IGN article re: End Game.http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/03/04/end-game-ea-closes-the-book-on-battlefield-3
Text for those who can't access.
In fall 2011, EA launched a rather pointed marketing campaign in its efforts to usurp Activision's Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer throne, challenging players to "go above and beyond the call" with its latest shooter, Battlefield 3. While EA inevitably couldn't scratch the Call of Duty juggernaut in overall sales, it planned to extend the title's shelf-life with an ambitious post-release content strategy that would span the next year and a half, culminating in this month's launch of End Game — the fifth and final downloadable release for Battlefield 3.
Such lengthy post-release support is uncommon for the industry and the shooter genre, but with Battlefield 4 possibly more than another year away, EA has successfully limited the gap. And more importantly, it's done so with substantive multiplayer expansions that not only reinforced the core product, but expanded the game thematically, mechanically, and experientially.
Battlefield has always been synonymous with large-scale combat that blends infantry and vehicular combat, but with Close Quarters, DICE proved that it can also compete and expand upon the visceral, tight-quarters gunplay offered by competing shooters. It packed players into small interiors with extensive destructibility, drastically shifting the landscape as explosives and bullets tore walls apart. Armored Kill honed Battlefield's strengths, with unprecedentedly large maps with new tanks, ATVs, buggies, helicopters, jets, and a circling AC-130 at players' disposal. Aftermath veered away from traditional theaters of war with maps modeled after a post-catastrophic earthquake Tehran, complete with toppled buildings, battered character models, and vehicles befitting of Mad Max. Back to Karkand, on the other hand, was pure fan service, returning some of the most beloved multiplayer maps from Battlefield 2 re-imagined with DICE's Frostbite 2 engine.
End Game, on the other hand, emphasizes aerial combat, fast-paced ground navigation, and new objective gameplay with air superiority, dirt bikes, and capture the flag. Air superiority was first featured in Battlefield 1943 and pits teams against each other in rounds of aggressive dogfighting as they try to maintain control of capture points in the sky, but in End Game you trade Navy Corsairs and Japanese Zeros in favor of F-18s and MIGs. On console, 24 jets are in the air at once, making for a constant cacophony of lock-on tones and a constant test of your evasion skills.
Air superiority is available on all four new maps — Kiasar Railroad, Sabalan Pipeline, Operation Riverside, and Nebandan Flats — which can also be played with traditional game types and the new capture the flag mode. Each is set in a different season, ranging from hot deserts, snow-capped mountain refineries, rural ocean-side towns, and hilly woodlands with winding rivers. DICE seems to have designed each map to be a wonderland for the new motorcycles, incorporating ramps, steep hills, and tight passes. The new motorcycles are particularly effective in the maps with dense forests, allowing players to nimbly weave around trees and mount steep inclines. They're also notably adept at evading tanks and gunfire, often out-running the aiming reticule of your enemies. When used in capture the flag, the nimble dirt bikes can be an invaluable tool for quickly escorting a teammate back to base. The AC-130 from Armored Kill also makes a return in End Game, though players are unable to man its guns. Instead, it acts as a paradrop point for whichever team holds its corresponding control point on the ground.
Whereas Close Quarters or Aftermath felt like significant departures from the original product, End Game feels more like a natural extension of the core experience. For any seasoned Battlefield player, air superiority and capture the flag will be like second-nature, and the new levels seem to share a common DNA with the stock maps. And that's a good thing. End Game bids farewell to Battlefield 3 in a manner befitting of how it began.
But even though EA and DICE are ending their DLC support, the cumulative collection of content it's leaving the community with is substantial. On the disc, Battlefield 3 players had access to 9 maps and 4 game modes, but with all five downloadable expansions, the game now offers a total of 29 maps and 11 game modes. It's unclear if the robust post-release support has paid off in terms of boosting sales and garnering new players, but the resulting product is certain to keep the passionate Battlefield fanbase playing for months or years to come.
End Game for Battlefield 3 will launch first for PlayStation 3 players with a Premium subscription March 5th followed by Xbox 360 and PC Premium players on March 12th.