Sure, for the most part, Battlefield 3’s “Armored Kill” is going to sell on the strength of its steel. Its T-90s. Its LAV-25s. Its DPVs. Its GAZ-3937s. Its ZW-11s. Its F-18s. Its BTRs. And any other weapons of vehicular warfare DICE plans to add with the first-person shooter’s upcoming expansion pack. We’d be remiss, though, if we didn’t account for another staple of Battlefield 3: maps.

DICE is touting the new Bandar Desert map as “the biggest map in Battlefield history,” and earlier this August, during Gamescom, the studio rolled out the Alborz Mountains map which is now making same superlatives with beauty. The quick fly-through trailer above was released this week to showcase the scenery (before we blow it up that is), and over on the Battlefield Blog DICE Senior Environment Artist Andrew Hamilton, the architect of Alborz, provides a detailed walkthrough of the map’s creative process.

High-end PC? No doubt. But the design aesthetics of Alborz Mountains in the trailer are thorough and detailed enough that, for a second, it’s easy to confuse a northern province of Iran with one of Tamriel. Hamilton stressed the importance of such comprehensive detail in his post – each map in Armored Kill is “heavily environment focused,” he says – and described how he set his sights around three core goals:

– Push the quality from up close macro details right out to far distant mountains.
– Make the levels feel even more expansive and immerse players in a living world.
– Tune the terrain creation process to further utilise its unique features.

According to Hamilton, the technology behind Battlefield 3’s Frostbite 2.0 engine is able to “accentuate” terrain, interspersing thousands of smaller objects – trees, twigs, stones – across a raw surface. DICE employed the same method for maps in the main Battlefield 3, but similar to Close Quarters’ HD Destruction feature, Armored Kill plans to build on the game with its own contribution to visual improvement:

“Up close and prone you will see higher density of scattered objects including grass, hundreds of small stones, and in one particular case the glittering grains of sand that fill the dunes of Bandar Desert! We wanted to maintain this quality across the landscape no matter where you travelled and from what distance it was perceived.”

The ultimate goal, of course, is immersion into the world whether the bullets are flying or not. Quirks like birds being spooked from a tree after an explosion, trees and ice emanating creaks and cracks, and clouds drifting close enough that jets can fly through them are only a few of the new additions Hutchinson believes “create a vibrant, living environment.” Each geographical fixture is edited through DICE’s two editors – FrostEd and WorldMachine – giving developers absolute control over positioning and aesthetic traits, and even generating precise data measurements such as proper erosion rates.

Alborz Mountains Battlefield 3 Armored Kill

Armored Kill is the third Battlefield 3 DLC expansion, following the release of Back to Karkand and Close Quarters. The latter, of course, is the first DLC launched during the Battlefield Premium era, and if it’s any indication of DICE and Electronic Arts‘ commitment to the program, we’re expecting big things from Armored Kill when it releases this September – brawn and beauty included.

Ranters, judging from the Armored Kill maps DICE has shown off, where do you think you’ll be spending the bulk of your time in Armored Kill?

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: Battlefield Blog