Early on this week saw the release of the third expansion DLC for EA’s Battlefield 4, titled ‘Naval Strike’. Originally due to become available to all Battlefield Premium members across all platforms on the 25th of March, followed two weeks later by a release to non-premium players, EA has unfortunately had to delay the launch to all PC and Xbox One players due to technical issues. A new update on the Battlefield Battlelog, offers a release window of ‘Early April’ however no specific date has yet been given.

Naval Strike, continuing the theme set within the single player campaign, sets itself within the South China Sea, across four heavily water based maps, designed for intense amphibious vehicular warfare. The expansion includes not only a set of new guns and equipment but also includes the new AVC Hovercraft, a vehicle well suited to naval battles, allowing players to seamlessly cross from water to land, offering new routes and ways to escape enemy pursuers.

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This expansion also sees the inclusion of the new game mode ‘Carrier Assault’. A modern take on Battlefield 2142’s Titan Mode, Carrier Assault is a cross between conquest and rush where players have to capture points within the map signalling for missiles to be fired at the enemies carrier. Once the carrier’s defenses have been breached, it’s now time for players to board the ship and set off the two bombs within to defeat the enemy, blow up their carrier and win the game.

Since the release players have also been discovering the inclusion of a number of hidden Easter eggs within this expansion. DICE being renowned for its teasers and secret Easter egg hunts, many have already begun the search for new clues and began to theorise that this could be the biggest and most extravagant secret we’ve seen yet.

Putting the issues with the base game to one side, it is clear to see that each of these maps plays out extremely well. Each map has been crafted with all forms of combat in mind, providing features such as; clear hovercraft routes on each island, bridges low enough to stop attack boats from entering to far inland and dominating certain points, and multiple entry and exit points to close combat areas provoking more tactical gameplay. The balancing of terrain is also apparent within each map; whereas normally you may feel slightly vulnerable as a soldier compared to the number of boats swarming around, however the islands offer plenty of cover, forcing vehicles to come inland through the small channels and rivers to get to you.

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Through emphasising the previously rarely seen naval combat within these maps, players once again have a reason to hop into an attack boat or a RHIB boat and improve their skills within these vehicles, instead of just using them to get around the map. Similarly those who prefer playing solely as infantry have a number of areas where few vehicles can reach and can concentrate on improving their aim and play just infantry only combat.

For those players who are a fan of Battlefields destructibility and levolution effects, then you have not been forgotten about either. Although there may not be as many aspects of levolution included compared to previous expansions, each feature has been designed to play a very integral role within the map, blocking off escape routes, providing new areas of cover or destroying and opening up areas of land. As well as these features there are still also plenty of huts, buildings, bridges and walls that can be exploded, run over and destroyed, changing the map and how people play.

With Naval Strike being the last new content produced by DICE Stockholm, with the last two being handed over to DICE LA, it seems as though the developers certainly wanted to go out on a bang. The four naval maps are arguably the best crafted and beautifully looking maps released in any of the BF4 expansions to date. The inclusion of Carrier Assault also re-injects the core Battlefield elements of fun and teamwork back into the game.

★★★★★

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