If you decided to opt-in for Battlefield’s new Premium service (which I’ll discuss more in a bit), you got early access to the new Close Quarters Combat DLC for Battlefield 3. As the name suggests, these maps are all about tight spaces and intense combat; the question is, is it Battlefield?
The new map pack has four new maps, ten new weapons, ten new assignments, and five new dog tags to add to your repertoire. This is all fine and good, it’s nice to have new stuff and all, but how does it play? Fast and furious would be the succinct answer. A lot more like Call of Duty would be another answer. The levels are tight, which nullifies some of the differences between the various classes as the most effective weapons for this type of combat is available for everyone; shotguns, weapons with a high rate of fire, etc. Still, it’s the squads that work together‐supplying ammo, health, and revives, etc.—that will ultimately have the most success. It’s all very reminiscent of Operation Metro, which didn’t really feel like a true Battlefield map, but was eventually accepted and is even pretty enjoyable.
The four new maps are Ziba Tower, which is small and “u” shaped, and really makes for some fast battles. Donya Fortress has the most variety, going from catacomb areas to a richly ornamented palace with lots of rooms. Operation 925 is the largest map. It’s an office complex complete with an underground garage. It also has some of the most destructible environments, what with all that glass and office furniture flying into pieces during firefights. Then there’s Scrapmetal. An industrial map with two sides connected by a few narrow passageways. The ebb and flow of this map often goes from one side to the other. They all have a unique feel, and some are quite destructible, although not quite to the level where you’ll be making your own pathways through walls and floors.
There are two new game types included with the pack; Conquest Domination and Gunmaster. Conquest Domination is a really fast paced game as the cap times for flags is extremely speedy. This keeps teams flowing rapidly from one objective to the next. The other is the very Call of Duty feeling Gunmaster. You start with a pistol, work your way up through a variety of weapons, and once you reach the top you win by knifing someone. This is a good way to get a feel for various weapons, but feels the least like Battlefield and therefore is the least enjoyable. One tweak that I should mention that’s been made is claymores are no longer persistent after death, as that would cause some balancing issues on these tight, fast maps. Unfortunately, persistent claymores actually contribute to balance on other maps and modes, so I don’t think it really works in the game’s favor to have this change.
Close Quarters is a fun change of pace for Battlefield, but I’m sure some purists will complain about its lack of a Battlefield feel. It certainly feels more like Call of Duty with the fast pace and a de-emphasis on distinct class tactics, but it’s still a fun diversion. And mixing it in with regular Battlefield 3 maps and modes, much like Operation Metro did, just gives the game’s multiplayer that much more variety and flavor. Besides, those who miss the vehicle component should get more the enough of that with the upcoming Armored Kill pack.
Now, as to whether or Battlefield Premium is worth the price. Well, if you’re planning on getting all the upcoming map packs anyway because you just like Battlefield 3 that much, then sure, Premium is totally worth it. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll also get to play on the maps two weeks before everyone else. Plus you get some insider tips with developer videos, I’ve heard there will be strategy guides, you get some unique gear to use, and so on. However, if you aren’t sure if you’ll get all of the expansion packs, or that you’ll even still be playing the game into 2013, then Premium may not be for you.
Close Quarters Combat shows that Battlefield 3 can do the Call of Duty thing with some of its own flair. It won’t be everyone’s cup o’ tea, nor will shelling out for Premium just to play these maps earlier than everyone else, but for the rest of us, it’s nice to have some freshness added to one of our favorite shooters.