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Hands-On With Battlefield 3: Armored Kill

by Matt Bertz on Jun 06, 2012 at 02:34 PM

We take a tour of the biggest Battlefield 3 map ever created and get the details on the new AC-130 gunship.  

Since the launch of Battlefield 3, it feels like the community has splintered into two separate camps -- the purists who prefer the large, open environments jam-packed with vehicles and the fans raised on close quarters games like Call of Duty who prefer a more intimate setting. Fans of the pure gunfights are already indulging in the new Close Quarters map pack (on the PS3 anyway. Xbox 360 and PC players get access in less than two weeks), but come September the old-school fans (like me) get a new dose of classic style maps with the Armored Kill expansion.

Behind closed doors at E3, DICE showed off the first map of the expansion pack, Bandar Desert, the biggest map in franchise history. Here are some details I picked up during a short but sweet hands-on conquest battle.

  • Several new vehicles are featured in the expansion, including new tank destroyers, an AC-130 gunship, ATVs, and mobile artillery.
  • Taking over a specific base grants the controlling team access to an AC-130 gunship. The gunship travels on a fixed circular path around the bases and it has four seats -- two for shooting 125mm cannons at the ground and two anti-air turrets for defending its airspace.
  • Though only four people can man the AC-130 at once, other soldiers can use it as a mobile parachute spawn point.
  • The AC-130 is also a great position to spot and mark enemies for your teammates.
  • If your team controls the AC-130, the smart strategy is to have all patrolling the aircraft defend it from oncoming attacks so it can continue its forceful barrage.
  • The AC-130 is heavily armored, but it cannot be repaired by engineers. This means ground forces can bring it down with concentrated fire.
  • The tank destroyers are lighter and more limber than the tanks included in the base game. They still pack a punch, but are much more vulnerable than the conventional tanks.
  • Over 20 upgrades are available for the new vehicles, but there is no new infantry weaponry. 
  • Armored Kill also has a new Tank Superiority mode, but DICE wouldn't go into specifics just yet.
  • You should spawn on a squad member near a hot zone or to jump into a vehicle. Given the large size of the map, hiking from your home base to a flag point takes a while.
  • The maps are large enough that you can employ new team tactics like positioning your mobile artillery on the ridge and shelling any troops approaching a hotly contested flag capture point from a long range.

DICE plans to reveal the three other maps, the new vehicle upgrades, and details on the new Tank Superiority mode as we move closer to the September launch.