Battlefield 3's upcoming Close Quarters expansion tosses aside fields in favor of four new, smaller maps with an emphasis on destruction and verticality. During the recent
Crysis 3 reveal event
, I played several rounds on a pre-alpha version of CQ map Donya Fortress, which we
revealed earlier this morning
. Unfortunately, my poor soldier spent most of his time bobbing around like a drunken sailor in a dingy as I awkwardly grappled with a PS3 controller. I'm awful at stick handling, but I still managed to get some impression of how a more confined BF3 feels.
The new mode, Conquest Domination, is tweaked to encourage teamplay on a smaller scale, and it does. Control points take much less time to neutralize and claim, and spawn points are randomized, or on squadmates. Since flags can be taken in just a few seconds, they change hands rapidly if there's a lack of coordination.
In my first few, disorganized matches, control of all points swapped back and forth rapidly as both teams ran, captured, died, respawned, and did it again. Eventually, the opposing team started grouping up and taking high ground, and we got pummeled. One guy running to each flag wasn't going to work when they had two or three guarding them. When we got it together and started taking flags in numbers by spawning on each other, the battle evened out and control stabilized.
Donya Fortress is drab, but it does a good job of circulating the action. A central courtyard is encased by a two-story building, some of which is bombed out. The courtyard acts as a throughway to quickly traverse the map when chasing contested control points, which are placed in the building and its basement. The most contested flag overlooks the courtyard from a second story outcropping accessible from a narrow hallway. You can make a career of owning that hallway, blasting anything that pops around the corners at either end of it.
One of the DLC's promises is increased destruction and persistence (as EA has carefully showcased in these screenshots), but I didn't fire from or at cover enough to get a solid impression of how tactically important the flying debris really is. It was just too frantic -- I imagine that, after the expansion has been out for a couple weeks and everyone is familiar with the maps, we'll get a better idea of how heavily destruction influences tactics.
Obviously, long range weapons aren't very useful in Close Quarters. I switched from Recon (my usual class) to Support and chose a SPAS-12 (which brought me back to my Modern Warfare 2 loadout with a secondary SPAS). I spent most of the matches busting into occupied rooms and firing maniacally with my shotgun before being riddled with SMG and assault rifle fire, which was a certain kind of fun. I'm sure I'll have a slightly more tactical approach when I'm not struggling keep my gun pointed at something other than the ceiling.
Based on my brief experience, Donya Fortress seems more successful than the subway in Metro, which often turns into a series of suicidal dashes, but I still prefer Battlefield's fields to its hallways. Clearing a room with a shotgun just doesn't impress me like a 1000-meter headshot or precision helicopter strike. Don't fret if you're in the same camp: the expansion which will follow Close Quarters, Armored Kill, promises to feature “the biggest map in Battlefield history.” If, however, you're keen on some variety, Close Quarters is out in June.