Battlefield 3: Back To Karkand Expansion Impressions

DICE’s first DLC installment for the already excellent Battlefield 3 sees an addition of 4 classic Battlefield maps updated with the Frostbite 2.0 engine, 10 new weapons, new vehicles, and class based assignment challenges.  So how does this DLC stack up?  Is it worth the download or should you just ignore it?

Quite simply, Back to Karkand is fantastic and definitely worth your hard drive space (and money if you don’t have the limited edition of the game).  Fact of the matter is, DICE has seemingly been able to integrate a ton of the things that made Bad Company 2 excellent and upgrade everything about it to fit within Battlefield 3.  The destruction has been totally upgraded as you can now level buildings completely and destroy walls and cause damage to structures like you’d expect to be able to.  The engine does a fantastic job handling all this destruction and you’ll even see dirt flying and pieces of rubble being tossed around from explosions.  It’s all extremely impressive.  One word of caution though, don’t expect to flatten an entire map like you could in Bad Company 2, mainly because the levels feature way more complex architecture than what was found in that game.  Either way, the destruction is way more prominent than it tends to be in the main game maps so those of you a bit disappointed will absolutely love seeing it return in a big way here.

The maps themselves are well designed and better yet retain their previous look only updated with the new engine.  Strike at Karkand, Wake Island, Gulf of Oman, and Sharqi Peninsula have never looked better and have also been updated a bit to show the passge of time at these locations.  Pretty cool idea to be honest.  At the Gulf of Oman for example, construction equipment can be seen around as architecture sits unfinished probably because of the war breaking out.  Another thing these 4 maps bring is open gameplay and differentiates itself greatly from the seemingly more closed off maps of Operation Metro and Seine Crossing in the core game for example.  In the Karkand maps, there’s a bigger excitement and tension in the air as attacks can come from any angle.  It provides a more open-ended gameplay experience. 

DICE has also added in assignments to unlock those 10 weapons.  These tend to be more class based, but there are a couple that have requirements based on how much you play on the Karkand maps.  For the most part, there are 2 sets of challenges dedicated to each class with the first one being much easier to unlock and the second one being a bit more time-consuming.  The first tier challenge will have requirements focusing on your class ability like performing 10 revives as an Assault or 10 repairs as an Engineer.  Once you complete the first tier assignment, the second one will unlock and typically involve something like get 200 kills with a certain class of gun and win so many games of mode x.  It’s a fun addition and will certainly keep you saying “one more game” throughout the night.

The best thing about all of this is this expansion however, is that it’s fully integrated into the multiplayer experience, unlike the Vietnam expansion DICE put out for Bad Company 2.  This means that if you’re playing on the new maps, unlocks and progression all count for your overall online persona.  These 4 maps are also mixed into the main maps so no need to go through a different menu structure to find them.

Overall, this is a fantastic addition to an already strong multiplayer game.  Back to Karkand is definitely worth your hard-earned cash and download.  I’m loving my time here and whether your new to the series or a hardcore fan, revisiting these maps has never been better. Strongly recommended.

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