2012-09-12

Battlefield 3 – Hands-On With The Armored Kill DLC

by Yo Snyder

The third batch of DLC for Battlefield 3 is now available for
PS3 and Xbox 360 Premium members, and after the Call of Duty-ish action
that was “Close Quarters”, “Armored Kill” takes things back to what
makes Battlefield distinct from other shooters; the vehicles. All-out
vehicular warfare is more than just the tag-line for this new release,
it’s an apt description of what it’s all about. With new vehicles, new
maps, new assignments and a new vehicle-focused mode, there’s a lot to
love in “Armored Kill”, which may just be the best DLC for Battlefield 3 yet.

This
is also one of the biggest batches of DLC, as all of the maps here are
quite expansive, and Bandar Desert being the biggest map ever made for a
Battlefield game. This huge map features a base way out in the desert,
an urban areas to battle it out in, and lots of empty space in between.
What this translates into is some wide-open combat out in the desert,
and some slightly closer combat once you hit the streets near the coast.
One of the interesting strategic points on this map is the base out in
the desert. This is where teams secure access to the C-130 gunship
orbiting over head, so if you want to have that firepower on your team,
it’s essential to capture and hold this otherwise out-of-the-way
outpost.

A friend of mine and I were saying recently how much we missed the snow maps of Bad Company 2,
but apparently we weren’t the only ones. Alborz Mountain brings snow to
Battlefield 3 with a mountainous map full of curvy roads, ridges, and
high mountain forests. This a map where the terrain will very much play
into your strategy, as some of the conquest points are hard to get to
and present some great choke points for holding off vehicles on the
ground, but can be just as deadly if you get pinned there from the air.

Armored Shield is another map that harkens back to some Bad Company
faves, with open fields set in a lush, agricultural setting.
Truthfully, this is perhaps the least interesting map of the bunch, but
that doesn’t mean it’s bad. What it lacks in uniqueness it makes up with
straightforwardness. Having solid air-support for tanks on the ground
is a huge plus as there isn’t a lot of hiding places for tanks, and so
this map often turns into an all-out slug fest, which can be pretty fun.

Then there’s Death Valley, a night-time map that considering how
heavily slanted most of these maps are towards engineers is one that
actually holds a lot of potential for snipers. There are lots of good
perches with nice lines of sight to pick off those pesky engineers, and
the added cover of darkness can help out snipers quite a bit. It’s easy
to get lost in the vales and dips of this map, which makes things tense
and exciting as you don’t want your vehicle to get pinned on a narrow
valley road when you’re outnumbered and outgunned

Now as I
mentioned, these maps heavily favor engineers. From keeping vehicles
repaired to laying down mines to providing extra surface-to-air
firepower, a good group of engineers is essential to victory on these
maps. If you can pair up with a buddy where one of you rocks the rocket
launcher and repair tool and the other has mines and a stinger, and then
grab a quad-bike to zip around the map, you can do all kinds of damage
(have the guy with the stinger sit on the back and shoot down choppers
while you move around). However, snipers can also do well on these maps.
The many engineers you’re bound to encounter will be busy repairing,
aiming at things in the sky, trying to lock on with a javelin, or in
other ways preoccupied. This makes them easy pickings, just so long as
you don’t get caught out in the open by one of the many vehicles
speeding around.

Speaking of vehicles, there are some new additions in this DLC. We already mentioned the quad-bike, a Bad Company 2
favorite that great for getting places fast and for speedy flanking
maneuvers, or for an impromptu mobile anti-air platform. One of the more
intriguing new additions is the BM-23 and M142, mobile artillery
platforms. Initially, these can be tough to use; it’s not all that easy
to gauge exactly where your rounds will fall. However, once you unlock
the anti-air missile and the air-burst missiles, these platforms can
cause a lot of damage, but just beware, they’re fairly vulnerable and
not all that difficult to take down. Especially if someone’s driving
around in one of the new tank destroyers, the M1128 or the Sprut-SD.
These are essentially LAVs with a battle tank gun on top. They’re speedy
and pack a wallop, but aren’t as well armored as main battle tanks.
They’re best utilized when they stay on the move. 

The other big
vehicle addition is the C-130 gunship. No one flies this vehicle, it
orbits the map on a fixed path. For your team to gain access to it, you
have to gain control of the flag with a little plane icon next to it.
This vehicle has four seats, two anti-air, one with a 25 mm cannon and
one on a much larger, slower firing cannon (it’s like a tank cannon in
the air). Yes it’s cool, but don’t get too attached, these things are
huge targets that have just about everything on the map gunning for them
from individual soldiers with stingers to jets to helicopters and even
the occasional lucky shot from a tank destroyer. I never lasted longer
than a couple minutes in one as the AA guns can’t cover the underside of
the plane, so it’s pretty vulnerable. If you have some good pilots who
can run interference for you, and you can make good use of the flares,
the gunship could potentially be a dominate force on the map, but it
will take coordination, communication and team works; some of the best
elements of Battlefield. 

Finally, there’s the new Tank
Superiority mode. Essentially, there’s just one conquest point in the
middle of the map, and both sides battle to dominate that one point.
These games can either be exhilarating, destructive, all-out skirmishes
that see-saw back and forth, or a frustrating, one-sided battle. They
are, however, a great way to level up your tanks and unlock new
abilities for them.

Speaking of unlocks, there are new
assignments included with this DLC, and in a fun new twist, these can
unlock new weapons for vehicles. It’s a nice change from just getting
new weapons for soldiers and makes these assignments very enticing to
complete. 

“Armored Kill” is much more of the
Battlefield-type experience players enjoy than “Close Quarters.” The
focus on vehicles and all-out destruction is really the difference as
that’s always been what’s set Battlefield apart from Call of Duty and
its clones. These maps bring out the best in that distinction, but for
those who don’t feel comfortable with their tank skills or don’t like
being an engineer or a sniper, they might find these maps a bit
alienating. You pretty much need vehicles to get around anywhere,
otherwise you’ll just spend a lot of pointless time huffing and puffing
your way from one point to the next which leaves you exposed and easy
pickings. But most people play Battlefield because they love all those
wonderful vehicular toys, and “Armored Kill” is the ultimate playground
to indulge that love in.