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GDC 12: Battlefield 3: Close Quarters (Hands On)

by: Chuck -
More On: Battlefield 3
Last week at GDC, Electronic Arts allowed members of the press to go hands on with Close Quarters, the first of three new DLC packs for Battlefield 3. How you feel about the expansion pack will depend on what you think about the infantry only maps in Battlefield 3, specifically Operation Metro. If you're not a fan of close quarter infantry maps (like Operation Metro) you're going to be disappointed as that's all you're getting in the next map pack. That said you still might want to check the expansion pack as DICE has woven a couple of cool things into this expansion pack.

Close Quarters will contain four new levels and 10 new weapons. The level we got to play was Ziba Tower and we only got to play on team deathmatch mode. Ziba Tower takes place on what appears to be a luxury high rise as it's a mix of tight corridors with an open pool area at the top. As you battle from room to room you'll notice that the environment is full of stuff that can be blown to smithereens with your guns which adds a whole new level of chaos and motion to the game.

Gun battles are instantly more intense as you have to track your enemies through the flying chaos of plates, pictures, and other trinkets that littler the space. It's almost like the guys at DICE had a John Woo marathon one night and decided to implement the better gun fights from Hard Boiled. A good number of the walls in the level can also be shot through which means that walking through hallways is even more dangerous as you not only have to look ahead of you but also be mindful of what could be hiding on the other side of the wall.

The level design is tight as you not only have to manage the new non-bullet stopping walls but several vertical layers (especially around the pool area). From what I saw the level design forced you to keep moving as stopping to snipe or camp might earn you one or two kills but it's nothing sustainable like setting up shop at the bottom of the escalators in Operation Metro. It took me a few cycles through the map before I found a decent track through the level but once I really started to dig the level. I'm interested to see what the other three maps look like and how the Rush and Conquest modes work on them as I can't imagine these will be deathmatch only levels.

While I'm normally a guy who thinks that Battlefield 3 should be big open areas with lots of tanks and planes I'm interested to see what DICE has planned with the rest of the maps for Close Quarters. I'm not 100% sold on Close Quarters with Ziba Tower but I'm a solid 90% sold with the remaining 10% being to see how they are implementing the other modes on the maps.

(Updated) - In talking with EA PR they have said that the maps will support all the game modes but since the maps are much smaller than the rest of the BF3 maps they will only support 16 players (on all platforms).

Here's the full trailer so you can see what the map looks like in action