Battlefield 4: China Rising DLC Review
The Battlefield 4 ‘China Rising’ DLC map pack recently released for all users on Tuesday December 17th, two weeks after the release for Premium members, and I have finally gotten the chance to play it. This is the first in many DLC expansions being added to BF4 and it expands the gameplay through the inclusion of more types of vehicles and the return of the ‘Air Superiority’ mode. The China Rising DLC consists of 4 new maps, each with their own unique designs.
Guilin Peaks is a map deep in a detailed forest that circles around a large mountain, which is very reminiscent of maps and areas within the original Crysis game. In the center of the map is a deep cave where the C flag in Conquest is situated, a cave dark enough that it might require a flashlight attachment to see better in. Most of the action tends to take place in the center cave so you can expect to find yourself heading there to get in on it. Whilst you can navigate this map (and all of the other China Rising maps) with a motorbike, which is very fast and easy to use, the map size still does not agree with the player size on current gen. I played on the Xbox 360 version and while I appreciate being given the full map and the total of 5 flags in Conquest, it tends to make for some very dull moments when you’re running for ages with nothing to do. Luckily, when all the players converge on the cave there’s never a dull moment, and as always you have to beware of the threat of helicopters. Guilin Peaks isn’t bad to look at and it can be fun when things get going.
Dragon Pass is a map set in a large village in a mountainous region during a rather stunning sunset. There’s a whole lot more vehicles on offer this time, with enough vehicles for every squad to commandeer. The map is littered with various small houses and marsh-like waters, several mountains and hills to navigate past and capture points aren’t hard to reach. It eventually begins to rain in the map, which blends well with the calm sunset and atmosphere. This map is best seen from the skies, either from a jet or a helicopter where you can see over all the mountains and see the amazingly rendered sunset. This map is one of the biggest in the map pack but even on current gen with only 24 players you can still manage to find combat engagements. There’s no particular tricks to Dragon Pass and no harsh terrain, making it one of the easiest maps to play on.
Silk Road is a large desert area map with a small military base situated somewhere near the center. It’s the map with the least environmental obstacles and only has several sand hills around the objective locations, making it easy to navigate with any vehicle. This map brings some much-needed variety in its simplicity, compared to the other BF4 maps, and a big wide open desert fits the bill. This map is similar to one that was featured in the Armored Kill DLC of Battlefield 3, so you can expect to deal with jets and a whole lot of tanks. Since Silk Road doesn’t have any particular dynamic features, making it the most straightforward out of the DLC.
Altai Range is a map set in a region covered by many hills, with a lot of brown dirt and a juxtaposition of a clear and cloudy sky. This map looks and feels a lot like Battlefield 3‘s Damavand Peak but lacks the tunnel in the center of it or the base jump. The air and ground combat is very balanced and it allows for easy engagements that don’t involve navigating through mountains like in Dragon pass. Reaching objectives is an immense hike on foot but all it takes is a motorbike ride to get there. You may however want to beware of crafty Scout class players who perch on top of the mountain in the center of the map waiting to snipe anyone in their sights. Each flag position in Conquest is set in an area different enough to allow you to capture it easily without fear of being sniped immediately or mowed down by vehicle fire. Altai Range is very easy to play on and not bad to look at either.
Air Superiority is a mode that returns from the Battlefield 3 ‘End Game’ DLC map pack, which consists of nothing but jet on jet action. Like Ace Combat mixed with the Domination game mode, Air Superiority allows players to focus solely on jet combat, refining their jet flying skills against other players and finally getting some kills to rank up their jet. Luckily BF4 includes the ‘Test Range’ mode where you can learn and train with any vehicle in the game including jets, so there’s a way to hone your skills before you try out this mode. While players should be focusing on capturing the air objectives, you would be missing out on all the fun by not participating in the frantic and intense dogfights that immediately break out. Silk Road and Altai Range keep the action straightforward, but Dragon Pass requires a lot of environmental awareness as you dodge the several mountains and chase players in jets as they try to escape. Guilin Peaks doesn’t feature jets but instead lets you use attack helicopters (which are a lot harder to control but easier to kill with) that can carry up to two players. Matches in Guilin Peaks tend to end much faster as a result of this and the helicopter battles are just as exhilarating as the jet ones. Air Superiority offers a fun and engaging alternative to the normal BF gameplay and lets you enjoy taking to the skies.
Overall, the Battlefield 4 China Rising DLC is a fun collection of maps that allow for new ways to play and new things to experience. There might be some glitches at first when trying to initially join matches, but once these are ironed out, the whole thing plays smoothly. You might even find yourself encountering a lot of ‘Only In Battlefield’ moments if you’re lucky, due to the variety of vehicles and locations within each map. There’s a surprising amount of replay value thanks to the unique detail of each map, and it will take several matches to discover every bit of each map. These map packs will greatly appeal to the movie buffs who have seen action movies of the past, as I’m sure there’s an action movie related to each of these maps in some way. The maps also look fantastic on the Xbox 360 version, a reminder that DICE can make the current gen shine with the Frostbite 3 engine, so I can imagine just how phenomenal it looks like on next-gen and PC. You can pick up the China Rising DLC pack right now for $14.99 on Xbox Live, PSN and PC, and Battlefield Premium members can download it absolutely free.