Battlefield has always been about huge teams, massive maps, and vehicle warfare up-the-wazoo, but many players have also had a soft spot for the infantry action as well. In the PC version of Battlefield 3, Metro or Tehran Highway-only servers are commonplace, and it seems DICE saw a void that needed filling. Enter Close Quarters, the second DLC pack for Battlefield 3, following December’s Back to Karkand. DICE’s focus on infantry combat in smaller arena spaces definitely evokes more Call of Duty than Battlefield within this expansion. But once you get past that initial discomfort of that premise, you are going to have a blast with the fast paced, atmospheric action of the new confined maps.
Compared to the larger Battlefield 3 maps, the 16-player environments turn up the pace of the action. You won’t be running half a mile just to get to the battle; instead you’ll spawn, turn a corner and be face-to-face with someone who needs your shotgun ammo perforating their chest. The Conquest Domination mode is particularly frantic. Since the flags are closer together on the smaller maps, matches become a delicate balancing act of attack and defend – that’s even moreso than normal. Why? The capture timers for the flags take about a quarter as long as it takes to claim one in standard games, so the momentum of a match can turn extremely quickly.
Each of the new maps feels unique. Ziba Tower offers unique verticality with multiple open floors to lob grenades or pick out high-up sniping spots. Operation 925 provides close corridor combat on three isolated floors that vary from meeting rooms and office cubicles to a parking garage. Donya Fortress forces teams to exploit chokepoints with its narrow hallways and wide, balconied rooms. The last map, Scrapmetal, allows for longer range engagements from its top level rooftop and relatively open industrial warehouse rooms.
Close Quarters also adds a new mode to the mix with Gunmaster. For any shooter fan who’s played Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Gun Game mode or the Counter-Strike mod of the same name, Gunmaster plays on the same basic rules. You start off the match with a pistol and as you get kills, you’ll automatically equip more powerful weapons. For instance, after getting two kills with the default pistol, you’ll unlock a full-auto pistol, getting two kills with that gun then auto-equips a shotgun, then an SMG, and so on. The first person on either team to get the final knife kill wins the match for their team. Equipment and gadgets cannot be accessed, so no med packs, grenades or MAVs, only your shooting skills will help you here.
Being a skilled shooter won’t just help you win a few matches of Gunmaster, but also to unlock two additional weapons per class and two “every class” weapons by completing the DLC’s Assignments. It’s particularly rewarding for those who’ve already unlocked most of the existing weapons, and gives incentive to jump back in the game and try a few challenges. The only quip we had about the Assignments is that some of the completion requirements repeat those from the previous DLC. We had already completed Back to Karkand’s Assignment requiring twenty kills with the underslung grenade launcher, and the assault class Assignment in Close Quarters required the same. Granted, there would be no issue if you purchase Back to Karkand and Close Quarters at the same time, but since that wasn’t the case, we were forced us to “noob tube” twenty more people again – and that’s not good for our BF3 cred.
For those who like the relatively confined environments of Battlefield 3’s current city maps like Strike at Karkand and Metro, Close Quarters might be the DLC for you. Gunmaster is a refreshing addition to the Battlefield series and the maps are varied and immersive. With a fifteen-dollar price tag, Close Quarters is worth the price of admission, especially if you are looking for something a little bit different from the standard Battlefield experience.
This downloadable content was reviewed using the PC version of Battlefield 3: Close Quarters