A tour of Battlefield 4's new Operation Outbreak map

Battlefield 4 Outbreak jungle

A good Battlefield map follows a satisfyingly alliterative criteria: sightlines, shelter, and suitable flankways. Operation Outbreak, the outcome of DICE’s Community Map Project made freely available in last week’s major update, is a good Battlefield map. It isn’t perfect—some spawn zones are dangerously bereft of cover and a couple clipping snags with the geography can cause sticking issues—but its swaths of jungle and rocky terrain affords spacious ground for 64-player Conquest slugfests or the steady burn of Rush’s unceasing chaos. Much like the Zavod 311 launch map (and its alternative nighttime version), infantry combat with light vehicular support is Outbreak’s focus.

The phantom of the jungle

Outbreak’s primary highlight is its visual theme: a dense jungle of overgrown trees and foliage occasionally broken by small groups of structures—including an impressively grand ancient temple—that serve as capture points. Beyond the Frostbite engine eagerly flexing its power with strong volumetric lighting breaking through boughs and intense shadows on the terrain, the bush is a tactical boon for infantry. It provides ample means of quickly withdrawing from or maneuvering around a push or an entrenched position. The map’s small hills and bouldery crags are ideal for closing the distance to a target or objective while staying out of sight. It’s a nice departure from the high exposure factor of foot travel on Golmud Railway or Rogue Transmission.

Battlefield 4 Outbreak refinery

Where Outbreak’s jungle turns problematic is when it starts disappearing. Through explosions, churning tank treads, or simply enough bullets, trees and vegetation fall over or splinter apart. Objective points and their surrounding environs take plenty of collateral damage throughout a match, and that leaves chunks of land where little remains of cover. Vehicles—transport choppers and zippy APCs, in particular—can easily prey on traversing infantry if their occupants simply clear off trees and other growth covering the most frequently used pathways between objectives.

A temple, a tank, a tunnel

Capture point B sits in the remains of a gorgeous-looking temple courtyard complete with roaring waterfalls cascading in the background. Although it’s fun tracking scrambling soldiers and trading fire atop the rubble of the courtyard, it leaves everyone wide open for long-range vehicle bombardment, and tank gunners coming from the westward US spawn can easily draw a bead to the temple from the dirt road snaking away to the main US base. A set of tunnels running beneath the courtyard tends to see clumped groups of infantry huddling for cover, so a few well-thrown frag or smoke grenades can quickly cause some disarray. The flag includes the beefy M82A3 sniper rifle as a nearby pickup to incentivize a brave sprint up top to nab the powerful long-range weapon.

Battlefield 4 Outbreak temple

Ghost town party

By far the most active area of Outbreak is C point, a ghost town of rickety shacks acting as the centerpoint of the map’s layout. Infantry stalemates are common as both teams often post up behind buildings lining the street dividing the town. Establishing a foothold takes work—the ease at which enemies can squeeze through a defensive line via the jungle makes sudden ambushes a frequent threat. Revive-happy medics and aggressive spawn beacon placement makes C point a very fluid objective, and it’s really cool dropping into the town from a transport chopper or thundering down the avenue in a tank to help teammates move up.

Once C is captured, the victorious team tends to barrel onto B or D points (the temple or a waterfront logging camp, respectively) en masse, as they’re both equidistant from C and is a natural stem from the town’s centrality. A good strategy is to break from the flock and fade into the thick canopy encircling C to set up a stealthy defense against sneaky recaptures after the main force moves on. Having that tactical flexibility exemplifies how truly challenging locking out the opposition from a point can get.

Some of the best moments from playing on Outbreak arise from witnessing the total destructibility of the town’s buildings over time. Having the power to level as many structures as possible was a popular request during the Community Map Project, and it shows best in the houses’ explosive transformation into shards of wood and metal littering the ground. High wall cover and corner alcoves turn into low, uneven protection emphasizing crouch- and prone-fire. Other capture points are just as fun to blow up: the logging camp brings slight verticality with its stilt-supported buildings while the eastward E point—a smoking palm oil plantation—has two massive tankers that carve away nearby warehouse doors with screen-shaking booms.

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