Battlefield 4: Naval Strike DLC Review
Putting China Rising and Second Assault to one side for a moment – two DLC packs that were, on Xbox One at least, basically on-disc at launch – Naval Strike stands as the first real opportunity to discover how Battlefield 4’s development team feel about the current state of their game.
You’d assume, given the ceaseless technical problems and vast amount of money that’s been spent on it by a none-more-dedicated fanbase, that Battlefield 4: Naval Strike would be one of the greatest pieces of Battlefield DLC in history; if only out of protracted guilt.
And it is.
Bringing four colossal new maps to the party – none of them a remake – alongside the resurrection of Battlefield 2142’s sensational Titan Mode, Naval Strike single-handedly cements Battlefield Premium’s reputation as the only pre-paid Season Pass that’s ever worth gambling on.
The Maps Of Battlefield 4: Naval Strike
All four of the maps are hardline classics.
Operation Mortar is a dilapidated Chinese holiday resort with an old fort cowering above it; capture that, and you can control the vast labyrinth of vital pathways that are buried inside the mountain beneath.
Lost Islands is a wide-open clutter of small reefs and fishing villages, all accessible via both quad bike and hovercraft; the only cover that’s offered is the shell of a crashed passenger plane at the midpoint, and a small cavern that’s tucked behind a waterfall in the north.
Nansha Strike features the biggest stretch of water in any Battlefield map ever, and objective-based matches involve juggling the water-based locations on the outskirts with the perilous, infantry-packed areas in the centre.
Last (and perhaps best) of all, Wave Breaker is a streak of heavily armoured island placements with a mountain in the centre, which houses an adaptable submarine base that’s straight out of a Bond film.
On Conquest and Titan Mode (now Carrier Assault) these maps showcase DICE at their devious, crackerjack best.
Being among the first players in the world to discover an indispensable hidden route (or to figure out what sly tricks you can play by being clever with Levolution) has lost none of its power to thrill.
However, these barnstorming arenas are much more of a mixed bag on the smaller game modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination.
Smaller Game Modes On Naval Strike’s Maps
Lost Islands becomes a close-quarters thriller set entirely on the map’s claustrophobic aircraft carrier, while Operation Mortar is so derelict and wide-open that every match turns into a tedious sniping festival.
Wave Breaker is a tantalisingly complex jumble of catwalks and roguish hiding places, but Nansha Strike feels like a desperate rehash of the main game’s Paracel Storm; even going as far as to recycle entire buildings from that environment in the hope that nobody will notice.
And that dichotomy is a big part of the problem.
These maps are HUGE. If you don’t intend to play them in all of their 64-player glory, the prognosis is far from upbeat: don’t bother.
But infuriatingly, if you’re looking to satisfy a craving for larger game types on console – and haven’t invested in Premium yet – the package isn’t entirely easy to recommend then either.
And that is because, as almost everyone knows all too well, Battlefield 4 still does not work properly.
Battlefield 4: Naval Strike DLC Review
When it does work, as was the case with many of its predecessors, it feels like one of the finest videogames ever crafted.
But on the latest generation of home consoles at least, you’re still having to put up with intermittent (though often crippling) rubber-banding and lag, hard crashes to the dashboard and servers that seem to collapse entirely between rounds.
Never mind audio that vanishes at the start of most matches, the inexplicable (random) appearances of discarded loadouts and a framerate that skips around dementedly when you encounter the kind of chaotic scenario that’s supposed to represent one of the game’s primary selling points.
The list, sadly, goes on. Still.
A game as ludicrously ambitious (and content rich) as Battlefield 4 was perhaps never destined to work smoothly in the first place, and the competition simply does not compare. Has it ever? If you want this kind of experience, it’s Battlefield or it’s nothing. What can you do?
If you’re one of those lucky people who claims to have never experienced any kind of mechanical fault while playing Battlefield 4, then downloadable content does not get any more essential than Naval Strike.
Everyone else: if you don’t think of Battlefield as a dear, dear friend, fit to be forgiven for any sin at a moment’s notice… be cautious.
Version tested: Xbox One