Four map packs in and there's still plenty to say about Battlefield 3. Each pack has brought something new to the table and Aftermath is no different. With four quake-ravaged maps, a new game mode, and the all new crossbow weapon, DICE maintains the concept of offering more than just environments to shoot people in. And it's finally available to all players on consoles and PCs.
While the compact Close Quarters and the sprawling Armored Kill divided players of different disciplines, Aftermath brings it back to something everyone can agree on—mid-size, versatile environments closer in spirit to Back to Karkand. These four new environments, combined with new toys, make Aftermath the best DLC for Battlefield 3 yet. It has refreshed my interest in the game and I've been playing the hell out of it. So here are my tips for having the most fun and success in Aftermath!
Give Scavenger Mode Some Time
Any time a new game mode comes along you'll always get the crowd that immediately scoffs at anything that isn't their gametype du jour. "Rush and Conquest all day, e'er day" tends to be my mandate. Thanks to that my knee-jerk reaction was to unlock my crossbow in Scavenger mode and GTFO. Luckily my friends wanted crossbows too, forcing me to play the mode more than I intended. The end result was that I really warmed up to it.
Like Gun Master, Scavenger is a great way to break up the action for a bit. Unlike Gun Master, it doesn't water down the game quite as much. You lose access to your class loadouts for a bit, so the mode does lean heavily on your shooting skills, but the addition of Conquest-style flags means there's still some semblance of teamwork and map control. It helps that Scavenger's smaller arenas are some of the most well-designed areas DICE has ever done. The concept of scavenging for your weapons is surprisingly fun as well, which it turns out, helps with my next tip…
Find Your Favorite Sidearm
If Gun Master made you learn to use a sidearm, Scavenger mode will force you to narrow down a favorite. The only real loadout decision you make in Scavenger mode is your starting sidearm, but since it's the weapon you'll be using most its actually very important. My recommendation? Use the MP412 REX. This thing is a beast. Two shots to kill, a good rate of fire, and it's easily the coolest looking sidearm of the bunch. The reload time is long, so you may want to go with something else if you're a bad shot. The 93R may be a good choice in that instance, with its three-round burst fire. You could even go with a scoped magnum if you're feeling bold. Basically, experiment until you find something you really love to use and it will make Scavenger mode much more fun.
Deck Out Your XBOW
The Crossbow or XBOW is a real surprise in Aftermath. With several unlockable bolts including ones that have explosive tips or scan the area for enemies, the XBOW is ridiculously versatile. There's so much to this weapon that I wrote an entire guide dedicated to unlocking all the parts and making use of them. To get you started, simply win three rounds of Scavenger and the XBOW is all yours. Then, follow my guide HERE, to get the most out of this crazy new weapon.
Explore the Ruins
Possibly the best thing about the new Aftermath map pack is the design of the four environments. Each one strikes a balance of complex paths and a clear sense of direction. Landmarks make it easy to find where you're going, yet the endless back alleys and alternate paths make for great flanking opportunities. As a general rule, never be content to take the path most traveled. The vast majority of players will simply barrel down the widest path and smart players can use this to flank behind and get the drop on them.
There are also alternate paths built into the environment, marked by blue doors with red explosive barrels next to them. Shoot the barrel or use explosives on the door to create a new path!
Each of the new maps has a focal point, the area of the map dedicated to Scavenger mode, which plays almost like a map within a map. The market area of Talah Market, for example, is only one piece of the map and yet it's more detailed and complex than most first-person shooter maps. Learning the ins and outs of these more complex zones is key to gaining an advantage. Another example is the central skyscraper in Markaz Monolith. The top of that tower is an underutilized vantage point where smart snipers can dominate over that entire region of the map.
The bottom line: These are BF3's best maps, so take advantage of what is possible within them.
Enjoy BC2 Nostalgia in Rush
If you've stopped playing Rush mode because the AC-130 in Armored Kill soured it, or because a lot of the main maps like Caspian Border don't really nail the progression of Bad Company 2's Rush mode, then Aftermath is the perfect place to return to Rush. That sense of momentum, of tearing through one environment and traveling on to another, is captured expertly in these new maps. You'll be fighting through the rubble, collapsed buildings, and dust, then eventually progressing into hot spots like the ones I mentioned earlier. There's a good flow to all the maps and the action is relentless. Vehicles play a big role without overtaking the action, and you'll find the most variety of situations to apply a fully decked-out XBOW.
That said, I wouldn't mind if the next DLC threw in a couple BC2 remakes for good measure. In the meantime, enjoy these new maps. They're great on any platform, they offer the best of BF3 gameplay, and they're simply stunning designs. I'll be back again as soon as the End Game DLC releases!
Joe Donato just wants an Arica Harbor remake in BF3. Follow him if you agree, or tell him he's dumb @JoeDonuts.