Battlefield 3: Aftermath Review

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Battlefield 3: Aftermath
Platform: Multi
Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA

Battlefield 3 has had a number of issues since release. The major one for its publisher was that its sales while high, were not quite what EA expected after an enormous advertising campaign aimed bravely but unrealistically at beating Modern Warfare 3. It has also had a number of problems with consumers, with codes not working, many bugs, glitches, some server issues and the insistence on having the PC version launch through browser based-software. Despite all this, it continues to have a thriving community and regular releases mostly because, despite its faults, it is a fun game. TL;DR: Aftermath is fun too.

Aftermath is the fourth of five planned DLC packs for Battlefield 3. The first Back to Karkand was a “legacy” map pack which is a very clever way to describe a pack with only old maps. The second released a good deal later was Close Quarters which while good, seemed to be trying to turn the game into Call of Duty. The third was Armored Kill a vehicle-themed map pack which has a great, well-written review . And then the final piece of DLC, End Game, which as stated, is available this month.

When I think of Aftermath, I first think of the Command & Conquer: Red Alert expansion pack with the same name.. As it happens, the name fits much better here as the maps are all based around an earthquake ravaged Tehran. Those that played the single-player will remember that this was a major event in the story which led to Blackburn, the games protagonist fighting Iranian soldiers through rubble, fires and destroyed buildings. In the same spirit, the now disheveled and dusty US and Iranian Russian soldiers fight through the expansions four new maps; Azadi Palace, Epicenter, Markaz Monolith and Talah Market.

The last three expansions were thematically different from the main game but Aftermath will look very familiar. One at first thinks cynically about all the art assets they no doubt recycled, but the new maps are actually really well designed. I was worried at first that they would represent another attempt at aping Call of Duty but the maps are very much designed with Battlefield’s unique gameplay in mind. Individual soldiers do have a big advantage though, with many tunnels, mounds and destroyed buildings to run through with tanks and APC’s limited to open areas and open to surprise attacks. The Markaz Monolith map allows scout helicopters but with plenty of buildings and low visability, pilots are at a disadvantage. Generally, all four maps feel open but at the same time, have plenty of places to hide.

A new mode is featured called ‘Scavenger’ which is probably the best of the new game modes released to date and fits in neatly with the setting. Starting off armed only with a side-arm, players have to run across the map in search of a weapon or do their best with what they have. Probably the most interesting thing is the way other teammates can become the enemy, as everyone is in a rush to find a better weapon. Dying means losing what you have collected. This can get frustrating if you repeatedly encounter well armed enemies, but in my experience with the game, I was rarely spawned in an unfair situation.

The DLC also includes new dog tags, assignments and the ever important trophies/achievements. The XBOW is the only new weapon introduced but it is a very cool addition. It must be unlocked by completing an assignment and once that’s done it has a few cool modifications such as a scope and explosive bolts, also unlocked through assignments. The XBOW is available to all classes and is classified as secondary equipment so you will still have your main weapon. The explosive bolt can be particularly useful to the recon and assault classes who don’t have much defense against vehicles. If you aren’t particularly good at aiming, there is also the scan bolt which will expose enemies within a short radius of where it hits.\r\n

Aftermath isn’t the most unique of the expansions but the new maps are some of the best released so far. Players that bought the Premium service should be pleased that DICE has delivered on its promise up to this point. And with only one more expansion coming this month, are looking good to totally deliver on the adopted ‘season pass’ model. If you haven’t yet bought Battlefield 3 then the premium edition, with this DLC included, is looking more and more like a great buy. If you are a regular Battlefield 3 player who still loves the standard maps, this may be worth a look based totally on the quality of the map design.

3 Stars

March, 2013

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