Battlefield 3: Aftermath DLC Review

Like good wine, Battlefield 3 gets better with age.

If it’s not through some serious patching, it’s the via the exceptional downloadable content conjured up by the folks over at Digital Illusions CE. Battlefield 3: Aftermath is no different. Well, different in one small aspect: It is the best Battlefield 3 expansion pack to date.

Aftermath takes the best of what made Back to Karkand’s gameplay so enjoyable, but adds its own little twist and shakes things up with a “groundbreaking” theme, new weapons, new vehicles, new character skins, and new ways to play Battlefield 3.

New weapons, you say? Well, sort of. More like an extreme modification of your basic assault rifle. Aftermath introduces the Crossbow, or XBow, to Battlefield 3’s arsenal of tools. Unlocked via in-game assignments, the XBow comes in two forms; a close to medium range setup with the Kobra Sight optical attachment, or a medium to long range set up with the 7X rifle scope. Each variation can utilize up to four different types of XBow bolts that can be toggled in-game, also unlocked through in-game achievements. The Standard Bolt acts very much like a shotgun slug with significant “bullet drop.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Balanced Bolt which acts much like a sniper round: one-shot kill to the head with heavy damage to the body and almost no “bullet drop.” The more specialized Heavy Explosive Bolt will damage vehicles much like an RPG while the Scan Bolt will help you detect enemy locations. But what the Xbow really introduces to Battlefield 3 are new gameplay opportunities. At last, the Recon class has a dedicated explosive tool while the Engineer now has access to long-range fire power, for example. This allows you to mix and match class abilities to better suit certain situations. Most importantly, it’s a fun weapon to use. While you might not rack up mountains of kills with it, the challenge of wielding such a specialized weapon can be exciting.

For more on the XBow, I’d like to refer you to this in-depth guide for some serious details about how each different bolt type works.

A beaten and bruised reconnaissance soldier wielding an assault-rifle-turned-crossbow

Moving on to vehicles, Aftermath introduces three new toys to play with; The “Phoenix” and “Barsuk,” both modified jeeps with mounted grenade launchers and HMGs; as well as the devastating “Rhino,” a rusty, broken-down van. All sarcasm aside, the Rhino does pack quite a punch with a remote-operated turret and open passenger seats allowing for some deadly drive-by shootings. Though all three vehicles are mere transport vehicles in actuality, each one has been heavily modified and retrofitted for intense vehicle combat. These guys mean business.

Now, you might wonder, why modify such vehicles in the first place? That’s where Aftermath’s post-earthquake theme comes in. Having just survived some serious earthquake carnage, American and Russian soldiers are left with nothing. Trying their best to survive, and yet fight off the opposition at the same time, these soldiers must use their imaginations to scrounge up what remains and craft some entirely new killing tools. That’s also where the XBow comes in. This theme also extends to character skins, which now depicts bloodied and bruised soldiers looking as if the’ve seen better days. The biggest way the aftermath of this quake effects this DLC’s gameplay manifests itself in the new game mode, Scavenger.

Scavenger starts you off with nothing but a pistol, a knife, and one grenade. Your job is to capture various flag points, much like Close Quarter’s Conquest Domination. Pretty hard to do with only a pistol, right? That’s why you need to search the battlefield for higher-powered weapon pick-ups. The safe, dark corners of the map will house your weaker personal defense weapons while searching those deadly, high-traffic hot spots will reward you with some more serious firepower. The other “stick-in-the-wheel” is the fact that not every weapon pick-up equips you with massive amounts of ammunition. Chances are, you might get only one good magazine-worth of bullets before you need to find another weapon. It ads a fun twist to the standard Domination mode and keeps the action constant, considering less time is spent choosing or modifying your loadouts. It’s also a nod to more traditional, arena-style shooters which keep everyone on an even playing field. I predict many finding a love-hate relationship with this mode. Those who just want to stick to ranking up their favorite weapons may want to skip this mode entirely. Those looking for an even fight with an added level of strategy may find themselves at home here. Oddly enough, “even” is a funny word to use considering how uneven the terrain is in these new maps.

A bird’s eye view of the earthquake-ravaged Epicenter

Thanks to some intense tectonic rumblings, Aftermath’s maps have you fighting it out on a battlefield you might not be so used to. Take, for example, Epicenter, where these effects are most devastating. Random tremors shake up the battlefield every so often and getting caught in the path of falling rubble won’t end so well for most players. They’re nice in that they up the level of immersion, especially thanks to DICE’s superb sound design. I only wish they were actually stronger and effected the battlefield even more so. Also, driving down the street in a Phoenix or Barsuk can be a b*tch thanks to gigantic seismic fissures cracking open the highways and roads. In turn, this also provides infantry with more cover than normal. Heavily destroyed buildings which act as center pieces in maps like Azadi Palace and Markaz Monolith offer much more vertical gameplay than you might be used to as well. It’s also quite impressive, visually, to see such humungous structures ruined and crumbled as players battle in and around it. Talah Market, probably the most close quarters-based map of the four, seems least effected by the the quake, but still provides a different enough experience than other Battlefield 3 maps to make it stand out.

All four maps play similar to the urban environments found in Back to Karkand (minus Wake Island) and are most heavily suited to extremely satisfying games of Conquest, Team Deathmatch and of course, Scavenger. For the most part, all four maps seem to be built in a circular fashion (but in a square shape, if you catch my drift). Each one is outlined by a more open, outer-ring where much of the vehicular combat possibly takes place, but as you move towards the center, things get busier and the infantry fighting becomes more intense. I feel DICE struck a very satisfying balance here between the two styles of combat, as they did in Back to Karkand, which are tried-and-true Battlefield maps in the first place. I also found Team Deathmatch to be quite enjoyable. Built in the same fashion, TDM features a portion of each map (a rather large portion, actually) that also provide close quarters experiences near their centers, sometimes boasting a ton of vertical gameplay, but are usually surrounded by open roads or pathways providing some useful flanking routes. The same applies to Scavenger, of course.

Fighting in the streets of Talah Market

Built-in shortcuts help you traverse through the hectic battles that take place closer to the center of each map. It also renders most players’ paths unpredictable as they could pop-up behind you at any moment. It keeps you on your toes and paying attention to your surroundings. You’ll also finally be able to say goodbye to the blue tint that has been laid over top all previous Battlefield 3 maps. Instead, say hello to orange. It’s effective in that it give this DLC a different visual flavor, though it may seem rather excessive in maps like Markaz Monolith. I found Epicenter in particular brought back memories of Oasis from Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2 thanks to its “dry” look and numerous palm trees. On a graphical level, I don’t find any of Afthermath’s maps as appealing as Armored Kill’s, but they sure play better, especially on consoles, and that’s what counts.

If you happen to be a console player, this DLC is a must, especially if Armored Kill’s slow gameplay on empty but beautiful maps left a sour taste in your mouth. In general, Aftermath hits a sweet-spot in Battlefield 3’s gameplay and offers enough new content to breathe some extra life in game that may seem “over-the-hill” in terms of age. Additionally, this expansion offers five brand new dog tags on top of the five related to XBow unlocks, as well as another five achievements or trophies for Xbox 360 and PS3 users.

5 / 5

There’s not a lot to dislike here, so I’m giving Battlefield 3: Aftermath a full five-star ranking. If you happen to be a Battlefield 3 Premium member, then you’ll be downloading this expansion pack regardless. For those who have yet to join in on the fun and are selective about their DLC pickings, this is the one to get.

Aftermath is a whole new experience that keeps in-line with the spirit of Battlefield with a fantastic balance of vehicle and infantry combat on some of the most well designed maps we’ve seen so far.

  • Solid review, I’d give this DLC a 5 star myself. Best DLC since B2K.

    • Excellent DLC and one of the things David didn’t really mention in detail in the review is all the hidden paths. You can blow the doors off locked passage ways or just blow a hole in the back of a room. They’re all pretty consistent in location and design, but I’m still exploring and finding new paths. I may be getting a bit burned out on BF3, but AM keeps me coming back.

    • Hai

      can u tell me about register code cd key Battlefield 3 Aftermath on PC

  • Hey

    Never really enjoyed B2K but CQ was pretty good but so far AM is the best pack. I only wish buildings would collapse when the earthquake tremors happen in game.

    • AM?

      • Hol_Up

        Aftermath. B2K, CQ, AK, AM. Endgame maybe EG.

      • AM was garbage. Nobody plays TS anymore, and the gunship was always a center of a argument.

      • AndroidMango

        Aftermath -.-

  • Yep best DLC since B2K

  • Recon stole the Medic shades :p
    But yeah Aftermath is amazing! Best DLC since Karkand. Karkand is still my number one because its just legacy Battlefield.
    Then Aftermath for all of the aforementioned reasons. Plus, is it just me or is there significantly LESS blue tint?
    The Close Quarters because they made me want to play TDM finally
    And Armored Kill. Conquest is a borefest on cones with too little people covering too much ground. Not even enough to actuly defend all objectives properly like how I see I. PC version. Rush is plain one sided most of the time, hype died off quick.

  • hellz yeah, crank it up…. loving the maps.. and boy do they look smexy on ultra

  • personally its ok the maps are good but they don’t look that good and there isn’t a lot of differences visually in them all of em are brown and dusty

    • Hol_Up

      because your playing on console. even on console they look better than the vanilla maps.

    • You must be playing on console, on PC the maps look amazing, possibly the best looking of the lot. Also if you have an nvidia card on PC then you can ‘up’ the digital vibrance which really bring the colours to life 😉 Its xmas dude go treat yerself to a gaming pc 😉

      • I play on console and the maps look great. A bit brown and getting caught on a jagged piece of broken road is no fun, but the visuals from the tops of the buildings are excellent and the levels have so much detail. I toy with getting a gaming pc, but i already sit at my desk 12 hours a day. I’d never leave my office.

  • 3/5 for me.. the amount of new bugs and glitches over does my joy for the map packs.
    all i got to say is there are doors as textures for the floor on bizaar, but i spose that has nothing to do with the map packs just the patch they gave with it..

    but the map packs are nice, just kinda bland and boring at times.

    • After downloading the DLC and latest patch, I noticed that textures loaded rather slowly after spawning. So what I did – and what I might suggest to you – is I deleted all title/multiplayer updates off my USB Disk Drive (or your Hard Drive) and re-download each one, one after another. It look a while, but textures now load faster, I don’t notice as many bugs, and I even managed to clear some space by doing so. So, I highly recommend trying that out if you have the patience.

      • on console?

        • mechblade

          yes for console and deleted all title/multiplayer updates and re-download is going to help fix some bugs .for console

        • Yes sir 🙂

  • 3DArtist

    FreemetrogameDOTcom , get your free copy till the end of this week.

  • zakrocz

    Disagree on the visuals, I think the maps look stunning, most visually appealing maps so far. For me it’s the best map pack so far and its actually got me interested in playing conquest again after a long long time.
    TDM is good but not quite as good as AK TDM on Bandar & Armoured Shield maps.

    • Ill admit, I could play TDM on Armored Shield for days.

    • PuddingAuxRais1ns

      That’s the only problems that I have with these maps. The overall aesthetic of the maps is repetitive. Way to brown for my taste. Why is it so hard to add more color to the maps?

      • SouthtownSlayer

        Understand your point but what desert town do you know of that is very colorful, I don’t really know of to many. I could maybe see one of the maps sort of done at night time so the lighting could stand out on the buildings but even then not sure that would be what the devs may have been looking for in an “aftermath” setting.

      • Jason

        Exactly what SouthtownSlayer said, It’s the Feel of the map is why they chose the color pallet, same as Metro having a “Blue Tint” to it, because they want to make it feel “Dark, Eerie, and Cold” in the metro, same as Noshar Canals, they have a reason and are very good at capturing the immersion of maps to make the player feel a certain way, Color is just one of them! More people need to understand this lol 🙂

  • Great review David !!! Thanks.

  • JohnO

    isnt it a 7x scope on the crossbow ?

  • Sick of Dice

    Won’t visiting this page again ever, You must be idiot, lot of people with a PS3 and a SD TV can’t play this game because of infamous input lag but you don’t make a single post about it, Dice folks are nearly close to a retard monkey and you Veselka must be close as well because I’m spanish and the good wine needs a lot of work, not only time. I can’t play this game after a year and more than 100 bucks because of their stupid patching system so stop blattering about the company guys you would love to f*ck and be more like a real critic. Bye

  • I’m a pilot. this dlc ain’t for me 🙁

    • TB

      BF3 is dead for Aircraft with the endless nerfs done to appease the COD kids that squirted salty tears whenever Santa came to town in his Viper to put some boots up some asses.

      • Sounds to me like you’re the guy squirting salty tears.

        The nerf was a good thing. Now, people actually play the objective instead of Top Gun… #KDDoesntWinMatches

  • Fnord

    Been on a BF3 break due to it sucking on consoles and my PC not cutting it, but I’ll give this a go. Just hope it does end up a ghost town in a few months like other good battlefield DLC. Thanks for the review.

  • Michael Kelley

    Now if only they’d give us different optical options other than the kobra (ugh) and the pks-07 for the crossbow…

  • GoMonkey66

    The longer this game is out, the less I WANT to play it. Literally no game ever has disappointed me as much as BF3. Sure, it has some great ideas, fun moments, visuals, etc. but playing this turd on the PS3 is nothing but an exercise in frustration and glitchy, laggy retardation.

    The game never should have been released in the state it was, and with every patch that took too long to come, that broke more stuff than it fixed, and introduced more crap nobody asked for, I completely lost faith in DICE. It’s a shame, because I spent a lot of time trying to keep the flame alive, wanting to believe that things would be better in the next patch, that DICE would stop breaking promises (where IS my damn Battlelog Android app, anyway?), and that all the little niggles would be sorted.

    But when you have to wait over a year for even the BASIC things to be ironed out, like broken VOIP, stability, squads being able to stay together, etc…what’s the point? I don’t blame it ALL on DICE, mind you…they designed the game, but EA screwed everyone by forcing it out the door in order to beat MW3 to the market, and then forced the development cycle to focus on DLC and other cash cows like server rentals, so ultimately it should be more that I lost faith in EA. And they lost me years ago.

    I still want to be excited about the future, and think that Battlefield 4 on the PS4 will be fantastic, but I don’t think I’ll hold my breath or preorder another DICE/EA title ever again.

    • Jason

      I think you deserve to say this since the PS3 Version was the “Problematic Child” of the Three, not hating on Sony at all, just all the things you mentioned can break the Experience for this game! I play on Xbox and it had a rough start as well but I will agree what David Said under the Title (Like Wine, BF3 gets better with age) and it has! Now that DICE has had experience on the new Engine then it makes me excited to see what is in store for next gen, but then again they will have to learn new Console Hardware and Architecture… let’s just hope PS4 does not try to “over innovate” their new Console Architecture like they did with the PS3 and IMO the reason why some Dev’s have a hard time Developing games for it. 🙂

    • Switch AA off in BF3 options – when playing on PS3

    • I play on PS3 and have no issues what so ever with the game. I did have issues in the beginning but after the firs 2 patches it seemed everything is well

    • Clearly you haven’t played Black Ops 2…

      To be constructive, turn of Anti Aliasing in the menu. It helps, trust me. I must say though, BF3 plays fine on my PS3, but I do have a 55mb down, 17mb up connection…

  • Why no love for ‘Rush’, the maps play well. Our rush AM server is busy a lot.

  • HighBob

    I like Anti-Tank option on my assault. However, it sucks that I feel it like pay2win right now. It’s not that overpowered, but it is extremely usable.

  • AM seems fairly great! Great review and as always (though not often enough), Davids reviews are fantastic. I really love your choice in words and the comparisons you make. You are a true inspiration for us lesser reviewers out there. Good job!

  • neenga

    4th from last paragraph! Below the Talah Market picture, you have a miss spell! Aftermath as ‘Afthermath’ but as always a grand and solid review!!!

  • muneeb

    what the hell should i do to registration code?

  • scooter

    I don’t know to me CQ was my Fav DLC it was fast and exciting… loved watching the walls shatter to pieces.