough and there are lots of opportunities to suddenly get the drop on your opponents if close combat is more your style.
This new map can be played in Supremacy and Walker Assault, as well as having it as a backdrop for Fighter Squadron. Although it works well with the first two modes, the latter suffers from the same problems Fighter Squadron has already; namely the level is nothing but background flavour while all the action takes place in open air. Whether it’s my imagination or not, I found the actual flying area much tighter on Jakku than the other planets. There seems to be less space to manoeuvre in here, with a higher risk of flying off the grid. This unfortunately exaggerates Fighter Squadron’s already notable weaknesses.
To showcase this new map DICE have also added a brand new mode, Turning Point. Essentially this is a straight up assault and defend mode. A kind of mix between Supremacy and Walker Assault, there are certain points on the map that must be attacked and taken. Unlike its sister modes however, Turning Point has multiple points active at once, with only a single point needed by the attacking Rebels to push the defenders back. These control points cannot be recaptured and the Imperial players will always be defending them. If the Rebels force them back to the final point, then the whole match hinges on a single location which provides a dense and hectic firing zone. To win the Empire just have to hold out against the onslaught until time runs out.
It might be a little too early to talk about balance, but so far Jakku’s Turning Point seems perhaps slanted slightly more in the Imperial’s favour than the attacking Rebels. However, this could simply be that the mode is still only days old and players are still adjusting. It’s simply easier to dig in your heels as an Imperial player than it is to push forward as the Rebels, though victory as either side is absolutely achievable.
Judging the game mode itself, it feels like a fun twist on Supremacy and focuses on one of Battlefront’s high points: simulating a noisy and frantic Star Wars battlefield. With no competing capture points for the Imperials to rush towards, its asymmetrical gameplay funnels players into sticking to their objective, either attacking or defending depending on faction. This does lead to a more action-heavy match, as everyone is pushed into occupying a few limited points.
Although this new map and mode together do add some fun new ways to play, it’s the second smaller map which really got my attention.
Map #2 – Goazan Badlands
The second of the maps is used in the game’s smaller more intimate modes such as (deep breath) Blast, Drop Zone, Droid Run, Cargo, Hero Hunt, and Heroes vs. Villains. Quickly it’s rocketed to being one of my favourite smaller maps, thanks to its cleverly simplistic design.
Deliberate or not, it conjures up some Halo 1 Blood Gulch vibes, with it’s almost-symmetrical canyon layout. Unlike other maps in the game, it’s built like a long, narrow corridor but with enough side routes tucked away to ensure it’s not simply all about charging down the middle.
During my experience with it so far I’ve seen some clever teamwork and creative thinking, making use of the forked paths leading to either base. A coordinated assault from multiple entry points can absolutely wreck havoc on any defence during a game of Cargo, for instance.
While Graveyard of Giants introduces a large map with a simple but refreshingly different layout, Goazan Badlands is much more straightforward, but in a manner that gives players a lot of options.
A Sign of Things to Come?
Altogether I’m pretty happy with this free DLC. One of Battlefront’s most glaring problems is its lack of content, so anything that brings in more is a step in the right direction. Of course how much future content will be free and how much will be packaged as one of the four upcoming DLC packs, remains to be seen.
Personally I’m enjoying Battlefront a lot so far, but it’s impossible to ignore the content problem. It is absolutely an issue that some more free DLC, in the vein of Battle of Jakku, could address, building up some good faith in the process. Especially as some of the modes are crying out for some more meaty content, yes I’m staring directly at you Fighter Squadron.
One problem with offering a set of both free and paid DLC is that it runs the risk of splintering the Battlefront playerbase. Yet already Jakku offers a little hint to how this issue might be handled. Right now when selecting what mode you’d like to play, you can toggle the Jakku content on and off, meaning you’re not forced into adding new free (or paid) content to your playlists if you’re uninterested. Presumably this means you can customise your future playlists once the DLC hits by filtering out unwanted content packs. This could potentially fracture groups of players in future, but it’s at least reassuring to see there’s going to be a way to simply play the base game’s maps, if that’s what you desire.
If you’re someone who isn’t already a fan of Battlefront’s fast and casual action, then these new maps won’t do anything to win you over I’m afraid. For current players though, the Battle of Jakku DLC offers new twists on the current gameplay which make these maps well worth diving into. Hopefully they’re a sign of more high quality content to come.