Battlefield 3’s launch has been everything but smooth. Servers didn’t work properly for a solid week or two, the multiplayer was riddled with glitches, and the maps didn’t seem nearly as destructible as past installments. With such big tech issues and graphical disappointments, I found it hard to believe that Battlefield 3 would ever have legs as long as its predecessors. Almost two months after the game’s launch, DICE released a new map pack, called Back to Karkand, including classic arenas from previous titles. New content for a broken game isn’t usually news, however, this return to form might be just what Battlefield 3 needs to win back its fans and recover from its rocky start.
There are four maps in the new update: Strike at Karkand, Wake Island, Sharqi Peninsula, and Gulf of Oman. Each one is a remake of past Battlefield maps. They look slightly different and some of the structures have changed, but they’re all a fairly accurate representation of the original version. This should please longtime fans of the series because there’s a reason why they’re called classics.
Every map embodies everything that’s great about Battlefield. Everybody chooses a class, defining their role in each match. A great map gives everyone a chance to play the role they want and have fun doing it. All four maps provide this variety of gameplay and nail that Battlefield experience. There are wide open areas for snipers, plenty of vehicles for engineers, and close quarters combat for assault and support classes. This makes every player feel welcome on this visit back to the most loved maps of the series.
Also, every map is more destructible than any other Battlefield 3 map to date. Rubble piles into the street and buildings collapse if too many walls are blown out. This was standard on past Battlefields, but was strangely absent in a lot of the on disk maps. It was possible to destroy almost anything in Bad Company 2, but Battlefield 3 launched with stagnant environments that had only a few destructible walls. It’s still curious why this happened, but at least the new maps are a huge step in the right direction. They’re still not 100% destructible like BC2, but it’s enough to give you that great feeling of leaving a huge crater where you just had a firefight.
Back to Karkand also introduces Assignments. Pulled directly from Call of Duty’s Challenges, Assignments are little goals for you to accomplish in multiplayer that will earn you new weapons for every class. There are only about 8 assignments, which is quite low considering what Call of Duty has, but it’s a nice addition and gives you a few more goals to strive for when pining for those addicting unlocks.
I was weary to hop back into a game with so many issues, but this DLC made me a believer again. Every map is infinitely playable and the technical updates have turned a frustrating online shooter into a solid multiplayer experience. I can’t wait to get back in and start unlocking more weapons. Of course, it’s not quite perfect yet. Squads still don’t work properly and it’s not completely free of glitches, but it’s definitely enough to give this game another go before you decide to drop it for another shooter. Oh, and did I mention, if you have the limited edition, this map pack comes at no extra charge! Download and enjoy.