Battlefield 3's Back to Karkand map pack updates four of the most popular Battlefield 2 maps for DICE's new shooter.

The pack also includes four vehicles and ten weapons from Battlefield 2 as well as some new reward, achievements and some other tweaks. Back to Karkand is free to anyone who pre-ordered Battlefield 3, though only the PS3 version released today. The PC and Xbox 360 version both hit on Dec. 13. Those of you who didn't pre-order will have to pay $15 to pick up the expansion. Is it worth it?

Brian Crecente, who reviewed Battlefield 3 and has been playing the Karkand maps since its release: For many Battlefield 3 owners, the Back to Karkand map pack is something they're getting for free. But even for those folks, and of course for those of you who didn't land the freebie, it's still examining what Electronic Arts and DICE consider to be worth $15 for their massive military shooter.

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The pack comes with four maps, all pulled from Battlefield 2, as well as an assortment of vehicles and weapons, also mostly pulled from Battlefield 2. The pack also includes a new Conquest Assault mode, which has players taking on the roles of attackers or defenders as they fight for control of points.

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The new mode isn't much different than the already available Conquest mode, though forcing one side to always defend and the other to attack does make for a different set of strategies from the get go. Unfortunately, this mode is only playable in two maps. The new weapons, which can be used both in the new maps and the old ones, are all unlocked through special "assignments." It's a little annoying to have to unlock something you just paid for, but it does make it feel like you're getting a bit more progression out of your investment.

The real reason to pick this pack up (Yes, even for $15) are those beautifully recreated, well-loved classic maps from Battlefield 2. The maps, Strike At Karkand, Wake Island, Gulf of Oman and Sharqi Peninsula, are each a fun addition to Battlefield 3's online play list. It's a little disappointing for the game's first map pack to include no original maps, but delivering four or so maps for $15 seems to be the going price these days for packs. All of Call of Duty: Black Ops packs were $15, granted they each included four maps and a fairly chunky addition to the game's popular zombie mode.

Should you buy Back to Karkand. Yes, but DICE really needs to up their game for the next pack... or drop their price.


Evan Narcisse, who hasn't touched Battlefield 3 on PS3 at all: This early release of the Karkand DLC maps on PS3 feels like a calculated move to parry Activision and Microsoft's first-on-Xbox-360 partnership for the last few Call of Duty games. It's a shrewd move as it tries to cater to an audience that often feels like they get the short end of the stick. In multiplayer match-ups, a lot of times it's whoever plays it first, plays it best and BF3 players are probably no exception. It doesn't hurt that Frostbite 2's capable of some amazing things, too. The chance to see how those old maps from Battlefield 2 look with the new engine—and get some tactical advantage to boot—should make this DLC worth picking up. You've held on to the game; might as well commit all the way. Yes.

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Nobody. That's right we weren't able to get code to anyone else in time to have them check out this map pack:: With this download map pack hitting just hours ago, we weren't able to get two Kotaku writers to check out the four new maps, the weapons and vehicles in time for this gut check. So instead we're going to run this gut check one person short. That makes this the first ever gut check vote of abstain


Gut Check is an off-the-cuff impression of what we think of a game: what we'd tell a friend; how we'd respond on Twitter or Facebook or over a beer if someone asked us "Would you buy this game?" Our lead writer, who has played a lot of the game, decides. Other writers chime in for additional points of view.