Star Wars: Battlefront has one more expansion set to release before it fades away into the Force. And for those that have followed the grand plan for the Star Wars saga, it's going to look quite familiar. The theatrical release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives two weeks from today and the final Battlefront expansion will tie in thematically with the new film, putting the Rebel and Imperial teams in the heart of the tropical planet Scarif. Shacknews recently had an opportunity to try out what's coming down the pipe, including the Rogue One: X-Wing VR mission.
The biggest addition to Scarif is a whole new game mode called Infiltration. The idea of this mode is to tie into the theme of Rogue One, which involves infiltrating an Imperial base and absconding with intelligence to bring back to the Rebels. This will mean a mixture of space battles and ground skirmishes, in which the Rebels must complete each stage of the fight in order to win the game. If the Imperials can hold their enemies off, they will be the victors.
The first stage takes place along the Shield Gate above Scarif. This is an escort mission for the Rebels, as the idea is to safely ensure passage of the new U-Wing starfighters through the Imperial gate. The Imperial side must shoot down every U-Wing fighter that comes along, not allowing a single one to get through the gate. As time passes, more U-Wings will come out of hyperspace, making it a more frantic fight for both sides. The Shield Gate area is also filled with asteroids and debris, creating a hazardous battlefield.
Once the fighting hits Scarif's surface, things start to feel a little different from the normal Battlefront session. The objective upon hitting Scarif Jungle is to plant explosives on one of two Imperial cargo ships. If a bomb is planted, the Imperial side only gets so much time to defuse it. This time was mostly memorable for getting blasted repeatedly with the new U-Wing bomber pickup. Players lucky enough to get control of one of these vessels will strafe across the map slowly, zooming in on any hapless Imperials below and blowing them away with crisp precision. The Empire will get its own vehicle with the swift TIE Striker, but during my time with the DLC, the U-Wing was a persistent terror.
New Heroes will also get involved in the fray. Jyn Erso will join the Rebel side, with the ability to quickly switch between her pistol and A-180 blaster rifle. Her flashbangs will also reduce enemy armor, leaving those hit to momentarily stagger around with blurry vision. This sets them up for a deadly melee strike, which can dispatch both troopers and Heroes effectively. Officer Orson Krennic will join the Imperial side and he'll be accompanied by a helper droid that can unleash gas or raise a shield to protect friendlies. His DT-29 blaster pistol carries armor-reducing blaster rounds and, in fact, there were a couple of players that dealt heavy damage with the Imperial officer, managing to last entire sessions without being taken down.
The weapons will also be available as individual unlocks, which should please anyone looking for efficient kills. The A-180, in particular, is a monstrous piece of work, capable of utilizing three different settings: Blaster, Sniper, and Ion Launcher. The downside is that anyone wielding the A-180 will not be able to equip cards. But while not having a Jump Pack or Thermal Detonator may sound like a downside, the A-180 hits extremely hard, capable of one-hit kills from long distances and from point-blank range.
The final stage of Infiltration sees the Rebel side attempting to escort Imperial intelligence to an extraction point on the other side of Scarif Beach. This can be tough for the Rebels if a skilled Imperial team can cover each route, using trees for cover and camouflage. But the game does end the moment a Rebel player carrying the intel touches the U-Wing fighter, which is notable, because despite two Imperial players being right underneath the extraction point, one Rebel player was able to Jump Pack right on top of the ship, ending the game in mid-firefight.
The other major element of Battlefront's Rogue One offerings includes a PSVR mission (co-created by DICE and Criterion Games) that puts players in the seat of an X-Wing cockpit. Despite what felt like lower resolution graphics, there's a certain joy to be felt over strapping on a headset and looking around to see the instruments of an X-Wing fighter. Players can even turn all the way around to see their astromech droid sitting on the back of the ship. The normal Battlefront HUD that contains button prompts and the player's health meter is neatly placed along the ship's instrument panel.
This mission sees a rookie pilot journey with his three squadmates through hyperspace (another amazing thing that every Star Wars fan should experience at least once) into an asteroid field. The Battlefront controls are intact, so blasting smaller asteroids to clear a path should feel familiar, even if flying in a straight path does take some getting used to. There is a button to calibrate the ship on a straight path and it's definitely a useful tool.
After playing around with the asteroids, the squad is instructed to escort a U-Wing vessel carrying valuable Imperial intelligence (and some familiar characters) safely to Yavin 4. TIE Fighters will swoop in for an attack, offering a first taste of virtual dogfighting. It feels like an objective-based version of Fighter Squadron, with the idea to protect the U-Wing and clear off as many TIE Fighters as possible. Protecting your squadmates is also a priority, as they'll occasionally ask for help against TIEs on their tails. An Imperial Star Destroyer will make things hairier, at which point the idea becomes to disable its cannons. Upon disabling the Star Destroyer, everyone will blast off into hyperspace.
The X-Wing VR experience feels aggravatingly brief, given that it feels like every Star Wars kid's fantasy come to life. Even if it is a little tough to tell sometimes whether you're flying straight or about to hit some debris, the X-Wing experience feels pure, especially as the series' familiar soundtrack blares through the headphones. There's a sense of awe when the Star Destroyer first hits the screen and there's a great satisfaction in blasting a TIE Fighter and watching it hilariously tumble across space before it explodes.
As of now, the Rogue One X-Wing VR mission is the only virtual reality content in the works, but DICE is hopeful for more opportunities in the future. The present developers and myself even shared a mutual hope for a VR TIE Fighter mission someday, but for now, the Rogue One mission should satisfy anyone hoping for a good virtual reality Star Wars experience.
The Star Wars: Battlefront Scarif DLC is set to arrive on December 6. The Rogue One X-Wing VR mission will be out on the same day for all PSVR owners and will be available for free.