by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
New Ways to Play
Aftermath also adds a new game mode, a powerful new weapon, and two new vehicles. The new mode is called Scavenger and is a fresh take on the series classic, Conquest. Players begin each life with only a pistol, knife, grenade, and secondary ability such as the defibrillator. Weapons appear randomly throughout the map with an assortment of add-ons. The goal of the mode is to capture and hold objectives. Lives tend to be short since the person with the better gun has a distinct advantage. Ammo is limited, however, so carelessly spraying will see weapons depleted and players left helpless. This mode is a lot of fun and EA DICE made a good decision in locking the new weapon behind Scavenger victories. Still, Battlefield has always been known for Conquest and I fear the popularity of Scavenger may suffer over time.
The new weapon is the crossbow. On its own, the crossbow is a one-shot kill at short- to mid-range distances and hit location seems not to matter. An arrow to the knee spells death it seems and different bolt types extend that definition. Explosive bolts can be used like grenade from a launcher, scan bolts highlight enemies at range, and long- and short-range bolts change distance of lethality. The bow resounds with a satisfying “thunk” and is a blast to go on a spree with. That being said, it is best suited to Aftermath's four maps and will always reside as a secondary weapon choice. It is also a bit disappointing that this was the only weapon added. Explosive and scan bolts are interesting but also lack unique purpose. Everything the crossbow brings to the table was already present in the game, this just gives you a new, easily unlocked way to experience it.
Finally, the two new vehicles are somewhat of a miss. In essence, they are armored vans with mounted machine guns. They are perfect for navigating Aftermath's streets but lack the effectiveness of other existing machinery. In short, they simply work. Compared to the exhilaration of flying a helicopter down through the cityscape or wreaking havoc with a tank, they seem a bit paltry and tacked on.
And What Remains the Same?
The visuals in this expansion live up to the base game's high pedigree. The engine is the same but DICE has done some fantastic work with the lighting. I couldn't help but pause at how realistically the neon signs lit up building signs. As small a detail as that may be, things like that add a lot to the immersive quality of the game. The audio work remains fantastic. There is nothing quite like hearing an RPG zoom inches above your head in a closed setting. It is frightening, really, and remains head and shoulders above every other shooter currently on the market.
If I was forced to rank the expansions greatest to worst, Aftermath would be at the top just inching out Back to Karkand. The variability this expansion brings is stunning and makes for a rich gameplay experience through and through. While the vehicles are a bit disappointing, the new maps, weapon, and game mode are a blast to play with. If you were to get only one Battlefield 3 expansion, this should be the one. Moreover, if you were looking for a reason to buy into Battlefield's Premium service, getting content like this earlier than everyone else is a good one.
Great map design, lots of verticality and flanking routes, satisfying crossbows, fun Scavenger mode.
Disappointing vehicles, questionable longevity for Scavenger, generic Markaz Monolith.