This article was originally published at Another-Castle.com
Big Maps & Big Vehicles
Battlefield 3: Armored Kill
Battlefield 3 has been out almost a year and in that time it has been supported by a number of updates and patches but surprisingly little in the form of DLC. After the initial release of the Back to Karkand map pack in December of last year, players had to wait for over six months before any new content was released. Thankfully the updates are now more frequent for players hungry for new content and Armored Kill is the latest and perhaps the most exciting release so far. Armored Kill is the third DLC released for Battlefield 3, the first featuring legacy maps and the second focusing on smaller infantry-only maps. Armored Kill features four new maps: Alborz Mountains, Armored Shield, Death Valley and Bandar Desert which is described as “the largest Battlefield map ever”. All of these maps can be used for both Conquest, Rush and the new “Tank Superiority” mode. Along with these maps are new vehicles: tank destroyers, mobile artillery, quad bikes and the AC-130 Gunship. Topping it all off are a bunch of new vehicle unlocks, five of which are tied to assignments. This is what you get with the package, the rest of the review will assume you have played and are familiar with the main game so apologies to those curious few who may find some of this hard to follow.
Whether or not you will enjoy Armored Kill is partially dependent on whether you are playing console or PC versions of the game. PS3 and Xbox 360 players are limited to 24 players in any game while the PC allows more than double that. These maps really are big and playing on the PlayStation 3 has at times been a lonely experience. This is helped somewhat by the focus on vehicles which can be found in multiple places throughout each map. There is usually at least one quad bike sitting around in a base or at one of the flags in conquest. But getting caught in the middle of nowhere will generally result in a long run somewhere, if you aren’t killed by a passing enemy vehicle or waiting sniper.
When you aren’t caught out like this, the maps are really fun. The previous infantry focused expansion Close Quarters, made much of its vertical gameplay with fighting throughout buildings on multiple levels but this is probably truer of Armored Kill’s Alborz Mountains. There are capture points in a lower valley and all the way up into the mountains with plenty of trees and ridges to move in and out of resulting in some very interesting combat. Being down in the valley can be dangerous as you are easily spotted and attacked. The aircraft for each side can of course, attack anyone, anywhere. Aircraft also have the added advantage of being able to duck below the mountain line and as a result, can be much harder to bring down.
The other maps are not mountainous but all have their slopes and elevations. Despite its name, the main capture points for Bandar Desert are located within a smaller urban area with only one capture point (required to control the AC-130) in the desert itself. Armored Shield is very green and actually very reminiscent of the Caspian Border map in the original release. Death Valley is a new night-time level with plenty of small hills, and buildings. All four maps feel unique, certainly play differently and it is clear that a lot of care has gone into differentiating them.
The new vehicles are made available in both Conquest and Rush modes for all new maps. The quad bike is excellent for getting one or two players somewhere quickly and a lot of fun to drive (and jump!) across the dunes of Bandar Desert. The tank-destroyers for each side are best described as a cross between the lighter armored vehicles and the main battle tanks. They both have big cannons but still have room for multiple passengers who are also able to use mounted machine guns. The mobile artillery use rockets and is probably the hardest new vehicle to master. It is very vulnerable, especially at close range with a few shells or even a single pass by an aircraft leaving it in flames. Aiming the rockets also takes some getting used to as there is no good way to judge where they will hit without practice. Parking the vehicle on even a slight elevation will also send the rockets right off the intended target. Once you are able to use it though, it can be devastating, ripping through vehicles and infantry with ease from a long distance.
The AC-130 is definitely one of the biggest selling points for the DLC. Gaining control of it in Conquest mode requires capturing a certain point on each map. Once you have this, players will be able to spawn into it and even use it to parachute into whatever area of the map it is passing over. There are two spaces for players to use the weapons, one controlling the main cannon and the other a lighter cannon, very similar to those found on attack helicopters. When there are targets in sight, the AC-130 makes it easy to destroy vehicles and infantry alike. But due to its large size, it is often the number one target for the opposing team with good fighter pilots able to bring it down in a pass or two. I very rarely played a game where I wasn’t constantly harassed while inside the AC-130 and given how much damage it can do if left alone, that is completely understandable.
In Rush mode the AC-130 is only available to the attackers and is even more deadly with the reduced amount of vehicles to combat it. In one game I was able to take down seven enemies in less than a minute and with the ability for players to use it as a spawn point, it puts Armored Kill’s Rush mode squarely in favor of the attackers. I did win a few times as a defender but it was much more difficult and this is something that should be balanced in a future update.
The new Tank Superiority mode involves two teams fighting for one capture point with many tanks. I personally enjoyed it the least of all the new content in this DLC. This mode is definitely one that requires team-work so playing it in a public game with unknown players is definitely more of a mixed bag than in other modes. Having at least a squad of mates to communicate with will make this a lot more fun.
As stated earlier, part of knowing whether you will enjoy Armored Kill is dependent upon the platform you’re playing it on. Although I have not played the PC version, the higher player limit alone would make these new maps far more exciting. But there is still a lot to recommend it to console players too. I’ve had a lot of fun playing on them for the last month and I still make sure they are in server rotations before joining the games. If you have already bought Battlefield Premium then your early investment has definitely been worth it, but if you are not interested in Premium and would just like more vehicle maps than this will give you what you want. It is by no means a must-buy but it is at the very least, a competent piece of DLC.