DICE has been spot-on with its downloadable content for Battlefield 3 till date. It pleased Battlefield 2 vets by resurrecting some of their favourite maps in the Back to Karkand map pack. Call of Duty fans and lone wolves were taken care of by the claustrophobic confines of Close Quarters, and for their third map pack – Armored Kill, it’s looking to provide Battlefield 3 players with thrill of epic, large scale modern day warfare only Battlefield games can provide.
Like previous Battlefield 3 DLC, Armored Kill ships with new maps, modes, superficial accolades like dog tags and challenges, although for some reason, no new weapons were included in this update. As far as maps go, DICE has really outdone itself with some of the prettiest and largest virtual battlefields till date. You have Alborz Mountains, a snow-covered map that gives off a strong Skyrim vibe as you traverse its snowy peaks to lush green vegetation, dodging enemy fire from every direction.
Armored Shield is DICE’s love letter to Bad Company 2 players, taking place in sprawling green fields, complete with huge windmills and small settlements, where more often than not, intense skirmishes tend to erupt. Death Valley, my personal favourite, takes place at night and has players navigating vast open forests to a narrow construction site, where you’ll almost always be able to introduce the sharp end of your knife to an unsuspecting sniper. Bandar Desert, the biggest map in Battlefield history, certainly lives up to its name, featuring a stark contrast between miles of barren desert and picturesque pockets of residential buildings.
The best way to experience Armored Kill is to squad up with a few mates, plan your class loadouts, and tackle it as a squad, if not an entire team. Unlike Close Quarters, which is perfectly playable from a lone wolf perspective, Armored Kill is not very infantry-friendly and will chew you up and spit you out if you attempt to do so. If nothing, the sheer size of the maps demand that you squad up just so you have mobile spawn points (your squad) at all times.
Besides new maps, Armored Kill also ships with a new games mode – Tank Superiority, and a beefed up Conquest mode with a whopping seven control points. Tank Superiority only features one checkpoint bang in the middle of the map and each team has to use these metallic behemoths to gain control and retain that point. When it works, this map proves to be quite intense as the checkpoint for all four maps lies in an open area, making it a real challenge for either team to retain control. However, most of the time, you’ll see people running around with rocket launchers and C4 trying to blow vehicles up on foot rather than using tanks, rendering this mode moot.
For me, the large Conquest mode proved to be the most immersive. All seven points are spread out quite well over the maps so they don’t feel too close or too far away. Upon capturing a particular point, one team gains access to the AC-130 Gunship, an automated flying beast that doles out death like it’s going out of style. The pilot is AI-controlled so no player can assume control and fly it around, but you can spawn inside the gunship as one of the two gunners and provide aerial backup. The gunship also serves as a mobile spawn point for the team that controls it, but it won’t last forever as capable jet/chopper pilots can take it out in minutes.
The gunship is a welcome addition to the Conquest mode, but it’s completely imbalanced in Rush. By default, it’s given to the attackers and keeps spawning every time someone in your team takes it down. If, for some reason, you don’t have any capable pilots in your team, you’re pretty much screwed as it’s capable of dominating your entire team since in Rush, it has a very specific area to fire upon. This makes it easy for the pilots to rack up kills. Besides Rush, Conquest and Tank Superiority, all previous Battlefield 3 modes are compatible with this map pack as well. Of course, with modes like Team Deathmatch or Squad Deathmatch, the map scales accordingly.
No matter which mode you chose, there’s no denying the fact that these maps look positively sublime. For my first few games, I just stood at spawn points, taking it all in, bathing in the glorious lens flare effect as friendly jets and choppers flew above my head and into battle. Even though these maps are far bigger than any present in the Back to Karkand map pack, they seem well optimised as the frame rate rarely dips even when the brown stuff really hits the fan.
I’m a bit disappointed that no new weapons were included in this map pack, but on the plus side, I can’t really complain when the new maps are such a blast. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to watch a team of 32 players roll out into action using tanks, choppers and jets, only to meet the other team head-on in a lush, picturesque field. Within minutes you’ll see jets flying over your head engaged in heated dogfights, vehicles that were once in the air crash and burn inches from your face as you run around frantically avoiding gunship fire that can decimate buildings like they were made of cardboard. This is the sort of chaos and intensity Battlefield players have always wanted, and Armored Kill does not disappoint.
Armored Kill is out now on all platforms for Battlefield 3 Premium members. Non-Premium members will have to wait till 25th September to purchase this map pack.
- Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
- Processor: Intel Core i7 – 2600K @3.40 GHZ
- Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
- Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
- Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W