Battlefield 3: Aftermath presents destruction in its most glorious form
War – war isn’t pretty. Trudging around for hours in the desert heat or artic freeze serves presents its own struggle, but what happens when you throw in a seemingly post-apocalyptic setting – cities ravaged by a devastating natural disaster? Simply put: hell. This is the background for Battlefield 3’s latest expansion, and it plays out magnificently for a series with an already impressive track record for action-packed downloadable content. “Aftermath” offers hours of familiar content for Battlefield 3 fans, while offering up a curveball in several needed departments that ultimately keeps this expansion fresh and exciting for everyone.
Based on a campaign mission amidst a doomsday earthquake, Battlefield 3: Aftermath centers itself around ultimate destruction. The DLC is packed with four new maps in different locations that all stay true to the “aftermath” name, but stand separate in how they play. The new maps are also chock full with new weapons, vehicles, and class assignments. Oh, and did we mention there’s a new mode for players to get addicted to?
The maps themselves may seem similar at first glance, as they all focus in on natural disaster, but each presents a number of opportunities to play multiplayer the way you want to. The new maps really shine, however, in their ability to make standard “Rush” and “Conquest” modes more appealing, simply by the way they’re designed. For instance, Markaz Monolith’s vertical design makes Rush mode’s attack points significantly more difficult to obtain, as you have fire from both above and below. Along with Markaz Monolith, Epicenter offers another more compact battleground for some intense close quarters battle, especially at the capture points. The other two maps, Talah Market and Azadi Palace open up the fight for more strategic play, as there’s less debris and vertical play to use as cover.
One aspect of these four excellent maps we’ve noticed is how they can seem appealing to an upfront, assault-styled approach, but how they can be tailored to distance gameplay. Talah Market, for example, offers a number of lengthy alleyways for snipers to pick foes from afar. Better yet, most of the capture points, no matter what mode you’re playing, can be visible from a distance. Don’t let this frustrate you, though. Aftermath’s action is so intense that counteracting these snipers by simply running to and from objectives is easy as, well, not dying.
The maps are solid and gameplay is engrossing, but perhaps the aspect of Aftermath that best lifts these two guidelines to their success are visuals. Oftentimes, it’s easy to recreate earthquake scenes and other disasters with drab visuals and a “blocky” environment (a la 2010’s Medal of Honor), but thankfully DICE’s Frostbite Engine enhances the expansion’s setting gloriously. You’ll find yourself admiring that recent piece of fallen debris. We also found ourselves drooling over several map’s lighting fixtures, from alleyway backlights to the red, beaming sun. Visually, you’ll be just attached to Aftermath as Battlefield 3 itself.
Aftermath’s other additions, as we touched on earlier, include a number of new weapons and vehicles. None of these additions are game changing, but they are welcomed with open arms, and can give you some new challenges in their own rights. Conversely, aside from the maps themselves, what really stands out from the rest of the Aftermath DLC is the all new “Scavenger” mode. This Conquest-styled mode pits two teams against one another on the new maps. As the name hints, every player will have to “scavenge” for weapons, as you’ll only begin with a pistol (and no specializations). Weapons are strewn out throughout the map, and gaining them will be vital to success, as you attempt to bleed out the other team by holding positions. The action is thrilling, fast-paced, yet strategic, which will certainly be welcomed by the community. DICE didn’t just toss in a new mode that acts as eye-candy. No, the developer has crafted yet another gem that is worth the price of the expansion alone.
Four new maps, a slew of weapons and vehicles and other goodies may seem like a typical DLC advertisement, but don’t write this one off as anything less than great. DICE continually feeds their community a dose of medicine that we’re habituated to. Battlefield 3: Aftermath is for both the newbie and hardcore fan alike, and will keep you logging hours until the final expansion installment is released in the coming months.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]