Get Ready To Roll – Battlefield 3: Armored Kill DLC Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360
The next expansion for the brilliant shooter Battlefield 3 has launched for premium and non-members, and is entitled Armored Kill. As the name suggests, the add-on focuses mainly on vehicle-based combat, bringing four new maps, three new vehicles, and five new assignments to unlock vehicle upgrades. So how does the latest from DICE hold up? Well, hop into my heavily-armoured tank and lets go blow stuff up… err, I mean find out!
As mentioned above, Armored Kill features four new maps, all of which are massive in scale and are thankfully compatible with all game modes – including smaller types like Squad Deathmatch. First off we have Armored Shield, a map based on a beautiful, sunny, and green stretch of farmland that is reminiscent of the original Bad Company’s Harvest Day map. Small sections of four or five buildings make up key points used as bases, and the in-between sections are a mix of grassy hills and plowed soil that have been ripped apart by artillery fire. The open spaces make for straightforward tank combat, though clever players can make use of the occasional hills as cover, and the small urban sections make for tight infantry combat or ambushes.
Second on the roster is Death Valley, a night-time map set in a riverside gorge. While it may be the smallest map in the expansion, make no mistake – it’s still a large one. A few construction sites dot the area, as do several roadways and trees, with the map split horizontally by a railway overpass. One end of said overpass has a collapsed tunnel for infantry to hide in, and the other is a small group of buildings. Death Valley is set up for a lot of artillery and mortar fire, as well as close-quarters vehicle conflicts. Players with stealth or sniping in mind will also have a heyday with the darker setting, as players blend right in with the shadows.
Next up is Alborez Mountains, a snowy map based on a cold peak and neighbouring forest. What makes this one special is that it is fairly vertical as well as being large across, with gamers having to either climb the rocky mountainside or take the winding roads within small fissures. This makes Alborez Mountains seem even bigger than it is, and creates a lot of strategic chokepoint-based combat for both vehicles and RPG crews. Moving to the forested side, players will be fighting in a fairly dense area with limited vision – causing them to either knock the trees down or fight in close quarters. Overall, the tight areas of the map are a nice contrast to the general open ones in the others, and provide some fresh gameplay tactics.
Last but certainly not least is Bandar Desert, the largest map in Battlefield history. Set in an ocean-side desert, the map features two main bases, a large strip of waterfront housing, an absolutely giant stretch of rolling sand dunes, an artillery base, and a nicely-sized construction site. The sheer size of the map mixed with the diversity of the areas make for greatly varied combat. Where infantry might be fighting with small arms in the rural setting, tanks could be going at it across the sand, while helicopters might cautiously take on AA gunners and rockets for control of the artillery base – making the whole round feel like three separate battlefields instead of one match. Bandar Desert is easily the highlight of the expansion’s four maps, and is sure to quickly become a fan favourite.
All in all the level design for these new maps is purely brilliant, wide-ranging in terms of layouts, and a total blast to play on. It seems that a lot of elements that made the previous title, Bad Company 2, so enjoyable have been borrowed and thrown into the Battlefield 3 formula, giving gamers the best of both worlds – open vehicle-based maps with enhanced physics and destructibility. While they stand very well on their own, the new levels are a great fit into other rotations as well, making for some of the best designed areas in the game.
Aside from maps, the biggest feature in the latest expansion is the addition of four new vehicles: the Tank Destroyer, Mobile Artillery, ATV, and the Gunship – each bringing their own unique tactics to the table. Tank Destroyers (TDs) are a bit of a cross between an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and a Main Battle Tank (MBT) – they have the speed and troop-carrying capabilities of an IFV, but with a main canon that packs one hell of a punch. Seating one driver and four gunners/passengers, TDs are able to take a full squad into a drop zone while still challenging enemy armour – though with less defence than an MBT.
If you like to strike from afar there is the Mobile Artillery (MA) truck, which is my personal favourite. Using the MA allows you to sit a comfortable distance away from the action and rain a rocket barrage down on the area of your choice. Simply drive the truck to your desired location then switch to the gunner seat and give your target the business. If you can’t tell where your shots are landing, either press Start (if on console) or your map button (on PC), and watch for small ripples – that’s your impact zone. Worried about a teammate hopping in the truck and driving away on you while you’re trying to fire? Don’t be! The vehicle was designed so only one player may be in it at a time – a very welcome anti-grieving measure.
ATVs also make a reappearance in Armored Kill, a vehicle last featured in Bad Company 2, and supports room for two people – a driver and a passenger facing the rear. While this may sound like an unimportant or useless vehicle, you would be surprised at just how effective it is on the battlefield – if used strategically. Being able to quickly traverse over basically any terrain allows players to move with great haste across the massive maps, allowing for quick infantry support in a hot-zone or small strike teams to dart behind enemy lines. The small frame of the ATVs also makes them considerably harder to hit with tank or artillery rounds, as well as small arms fire. Not to mention they’re an absolute riot to take over hills and jumps at high speeds, so gamers will need to be careful as not to get distracted by the appeal of joy riding. Overall, the ATVs are a method of transit that fans will welcome back with open arms!
However, the most notable of additions will be the Gunship: a huge aircraft that can rain death down on the battlefield. To the dismay of pilots, the Gunship cannot be flown, instead acting like a mobile spawn point. Gamers select the Gunship when they spawn and are automatically placed in one of two positions: the 40MM cannon or a 25MM machine gun. Both are powerful devices that can rip apart both infantry and armour alike in a matter of seconds. To help defend themselves, players can switch between their main weapon and an anti-air (AA) seat, to attempt to shoot down any airborne attackers, and a set of infrared (IR) flares to distract incoming missiles. If the aircraft happens to be full, gamers may still use it in a way. There is an option to use it as a mobile para-drop, causing spawning players to fall from it towards the battlefield – parachuting to land safely. Players can use this to drop in on occupied bases or generally get to their objectives with less resistance.
So, who gets this flying death machine? Well, that depends on the gametype. In Conquest mode, a certain base is marked by the Gunship icon. Whoever has this base will have control of the aircraft, with it respawning 60 seconds after its death. In Rush, the attacking team will always have control, with the same respawn time. For balance reasons, the Gunship is not featured in any other gametypes. A good choice, as it would have broken smaller gametypes like Team Deathmatch.
Speaking of gametypes, a new one rolls its way in with the expansion: Tank Superiority – which is similar to Battlefield 1943’s Air Superiority mode. Here, players take part in massive battles with the focus purely on MBTs and TDs. An increased number of these vehicles (and these alone) will spawn on each side’s personal base, with one vacant base in the centre. The goal is for your team to control this centre base using your arsenal of tanks, which will slowly take down the enemies total respawn count (in a fashion similar to Conquest). This leads to frantic fragging fun between armies of countless tanks, all fighting in one massive battlezone. Tank Superiority is a very welcome addition to Battlefield 3’s roster of game modes, and here’s hoping that Air Superiority makes a comeback in later expansions as well.
In place of the usual assignments to unlock new guns, we have ones to unlock vehicle attachments for the TD and MA. Attachments such as TOW missiles and air burst rockets can be unlocked by killing or getting kills with specific transports – all of which are new to Armored Kill. While some players may find the lack of new weapons disheartening, it makes sense in an expansion based on vehicles. Chances are either you or the enemy are going to be in some sort of armoured machine, therefore your small arms are going to be useless. Needless to say these unlockable assets are welcomed ones, giving players an incentive to try out all the new vehicles.
When the metal carcasses of tanks finally stop burning, fans of Battlefield 3 will see that Armored Kill is an amazing expansion. Featuring radiant new maps, fresh and returning vehicles, and a handful of assignments to keep you busy, Armored Kill is sure to keep you coming back for a long time. Even if you’re not a Premium member, this is an add-on that you’re going to want to have. So strap yourself into your favourite vehicle, get locked and loaded, and I’ll see you on the battlefield!
Final Score: 5.0 / 5.0 and an exemplary service medal.
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