Despite the initial misgivings following the beta testing phase of Battlefield 3 – and it’s wholly disappointing campaign mode – there is a core audience still heavily involved in the videogame’s online multiplayer across three platforms. Premium priced season passes, server rental systems and an inordinate amount of hacks and cheats couldn’t deter these demanding gamers, and so the forthcoming release of a new downloadable content (DLC) pack is unlikely to be anything other than a success story. That Aftermath just happens to be the first step into a rewrite of the multiplayer scenario only sweetens the deal.
It’s no secret that Electronic Theatre has been particularly harsh on Battlefield 3 since initial release, and while the team’s collective opinion of the videogame hasn’t changed we’re more than willing to welcome new content, especially when it’s not just adding to the experience but attempting to improve it also. For that, development studio DICE must be commended; Battlefield 3 still has its issues, but DICE is clearly aware of them and willing to take their cues from the audience with regards to how to go about fixing them.
Battlefield 3: Aftermath is a solely multiplayer focused expansion, bringing some of the events from the single-player campaign into the multiplayer component for the first time. This doesn’t mean that the multiplayer mode will be getting a story or that it will become connected to the single-player experience in any way bar thematic, but it will take inspiration from the events that followed the earthquake that propelled the campaign in a completely different direction. And that change of pace is immediately evident in Battlefield 3: Aftermath, with everything from the map design to the brand new character models showing the effects of an unforeseen natural disaster. Players will now appear wounded and haggard, making the best out of the situation their in with torn clothes and damaged weaponry, which is never more evident than in the brand new gameplay mode Battlefield 3: Aftermath brings along with it.
Scavenger mode is essentially a readdressing of the familiar Conquest mode in which all equipment has been scattered. All players start with a pistol and more advanced weaponry must be found by searching the map. All weapons will have limited ammunition and death will result in that weapon being lost, so players would be wise to cover their teammate should they discover a good weapon: making the most out of each opportunity is what Scavenger mode is all about.
Tying into this new gameplay mode is the new weapon presented by Battlefield 3: Aftermath, the crossbow. A makeshift weapon that uses stock from a rifle with new parts attached, the crossbow can house four different types of bolt: high damage; balance bolt for long range; scan bolt which highlights local enemy positions; explosive bolts, which have a narrow splash damage for vehicle combat, but are limited in their ability to take down troops (unless the player is a crackshot).
Rounding off the new content Battlefield 3: Aftermath offers are four new maps and three new vehicles. The Markaz Monolith maps represent the financial district of Tairan, all big open spaces, flatland with crumbling buildings. The Epicenter map is a direct contrast, with cracks in the ground allowing for makeshift trench runs and the aftershocks directly affecting players who are not playing cautiously enough. Of the new vehicles included two, the Phoenix and Beserk, are reskinned examples of existing units with added weaponry. The Rhino is a brand new transport vehicle with five spots, wherein the driver is also in control of a roof mounted machine gun.
Battlefield 3: Aftermath is set to make its way to PlayStation 3 on 27th November 2012, followed by an Xbox 360 Premium and PC release a week later. With that, it manages to avoid the hubbub of the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 elegantly, Battlefield 3: Aftermath is positioned a call to action for those gamers who always pick up the newest edition of Call of Duty and then complain about it’s lack of innovative gameplay and predominantly teen male audience, of which there are many. Whether it’ll be reason enough to reinvest in Battlefield 3 after several months away is another matter, but for fans of the videogame it’s another opportunity to fall back in love with DICE once again.