Having played Battlefield 4 for more than a month now, most players probably have a feel for the maps that work in multiplayer, and the ones that really don't. Paracel Storm, Hainan Resort, Rogue Transmission, Zavod 311 are all pretty great, Flood Zone and Operation Locker aren't great at all, and the rest lie somewhere in-between. All told, it's not a terrible selection. Nevertheless, as with Battlefield 3, the best maps are still to come.
Say what you want about EA's DLC strategy for Battlefield (and there's plenty to be said), but it does at least have the virtue of providing a relatively steady stream of solid maps to choose from. The first batch land later this week, with Second Assault updating four popular maps from Battlefield 3, and China Rising. These are the ones that jump out.
Operation Metro 2014
Best Mode: Rush
Pretty much everyone hated Operation Metro when it premiered during the Battlefield 3 beta back in 2011. A smallish area dominated by a central rotunda with seemingly nowhere to hide, it made for a terrible Conquest map. But in Rush mode, it transformed into a dynamic running gun battle through the rotunda, into the sewers, and back out into the Paris streets, making it pretty much everything Operation Locker aspires to be, but isn't.
It returns relatively intact in Battlefield 4, with flooded sewer tunnels and destructible ceilings being the main additions, all of its strengths and weaknesses prominently on display. It's just as crazy as ever, with the sewer tunnels being dominated by some really intense fire fights, but it's also still loaded with offense-killing chokepoints. Truthfully, Operation Metro's main virtue is as a map where it's easy to farm up experience points to unlock new weapons.
For better or worse, Operation Metro is one of Battlefield 3's most iconic maps, and its inclusion in the Second Assault pack makes perfect sense. Rush fans and XP farmers will be delighted.
Caspian Border 2014
Best Mode: Conquest
One of Battlefield 3's largest maps makes its triumphant return in Second Assault, and of the four, it's probably undergone the largest number of changes.
The main point of interest is a massive wall spanning the length of the map. The wall contains multiple towers, offering great vantage points for sniping and shooting stingers at approaching enemy aircraft. With only three real entry points, the wall is apt to be the site of some fierce combat, as attacking forces trying to break through to the capture points within.
Over at Capture Point D, another significant point of interest, there is now an underground bunker of sorts in which players can take cover from attacking enemy aircraft. The rest of the map is an open field littered with the wreckage of burned out tanks and other vehicles, which offer plenty of places to hide. The collapsing radio tower also makes a return, significantly altering the map by scattering around concrete tubes that offer convenient access points to areas like Point D.
Much as Operation Metro was the best Rush map in Battlefield 3, Caspian Border was the best Conquest map. At least, it was the map that best encapsulated the ideal of Battlefield -- massive scale, diverse environments, plenty of vehicles, and interesting things to destroy. From the looks of it, it's even better in Battlefield 4, making it practically essential for serious Battlefield enthusiasts.
Best Mode: Obliteration
Obliteration has proven to be a real delight in Battlefield 4. A sort of modified Rush mode, the objective in Obliteration is to pick up the bomb and deliver it to one of three enemy M-COM stations. The firefights that result are often intense, and it's really rewarding to see total strangers work together to get the bomb to its destination, often despite themselves.
Of all the new maps, Guilin Peaks proves to be the best for Obliteration. A jungle map with hilly terrain, a small village, and a network of caves, it offers plenty of chokepoints in which to intercept bomb carriers, but is balanced enough that it doesn't evolve into the bloody stalemate typical of lesser Obliteration maps. Much of that is due to the transport helicopters available to each team, which have the potential to deliver the bomb to its target almost immediately (assuming that someone on your team knows how to fly without running into a hillside).
With so much of the fighting taking place in tight quarters, Guilin Peaks proves to be an incredibly entertaining and fast-paced Obliteration map, allowing what is already a really good mode to realize its full potential.
Best Mode: Conquest
And finally we have Altai Range, which is outwardly pretty simple, its main virtue being that it's big. Essentially a valley with a few roads leading up to a radar dish perched upon a mountain range, it's pretty much a showcase map for the Recon class. Given the size of the open spaces, you will be breaking out that 40x scope early and often.
Other elements worth pointing out include a powerful bomber, which can be unlocked by taking control of the aforementioned radar station. This map also features the return of the dirt bike from Battlefield 3: End Game -- a quick, messy, but surprisingly fun way to traverse Altai Range's wide-open spaces. Tanks and aircraft are also available, and much of the fighting is apt to be centered around the mountain range as each team attacks and counterattacks with armor and air support.
Though not as dynamic as some of the other maps listed here, Altai Range is nevertheless a good, solid Conquest map with a decent selection of vehicles. What makes it really stand out in comparison to the vanilla maps is its scope, the valley in particular feeling bigger and more open than anything available at launch. Strong as most of Battlefield 4's initial maps might be, most of them feel a tad smallish, even with 64 players. Altai Range remedies that, thus giving PS4 and Xbox One owners a taste of Battlefield 4's overriding philosophy -- bigger is always better.