Battlefield 3: Aftermath Preview -- Whole Lot of Shakin' Going...Boom!By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Oct 18, 2012
You awaken with a start as the ground rumbles beneath you. Rays of sunlight cut through the clouds of dust overhead as pebbles and dirt drizzle down from the ruined building building you took shelter in. It's all becoming clearer now: there was an earthquake. A great mother of an earth-shaker. The warzone you were fighting in now looks like a post-warzone. Aftershocks continue to ripple across the city as you and your brothers in arms rejoin the fight.
Welcome to Battlefield 3's Aftermath DLC.
DICE explored the notion of how a massive earthquake might impact an armed conflict in the Battlefield 3 campaign, and Aftermath carries the idea forward into adversarial multiplayer. You have four new earthquake-shattered maps, three jury-rigged vehicles that could have been Road Warrior props, a crossbow, and the DLC's centerpiece mode, Scavenger. DICE offered a first look at one of the maps--Epicenter--in this new mode during a recent preview tour through New York City.
Epicenter is set in the Iranian capital of Tehran after a quake has left the city in ruins. On this and the DLC's other three maps, players will have to take on another team amidst semi-frequent aftershocks, rumbling both the screen and your controller as you try to line up your shots. Epicenter is set in the heart of the destroyed city, with the map built around a crossroad. Broken streets and buildings torn asunder provide plenty of added cover opportunities, so the crossroads layout doesn't necessarily mean that you'll exchange fire in a wide open central space.
Scavenger offers a unique twist on what we've already seen from previous BF3 DLC packs. Close Quarters and Armored Kill both tend to focus on specific class setups. You won't, for example, have much luck using an assault class on an Armored Kill map, since the open spaces and vehicle focus limit your ability to offer healing. Likewise, anti-vehicle engineers have no place in the tight confines of the Close Quarters maps.
Scavenger effectively levels the playing field. Instead of implicitly focusing in one direction or another, this mode does away with classes completely. You are whatever you're able to scavenge on the battlefield, and the absence of ammo pickups means that you're constantly forced to adapt to a new weapon once your clip runs dry.
It works like this: you spawn--everyone spawns--with nothing more than a pistol in your hand and a grenade clipped to your belt. As you move around the map, on-screen indicators pop up that point out the location of weapons, rated from level 1-3, as you get close. Level 1s are weaker and easier to find while level 2s and 3s are more centrally located in open areas and around capture points.
Scavenger is essentially a conquest mode in which you're vying for control of a series of points, with the wrinkle being that you're forced to rely on found weapons throughout each match. There's no assault class to provide ammo regen drops, and there's no ammo crate. What you pick up is what you have, and once the ammo is exhausted it's back to your pistol until you can find a new toy to play with.
One of the newest toys is the crossbow, which offers a significant amount of stopping power--one-hit kills for head and torso shots--balanced by a single-shot "clip" and slow reload time. The crossbow is also where half of Aftermath's 10 new Assignments come into play. Win three Scavenger matches to complete the Archery 101 assignment, unlocking the crossbow for use with your custom classes as a gadget.
That's right: the crossbow won't replace your secondary weapon. It's a D-pad-mapped gadget available to all classes. The four other crossbow-related assignments unlock additional gear, including two scopes (red dot or 8x magnification) and three different kinds of bolts. There's a self-explanatory explosive bolt, a scan bolt that reveals the locations of nearby enemies on your minimap, and a balanced bolt that is effective for long-range use and pairs well with the 8x scope.
The DLC pack also add three new vehicles to the mix. You'll still encounter an assortment of vanilla BF3 trucks and tanks on the maps, but the three newcomers are unique to the post-earthquake environments. U.S. and Russian forces each get a new truck, the Phoenix and the Barsuk, respectively. Both are modded military trucks fitted with machine gun and grenade launcher turrets. The Rhino, on the other hand, is a modded civilian van fitted with one MG turret and three passenger seats.
DICE continues to play with Battlefield 3's multiplayer action in creative ways with its downloadable content releases. Aftermath is shaping up to be the most unique of the bunch by far, doing away with what's familiar and replacing it with the alien environment of a post-disaster fallout in the civilized world.
Premium subscribers on the PlayStation 3 can nab Aftermath for free on November 27, 2012. Subscribers on Xbox 360 and PC get their shot a week later, on December 4. Wide releases priced at $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points will follow immediately after, on December 11 for PS3 users and on December 18 for Xbox 360/PC.