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At its best, Battlefield 4’s thrid DLC is the cream of the crop as far as map packs go, including an intense, strategic new game mode that provokes massive shootouts among forces of land, sea and air. At its worse, Naval Strike is horrendously hampered by atrocious stuttering and latency, making it difficult to even play on the new, fantastically produced maps. This doesn’t come as a surprise sadly, considering the vast history of difficulties and issues that have piled on top of Battlefield 4 since its release, but I can confidently say that despite what seems to be server issues, this is the best content to be bolted onto the newest installment of the Battlefield franchise.
The most notable addition and main crux of Naval Strike is the carrier assault gamemode, inspired by Titan mode, originally featured in Battlefield 2142. Taking place only on the four new maps included, Carrier Assault starts out familiar enough, providing players with the objective of snatching up four or five flag positions to decrease the ticket counter from 100, much like Conquest mode. The similarities stop here, each team is now provided a stunningly rendered, massive aircraft carrier that is to be protected at all cost.
Impenetrable at first, the tickets now represent the health of each carrier, each flag now representing a ballistic missile launcher, determined to punch a hole through the thick iron sheets of each enemy carrier. After the ticket number of one team has dropped substantially (around 40) a missile will tear a massive hole in the ship, leaving it vulnerable to be boarded by the other team. Two m-com stations appear on board the ship much like Battlefield 4’s other mode, rush. After one charge is blown, the engine doors open and the assault continues onboard the carrier as players try to reach the last m-com through a number of small hallways and corridors. Fights are chaotic and intense inside the carrier, being in such close quarters means the visceral nature of the firefights only intensify, leaving chances of you retreating slim to none. After the last m-com is blown or the ticket counter reaches zero, the game is over and the other team is provided the sweet satisfaction of victory.
The new mode mixed with the largely amphibious maps create a fabulously intertwined and compelling battleground for you to take part in. Rather than having a static objective that most of us are accustomed to seeing in modern shooters, carrier assault emphasizes the impact of an ever changing fight. There is a constant sense of urgency, one moment you may be entering the enemies carrier to deliver the final blow and all of a sudden your ship adopts a giant hole of its own, welcoming both friend and foe inside. Do you defend your carrier from the non-stop assault or do you think you are more needed on the offensive front, pushing through the hostile decks to reach the engine room? Perhaps, it is best to take the passive approach, hold all the flags and slowly pluck away the enemies tickets to zero causing an instant win, bombs planted or not. There is so much to consider when playing carrier assault that amps up the tension vanilla Battlefield is already so good at creating.
Naturally, with so much to think about, having strong teamwork is unquestionably vital to the success of your side. Battlefield has always been on the much slower, more meticulous side of the gameplay spectrum. Running mindlessly into the jungle or driving the new amphibious hovercraft into unknown territory is sure to end up backfiring in the best possible way imaginable. You always need a plan and contingency plan on top of that to be successful, but sometimes jumping into a helicopter only to have it crash right away on the deck of your ship is one of the many things that makes Battlefield so special. The coined term, “Battlefield moments” are not in short supply on the new maps, which can also be played with all the other game modes.
Still, it is rather heart breaking to say that half of my experience has been destroyed by the incredible lag on the version I played. During peak hours you’ll be hard pressed to find a smooth running carrier assault mode and be left with a stuttering mess of a game. Finding the silver lining in all of this, the DLC seems relatively stable and during off hours runs perfectly fine. Its been a rough few months for Battlefield, but Dice seems to have found their footing and disregarding server issues, there aren’t any game breaking issues with this update as of yet.
If you aren’t a premium member and want some new content for Battlefield, I would hands down recommend Naval Strike, latency issues notwithstanding. It offers four expertly designed maps that capture all the classic action of Battlefield while tossing in carrier assault, a familiar gamemode that is easily the shining star of the show. To simply put it, it sucks that server issues plague the fourth piece of content for Battlefield 4, but the disappointment really stems from the fact that Naval Strike is just that damn fun.