Battlefield 4's multiplayer maps are playgrounds built on the premise of variety, and Second Assault, the game's initial DLC map-pack, is no exception.
Due to be released as an Xbox One timed-exclusive at the end of this week, it offers four maps taking in verdant woodland, European post-apocalyptic urban, scorched desert and mountainous vistas. Each map is also very different insofar as how they make use of vehicles, the thing that has long set this franchise apart. There are tight and claustrophobic battles entirely undertaken on foot, while others rely heavily on transportation to get from one side of the vastness at a reasonable rate.
Despite this variety, this first Battlefield 4 DLC is a safe option for publisher EA. All of the maps will be familiar to anyone who has played Battlefield 3 extensively, although on an Xbox One and through the lens of developer DICE's Frostbite engine, they are enhanced in terms of their beauty and their utility.
The maps also offer more, through 'Levolution'; marketing-speak for interactive environments and large-scale events. This is designed to give the maps more longevity and a greater tactical depth than its more static predecessors.
"The fan-favorite maps have been re-imagined to take advantage of all the things we can do now with Frostbite and next-gen," offered a spokesperson for EA. "They've been significantly enhanced."
Operation Metro takes place in and around a post-nuked Parisian underground railway station and is an infantry-based map with unforgiving defensive positions and destructible ceilings, also making good use of varying levels of light available around the map's tunnels.
Operation Firestorm is set around an oil refinery and offers a variety of vehicular options as well as plenty of opportunities for snipers via piping and refining structures. Tanks can dominate the lanes between buildings, clearing a path for infantry or guarding strategic goals but they can also become hopelessly stranded and vulnerable to air attack.
In Caspian Border, Russian and American troops seek to dominate a heavily forested area dotted with various control points at the center of the map. Its Levolution moment involves the destruction of a large tower, that opens up new flanking routes.
Gulf of Oman is a massive area that demands the use of vehicles, of which there are plenty available, including tanks, bikes, jets and APCs.
Second Assault comes with an extra vehicle not included in the base game, the dune buggy (DPV). In Gulf of Oman, sand plays a big part, especially when Battlefield 4's weather systems kick up a sandstorm, to blight the player's visual field, and change the look of the map.
As well as the modes that come as standard with BF4, including the excellent Obliteration, Conquest, Rush and Domination, the new pack also includes a Capture the Flag option, which offers the sort of epic 64-player, multi-vehicle rush you've come to expect from DICE.
Second Assault is one of five planned expansion packs for Battlefield 4. The second DLC, China Rising, will launch on Dec. 3. A Battlefield Premium subscription costing $50 covers all five expansions released between now and summer 2014.
Battlefield 4 was launched on Oct. 29 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC with the next-gen versions arriving at launch. Second Assault will be released on all platforms at an unannounced future date, once the Xbox One exclusivity window is closed. Read Polygon's Battlefield 4 review here.
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