Battlefield 3 Close Quarters Hands-On: Is DICE Replicating Call Of Duty?
You think of Battlefield and you think of tanks, you think of planes and you think of choppers. But you also think of the emergent gameplay that these different elements bring when coupled to a large, open map.
So taking those things away from Battlefield might seem like a bizarre move for DICE, removing the one thing that helps the FPS standout from the identikit shooters filling an oversaturated market.
NowGamer had early hands-on with the new Close Quarters expansion pack for Battlefield 3 to help discover whether this could be a bold move for DICE, or just a careless attempt at mimicking Call Of Duty.
Smaller Maps, Tighter Combat
Infantry-only isn’t uncommon in Battlefield 3. Maps like Operation Metro, Grand Bazaar and Seine Crossing are largely focused on closer range combat, while Damavand Peak and Noshahr Canals are regularly added to private servers without vehicles.
But the maps in Close Quarters are far more tailored to short range assaults than any on-disc BF3 map, from the office complex of Ziba Tower or the more recently demoed Donya Fortress.
Set inside an Arabian palace, the stylistic theme of Donya Fortress is pretty spectacular. The central location is a small courtyard built from white marble, with small pools of green water surrounding a central platform.
Everything else in the map is a tangent from this area, whether it’s the Moroccan style interiors – a lot of dark wood and cushioned chairs – or the rubble of its underground passages.
These tunnels and corridors are cramped and claustrophobic, so you really need to watch your rear. Get caught unaware in these corridors and you’re guaranteed to take a stream of bullets to the back.
While this might not sound pleasant, it certainly mixes up the traditional Battlefield combat. It is almost Call Of Duty in style – you’re running a lot, you’re checking corners and you’re consistently on edge.
But there’s still a heavy focus on tactical decisions. Charging into a room won’t be sensible and picking the right weapon is still as important as ever – but the flow of the combat has been markedly changed.
Battlefield 3’s New Gameplay Mode
Conquest Domination is the biggest new addition to Battlefield 3 with the Close Quarters expansion pack, tweaking the traditional BF mode only slightly to work in the considerably smaller map packs.
There’s still three conquest points, and with Donya Fortress they’re situated at different heights. Point A is located at the highest point, only accessed from the walkway overlooking the central courtyard via a pair of stairs on either side.
Point B is in the catacombs below the central courtyard, accessed from three entry points. Lastly is point C, which is on the ground in an open room besides the courtyard, surrounded by a balcony above and three front facing entrances.
All three points are pretty tricky to defend: point A has very little space to manoeuvre around, point B has very little cover and point C has two levels of assault to contend with.
There are ways to defend, of course, but the idea here is that you don’t stand in any one place for too long. The conquest points take much less time to capture too, so moving from point to point as a squad is the best tactic you can use.
It’s a great mode that works well with Donya Fortress, keeping the pace of each game fast and flowing. It’s not traditional Battlefield at all, but that’s refreshing in a way.
Ziba Tower looks like the best showcase of the new destruction so far.
But What About The Destruction?
When DICE announced the Close Quarters expansion pack it did so with hyperbole about the improved destruction physics.
Unfortunately Donya Fortress is not quite as fragile as the trailers might suggest. It’s a palace built out of stone, and even our multiple attempts at destroying structures provided very little satisfaction.
Banisters and the like still shatter so there is some destruction, but when faced with Ziba Tower – the only other map shown from the expansion pack so far – it’s a little disappointing.
Considering the layout of Donya Fortress, however, it probably makes sense to keep the structure a little more intact.
So Is It Like Call Of Duty?
Yes. It might disappoint you to hear that, but it is. It’s faster, there’s a larger focus on moving and the maps are smaller and more condensed.
But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s a change from the Battlefield staples, sure, but it’s also refreshing to not have to worry about a tank rolling in and obliterating your squad.
Though it was only Donya Fortress we managed to play, it’s already apparent that Close Quarters will divide many Battlefield players. The gunplay is still as fun as ever, but if you’re someone who prefers sniping attackers miles away from the top of a crane then there’s likely going to be nothing of worth in this expansion pack.
The rest of us, however, might just enjoy slipping one or two of these maps into server rotation when the expansion pack finally drops, if only to mix up the usual Battlefield gameplay.