Time to lock ‘n’ load….again
When I first geared up and jumped into Battlefield 3 the first major difference from Bad Company 2 that I noticed were the maps. After playing on maps I had known for months on end I was suddenly forced to learn new expansive combat arenas and all the challenges that come with them. For the first few days of Battlefield 3 I was simply a fleshy bullet bag for the numerous players with more experience. Eventually, with practise, I managed to survive long enough to familiarize myself with the corridors of every map, stalking my targets with tactical precision. All my efforts were inevitably wasted when I would proceed to jump out, miss the enemy, and then panic causing me to accidentally drop a grenade at my feet ensuring that those bastards would never have the satisfaction of taking my life. These amazing skills aside, I really enjoyed learning the layout of each map and finding an effective, yet fun way to play them. Having invested hours upon hours of my life into these environments I was intrigued when I heard Battlefield 4‘s second DLC following China Rising was to be a re-imagined version of 4 fan favourite maps from Battlefield 3. After several months of waiting I have now played Second Assault extensively and I thought it was time to share a few of my first impressions.
The most noticeable difference between the original maps and their reincarnations is the introduction of Levolution. Each of the four maps feature Levolution events all with their own varying degree of success. In the case of Operation Metro the Levolution is limited to patches of grass which can be set on fire in the open outside of the tunnel system and some areas of the tunnel roof can be brought down. During my time neither of these events have had any real significance on the gameplay; the grass fires will do limited damage only killing anyone who doesn’t have the sense to move and the tunnel collapses are often triggered by trolling team mates resulting in some friendly-fire. On the other end of the scale Operation Firestorm has more prominent events like the new collapsing crane at the ‘Offices’ objective, oil pipes that can be destroyed in certain points causing fire to spew forth and new shutter doors for the warehouse have more impact on the game. Snipers are put on alert as the crane they climb can be toppled and fire emitted from the new tower at objective C. The shutters mean that players are forced to blow the doors or find other ways into the buildings while also providing cover for those inside. The other two maps are Caspian Border and Gulf of Omen. The former has a new tower placed in the centre of the map that can be destroyed creating a tunnel between two points for infantry while large spike traps impede the march of vehicles around the map. Gulf of Omen, like Paracel Storm features one of my favourite Levolution events, severe weather change. During the course of a round a huge sandstorm will roll in from the sea and continue to cover the entirety of the map. The storm reduces visibility considerably and gives renewed purpose to the unlockable IRNV scope which I had been reluctant to use until now.
The new maps have also received a make-over with new ascetics and layouts. Caspian border now has a fortified wall scaling the length of the border that reminds me of the US/Mexico border wall from the 2010 film Monsters. Movement of vehicles is restricted by the sprawling concrete barrier with plenty of turrets and gun nests to dispatch anyone brave enough to make a break through the gaps. Without tanks tearing through the land infantry combat is opened up allowing for more interesting battles, especially in the centre of the map where the buildings create close combat situations. The map has also changed to be set during Autumn resulting in a change from vibrant foliage and clear blue summer skies to darker brown scenery brightened with crisp lighting. Likewise Operation Metro has ditched the blue tint that could have been mistaken for ‘Smurf vision’ in favour of a more natural, grey tone that is in keeping with the wore torn theme of a city that has suffered catastrophic damaged (*Spoiler* the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the equally catastrophic Battlefield 3 singleplayer mode). Pools of water now collect beneath the new wooden pylons that hold up the tunnel and signs of reconstruction can be seen in abundance around the buildings of objective A. Operation Firestorm has been modified to indicate that time as well as battles have passed. The new buildings that have sprouted up have the scars of war scratched into them while construction equipment litters the space around the structures. The sky is blackened by the oil fires burning below and on foot the flames and smoke can be used to the cunning soldiers advantaged. These are all nice aesthetic changes in addition to some fairly solid gameplay changes.
Besides map content Second Assault also delivers a new game mode, Capture the flag. The format remains the same as most games with two teams must vying for control of each others flags while defending their own. The mode is heavily objective based which is a positive as most players actually use team work rather than set off with their own agenda, whether this is just my own experience is yet to be seen but hopefully the mode will retain the interest of objective focused players. As well as a new game mode 10 new assignments of varying difficulties have been added for players to complete and earn rewards for their endeavours. The rewards include the 5 new weapons that have been added with the F2000 Assault Rifle, AS Val Carbine, M60E4 light-machine gun, GOL Magnum sniper, and DAO-12 shotgun all returning from previous games. The GOL Magnum is a terrific sniper and easily my favourite in the game and the same goes for the DOA-12. However, the AS Val seems relatively weak compared to other carbines and the F2000 suffers from the same fate at any longer ranges, although it is redeemed by a nice unique gun sight. The M60E4 takes time to master, but with unlocks the gun can be a very effective way of racking up quick kills as a support class solider.
That really somes up what Second Assault entails. I enjoy the new features of maps that I loved from Battlefield 3 with Levolution being a particular highlight given that it was missing in action from the China Rising DLC (the heavy bomber is not sufficient in my opinion to count as Levolution). I love the capture the flag mode, but wish it could have been implemented into all the maps rather than just the four that are available at present. The assignments are an added bonus giving longevity to the DLC which is much needed considering many Battlefield players would have spent a large amount of time playing the maps in the previous game. Similarly I believe that is the main downfall of this DLC, while the maps are fun to play and the new features implemented with great success I do feel DLC should be new organic content and that the re-use of these maps should have been a free DLC given as an apology to the Battlefield community for the faults with the main game. Charging the best part of £10 for this DLC seems a bit cheeky to me, but if you enjoy the content as much as I do and loved Battlefield 3 it may well be worth it.
Thanks for reading,