Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand

Hello and welcome once again to Patch Notes, C&G’s bi-weekly column focusing on that easily forgettable element of games, DLC. In this edition, I’ll be talking about the Back to Karkand expansion for EA/DICE’s Battlefield 3.

Before Battlefield 3 was even released, the folks at EA and DICE were teasing the Back to Karkand (B2K) DLC; well, now it’s out, it’s pretty awesome, and it’s a great throwback to the days of Battlefield 2. Battlefield 2 had the USMC squaring off against the Middle-East Coalition (MEC) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Well, since it’s 2012, the developers have dropped both the MEC and the PLA from the opposition’s roster and replaced them with the antagonistic force found in Battlefield 3: the Russian Federation. The opposing force may have changed, but the maps are still relatively the same—except that they now look a million times better and are being powered by BF3‘s Frostbite 2 engine.

Karkand Re-imagined

Battefield 3 - Back to Karkand - Strike at Karkand screens  6You’ll find four re-imagined maps in B2K. There’s the urban sprawl of “Strike at Karkand”, the sandy beaches of “Gulf of Oman”, the Battlefield staple “Wake Island 2014,” and the sniper playground known as “Sharqi Peninsula”. Every single one of these maps looks absolutely beautiful in the new engine. DICE sure has come a long way since the static landscapes of Battlefield 2. Obviously these new maps are now completely destructible thanks to Frostbite 2, but you may also notice a few layout changes from previous iterations. I found each one to be great fun to wage war on, and despite growing tired of BF3‘s standard multiplayer maps quickly, I had no problem playing these four over and over again. I actually don’t want to go back to the standard maps, which is a scenario EA/DICE has in fact anticipated. If you just want to play the B2K maps, just go to your server browser and find one of the official B2K servers. They’re all Karkand, all the time.

Weapons and Vehicles

In addition to the new maps, B2K also features some additional vehicles and weapons. These weapons’ won’t be new to long-time Battlefield veterans, but they are only unlockable if you have the DLC. You unlock these weapons by completing “Assignments” which I’ll talk more about later, but once unlocked they are free to use across all of the BF3 maps. In B2K you’ll find 10 new weapons like the FAMAS, Jackhammer, MP5 (a personal favorite of mine), and the L96A1 sniper rifle. You’ll also find a few new vehicles scattered around the B2K maps, like the F35B fighter jet, and my favorite vehicle for running down enemy troops: the Desert Patrol Vehicle, or DPV. I can’t say I really like the F35B fighter jet; I found that it turns far too wide and slowly for my taste. Instead, I prefer the quick turns of the Su-35BM Flanker.


Battefield 3 - Back to Karkand - Strike at Karkand screens  3As I mentioned earlier, “Assignments” are how you will unlock the new weapons found in B2K. Assignments are littlemissions that will reward you for specific behavior on the battlefield. For example, in order to complete the “Best Friends Forever” assignment and unlock the FAMAS, you will need to complete 10 revives and 10 heals. The assignments go on in this fashion and are separated by class, meaning that by using the Assault class and getting 10 heals and 10 revives, you will unlock the FAMAS for—you guessed it—the Assault class. Don’t worry if you want play on the non-B2K maps, because your Assignment progress will track across all multiplayer maps. It can be a little tricky to find out what specifically you need to do for each assignment, though, because I couldn’t actually find this information in-game. I had to look around online to get the details. This was an odd omission on the part of DICE, but not having things spelled out for you adds a little bit of depth to this feature.

New Mode: Conquest Assault

Battefield 3 - Back to Karkand - Strike at Karkand screens  1B2K also brings a new game type into the mix with Conquest Assault. It’s very similar to the standard Conquest, butwith a slight twist. In Conquest, each team starts at their respective bases and rushes to capture neutral points and hold them until the other team runs out of reinforcements. In Conquest Assault, one team starts with all the points already captured, and it’s then up to the opposing team to take these points and hold them. When the assaulting team captures all the points, the defenders will then begin to rapidly lose tickets until they run out of reinforcements. I found that Conquest Assault matches are over a lot quicker than then their standard Conquest counterparts. This means you’ll have to think fast and act faster, or you’ll find your team far behind with no real opportunity to catch up.

Overall, Back to Karkand is a great addition to an already great multiplayer experience. The maps are diverse, exciting, fun, and a great homage to the Battlefield series. The DLC’s other features like the Assignments, new vehicles, and weapons are a nice touch of icing on the cake. It’s really great to see DLC for a first-person shooter that isn’t just a map pack, but actually an expansion of the core multiplayer game. That said, it is a little one the pricy side. To get the B2K DLC it will cost you $14.99 on PC and PSN, while the Xbox 360 version will set you back 1200 MS points. It’s expensive as far as DLC goes, but totally worth it.

Tim has played every version of Battlefield except the futuristic Battlefield 2142. He would have, but the battalion medical officer recommended against time travel for such a grizzly battle hardened veteran.

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