DICE go out with a bang with their final DLC drop
The fifth and final installment of Battlefield 3 DLC comes in the form of End Game. As finales go, DICE pull out all the stops to deliver an action-packed expansion that shakes up the multiplayer with new vehicles and modes. It’s almost enough to make you forget about the awful single-player and co-op modes they tacked on.
First up is Air Superiority, a mode that originally appeared in Battlefield 1943 and plays out like airborne Conquest. Two teams of twelve take to the skies and battle to capture and control areas until opponents ticket bleed out.
Although skilled pilots usually dominate the skies, Air Superiority works well for rookies looking to cut their teeth. It allows players to get to grips with the controls, learn the nuances and tactics for air-combat and rapidly unlock new weapons and special abilities for the jets that they can use across all game modes. And best of all at least you’re guaranteed a plane rather than watch some git steal it from you in other modes.
Capture the flag also makes a welcome return to Battlefield. Although, so far our experiences with it have been mixed, with matches ranging from frantic to slug pace. But it’s down to who you’re playing with rather than a faux-pas from DICE.
See, both flags needs to be at your base to score, but the temptation for some is to grab the flag and hide with your heavily gunned team-mates standing by your side. With a majority of your team opting to sit tight rather than risk a daring assault a stalemate is often reached. Rubbish. But when CTF is good, it’s superb.
Raiding an enemy base and making off with their flag is always a thrill. You can sneak in slowly picking off guards as you go, or blast straight in with the new, nimble dirt bike and start a getaway attempt that provides some of the most intense multiplayer moments in recent memory. Dodge and weave through bullets and rockets and arrive home in one piece and you’ll punch the air in joy.
- End Game is an excellent send-off to Battlefield 3, and shows DICE’s multiplayer skills brilliantly
Those bikes we mentioned can be blazed over the stunt ramps that DICE has seen fit to include in each of the four new maps. Drop into an enemy base unexpectedly and squealing away with the flag never gets boring. You can try it in a tank, but don’t expect any huge air.
Although the new maps are playable across other modes such as Conquest, Rush and Team Deathmatch, they feel more suited to CTF. As such, the action in these new kill zones is more back and forth than with the other maps on offer, but they’re still good additions.
Operation Riverside is an autumnal countryside map that’s tailored more toward infantry combat than vehicle engagements. A river runs through the centre of the map and separates the team bases.
A tall hill runs across one side that not only provides decent cover, but also a great sniping nest to pick enemies off from a distance. It also gives a good route between bases as it’s a bit more out of sight. There’s a straight road between them too, but it’s more exposed and home to hostile encounters.
On Kiasar Railroad, the rolling hills and rocky landscape create an uneven battleground, which promotes more fast-paced, back and forth action. Tanks are located at the centre of the map, but be warned that ambushes are likely to await you here.
You can speed down the railway line for a direct path to the enemy base, or take the side road for a more discreet entry. Players often take the latter on bikes, so lay down some mines and watch the carnage unfurl.
Team Deathmatch on Kiasar Railroad is one of the most hectic maps in Battlefield 3. It’s a bullet-strewn labyrinth of shipping containers and train carriages, like Noshahr Canals and we constantly find ourselves flanked by opponents, so stay on your toes here.
Nebandan Flats is a huge, open desert and feels more like a traditional Battlefield map that’s built for vehicle warfare. There’s barely any cover between bases, and the open views across the map means you’re more exposed to enemy fire. Trying to escape with a flag is even trickier with tanks and choppers easily able to see you making a run for it. Harsh.
Finally, Sabalan Pipeline is a wintery landscape and although it’s still fairly open, it’s the most up close and personal of the new maps. Most of the action takes place around bases, with the occasional battles around the centre as you make your way across.
Rocky terrain promotes a lot of hit-and-run style tactics. You’re likely to find snipers and engineers with rocket launchers up high, but as long as you move quickly between cover they’re not much of a threat.
The new maps are great and work excellently with CTF, but play them in any other modes like Conquest or Rush and you realise similarities to maps of old. Not that this is awful, we just hoped for a fresher experience.
Aside from the maps and bike, there’s also an anti-air jeep you’ll find lying around. It’s similar to the other four-wheeled vehicles in Battlefield 3 except here you get a car that packs a mounted rocket-launcher with heat-seeking and unguided projectiles. Additional tools to shoot down pesky helicopters are alright by us and should test even the most seasoned pilot’s skills with the flares or ECM-jammer.
End Game is an excellent send-off to Battlefield 3, and shows DICE’s multiplayer skills brilliantly. Map layouts may feel familiar at times in other game modes, but in Capture the Flag – the mode they were seemingly designed for – they work great. And the new vehicles, especially the bikes, add another level of fun to this already excellent multiplayer experience. It’s a fitting end and highly recommended.