Walking through a version of Battlefield 3 Back to Karkand on Strike at Karkand is like pulling burnt pictures from the ashes of a house fire. The photos are familiar and full of memories, but the edges are charred by flames and smoke in the case of online warfare this is perfect.
Familiar maps filled with rubble…
Bring these cities down.
Battlefield 3‘s Back to Karkand expansion features four classic Battlefield maps rebuilt to use Battlefield 3’s engine. The nooks and alleyways of Strike at Karkand and Gulf of Oman remain intact from their original iterations in Battlefield 2 (and before). But the trash, debris, and rubble dotting the ground change everything. Rather than clean streets, clutter fills every corner and craters spot the map where past explosions are just memories. Where Battlefield 2‘s Strike at Karkand looked like a street sweeper had recently passed, Battlefield 3’s imagining adds junk and it changes everything. The two maps are no longer clean battlefields awaiting destruction; these are cities under siege that have already been hit hard. Brick cluttered sidewalks and overturned crates add a spark to formerly lifeless streets.
Destruction revitalizes these classic maps. Battlefield 2 couldn’t handle entire buildings collapsing, but Back to Karkand is ripe for the wrecking ball. Back to Karkand’s classic maps require new tactics and clever strategies to succeed. Almost every building can crumble in Strike at Karkand and Gulf of Oman. When a single building is the only cover surrounding a capture point, its disappearance makes for an interesting shift in the match.
Back to Karkand doesn’t copy the legacy maps layouts pixel by pixel, but certain areas are unmistakable. I spent a lot of time crouched on Strike at Karkand’s Hotel capture point back in the day, and returning to the slightly elevated flagpole evokes deja vu. Both maps move from tight quarters to huge open spaces, and destruction gets top billing in comparison to Battlefield 3’s other maps.
Battlefield 3’s first expansion isn’t just about the maps; in fact, one of its best aspects is the addition of Conquest Assault. Conquest Assault popped up in Battlefield 2142, but for those unfamiliar with the game-type, it’s a fast-paced variation of assault where one team rushes to take back a map’s worth of capture points. Matches move rapidly because assaulting teams hold no capture points.
The icing on the war-torn cake is three new vehicles and ten new weapons. They don’t change the experience for better or worse, but getting additional equipment to toy with adds to the fun. Each new weapon unlocks via assignments. These tasks range from certain kinds of kills to various team actions and eventually provide you with one of the new firearms.
Battlefield 3 Back to Karkand arrives in December (with a week lead for PS3 players), free to anyone who got their hands on the limited edition of Battlefield 3.
For everyone else, the pack costs 1200 Microsoft Points or $14.99. After spending a few hours with two of Back to Karkand’s four maps, the adaptation of classic maps feels great. In the case of Battlefield 3’s already stellar multiplayer, more really is better.