Grizzly Gaming

Friday, December 7, 2012

Battlefield 3 Premium: Expensive but well worth it

Though it came out a while ago, “Battlefield 3” remains one of my favorite FPS games on the market. Rather than just offering claustrophobic gunplay like the “Call of Duty” series, “Battlefield” offers a wide range of experiences, effortlessly blending on-foot action with fast-paced, explosive vehicular combat. Not only that, but no game displays environmental damage as well or as beautifully as the “Battlefield” series, pulling players in by allowing you to actively affect the environment around you with bullets and explosions.

While the standard edition of “Battlefield 3” comes with plenty of interesting maps, there are also myriad downloadable content packs which greatly enhance its replayability. The first “BF3” content pack, “Back to Karkand” featured new vehicles, new weapons, a handful of classic “BF” maps remade for “BF3” as well as introducing assignments, in-game challenges to complete which unlock new weapons, gear and dog tags. This DLC pack was free to anyone who preordered the game (or managed to snag a Limited Edition copy at release). But this is only one of five content packs promised for “BF3.” If you’re a big enough fan of the series, you could purchase the Premium service, which allows access to each of the DLC packs as they are released.

I was pretty happy with “Back to Karkand” but having never played the earlier “BF” titles those maps were featured in, the nostalgia factor was lost on me. They were fun maps but not really as interesting as those included with the base game. The addition of assignments was great, though, adding even more purpose to playing. The next DLC pack, “Close Quarters” introduced a number of smaller, indoor, infantry-based maps as well as new assignments and Conquest Domination, a variant of the popular Conquest mode tailored for smaller maps.

The next pack, “Armored Kill” introduced a ton of new vehicles to the game, primarily new main battle tanks, smaller, more agile “tank killers,” mobile rocket launchers and ATVs. Armored Kill also introduced larger, vehicle-oriented maps as well as the game mode Tank Superiority, where two teams stocked with a number of tanks and tank killers, fight over a single control point on large, wide-open maps.

The fourth pack, “Aftermath,” was only just released for PC and Xbox 360 on Dec. 4 (PS3 users got it Nov. 27). This pack features a number of maps set in urban Middle Eastern areas that have been ravaged by a massive earthquake. This pack also comes with new weapons and assignments as well as a new game mode called Scavenger, a Conquest variant where you spawn with only a pistol (no gear or main weapon) and must find randomly spawning weapons with limited ammo.

The final pack, titled End Game” is set to be released in March and is said to feature jungle-based maps akin to “Apocalypse Now.” That’s pretty much all I know though.

Before I bought Premium, the “Armored Kill” pack interested me the most. Driving tanks and punching holes through buildings with heavy explosives was and remains to be one of the biggest selling points for the “BF” series – so how could even more tanks and maps specially geared toward vehicle warfare not be the best of all the Premium packs? While Tank Superiority is a nice change of pace from the vehicular warfare offered in a standard game of Conquest or Rush, the most fun I’ve had with any of the Premium content has without a doubt been from “Close Quarters.”

You’d think that smaller, infantry-based gameplay would put “BF3” squarely in the realm of every other shooter on the market, yet, somehow, the action in “Close Quarters” continually entertains me no matter how many times I play Conquest Domination. The more I think about it, I find that the reason “Close Quarters” is so special is because the “BF” series generally tends to emphasize larger conflicts and vehicle-based warfare and this DLC pack is more than just a nice change of pace. The action is frantic as you’ll rarely go more than a minute without seeing an enemy or engaging in an all-out firefight. Plus, the quicker speed of Conquest Domination keeps the action moving on the map and keeps you on your toes as battlefronts change at the drop of a hat.

On top of everything, the indoor environmental damage rendered by the Frostbite engine rivals any kind of structural damage seen in any other mode. Walls and furniture caught in a firefight splinter into shards, explosives noticeably scar corridors and set off sprinkler systems – most maps are completely unrecognizable at the end of Conquest Domination games. My personal favorite new map is Ziba Tower. What starts out as a ritzy penthouse area featuring classy apartments, a swimming pool and bar area are quickly reduced to piles of smoking rubble. It’s intense, fast-paced and a completely new experience to “BF3.”

The new experiences offered by Premium are what I found most amazing about each piece of “BF3” DLC – each pack, in its own, entices you out of your particular play style and comfort zone to explore new tactics. For instance, I never found much use for shotguns in the base game of “BF3.” With such large, open maps, a close combat weapon like a shotgun was of little use to me. In “Close Quarters,” you’d almost be crazy not to use a shotgun. On the other hand, “Armored Kill” had me exploring the possibilities of the Recon class – the wide open maps are perfect for sniper practice and are practically made for getting spot assists with the SOFLAM. Also, the Recon class’s motion sensor is invaluable on “Close Quarters” maps. A recon class with a shotgun and motion sensor is nearly god-like in damage output and tactical awareness.

Though you can buy each content pack separately, if you’re really into “BF” you’re going to want to invest in the Premium edition of the game. Premium is essentially the season pass for “BF3” guaranteeing you access to each new piece of DLC when it is released. But being a Premium player, you also get notices about double XP events and other interesting info from EA DICE. Granted, Premium is a bit pricey – it’ll run you $50 for the whole shebang but when you consider that each piece of DLC is $15 on its own, you’d end up spending $75 buying each separately. I personally got lucky on Cyber Monday when a friend alerted me to an deal where they were offering a brand new copy of “Battlefield 3: Premium Edition” for just $30.

It’s understandable if you’re on the fence about shelling out $50 for extra content. That’s basically the price of an entirely new game. But you should know that the Premium content is basically like getting an entirely new “BF” game. Though I’ve only had access to Premium content for a little over a week now, I feel like I’ve already got more than my money’s worth – and there is still one piece of DLC on the way. Trust me – if you’re a big fan of “BF3” you’ll have a blast with all the Premium content. I apologize to your wallet in advance.


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January 18, 2013 at 3:42 AM  

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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