Battlefield 3 Close Quarters DLC: details, impressions

Popular multiplayer shooter Battlefield 3 is due to get not one but three expansion packs throughout the year: Battlefield 3: End Game this winter, Battlefield 3: Armored Kill in autumn, and Battlefield 3: Close Quarters due to be released in June. It’s with the latter that I spent some time, destroying the pretty interiors of its small, focussed maps and being owned again and again and again by its 10 new guns at the hands of DICE.

The idea behind Close Quarters is, as the name strongly suggests with a firm elbow in your side and a too-obvious wink, to take BF3′s vanilla online play and make it more compact, tight and frantic. The four new maps are small, indoor-heavy environments designed to make you bump into each other more often and fight bitterly for each inch of territory.

It’s Donya Fortress where I make my Close Quarters debut – a large and partially bombed building with several control points which faces in on a central garden area, connected by corridors over several levels. Remembering the ten-minute walk it often takes to reach the heart of the action in BF3, I don’t have my wits about me as I saunter into the central garden area – there are three enemies and two allies right around the corner from my spawn, and predictably enough they shoot me right back there in an instant.

Next life, I’m a bit sharper, and I fiddle around with new weapons like the SPAS-12 shotgun and SCAR assualt rifle, both of which are suited to the *ahem* close quarters encounters I keep finding myself in. I hold onto a capture point for a good few minutes until someone explodes my head with an M417 sniper rifle – they’ve found a great little nook on a balcony that overlooks the whole garden.

And that’s how it continues. More urgent than vanilla BF3. More kills, more deaths. It’s tremendous fun, and the perfect counterpart to the studied, vehicle-focussed larger maps in the original release. Scenery is even more destructible now too, and comes apart with greater detail both visually and aurally. I manage to shuffle a wheelbarrow between a hole in the rubble for a while which makes for some great cover. DICE is calling it ‘HD destruction.’

If the rest of DICE’s planned DLC packs for Battlefield 3 are as smartly designed as Close Quarters, BF3 fans are in for a good year. The developers have clearly and neatly highlighted a combat scenario that doesn’t happen all that often in the original game, that is exciting, and created content that brings exactly that scenario out without, it seems, disturbing the all-important balance.

Here’s the full gun list, which can be used back in the original game once you’ve unlocked them:

AUG Assault Rifle

SCAR Assault Rifle

ACW-R Carbine

MTAR-21 Carbine

M417 Sniper Rifle

JNG-90 Sniper Rifle

L86LSW Machine Gun

LSAT Machine Gun

M5K Tactical Machine Pistol

SPAS-12 Shotgun