It does not seem like very long since we reviewed the last DLC for DICE and EA’s troubled FPS Battlefield 4, with the last iteration, Naval Strike, dropping just a few months ago. Our first impressions on the Naval Strike DLC are still fresh in our mind, good but full of disappointing bugs and glitches. Now the latest DLC, Dragon’s Teeth, is available for download it’s hard to forget how disappointing it was that they couldn’t produce a clean and bug free DLC for players that had paid for Premium off the bat.
It is for this reason that we felt the same disappointment when playing through Dragon’s Teeth, which could have cemented itself as our favourite DLC to be added to Battlefield 4, if it wasn’t for the sheer number of glitches and bugs that we experienced when playing on the Xbox 360.
Before we get into the issues and disappointing aspects of the DLC, let’s cover the good bits, which shouldn’t be ignored due to the bugs we faced. When the plethora of new maps worked, they were simply exceptional; the maps offered in Dragon’s Teeth represent exhilarating thrill rides that offer a new dynamic to the Battlefield 4 line up of map packs.
Whether you like them or not and whether you’ve faced all the glitches Battlefield has to offer, it is hard to deny that in their downloadable content, DICE manage to nail a range of different maps to suit a variety of fighting styles and with vehicular focused destruction, the main port of call with the last two packages (questionably or not we don’t deem Second Assault as ‘new content’) it was a pleasant surprise to see that Dragon’s Teeth was for the unashamed, infantry based gamers. Of course there are still vehicles in this DLC, it’s not a strict infantry-based, but all of the maps do seem to play most favourably to infantry players.
The four maps that are given to players in Dragon’s Teeth represent a mixing pot of different environments and situations to master in order to get one over on your opponents. In Propaganda, you traverse a wintery plaza, flanked with non-distinct grey communist buildings and offices. Pearl Market represents a more compact map and is a throwback to FPS maps of old, with a clear distinction between high and low ground and a plethora of rooftops to traverse and control. In Lumphini Gardens players are treated to a large open expanse to battle and control, with one clear point of action in a small and visually pleasing central bridge. Last but not least is Sunken Dragon, which sees a clear central point of action in a floating Chinese restaurant , flagged by multi-storey car parks and other inner city landmarks.
Certainly there is a playing style and approach to suit every type of player across these maps, each map has its own distinct pace and unique points of action. Despite this, the games that occur across the maps in this DLC often feel varied and distinctly different, no two games ever really feel the same, which is a sentiment I couldn’t really echo for Naval Strike. The reason for this could be the fact that for the first time in a BF4 DLC, the emphasis of the game does not revolve around who can monopolise the use of vehicles most effectively.
The infantry focus of Dragon’s Teeth can be surmised by the sheer amount of angles and vantage points that are presented to snipers. This DLC is a Recon players dream; in the same vain the number of recon units can play to the advantage of intelligent assault players, who have the opportunity to infiltrate a sniper nest and clean up a simple killstreak from a set of snipers camped on the top level of a car park in Sunken Dragon, or on a rooftop in Pearl Markets, or atop a high-rise bridge in Lumphini Gardens.
The result of the all-out infantry focus of this DLC is fast and frantic battles that result in pretty equal postings in the KD on each team, it’s rare to see an MVP at 30 for 2 that’s sat in a tank with an engineer all game – frankly it’s rather refreshing. Dragon’s Teeth’s new game mode, Chainlink, lends to this style of game play; the new DLC is essentially a new take on Conquest, except you and your team mates are awarded additional points for controlling objectives in a line. Chainlink is hardly groundbreaking, it still feels like Conquest, but there is a certain charm to the new challenge represented here and it has the characteristic of focusing action in a game, as objectives that are in the way of a successful link will be attacked and defended with appropriate vigour.
Alongside new maps there are new weapons and gadgets of course and for once, they’re pretty significant and from the look of things, pretty damn popular. The darling out of the bunch is the new assault rifle, the Bulldog, which has some serious kickback but is powerful and capable of releasing all sorts of carnage. The R.A.W.R is a new gadget that takes form in a tiny robot that can kill enemies, disarm bombs, and create all sorts of problems for the opposing team; it is the perfect example of a FPS tool that is in equal measure irritating to be bested by and rewarding to utilise correctly. There’s also a ballistic shield, which converted COD players will grab with both hands and a raft of other weapons to fill your inventory.
All in all, this could represent the most pleasing and complete DLC in Battlefield 4’s library thus far. There’s four great new maps with some pretty awesome Levolution points, there’s an entertaining new game mode and a range of useful and significant new weapons to unlock. Unfortunately, those bugs that I mentioned at the top of this review stop it being the perfect package. The intermittent audio and loading issues at the start of games, which plagued the Naval Strike DLC, return. Alongside this, there are invisible team mates, visible only via their weapon, which floats as if by magic.
These glitches are irritating but they don’t actually result in many deaths or questionable battles. On the other hand, walls that can be swum through in Sunken Dragon and other short staircases that completely block you off (even when completely submerged), can cause you to be on the receiving end of bullets, which is pretty bothersome.
It’s disappointing that these issues are still arising so far down the line, especially as DICE have promised on multiple occasions to halt further expansion development until bugs can be ruled out. I had the opportunity to play the DLC on Playstation 4 and things seemed more stable there (it seems that the PS4 iteration is currently the most stable of Battlefield 4) but it should not be a case that those with last gen consoles are forced to have a sub-standard experience with a game because of coding issues.
Hopefully, a patch will be released soon to fix the early problems with Dragon’s Teeth as in terms of content, it really is the most pleasing pack yet. It just needs cleaning up to really become the perfect DLC.
Battlefield 4 Dragon’s Teeth is available for a free download now to those with Premium or for £11.99 for non-premium players on July 29.
This review was based on the Battlefield 4: Dragon’s Teeth on Xbox 360.