previews\ Nov 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand Preview


Releasing less than two months after launch, EA and DICE are bringing new content to Battlefield 3, their heavy-hitting FPS designed to take on Modern Warfare 3. If the vanilla game just isn’t enough, get ready for some brand new content based on some returning favorite maps from Battlefield 2. Back to Karkand is going to be an exciting expansion for those who are beginning to tire of the vehicle-heavy combat of BF3.

For those who don’t know, Back to Karkand is a DLC pack that functions much like an expansion to the core game, with upcoming versions of Battlefield 3 including the new content in the marketing materials. Available this December, Back to Karkand is free to those who preordered the Limited Edition of Battlefield 3, and can be purchased by everyone else. It’s substantial, with four of the most popular maps from Battlefield 2 recreated with the Frostbite 2 Engine, ten new weapons, three new vehicles, one new mode, and five new achievements/trophies. That’s a solid amount of content to the entire multiplayer experience.

While the stages themselves should be familiar to those who played Battlefield 2, there is plenty new to the arenas, including more realistic and detailed destruction. Looking at the comparison shots between the original levels in Battlefield 2 and their remade versions in Battlefield 3, it’s impressive to see just how much better these stages really are.

Of the four levels - Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Wake Island, and Sharqi Peninsula – we were given time with just Strike of Karkand and Gulf of Oman. Strike of Karkand retains Battlefield 2’s urban environment with control points based linearly at a hotel, a city square, and a bazaar. Compared to many other multiplayer maps, this one felt a little smaller, taking less time to get from point to point. Compared to its original look, it’s much brighter and urban feeling than previous games.

Gulf of Oman, on the other hand, is a very open city space in the process of being developed. A freeway runs through the city, providing a solid division between the Russian and US forces. Surprisingly, there are some substantial vertical elements to this stage, from tall, five story buildings only partially completed to a massive crane sitting on top of a construction site control point. It takes a while to climb this crane, but it offers the best sniping I have seen, as well as a good chance to use the parachutes.

I found the new mode – Conquest Assault – to be a slight variation of traditional control point modes. A fusion between the Rush and Assault modes, the game starts with one team controlling each of the control points, and the other team must rush forward to steal those control points away. Each team has a different number of “tickets” spread out to keep the matches fair, with the tickets depleting only when all three control points are held. I found this mode to be a fun, slightly chaotic version of traditional Conquest that feels very similar to the other mode. People looking for a radically different change of pace might be disappointed.

All in all, I have to say that Back to Karkand is a substantial and fun addition to Battlefield 3. Sure, some might complain that it’s not truly new content, but having played it for myself, I can confirm that fans of Battlefield 3 are going to be pleased wit this new addition. Look out for it to release in December, with the PlayStation 3 getting a week of exclusivity.

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