For those who didn’t crouch for cover, suppressed by an incoming barrage of Armored Kill PR and hype, a quick explanation of what this DLC’s purpose is. Like the two that came before it, it’s more than just a map pack, with six new vehicles and an all-new game mode. DICE aims to give each of these mini expansion packs a unique flavor. of carnage, and the latter promises to rekindle the scope of past battlefields, with an emphasis on expansive playgrounds and more armor than a medieval museum.
Considering the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3’s 24-player limit, it’s no surprise that console gamers haven’t greeted the new content with enthusiasm. Even though DICE reduced the map size and number of flags for these versions, most console gamers have complained that Conquest looks like a giant cocked “Ring-around-the-Rosie” game, while players jump from flag to flag without ever seeing a single villain. Rush is also horribly skewed towards the attacking side, as the 12 defenders simply don’t have enough feet on the ground to adequately cope with the incoming barrage of mechanized destruction. The good news is that the PC version couldn’t be more different, with the higher player count meaning there’s always a meat target for the weapon of your choice just seconds away. Let’s take a look at how each card plays out on the PC.
All Armored Kill cards are large; The Bandar Desert is ridiculously huge. According to DICE, this is the largest map in Battlefield history, covering five square kilometers. The huge, flat expanse of sand dunes in the middle is a great place for long-range armor duels, which will make this map a favorite with tankers, while the cluster of flags in a small coastal suburb gives the Infantrymen a chance to control half of the flags on the map without needing to call a taxi to move between them. Located about a kilometer away, two more flags are placed next to each other. While they don’t drop that many tickets, one of them is the spawn point for the powerful AC130 Gunship, so doing everything possible to capture this outpost is highly recommended. Considering the size of this map, having a vehicle on standby is not a bad idea. If there’s one problem with this card, it’s that the terrifying ticking beast will often raise its ugly head, likely due to the insanely long lines of sight.
In the center of this map is a huge mountain, and reaching the top on foot can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Fortunately, a few narrow mountain passes offer a faster route to the top if you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, but they’re a hot spot for landmines and RPG ambushes. While most of the map is centered on the uphill slopes, much of the forest at its base provides excellent cover against the vultures circling above. The seven flags on this map are distributed relatively evenly, making it difficult to control a cluster for longer periods of time. It might not be the biggest map, but the hard-to-climb mountain makes navigating the most difficult without a friendly helicopter pilot on duty. The open nature of the mountainous section will give pilots something to smile about, as the ants below have nowhere to hide. This is the other Armored Kill card to suffer from a slight warping; fingers crossed DICE crushes this bug like it did when the Tehran highway had the same problem. We’ve asked EA’s local community manager if DICE has recognized the issue and we’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.
Armored Kill’s symbolic night map really isn’t dark at all thanks to the luminescent full moon, but it’s dark enough that spotting enemies wearing the Spec Ops black camouflage isn’t easy. This long, narrow map is covered in elevation changes, making long-range shooting difficult, and you’ll often turn a corner to find a triple-T90 surprise. The use of extensive coverage makes this map a favorite for infantrymen, while the limited roads make these vehicle paths a magnet for mines. Once again, the flags are placed evenly, but this time in a long, narrow line, naturally lending itself to a huge firefight where the two sides of the map collide in the middle.
Fans of BFBC2 will immediately remember happy afternoons spent killing under the Harvest Day sun when they see this beautiful rural battlefield. Long fields are covered with nicely placed mounds of dirt, making it the perfect map to launch the new quad into the air. Several farms and clusters of buildings surround each flag, with a cluster of three towards the center pulling players like flies towards a still warm corpse. The meandering river offers a scenic water cruise, but its lack of cover makes budding sailors an easy target. The mix of open areas and clusters of cover makes this the perfect map for any type of Battlefield player.
Choosing a favorite among the four is impossible, because they are all equally brilliant. DICE has nailed the feeling of exploring real-world locations rather than walking through man-made murder halls, and finding every nook and cranny of these behemoths is going to take months.
Let’s start with the obvious, the AC130 Gunship. Yes, he’s stuck on rails, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to use his 105mm Howitzer. There is nothing quite like hearing the “PHOOMP” of this firing cannon, then watching the shell move towards a squad of enemy troops. Incredibly vulnerable to air and ground attacks, don’t expect the Gunship to stay in the air for long if the other team remembers taking it down, and we think DICE would do well to upgrade the armor a bit.
Next come the two tank destroyers, and they behave like the bastard offspring of an APC and a tank. Fast and agile, they are able to use their powerful cannons on unexpected flanks, but their thin armor makes them extremely easy to take down. Long-range killers will love the new rocket artillery vehicles, and mastering them will take a lot of practice. A handy tip is to open your map while launching rocket shells, as the point of impact appears as small splash marks. In the hands of an experienced user, one or the other rocket vehicle can absolutely decimate a flag point.
Last but not least is the quad, arguably the nicest vehicle in the collection. This two-seater pocket rocket traverses the battlefield like a speeder bike, often jumping 30 or 40 yards when perfectly aligned with a ramp. Do not drive through a rock at high speed, as you and your passenger will not come out alive.
Superiority of Tanks and Rush
Just like Close Quarters added the Quick Repair Gun Master mode, Armored Kill also introduced a mode which is good for a quick fight of death and destruction when you only have 20 minutes to kill. Tank superiority sees both sides fighting for a single flag in the middle of the map, with the inclusion of more armor to get the party started. Surprisingly, the flag never moves, which seems like a tragic oversight considering all other “King of the Hill” modes have long ago learned that moving the flag helps spice up the action. While it’s fun in short bursts, we can’t see tank superiority taking over from Conquest as the preferred way to play.
Console gamers called Armored Kill’s Rush mode hopelessly out of balance in favor of attackers, but having 32 rocket-wielding defenders made a huge difference on the PC version. While attackers have a better chance than other Rush cards, we saw an even division of victory between the defending and attacking sides. Removing the AC130 is absolutely crucial for defense success, and an upcoming nerf of its respawn time will make digging a bit easier.
Is it worth the cost of a six pack?
At an expected price of $ 23.95, those looking for a return to Battlefield’s wide-open roots will find purchasing Armored Kill an absolute no-brainer. The scale of each new map means they’ll take significantly longer to learn than Close Quarters shoeboxes, and despite their infinitely larger size, DICE hasn’t skimped on attention to detail, each square meter containing as much TLC as its smaller offerings. The latency issue is a bit of an issue right now on some servers, but knowing DICE it will hopefully be fixed in the near future with a server update. Those who don’t like the vehicle action in Battlefield should probably go play Call of Duty instead of even considering Armored Kill, but for the rest of us this expansion pack is as good as Battlefield 3. But please if you end up buying the pack, for the love of all holy things, when you get in a vehicle wait for your fucked up teammates before you put the pedal to the metal …