The best thing about each new map pack release for Battlefield 3 is that it's always more than just four new locations to shoot dudes in. Back to Karkand brought more complex environments with increased levels of destruction; Close Quarters introduced infantry-only gameplay with new modes; and Armored Kill continues the tradition with a strong vehicle focus and massive battlegrounds. The variety is so strong, especially jumping from Close Quarters to Armored Kill, that you'll need to bring entirely new strategies to your game. Now that I've got a handle on these new maps, I'd like to share five tips that have helped me and have made Armored Kill even more fun.
The AC-130 Gunship is the most game-changing addition to BF3 in these new maps. It is a power weapon that can turn the tide in your favor and a dangerous distraction if you get too caught up on controlling it.
In Conquest, Gunship control is one of the most interesting parts of the strategy in Armored Kill. Each map has one base designated for the Gunship, and the team that takes control of that base takes control of the Gunship. On maps like Bandar Desert, the Gunship base is so far away from the rest of the bases that focusing your efforts on it is a gamble. You may gain control of the Gunship only to find that the other team is dominating the rest of the objectives.
If you're in the Gunship, the advantages are pretty clear. Its two guns are ridiculously powerful, and while the CPU-controlled pilot simply runs circles around the map, you can lay waste to just about anything in that particular path. That said, the Gunship is a pretty big target, and the two gunners will need to be careful with their IR Flares if they want to last long.
Sometimes the better bet is to let the other team keep the Gunship and try to blow it up instead, which brings me to my next tip...
Play Engineer or Bring Anti-Vehicle Toys
It may ruin the fun for jet pilots and tank drivers alike, but the Engineer is the spotlight class in Armored Kill. A single persistent Engineer can reliably hit the Gunship two out of every four shots, no matter how careful the gunners are with their IR Flares. A single Engineer with a Repair Tool and a tank can get away with murder if the other team isn't paying enough attention.
Ultimately, you'll want to play a versatile Engineer who can dance between anti-air, anti-ground, and vehicle repair as the match progresses. If the Gunship is down, spawn with a rocket launcher that can take out tanks and ATVs, but be ready to jump back to homing missiles if air vehicles start dominating again.
If you're a stalwart of one of the other classes, your anti-vehicle options are much more limited, but still worthwhile. An Assault class grenade launcher can take out ATVs and poke at tanks enough to be annoying, Support has the hilarious and wonderful C4 if you're feeling brave, and Recon has SOFLAM for laser targeting vehicles.
Use ATVs to Get Air and Zip Behind Enemy Lines
The new ATVs added in Armored Kill are a lot of fun. Like the Mongoose in Halo or the ATV in Bad Company 2, it's not only shockingly fast, but a fun vehicle to get creative with. Have some fun launching off of dunes and hills for a little while, but realize that the ATV is an amazing vehicle for surprise assaults on enemy bases.
Since they're so fast and small, the other team won't even see you on an ATV if you're careful to stay behind hills and other obstructions. The trick is to imagine a freshly spawned enemy wandering around, jamming on the spot button, looking for something to kill. Try to stay out of that imaginary line of sight and approach a base from where they least expect it.
Once you gain control of a base, the ATV makes attacking the next objective a quick and fun race through Armored Kill's rolling vistas.
P.S. Attach some C4 to the front of the ATV for some extra daredevil fun.
Be In a Vehicle or Kill Yourself
That may seem a bit grim, but it's true. While the size of the Armored Kill maps can be impressive, it's also one of the major problems you'll have to contend with aside from that dreaded Gunship. If you find yourself caught wandering the countryside like an adventurer inSkyrim, you're leaving your team a man short for minutes at a time. On consoles, that can be the difference between a tight match and an epic steamrolling. On PC, I've heard reports that even 64 player servers can be a bit too sparse on these maps.
You're better off popping into the menu, hitting the suicide button, and spawning at your home base. Even if your team has claimed some objectives, one of the major things I've noticed is that everyone forgets about the huge pile of tanks that spawn at your home base. Grab those and roll into battle, and if the drive is too long, don't forget about the speed boost button!
Learn to Fly Jets, They're Useful Now
Jets have always been a tricky prospect for me in Battlefield 3. They're so fun to fly, and yet, it always seems like you're zipping around above the rest of your team while they do all the work. With Armored Kill, the maps are so thick with vehicles that it becomes a field day for good jet pilots.
Learn precise aiming with the jet machine gun and careful use of countermeasures, and you'll be a force to be reckoned with and an actual boon to your team. Sure you won't be capping objectives, but if you can get the Gunship off of them for a few minutes they will certainly be grateful.
And that's sort of the magic of the Armored Kill expansion. Sure, the action can be spread a bit too thin at times, but the sheer variety of viable playstyles is amazing. This is Battlefield at its best — huge, explosive, and unpredictable. Have fun out there!