While Xbox One owners have had access to “Battlefield 4” add-on “Second Assault” since November 22, PC, PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360 players have only recently gained access to this nostalgic DLC. Containing four redesigned variants of popular “Battlefield 3” maps using “Battlefield 4’s” “Frostbite 3” engine, “Second Assault” is sure to delight any fans of the franchise. Caspian Border, Gulf of Oman, Operation Firestorm and Operation Metro are varied, engaging, and visually-spectacular. Average “Battlefield” fans might be wary of purchasing “Second Assault,” however, as the $15 price point is slightly high for re-released maps; die-hard fans, on the other hand, will find plenty to love.
Caspian Border is perhaps the most visually striking of the bunch. Set in a countryside, the map features a massive radio tower that is collapsible, drastically changing player strategy when trying to capture any of the map’s conquest points. Underneath the radio tower is an equally massive and destructible wall running the length of the map. Watching “Battlefield 4’s” environmental physics in action here is a thrill, as the tower can collapse onto the wall, effectively creating an exploitable gap. “Frostbite 3” wonderfully renders the environment, from the sun shining through trees, to particle physics as the wall crumbles here and there, and even the lengthy river that runs through the map.
Gulf of Oman features players fighting in the midst of a sandstorm, which can either be an advantage or disadvantage for the player. One side begins in the gulf, striking from an aircraft carrier, while the other team is stationed on the beach. The opening beach landings are exciting and intense, as helicopters navigate the sandstorm to deliver their payload and jets soar in the sky. Moving up the beach, the two sides clash in a series of small towns, featuring plenty of tanks and other such vehicles. The aforementioned weather effects in the Gulf of Oman are a welcomed sight, as the game’s engine can render sand, wind, and debris quite well.
Operation Firestorm is perhaps the most vehicle-heavy map in “Second Assault,” as players have access to tanks, helicopters, fighters, bombers, and the like. Stationed initially behind mountain ranges, the two sides must race toward the center of the oil refinery in order to gain a geographic advantage. Fighting throughout the oil refinery and its surroundings, players must be cautious for dangerous fire jets, harrowing verticality and sneaky rooftop snipers. This map is a particular joy to airborne fans; there is plenty of room to maneuver aircraft, and skilled helicopter pilots can try to weave between the towering oil stacks.
Lastly, Operation Metro is insane. In a conquest match, 64 players must compete within the cramped confines of a subway station to capture three points. The linearity of Operation Metro means dozens of players can be fighting in the same narrow corridor; grenade explosions, ceiling collapses, and nearly unbreakable frontlines are frequent. As a strictly infantry-focused maps, Operation Metro delivers for those looking to take a break from vehicular combat. However, because this map was originally designed for “Battlefield 3’s” lower player count, the increased number of combatants in “Battlefield 4” means objective games can get bogged down and congested; capture the flag games, for example, devolve merely to a team deathmatch, as there is very little room to maneuver.
“Second Assault” adds a new game mode to “Battlefield 4,” Capture the Flag, which can be played on any of the four new maps. Other additions included with “Second Assault” are five new weapons, two new vehicles and 11 assignments. While the new weapons are all well and good, it should be noted that one of the new vehicles, a skid loader, featured on Operation Firestorm, really doesn’t add that much to gameplay. The player merely drives around in the loader, at risk of small-arms fire with no defensive or offensive capabilities. In addition, it is a shame that there is not an achievement for completing all 11 assignments, like in “Battlefield 4’s” other expansion, “China Rising.” Adding an achievement like this would greatly extend the lasting appeal of “Second Assault.” As it is now, achievement hunters should expect little trouble in earning “Second Assault’s” five achievements.
While the appeal of “Second Assault” is not in question, the fact that the four new maps are redesigns of “Battlefield 3” maps may make it a harder purchase for most fans. If the price was lowered, as is the case with most remakes, “Second Assault” would be an instant buy. As it is, Operation Metro, Operation Firestorm, Gulf of Oman and Caspian Border are worthy additions to anyone who didn’t play “Battlefield 3” or for “Battlefield” die-hards, and they provide plenty of content to hold fans over until the next expansion, Carrier Strike, is released in early April.