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Free-falling into combat in Battlefield 3

1:00 PM on 10.21.2011 // Casey Baker
  @CaseyDtoid

Before Battlefield 3 drops on Tuesday, I want to use this one last chance to express my excitement for my favorite multiplayer map: Damavand Peak. While at the EA Final Hours event a few weeks back, I got to play a nice long round of Rush on this map, and it pretty much blew me away. You've seen the gameplay trailer by now that includes a snippet or two of this map, though I'll go into why Damavand Peak is my personal favorite among the maps I had a chance to look at.

Granted, the rest of the maps that I got to see and haven't written about yet deserve some attention as well. Every map I played was both refreshingly innovative and still somehow comfortable enough to be distinctly Battlefield.

It's just that the main attraction of Damavand Peak is so worth it, and not just because of the joy of doing a free-falling base jump into enemy territory.

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Battlefield 3 (PC, PlayStation 3 [previewed], Xbox 360)
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release: October 25, 2011

As has been revealed in the preview trailer, Damavand Peak's main attraction is the area where you base jump off of the mountain and take a long ride down into the next base capture zone. However, in Rush mode, this isn't where you begin your quest to destroy M-COM stations.

Damavand Peak has you starting around a mountainous area with some great choke points. While this area is pretty big, letting you move about and strategize where you'll be attacking or defending, it is nothing compared to what the map has in store for you later on.

Once my team destroyed a couple of M-COMs and I finally made my way to the peak drop-off point, like many of my fellow journalists, I got a little confused about how to get to the next objective. I watched as my teammates ran around and we collectively took it all in. We were situated on an area high up on the mountain with a few heliports on the rocky crags that jutted out over a massive descent.

The next objective was somewhere below us in an area that looked like what would typically be an instant-death or out-of-bounds area in older Battlefield games. Whatever was below us was so far down that you couldn't really make out any of it. Clearly, we weren't used to actually having this much space between us and our next objective.

Finally, someone decided to take the plunge, and I watched them disappear over the side.

"Wait, did he just ..." I thought, trying to comprehend why no message about player suicide came up soon afterward. Right away, another teammate followed. I chased after him, stopping just sort of the drop. I watched as he plummeted.

And then his chute opened.

"Ohhh, rad," I thought. I may have even said it aloud.

But then I remembered that there were also choppers up here. I decided to get fancy, and ran over to one. I took off and giddily descended down the face of the mountain, watching as other team members parachuted above and below me. As my descent became more rapid, I realized I was going to have to pull up if I wanted to land gently.

Instead, I decided to let the copter do its own thing and bailed, parachuting a short distance to the next base, where a firefight was already under way. One of the two M-COMs was already destroyed, but the other was tucked away in a warehouse. I had landed behind the warehouse and so I ran back around, where an enemy took me out through an open window.

As the fight wore on, I came to realize that the whole base-jumping aspect is just one part of the excitement of this map. Granted, it's an awesome sequence, and I even laughed when I ran off the side and pulled a smoothly animated running man mid-air before I decided to pull the cord. The control is much better when parachuting than it ever was in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as you can actually steer yourself a lot more in a way that's reminiscent of Pilot Wings. However, there are other ways to get down the side of the mountain, including the aforementioned helicopter.

The helicopters at the top add an interesting wrinkle, as at one point while parachuting I realized that two enemies had occupied the space on the roof of the warehouse, and were armed with rocket launchers. Fortunately, they were so busy scanning the skies for helicopters that they didn't notice me. I pulled an action-movie routine, parachuting into cover just behind them at a rooftop doorway before opening fire and easily dispatching the both of them.

Soon after this, the focal point became the M-COM station itself, and getting to it required either jumping through a window below or chancing the descent right up to the roof above. The defending team played hardball, though, and the rest of the match was spent trying our best to wear down enemy defenses to get a crack at that last station.

Another multiplayer map of interest is the Tehran Highway map. This is the night map with the giant highway/freeway towering over everything. Much of the map involves either fighting it out in the streets or taking to the buildings beyond and finding good sniping positions. If you remain in the streets, though, you really have to keep an eye out for tanks. I didn't get to check out the full scope of the map because I was playing a smaller deathmatch mode (I believe it was squad deathmatch) and we were sort of confined to the area right around the giant highway.

This map will definitely be great for snipers, especially when it's fully open with the hills around the city and the city itself. I'm not entirely sure whether you can actually get on top of the giant highway and snipe from there; no one that I know of managed to get up that high in our confined area. I'm sure the Conquest mode of this map will be much more massive and open in that regard. At any rate, the map promises to have some great nighttime battles, with the beautiful new lighting effects lighting up the night sky.

Finally, the map that PC players got a chance to check out in the beta, Caspian Border, looks pretty beautiful on the PlayStation 3. While taking the long trek to one of the capture points in a Conquest round, I actually stopped for a moment to look at some plants and flowers, just because I was surprised that there was a pretty good amount of detail in such a minor element of the map.

Of course, this is another one of those huge maps where using vehicles is ideal to get from your starting base to the enemy points, though unlike Operation Firestorm, it's a scenic and forested walk if you're stuck on foot, with a lot of great sniping points. This is also another one of those maps where being airborne is pure unbridled joy, so long as you can control it.

We have only a few more days before Battlefield 3 is upon us, and I'm going to be picking up my copy as soon as I can, shutting myself off from all other distractions (as much as I can, anyhow) to get in some playtime and squad up with friends and family. The anticipation is painful, but it's finally almost over now.


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Casey Baker, Contributor
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Casey Baker is passionate about all things video game, and has been this way since very young. His earliest memories involve trying to get E.T. out of a hole. Casey plays nearly all genres of g... more   |   staff directory

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