Was Battlefield 3: Premium Worth It?

Battlefield 3 is a game in the Battlefield series developed by EA Digital Illusions CE, published by Electronic Arts, and it is a direct sequel to the 2005 PC hit: Battlefield 2.  October 25, 2011 saw the release of Battlefield 3 for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.  18 months later, and the game will no longer be supported by DICE.  This would usually be seen as a negative, but this title is one of the rare cases of developers supporting it for over a year.  The following is an overview of Battlefield 3: Premium.

Most online shooters get map packs every few months in their year of life, and it’s usually nothing special other than 4 to 5 maps.  DICE set out to differentiate themselves and go the PC route of releasing full on expansion packs for their title.  These expansions featured not just new maps but included new game modes, new weapons, new vehicles, new assignments, and more customization options such as dogtags and soldier/weapon camos.  These packs were individually priced at $14.99, or you could go for a Premium membership (A season pass) and pay only $49.99 to get not just the maps but exclusive premium content.

The following is included in all Premium subscriptions along with the 5 expansions:

  • Unique camouflage for players and weapons
  • ACB-90 knife and carbon fibre/Gold dogtags
  • Early access to all Expansions
  • Extra layers for platoon emblems
  • Ability to save five battlereports
  • Unique assignments to unlock new items in each pack
  • Queue priority for server browser
  • Ability to reset score-per-minute, kill-death ratio, win-loss ratio, and accuracy
  • Exclusive events, tournaments and Double XP
  • 10 exclusive videos, 4 digital strategy guides, and multiple contests.

Battlefield Premium’s main meat however is the 5 expansion packs DICE has released: Back to Karkand, Close Quarters, Armored Kill, Aftermath, and End Game.  Each pack has one major thing in common and that is the 5 new maps with each release.  Each pack is varied and is created for different players.  With each pack, there were inclusions that fit around its release; CQC weapons for Close Quarters, new tanks for Armored Kill, new character models for Aftermath, and dirt bikes for End Game.

The first expansion release was Back To Karkand which was already free to those who purchased the Battlefield 3: Limited Edition.

  • Released first on PS3 on December 6, 2011
  • Features four of the most popular maps from Battlefield 2 re-created on Frostbite 2 engine
    • Strike at Karkand
    • Gulf of Oman
    • Sharqi Peninsula
    • Wake Island
  • New Game mode:
    •  Conquest Assault: One team starts with all the flags, other team must take all the flags to prevent the defending team from respawning.
  • New Vehicles:
    • Jets: F-35 jet
    • Transportation: DPV transport and Skid Loader
    • IFV: BTR-90
  • New Weapons:
    • Assault Rifles: FAMAS and L85A2
    • Carbines: G53 and QBZ-95B
    • LMGs: QBB-95 and MG36
    • Sniper Rifles: QBU-88 and L96
    • all-kit guns: PP-19 PDW and MK3A1 shotgun

The second expansion release was Close Quarters, and was designed more for the COD-fanbase/crowd.

  • Released first on PS3 on June 4, 2012
  • Features four small infantry-oriented maps and has no vehicles:
    • Donya Fortress
    • Operation 925
    • Scrapmetal
    • Ziba Tower
  • New Game modes:
    • Conquest Domination: 3 Flags, captures super quick, frantic gameplay
    • Gun Master: everyone starts with a pistol, every 2 kills ranks you up to a new gun until you finish up with a knife
  • HD Destruction to appease complaints of BF3’s destruction pales compared to Bad Company
  • New Weapons:
    • Assault Rifles: AUG A3 and SCAR-L
    • Carbines: ACW-R and MTAR 21
    • LMGs: L86A2 and LSAT
    • Sniper Rifles: M417 and JNG-90
    • all-kit guns: M5K PDW and SPAS-12 shotgun

After neglecting their original fanbase with the smaller maps of not just the base game but in Close Quarters as well, DICE molded the third pack, entitled Armored Kill, around their classic Battlefield fans.

  • Released first on PS3 on September 4, 2012
  • Features all-out vehicle warfare on four huge environmental maps that allow all six game modes played on them:
    • Alborz Mountain (Snow)
    • Armored Shield (Rural Green)
    • Death Valley (Night)
    • The largest map in Battlefield history Bandar Desert (Desert)
  • New Game mode:
    • Tank Superiority: features Tank Destroyers and Tanks only and is essentially King of the Hill
  • New Vehicles:
    • Tank Destroyers: M1128 MGS and 2S25 Sprut
    • Mobile Artillery: M142 HIMARS and BM-21
    • Transportation: Quad Bike
    • Gunship: 2 seats for gunners, para-drop slot for spawning in, pilot is AI controlled.

Rounding out 2012, DICE created Aftermath to be designed to find the perfect blend of infantry and vehicle combat.  The maps took place in the aftermath of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake and some of the maps have tremors randomly taking place inside.

  • Released first on PS3 on November 27, 2012
  • Four maps with earthquake damaged terrain:
    • Azadi Palace
    • Epicenter
    • Markaz Monolith
    • Talah Market
  • New Game mode:
    • Scavenger: Soldiers start with only a knife, a grenade, and a pistol.  Must search the map for powerful weapons to pick up.  No equipment used.  Flags are capped as fast as in Domination.
  • New Vehicles:
    • The Phoenix: Modified HMMWV with an HMG and grenade launcher attached
    • The Barsuk: Modified GAZ-3937 Vodnik with an HMG and grenade launcher
    • The Rhino: Modified civilian van with an HMG
  • New character models
  • New Weapon:
    • XBOW: Red dot and rifle-scope varients. Replaces primary equipment, not primary weapon.
      • Standard Bolt
      • Scan Bolt (Spots nearby enemies)
      • HE Bolt (High Explosive for taking out vehicles)
      • BA Bolt (Balanced for longer range)

The final expansion from DICE is End Game and it features DICE going out with a bang and referencing back to the original Battlefield 1942.

  • Released first on PS3 on March 5, 2013
  • Four maps each designed for high speed combat and action, each designed for a season
    • Kiasar Railroad (spring)
    • Nebandan Flats (summer)
    • Operation Riverside (autumn)
    • Sabalan Pipeline (winter)
  • New Game modes:
    • Capture the Flag: Only featured in Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Standard CTF rules, take enemy flag and return it to your base.
    • Air Superiority: Featured in Battlefield 1943 only.  Everyone spawns in jets and is engaged in massive dog fights as they try to control 3 blimps in the sky.
  • New Vehicles:
    • Transportation: Dirtbike
    • Anti-Air Jeeps: HMMWV ASRAD, and GAZ 3937 Vodnik AA (Features anti-air missiles and dumby-fire missles)
    • C-130 Drop Ship (Parachute from it, or para-drop an IFV onto the map)
  • New Weapon:
    • M1911 S-Tac: Previously was exclusive to EA and DICE employees, now available if you complete all End Game Assignments.  It’s the standard 1911 pistol but it is silenced and has a tac-light attached.

Overall, since October 25, 2011 I have put 435 hours and 4 minutes into the online portion of Battlefield 3.  The addition of the expansion packs elevated that number and always brings me back to the game after I get bored.  The pacing of each release was excellent on DICE’s part, and the extra additions with Premium, as well as all the new things within each expansion and it’s patch, differs from the DLC offerings of other online shooters.  From my experience, even just buying the packs separate you get more than your money’s worth.  Most shooters will offer a pack for $14.99 with just 4-5 maps, DICE has since raised the bar as to what’s included in map packs.  I have loved each pack for different reasons and they truly feel different from the core game maps.  Aftermath was the best experience I’ve had in any online game.  I feel Battlefield 3: Premium was well worth the money and time spent.  I wish more developers would support their games 18 months long.  I am excited to see what DICE will do with Battlefield 4 and how the premium service will work with that game.  How has your experience been with Battlefield 3 Premium and the DLC Expansion packs?  Are you looking forward to 18 months of support for Battlefield 4?  Let it be known in the comments below!


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