Battlefield 3 Armored Kill Hands-on Preview -- Exercising Tank SuperiorityBy Miguel Concepcion - Posted Aug 03, 2012
Of the five digital expansions EA has for their Battlefield 3 Premium playlist, Armored Kill is the one pack where everyone can stretch their legs. It’s a fitting contrast to the cramped buildings of the previous expansion, Close Quarters. Armored Kill places a huge emphasis on vehicles and has the maps roomy enough that you could have countless worthwhile and productive sessions without ever going on foot.
Our hands-on session at this year’s EA Summer Showcase featured only one map, set in the rolling plains of Sanoy in Russia. It’s a fitting open playground for tanks, where trees don’t stand a chance and there are a few small ridges to let you survey the lay of the land. With its modern windmills, grassy fields, snowy mountains on the horizon, and dilapidated farm houses, you could also mistake it for one of many areas in Northern California.
Wherever it is, it’s made for a suitable battlefield to bring back the Abrams. No planes or speedy bikes for this map; you’re either on foot or on a cannon with wheels. At the top of the list of the new features in Armored Kill are the new vehicles. For this map, I drove the American version of the tank destroyer class, the M1128 Mobile Gun System. Faster (boost included) but thinner in armor, this vehicle complemented the Abrams especially in how it was more effective in transporting squad members to key points of the map.
With a new expansion comes a new mode, added on top of the pre-existing Battlefield 3 modes compatible with Armored Kill. Titled 'Tank Superiority,’ this format feels like King of the Hill except with the uniqueness of a really large map. By making the center of the map the focal point for winning, you can imagine how a communicative and organized squad can strategize with different flank maneuvers.
Yet even only after two rounds, it was easy to take advantage of the situation and perform a version of spawn camping, just by using tanks from a safe distance. We’d like to think the opposite side had optional routes to avoid initial cannon fire; perhaps this is something that will be balanced further before release or that this exploit will be less usable when a session is filled with day-one hardcore players.
On foot, I didn’t waste time taking on tanks and instead focused on taking out enemies who were also on foot. Are there practical reasons to not be in a vehicle in Armored Kill? EA assured me that if I managed to take over specific outposts on foot, I’d be able to man remote gun controls on a gunship. If you’ve played any modern shooter in the past five years, you know what a game changer a gunship can be, and it’s even more so in Armored Kill as it acts as a mobile spawn point.
Under the protection of an Abrams, it was equally gratifying to take the wheel and main cannon or simply take the secondary seat and man the gun. Multiple opportunities to run over soldiers and line up shots against opposing tanks were certainly gratifying.
The Battlefield 3 faithful can once again take pride in layering Armored Kill on top of their previous BF3 experience by working toward a new set of trophies or achievements as well as beat a new set of assignments. You can expect to take the cockpit of your choice when Battlefield 3: Armored Kill comes out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC this September.