We've seen parts of Battlefield 3's forthcoming Aftermath DLC before now, but this is our first proper glimpse of the Epicentre map that seems to be the focal point of the expansion. Level artist Pontus Ryman took to the Battlefield blog (hereafter referred to as the 'battleblog') to talk about the map, in a post that included a long, lingering flythrough of Epicentre itself.
And... wow. Free from the noise of multiplayer shooting, Epicentre (based in post-earthquake Iran) seems oddly quiet, atmospheric and ripe for exploration - something that was intentional in the design. "Another element that I personally feel strongly for is exploration," Ryman explains in the post. "A city that gets hit by an earthquake creates a different landscape that opens up for a lot of exploration. A broken pipe in the ground becomes something you can crawl through; a rift in the street becomes a protective trench; and a pile of rubble becomes a makeshift staircase that takes you to the next level inside a building."
His intention with Epicentre was to "bring the earthquake from single player into multiplayer", and the result is, rather excitingly, aftershocks that go off while you play. These are on a randomised timer, so you'll never be quite sure when they're about to hit. It could be when you're about to pull the trigger - or when someone else is about to pull the trigger on you.
"The effects are more than just window dressing," Ryman elaborates. "It creates a new element of suspense, as no one knows when the tremors will hit. And when they do, players will need to be able to judge whether to try and steady their aim and go for a shaky shot, or whether to hold their trigger finger until the tremor has passed – at the risk of letting the enemy out of their sight."
It's an exciting prospect, and it certainly makes us more interested in Aftermath than the promise of scoped crossbows . The map pack's due on December 4th, for so-called Premium players, and December 18th for everyone else.