No huge open-ground, no vehicles, no vastly destructible buildings and a reduced player capacity. Just how much of the traditional Battlefield appeal is actually present ‘Close Quarters’, anyway?
As of the twelfth of June, Battlefield Premium users on the Xbox 360 and PC have joined in with the Premium users on the Playstation 3 who have already been playing Close Quarters for the last two weeks, and the infantry-heavy combat seen on such maps as Grand Bazaar and Operation Metro has moved to four all-new war theatres.
Firstly, we have Donya Fortress. The smallest of all four maps, Donya Fortress takes place in a compressed temple-like building, with the action spread across two-person rooms, narrow hallways and open plazas. The map isn’t small enough for enemies to be consistently fighting in arms-length distance from each other, but this is as good a map as any for using a carbine or shotgun. Although spawning is generally hassle-free, chances are that if you spawn on a teammate on this map, you will quickly find yourself in the heat of the battle, so be ready when you choose to re-enter the fight. Next, we have Operation 925. This map is situated inside an office building, with stairwells giving access to a lower level parking lot and construction platforms. As well as there being the expected array of office cubicles, there’s also a welcome desk and a few balconies for objective over-watch. 925 is the second biggest map in the Close Quarters DLC, and features longer sight lines and wider corridors in which to fight than in Donya Fortress. Assault rifles and carbines come into their own here, but a light machine gun and even a semi-automatic sniper rifle can quickly help you rack up a high kill count too. The third map in the DLC is Ziba Tower. Although this map is perhaps a tiny bit smaller than Operation 925, the wide interior and lengthy outdoor awnings make for a faster paced game. This is probably the most ‘Call of Duty’ styled map available in the DLC too, not just for the section-to-section combat which is prevalent throughout, but also because of the circular, looping pattern of attack that most matches tend to follow. Shotguns and even handguns will net you a lot of kills in the confined indoor sections, but you will be hard-pressed to do particularly well with an LMG. This isn’t a map for deliberate suppression, the more direct you are the higher kill count you will rack up. Finally, we have Scrapmetal. Easily the biggest of the four maps, Scrapmetal takes place in a long decommissioned factory, with modestly sized indoor areas and bigger, more open outdoor sections for fighting. Inside, it is fairly cramped, but some areas such as the machinery floor are wider, allowing for larger fights which usually involve most of the player cap. Outside, you can get onto a lower section of the adjacent factory roof, or try your hand at sniping enemies on said roof from a balcony situated above the main factory. The map includes some of the largest sight-lines in the entire DLC, and is perhaps the only recommended choice for sniping with a bolt-action rifle.
The map choice on offer is surprisingly varied, and as for the ‘pandering to the Call of Duty converts’ suggestions noted by some of the more hardened Battlefield veterans, this is actually DICE ‘catering’ to other players, rather than altering the game in the favour of one particular set of players . The DLC hasn’t changed the way that the game feels and plays, and thus the infantry-heavy combat on the new maps is still fantastic fun. If Close-Quarters has proved anything, it is that Battlefield is still Battlefield, even when the warzones are more confined and restricted than they have ever been before.
On top of your four new maps, you are also given two new game modes in which to play. ‘Conquest Domination’ is a cut down version of regular Conquest which is exclusive to this DLC pack. Essentially, Conquest Domination is tailored specifically with these smaller than usual maps in mind. When capturing a flag, there is no period of neutralization, as a flag changes from red to blue successively. As well as that, capture times are significantly reduced, meaning that games are always rolling at a frantic pace, and flags change hands regularly through the course of a single game. It should be noted that on console, Conquest Domination has a restricted player capacity of 16 (two teams of 8) in order to make things a bit less chaotic, and give every player a bit of breathing space. The other new game mode introduced is one never before seen in any Battlefield game. ‘Gun Master’ borrows a lot from ‘Gun Game’ which debuted in Call of Duty Black Ops. Your objective in Gun Master is to advance from weapon to weapon by getting kills with each gun in your possession. The primary difference with Gun Master is that each weapon requires two kills before you advance to the next, and it is also a team game, rather than an all-out free for all. Personally, Gun Master is a welcome addition to Battlefield 3. In a game where winning is paramount, and an individual’s success is measured on objective play and score per-minute rather than kill-death ratio, Gun Master is a game that you’d find yourself playing if you’ve grown tired of your conventional Conquest and Rush games, and just want a quick, yet rewarding match to play with a group of friends.
Finally, on top of the four maps and two new game modes come 10 additional assignments which reward you with 10 brand new guns to wreak havoc with. Weapons like the M5k, Spas-12 and AUG all make welcome Battlefield 3 debuts, and a varied array of assignments challenge the player to do things differently, and play the game in a manner they’re possibly not used to. Amongst the challenges to unlock some of the new weaponry are objective captures, motion sensor assists and one which even tasks you with making a kill with the EOD bomb-disposal robot. Add to that some shiny new dog tags and a few new achievements, and you have a pretty solid DLC pack which leads the line for both the upcoming Battlefield 3 DLC season, and the release of Battlefield Premium.
It’s quite hard for me to give an overall ‘recommendation’ to this DLC pack, not because of its worth, but because out of all of the DLC packs which are set to release for Battlefield 3, this one is the least conventional. If you have Battlefield Premium, then you will already have access to this pack, therefore I suggest you give it a try and submerge yourself in the infantry combat that it boasts. If you do not own Battlefield Premium, then it all comes down to whether or not you will find yourself enjoying quicker games and smaller warzones than what you’re used to. The upcoming Armoured Kill, Aftermath and End-Game DLC’s are all expected to be new spins on the classic Battlefield mantra of vehicle combat and ranged skirmishes, but Close Quarters may veer off track a little too much for those who turn their nose up at every Call of Duty release. Simply put, if the idea of confined battles with no vehicles is too much of a put-off, then give the DLC pack a miss, but if you enjoy your infantry battles and would like to play Battlefield in an environment more suited perhaps to Call of Duty, then I think this pack is worth all of your 1,200 MS points. 4 new maps, 2 new game modes, 10 new weapon assignments, 5 new dog-tags and new achievements await if you’re ready to take the fight from the rolling landscapes to the narrow corridors. Battlefield 3 Close Quarters is a fairly controversial way to begin the upcoming DLC influx, but it still remains Battlefield at heart, and is fast, no-holds barred fun in an unconventional setting. Close Quarters is hereby recommended.