EA DICE has a reputation for supporting its games well after they're released. Seeing as EA's last major shooter, Battlefield 4, received five major expansion packs within a year of its release (2013) – Star Wars Battlefront was always going to be treated in kind.
People tend to go 'a bit' crazy over anything Star Wars related – naturally EA sought to capitalise. Four expansions have been announced, of which Outer Rim is the first and, let's face it, easily the least interesting. Expansions taking us to Bespin, home of Cloud City, and the Death Star, are still to come this year. A fourth expansion, of which we know nothing, is set for early 2017 and sees our money on a tie-in to upcoming spin-off movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Outer Rim doesn't take us to any new planets, doesn't introduce the expected playable hero and villain characters and doesn't include any maps that support the games, biggest, signature modes. That said, it's still a solid expansion, offering four new maps on planets that have already been visited in Battlefront's initial release, and a great new gameplay mode in Extraction.
Two new maps take place on Sullust, the volcanic factory planet referenced but not seen in the films, with another two set in and around Jabba The Hutt's palace on Tatooine (complete with Rancor pit and dead Rancor). Each map is as tightly designed as you'd expect from DICE and, in the case of the Tatooine levels,offers a thrill with sights familiar to fans.
Extraction mode sees the Rebels guiding an automated shipment of cargo through a map to its extraction point via two additional checkpoints. They have a set amount of time to reach those checkpoints or they lose the game, the Imperials stop them by stopping the cargo's plinth which must then be reactivated by the Rebellion. It's a nice new mode let down slightly by choke points that seem a little too easy for the Imperials to defend, but there are also moments of great tension. It's also a mode that commands the smart use of new items. Like the expansion as a whole, it's nothing wildly new or different, but it works.
Perhaps most indicative of the Outer Rim DLC's place, in Battlefront's post-release plans, is the inclusion of Greedo and Nien Nunb as the two new playable heroes and villains. On the dark side there's a clear shortage of characters beyond Darth Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett, so Greedo makes sense – but Nien Nunb comes as a bitter disappointment to fans hopeful that they'd be able to play as Chewbacca or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Lando Calrissian is another beloved character, but he looks to pegged for the next expansion.
Both characters measure up well to the original six iconic characters when it comes to ability. There's even a sense that DICE compensated for Nien Nunb's inclusion by overpowering him a little, with his infantry turret and proximity mines. The Outer Rim expansion also includes new power-ups: the impactful Scattergun; poison gas Dioxis Grenade; and the Adrenaline Stim star card. Each is useful and are sure to be favoured by many players over the months ahead.
When Star Wars Battlefront first launched it was criticised for lacking maps. DICE has done a great deal to address this in free updates (to date, three new large scale maps and one small), putting rest to any notion that these paid expansions are a cynical cash-in. It may not be exactly what people want – that's sure to come later – but the Outer Rim DLC offers a good package for fans of a game once criticised for not having longevity, but which on this evidence has a bright and long future.