In the world of modern first person shooters, there are two types of players: those who play Call of Duty and those who play Battlefield. Both games look similar on the surface but each have their own distinct style and features that have garnered dedicated fans to both camps. It is usually a question of whether you prefer the frantic, arcade action of CoD or the slower, simulation style Battlefield. Battlefield 3 (BF3) has been widely heralded as a true-return to form for the series, as both John
expressed in their respective reviews of the PC and console versions of the game. Despite the quality of the base game, the DLC that has launched for it thus far has been heavily criticized by gamers; the new content seemed to focus on making the game more like the competition than emphasizing its own strengths. That isn’t the case with DICE’s latest pack for BF3, Armored Kill.
The Armored Kill DLC, which is now available for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 (this review covers the PC version) brings a slew of new content to the game including 4 fantastic maps, a heavy hitting game mode, new vehicles, and a slew of unlocks for the existing arsenal. All of this new content has a distinct focus that makes it uniquely “Battlefield”: simulated destruction. This pack will deliver the hard hitting battles and all out wars that Battlefield fans dream about when their controllers, mice, and keyboards are put away.
All four of the new maps are focused on explosive, vehicle warfare, each in different ways. Let’s look at each of them and explain how they, as well as the other new content that ties into each of them, benefit the BF3 experience:
Armored Shield: Set in Russia, this large, rural map consists mainly of farms and small settlements and is suitable for all-out warfare. This is a wide open map that makes it good for the game’s vehicles and team based game modes, including the newly added AC-130 gunship. The gunship might be on rails, but it is still a ton of fun to take control of and unleash the raw power of its guns on the enemies taking cover below; be warned however, as deadly as it is, it is just as easy to take down with effective anti-air weapons. The rolling fields and large earth mounds scattered throughout the map make it perfect for the new quad-like of the Armored Kill pack; it is really easy to get a lot of air between you and the ground when you hit these at high speed. This is perhaps the most well-rounded of the maps in terms of its compatibility with all of the gametypes BF3 has to offer, including the new game mode (which we will discuss below).
Death Valley: The newest night-time map to hit the series, Death Valley uses a combination of its darkness and constant elevation changes to keep things up close and personal. Despite the size, which isn’t what many would consider a close quarters maps, there aren’t clear sightlines across the various areas which will keep you and your enemies in close vicinity of one another when it comes to actual combat. You will definitely want to outfit some dark gear for this one to blend into the environment. There are a variety of distinct locations scattered throughout including a construction site, a train yard, and a highway control office, which makes it easy for squads to set up bases of operation and create choke points for conquest style matches.
Alborz Mountains: The focus on this map is more about verticality than it is anything else. The focus here is a large mountain in the center of the map that is surrounded by heavily wooded flatland. The bulk of the battles here will be held on the path to the top of the mountain, which isn’t really vehicle friendly. You and your teammates will want to make good use of the game’s helicopters to speed up the process of ascending to the top of the mountain as the clearly marked roads that lead there are prime for ambushes and mine-traps.
Bandar Desert: This map is big, and I mean INSANELY big. DICE has officially labeled the Bandar Desert as the largest map in the history of the Battlefield series, and one game on it will show you why. This map is the perfect example of the “Battlefield” experience; vehicle usage is an absolute must as walking from one end to the other on foot will not only take ages, but make you a sitting duck for the enemy. The surface area of the Desert is flat and wide open, which make this ripe for a tank battleground. This map was designed for the new game type, Tank Superiority, although it is completely playable on other maps; 64 players doesn’t even begin to fill this map and will make you wish that the game supported more.
All in all these additions emphasize the things that make the BF3 experience different that the competition. The Armored Shield and Bandar Desert maps in particular, really stand out and take advantage of the PC version’s support for 64 players in multiplayer; these massive maps truly bring the action to an epic scale, unlike anything seen in other shooters. Sadly, this impact won’t be felt on the console versions with their limited support for 24 players.
Their size also perfectly fits the new game mode mentioned earlier: Tank Superiority. This mode makes good use of both the new, large maps and the heavy class of vehicles, including the new additions with this pack. Tanks have always been a staple in the game, but the new anti-tank class of vehicles, introduced with the M1128 Mobile Gun System and 2525 Sprut, make the game even more explosive as you can now have all of the firepower with more speed and agility. Tank Superiority plays out similar to King of the Hill, however the “hill” never moves; it is located in a static location, usually directly in the middle of the map. This creates a centralized war zone that literally becomes "Hell on Earth" both literally and figuratively.
Battlefield 3 is usually a bit "stingy" with its vehicles, spawning them sparingly as the battle rages on. In this new mode, tanks and other heavily armored vehicles spawn rapidly which keeps players entrenched in vehicles for the entirety of the match. You are supposed to spend the game in a vehicle and the game makes sure that there are plenty available; if you aren't in a piece of heavy artillery, you don't stand a chance in this mode. This perfectly demonstrates the difference between Battlefield and the competition as this is vehicle combat at its finest; you have to play differently than you do on foot as there is no place to hide in Tank Superiority; you and your opponents are all clearly visible in these large, hulking tanks and vehicles. It becomes a game of strategy and maneuverability, forcing you and your teammates to work together to control the area around the flag in order to earn points for your team. The resulting experience is something more akin to a mech game than it is a traditional FPS, which is a nice change of pace for the game. Battlefield has always separated itself from its competition with its implementation of vehichle warfare and Tank Superiorty simply shines a huge spotlight on that fact.
There are a lot of other new additions that come in this pack, which you will discover as you progress through it, including new unlocks and challenges meant to extend your gameplay experience. It is clear from the start though that this content pack has a narrow and distinct focus and it hones in on it without waver. This pack defines the Battlefield experience, which should tell you up front how you will feel about it. If you like the vehicle and team-based simulation gameplay that is unique to the Battlefield series, than this will be an excellent purchase; however, if you want something more fast paced and frantic, stick to the other packs or head on over to Call of Duty. True BF3 fans however will find plenty to love with Armored Kill!