Battlefield 3’s first piece of DLC, Back to Karkand, gives veterans of the franchise something to sink their teeth into with the addition of new vehicles, new weapons, and newly updated versions of four classic Battlefield maps. If you were worried that too much Call of Duty was getting in the way of your Battlefield, Back to Karkand will surely remind you of how unique the BF franchise truly is – and why BF3 is one of the best online multiplayer games of its generation.
Some may argue that BF3 was left a little cannibalized in an attempt to be more like its “competition”. Though Battlefield 3 was a critical success, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear players say they felt like cattle being sent for slaughter while playing on some of the game’s more popular maps – Damavand Peak and Operation Metro being a good example.
Back to Karkand solves this issue with the introduction of four completely reimagined maps last seen in Battlefield 2. These new maps remove the claustrophobic moments of “cattle slaughter” and replace it with a more open-ended, strategic form of gameplay. Teamwork is more important than ever and players will have more of an opportunity to use their surroundings effectively in an attempt to flank or outsmart the opposing team.
The game also continues to prove why it’s such a powerhouse in terms of visuals, with each of the four maps (Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Sharqi Peninsula, and Wake Island) being an incredible re-imagination of a BF2 classic. For example, Wake Island is no longer a dense tropical paradise; instead it’s been turned into a stark, war-torn wasteland where thick black smoke and naval artillery engulf the surrounding waters. Impressive use of lighting and particle effects are seen in the add-on as well, making these new maps a great fit to an already gorgeous game.
The maps also use the Frostbite 2 engine, allowing an even greater level of destruction. At least that’s what it appeared to be. Whether or not the destruction is actually more prevalent in the add-on is hard to say. However, I still felt as though things were constantly falling apart around me. In fact, my first ten minutes with Back to Karkand had me stranded on the roof of a building after tank fire blew out the stairs. It was a welcome surprise to say the least.
Three new vehicles have been added to the game as well, which include the STOVL fighter jet, the desert buggy, and the APC. The vehicles don’t do much in the way of changing up the dynamic of play, but they are still a ton of fun to use and a great addition nonetheless.
I did come across a slight downside though, and that’s the addition of 10 new weapons. The weapons require that you complete different Assignments in the game before being able to access them. For example, in order to unlock the FAMAS, you would need to heal and revive ten members of your team. While these assignments initially seems like a piece of cake, the requirements for each get progressively more difficult, making it feel like more of a chore than any kind of reward for purchasing the add-on. That’s not to say the weapons aren’t a blast once you unlock them. Pun intended!
Although Battlefield 3 lost some of what it used to be in an attempt to try to appeal to the Call of Duty crowd, Back to Karkand does a great job filling in the blanks with old-school elements that appeared to be missing. It’s no surprise that the maps and vehicles end up being the highlight of the add-on, with the weapons feeling more like a chore to acquire than a bonus. Whether you are an old-school diehard or a new fan of the franchise, Battlefield 3 now offers something for everyone. Back to Karkand is a well-deserved add-on and a must have for any fan.
Tested on 360