Part 9: Siege of ShanghaiSiege of Shanghai
Today we're not talking about classes or vehicles, but a map. Siege of Shanghai was the first map shown for BF4 and remains a constant in a number of servers despite some pretty noticeable flaws. Let's talk about them in a bit of detail here.
First, let's look at the map.
(Should be noted, this isn't mine, but it works)
The red outline denotes the limits to which air vehicles can go. The darker shaded areas are the infantry bounds. It's a fairly large map for what it's worth. There's plenty of harbor space for jetskis or LAVs to travel from one side to the other and for helicopters to loiter while they wait for ammo or countermeasures to recharge. However, most of your time is going to be spent on the ground. In this regard SoS is pretty cool.
SoS is more confined than a lot of maps. Usually roads on BF4 maps are suggestions or paths of least resistance. In SoS they are the only paths for vehicles to get from place to place. For a tank to assault a point it has to cross a bridge from their side of the map to the center and then another bridge to the enemy's side. Each bridge has bollards that can be raised or lowered to let vehicles pass. Smart teams will "lock" the bridge behind their vehicles during the initial rush so enemy players have to vacate their tanks to hit a button to get to the other side. This makes them sitting targets. The other option is to power over the obstacles, but that can backfire.
Infantry have access to a few back alleys and areas the tanks can't get to. Most notable is the center tower (where the C flag is in Conquest). You need to take an elevator to the top of the building or have a helicopter drop you off in order to cap the flag there, but once you have it hold on for dear life because it changes the game. The C flag is a gateway to both the B and D points. Jumping from the tower lets you float to either and can make it difficult for the enemy team to keep either point. This is where the level starts to have problems.
So the Red Lines here denote the path you can take to the nearest relevant building in Conquest. One side ends up on top of a roof overlooking B, the other on a roof directly over the D point. The light blue smudges indicate elevators players can take in other buildings. Both roofs have elevator access, so they're even there. The issue is the location of the roofs and the height. The B roof is pretty tall, tall enough that you can cover most of the distance to A by leaping off the roof and floating that way. If you land on the D roof you are...on the D roof. There is no other roof to jump to, nor real way to proceed towards E from there. The advantage is just faster travel at that point. Meanwhile the enemy team has full view of the two easiest routes for your vehicles to leave spawn. You have a couple good views, but only if you stay on the edges of the roof. Unfortunately, that side of the map has elevators to a roof taller than D that faces it, so if you end up on the roof you may get sniped pretty quickly.
At the end of the day it isn't a huge problem, but it feels like about 9 times out of 10 the US team is going to lose this map due to the high ground issues. The other 1 time the Tower gets knocked down early taking away the ability for either team to paradrop.
The tower coming down is part of something called "Levolution," same as the elevators and bollards on the bridge. BF3 had really limited interaction with the maps outside of destruction, so DICE added little things to activate or destroy that really effect how the maps plays. Bringing down the tower puts a bunch of dust in the air and creates a peninsula in the bay where a new C flag spawns. The US side has a much closer and lower elevator roof to jump from to get there, so it actually benefits them a bit to knock the tower down early.
I really like this map, it has some really great areas for fighting and the flag area designs are actually pretty neat (aside from when A or E turn into bug hunts), but the Chinese side has a bit of an advantage over the US most of the time, to the point where I can count the number of times I've seen CN lose on one hand if the tower stays up for more than half the match. I've always seen it as incentive to take down the tower from the US side, but snipers love that thing like you wouldn't believe and each time it comes down people cry in the chat for a few minutes.
Look at all those words about SoS.