Despite having been released more than half a year ago, there have been plenty of announcements concerning Battlefield 3. Fans and observers will debate the value and structure of the Battlefield 3 Premium service, but those in attendance have had the chance to play the first two of five planned expansions set to be released over the next nine months.

The ‘Close Quarters’ expansion is available now for PS3 premium subscribers, but for fans of classic, large-scale maps with vehicle warfare, the ‘Armored Kill’ expansion is just what’s been lacking.

We got the chance to play the largest of DICE‘s upcoming maps and expansions, Bandar Desert at E3 2012, and it’s clear from the start that the look and feel of ┬áthe massive maps of Battlefield 2 hasn’t been lost by the developers. Bandar Desert isn’t just many times larger than the largest offering in the ‘Back to Karkand’ expansion, but the biggest map in Battlefield history.

Battlefield 3 Armored Kill Bandar Desert Map

The name isn’t just for show either, as five new vehicle types – tanks destroyers, mobile artillery, ATVs – have been added to once again prove that running from one end of the map is about as useless as trying to succeed as a lone wolf. The map is bigger than any previously seen, and that fact is clear from the very beginning. Placed a midst a sand-swept landscape, Bandar Desert’s building and roadways are simply too massive to enjoy without a vehicle at your disposal.

Obviously this design choice means frequently being left behind at a friendly base, struggling to decide whether to traverse the vast wasteland or respawn at a different location. That may be nothing new to Battlefield 3, nor is the presence of armored vehicles, but the overall impression that Bandar Desert gives is that a need has been met.

The release of both ‘Close-Quarters’ and ‘Armored Kill’ means that players will have a mixture of both small-and-hectic and large-and-tactical maps. The gameplay on Bandar Desert is the closest that DICE has come to recapturing the gameplay and reliance on squad tactics and vehicles that was showcased in Battlefield 2, so it’s safe to assume it will be a welcome change for loyal fans.

The Battlefield 3 ‘Armored Kill’ expansion pack will be arriving for $15 on PSN, Xbox Live and Origin in September of 2012, with one week early access on PlayStation 3.

Stay tuned to more Battlefield 3 news from Game Rant at E3 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.