I planned on wasting my time typing up reviews for Battlefield 4's map packs, but never got around to it. Well, now I'm committing to it, so get ready for a slew of text and posts about Battlefield 4. Hm. If only I put so much effort into worthwhile things...
China Rising was the first map pack release for Battlefield 4, and was even included for free for those who bought Battlefield 4 at or around launch. While that's a really cool throw-in, it's sort of a slap in the face to those who already planned on getting Premium. Hey, it's nothing new though, the same thing happened with the Back to Karkand map pack on Battlefield 3. As usual, four maps are included in China Rising: Altai Range, Dragon Pass, Guilin Peaks, and Silk Road. That's not all though -- Air Superiority makes a comeback (does anybody actually care?), five trophies/achievements are added, and some weapons, gadgets, and vehicles are also introduced. For $15, the value seems to be there, as you aren't just throwing down three Lincolns for some maps. Of course, the maps are the meat of the expansion, so how are they?
Altai Range: I would say I have played this map more than any other in the pack, as it seemingly kept coming up on Conquest when I was playing it. Altai Range, to me, is the very definition of an average map. Something about it is just very "vanilla." I do like the middle capture location on Conquest, but there are more reasons to dislike this map than like it, I figure. First, air vehicles are a bitch to use due to the relentless anti-air vehicles that can down your chopper or jet in mere seconds. Normally that would just be a *bit* of an annoyance, but on a map that's as open as Altai Range is, it's really hard to outmaneuver the anti-air vehicles, no matter how good of a pilot you are. If you like vehicles, stick to the ground on Altai Range. Besides that, the map just has a rather ordinary sort of layout with a boring color palette. A very, very average map with some aspects that make it disappointing, to be quite honest. 3.5/5
Dragon Pass: This is a map that seems to take place in a swampy sort of location in China. The color of this map is very, ehrm... brown. There are a number of ways to get around, with mountains all around the map, which make it pretty interesting. At the same time, there are some really long sight lines that make sniping easy for people just waiting for some soldiers to walk down a road and across a bridge (hey, to be frank, if you do this, you deserve to get your damn head shot off). The jets on this map aren't nearly as helpful as helicopters are due to the mountains all around, but skilled pilots could do some damage. Dragon Pass has a fair amount of water on it with Ski-Doo dealies to zip around on to get you to where you want to go. Dragon Pass has a pretty interesting look to it and has a couple really fun areas for gunfights, but this seems to be one of the most consistently laggy maps on Battlefield 4, no matter what server I play it on. In spite of that, Dragon Pass still remains a pretty decent map that'll give you some memorable moments. 3.5/5
Guilin Peaks: Gorgeous is the first word that comes to mind when describing this map's design. This one takes place in a Chinese jungle, and it just looks great. There's a cave area that takes up a good portion of the middle of the map with some good elevation. Outside there's a lot of vegetation, a good number of rocks and hills, and a few buildings spread around. While there are choppers on this map, this is likely a map where you will be spending a lot of time on the ground, whether it be on foot or an ATV. The cave area can get hectic when battling over the capture point in Conquest as grenades start flying everywhere and you can't see much of anything -- it's a blast. Rush is also a pretty fun option on Guilin Peaks, despite the fact it may slightly benefit the Defenders. I'd say this is my favorite map from the pack, and one of the better maps in Battlefield 4, period. 4.25/5
Silk Road: I would be surprised if I was the only person that thought of Bandar Desert when I first saw this map. There's a good third of the map that's just a pile of sand leading to the central capture point that has barricades up and a couple hangers. There are also some elevated cliff areas for snipers to look across the battlefield, and for tanks to position themselves to light up infantry below, or shoot at choppers in the sky. Silk Road also has bombers, which are basically perfect for a map like this. Silk Road is a really open map, but there is enough elevation throughout the map that it could make things a bit tricky for a bomber. I don't think many people like this map as much as I do, but something about it is just really fun to me. It doesn't have the awesome aesthetic of Guilin Peaks, but it is the best map for dog fights and long range tank battles, in my opinion. 4.25/5
While Altai Range and Dragon Pass are both rather average maps, Guilin Peaks and Silk Road are worth the price of admission. Guilin Peaks has some awesome infantry gameplay, and Silk Road is great in a tank or in the sky with it being more difficult to insta-kill jet pilots. Add things like a handful of guns, new assignments, and a couple new vehicles (including a bomber), and you have a pretty solid expansion pack. China Rising may not exactly blow your mind, but it will certainly entertain you.