I've given DICE a hard time lately. In fact, I think the entirety of the internet has. The name "DICE" has become synonymous with "screw-up" to such an extreme that it's actually a relatively common pseudo-verb uttered in Battlefield 4 servers. That's a shame, too. After three not-so-stellar (but still fulfilling) DLC packs, the fourth time has proven to be the charm.
Battlefield 4: Dragon's Teeth is something of a successor to Battlefield 3: Close Quarters. While they're not as wildly varied or exciting as watching a massive penthouse or office complex get ripped to shreds by ballistics, the new maps in Dragon's Teeth are open enough for infantry combat, and tight enough that vehicles are something of a moot point. With maps ranging from a Chinese downtown to a snowy North Korean block, there's a lot of colorful locales to put bullets into other people.
"It's all urban combat, all the time."
Also new to Battlefield 4 is the Chain Link game type. Chain Link is, putting it simply, Conquest on speed. Points are captured rapidly and tickets drain at an alarming rate (matches rarely last longer than 7-8 minutes). The main idea behind Chain Link is to capture adjacent points; when a point is sitting in a "broken" chain, it doesn't incur any ticket bleed for the enemy. When you create links of two or more, ticket bleeding becomes more rapid until all 1000 tickets from one side are gone.
Capture the Flag also returns, and on the smaller maps of the DLC, it's a boon. CTF was something of a laughable effort in China Rising, as the DLC's personality-lacking maps that tried to cater to all players resulted in a cacophony of chokepoints and other awful happenings. Not so here; it's all urban combat, all the time. When a tank does get mixed up in the action, it's restricted to a single, very exposed lane on Propaganda (meaning it's great for blowing up tank drivers).
"[When] 'levolution' does happen, it's an epic but restrained event that changes the flow of the map dramatically."
Also worthy of note is the attention to detail. The "micro-destruction" that was introduced with Battlefield 3 really shows on Battlefield 4: Dragon's Teeth. Chunks of concrete are torn up from barriers, holes are torn into paved roads, and walls shatter into rubble and dust. When the stupidly-named "levolution" does happen, it's an epic but restrained event that changes the flow of the map dramatically. While Siege of Shanghai's collapsing skyscraper is really cool, it only adds dust to the map, and a pile of rubble on one of the Conquest flags. When the water tower on Lumphini Gardens falls, it causes a mudslide that turns the middle of the map into dirty, elevated hills, and shoving aside shipping containers into the middle the map from their original spots.
A certain kind of effort went into Battlefield 4: Dragon's Teeth. While it's still not grade-A quality, I've got nothing but nice things to say about it. It's just that it lacks the "holy crap" feeling I wish I'd been able to experience from the game in the first place. They're still great maps, but they're not great maps. It's a mixed bag, but if you're aching for more Battlefield 4, it's hard not to recommend this one.
Rhys Egner is a writer for Front Towards Gamer from Seattle. He likes comics, hates crowds, and loves gaming of all kinds.