By Dylan Moran
Close Quarters marks a dramatic turn for the Battlefield franchise. Make no mistake, this is a huge deviation from the norm for the team at DICE.
Battlefield is traditionally about large-scale open warfare with vehicles galore on offer. Close Quarters removes all of that, and it’s an open challenge to Call of Duty.
Buying the expansion gives access to four new maps and two new game modes – but those modes have been done before.
Copycat? Or just evolution?
Conquest Domination (CQD) is almost an exact port of COD’s Domination game mode, with three flags on the map which a team must control in order to bleed the other team’s ticket count.
Deaths do not appear to impact the ticket count in CQD, just controlling the flags.
You can spawn at random or on squad mates, and flags swap sides regularly – this is because unlike Conquest, where it can take 30 seconds to take over a flag, in CQD it takes around five.
The difference to Call of Duty is this game mode is that it is true vertical warfare. Flags are on a variety of levels – on the semi-destroyed villa which is Donya Fortress for example, one flag is underground, one is on ground level and the third is on an elevated balcony.
This leads to some interesting flow on the maps. Generally two flags are closer to one another, such as the B flag in an underground carpark on the Office Space-esque Operation 925 and C flag at the building’s entrance.
A problem I’m having with CQD is the ‘tactic’ of C4ing flags. While I can appreciate this is a legitimate way to play, it’s gotten to the point now where teams will have everyone as support.
Because of the small burn zone for flags it means if you throw a grenade to explode C4 and miss just one brick, you’ll either be killed or seriously injured with no time to recover before somebody retakes the flag.
The second mode is Gun Master, a variant of the wildly popular Gun Game mod from Counter Strike, which has been available to Call of Duty players since Black Ops. Again though there are subtle variances. For instance, you must get two kills with each weapon. The weapons progress in the same order every time, with the same attachments. The progress list, and attachments, are at the bottom of this article.
Gun Master seems to come down a lot to luck more than skill. To start with, players who spawn near the enemy at the start of the match will get better weapons faster – allowing them to mop the floor with their opponents. The second to last weapon launches grenades which explode after a time – leaving you defenceless to anybody who happens to come near you while you try get to a high-traffic area for a kill.
Unfortunately, aside from the fun factor, there is no reason to return to Gun Master once you have won a round.
Less is more
The teams are limited to 8v8 on console and for the most part these sizes are perfect. 12 players on each side would be good, but I feel it would detract from how quickly and often flags alternate.
As it is now, with two four-player squads, a team can at best control two flags. With three squads, it could easily descend into another Operation Metro meat grind mission.
PC users can bump the player count to as many as 32, though DICE say they will not offer support for any issues arising from servers using more than 8v8 (and those who have played 64 player battle royales report the experience is not ideal).
The maps themselves are well thought-out, though the promised HD destruction really only applies to one map.
The smallest maps in Battlefield history
Ziba Tower is some kind of beauty spa/bar set in Tehran and is easily the smallest of all the Close Quarters maps. Most players alternate between A and C as there is an outdoor balcony which allows easy traffic between the two flags.
Scrapmetal is set in a factory – possibly used to manufacture arms? – and has a lot of tight corridors and stairwells which must be traversed in order to get to another flag. You’ll get shot in the back a lot.
Donya Fortress, as mentioned, is a villa which has better sight-lines than Scrapmetal, but teams flock to the very exposed C flag and this will change hands every couple of minutes.
Operation 925 does not allow players to travel vertically as easily as the other three – stairs are very spread out – so each level becomes its own kind of battle. Help can take a long time to arrive, so if you get isolated you are truly on your own.
Gun Master Weapons and Attachments
.44 Magnum (Pistol)
PP19 + Suppressor (PDW)
P90 + Red Dot (PDW)
SPAS-12 + Buckshot (Shotgun)
MK3A1 + Frag Rounds (Shotgun)
ACW-R + Red Dot + Laser Sight (Carbine)
MTAR-21 + Holo + Foregrip + Laser Sight (Carbine)
AUG A3 + Red Dot + Foregrip + Laser Sight (Assault Rifle)
SCAR-L + Holo + Foregrip + Laser Sight (Assault Rifle)
LSAT + 3.4x + Foregrip + Laser Sight (LMG)
L86A2 + 4x + Foregrip (LMG)
M417 + 4x + Foregrip + Flash Suppressor (Sniper Rifle)
JNG-90 + 4x + Straight Pull Bolt + Laser Sight (Sniper Rifle)
M320 LVG (Low velocity grenade launcher with timed fuse, one kill)
Knife (one kill)
Close Quarters is available to download now for Battlefield Premium customers and PlayStation 3 players.