Battlefield 4: China Rising DLC Review

Battlefield 4 had a seriously rocky launch, but as we're starting to put the game's many issues in the rearview, China Rising is the perfect pack to focus on some of the game's positives. The first Battlefield 4 DLC pack, China Rising includes four new maps, a (sort of) new vehicle, and a (sort of) new mode. We may have used the dirt bike before in Battlefield 3, and the Air Superiority mode may have been a series staple for a while now, but they're new to Battlefield 4 regardless, and bring even further variety to the captivating wartime sandbox that is Battlefield multiplayer.

The real stars of the show are of course the new maps, however, and it is with them that the value of China Rising really lies. Unlike the tepid, directionless DLC rollout for Battlefield 3, which seemed to focus as much on Call of Duty-style close-range combat as it did sandbox action, China Rising knows where the strengths of the Battlefield franchise lie and rolls with the grain, not against it. The China Rising maps are huge, especially the awesome Guilin Peaks level, which sees you battling through lush caves, verdant forest paths, and run down shanties. It's as if DICE is actively pushing back against the close-range nonsense that dragged Battlefield 3 so far beneath its peers, and it's wonderful.

Riding a dirtbike in the new Silk Road map

Guilin Peaks is a definite highlight, and a must-play for any Battlefield fan, but the other maps are compelling, too. Silk Road is a wide open desert map perfect for tank and dirtbike play. This can also make it a playground for Engineers, who will have their hands full sprinting between sparse cover points, rockets in hand. The wide open sight lines can make sniping fruitful if you can find yourself a perch out in the desert, but be careful; it's just as easy for another Sniper, or even a particularly skilled Assault class, to find you and take you out. If there's one complaint that I can level against Silk Road, it's that playing with vehicles feels almost a little too advantageous, thanks in large part to the sparse cover of the level. Certain capture points cater more towards infantry than others, so you'll want to stick to these if you don't like driving.

Dragon Pass is another thrilling map that's accessible to both vehicle players and infantry players alike. It strikes a good balance between open air for helicopters, long roads for land vehicles, and plenty of twists and turns for on-foot players to exploit. This long map feels especially at home in Battlefield's Rush mode, which has players progressing from one sector to the map to the next as they take MCOM stations. It's a great showoff of the map's size and variety, and it's one of the few maps in the game that doesn't feel constrained in Rush mode. 

Altai Range is the final map in the China Rising expansion pack, and it's the one that's most reminiscent of Battlefield 3. It has a lot of similarities with the Alborz Mountains DLC map from that game, including its snowy mountain peaks and even the large radar dish towards the middle of the map. Despite some seemingly recycled elements, Altai Range remains a satisfying play. In my experience, this map played best in Conquest mode, in which the five capture points are arranged like a 5 on a die; there are two points on either side, with the fifth smack in the middle. The map is large enough to make jets and helicopters viable, but not so huge that you'll necessarily need a vehicle to get around. Still, the various capture points are pretty far apart, so if you tend to play infantry you'll either want to join a full squad or play a smaller mode like Rush.

The China Rising map pack is exactly what Battlefield fans want out of the series, and doesn't try to shoehorn in any of the misguided close-range combat of the early Battlefield 3 DLCs. The gargantuan Guilin Peaks map is a highlight, and one that'll likely justify the price tag of the DLC on its own thanks to the abundance of "Battlefield moments" that it makes possible. The other three maps are solid and varied in their own right, though, and dirtbikes and Air Superiority are additions that are, if not new, at least refreshing in the context of Battlefield 4. If you still play the game regularly, there's no excuse to miss this killer update.


Score: 9/10

This DLC was reviewed on a PS4

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