Early last year, DICE released one of the best multiplayer games of the year, Battlefield Bad Company 2. It’s only fitting that at the end of the year, they also released one of the best DLC’s of 2010. But calling this a piece of downloadable content is stretching its definition. This is a full blown expansion to the core game and could have easily been a stand-alone title on XBLA or PSN.
Not content with merely providing new maps, DICE gave us a whole new setting, the titular Vietnam War. By turning back the clock about 40 years, it forces DICE to not only give us new maps but also new weapons and vehicles that fit the time period.
In total, there are four completely new maps and a fifth map from 2004’s Battlefield Vietnam (which was added a bit over a week after release) that can be played in the gametypes from the core game: Rush and Conquest. These maps truly make it feel like you were in Vietnam and separates itself aesthetically from the core game. From the dense jungles to the burnt forests on Hill 137 (Hamburger Hill), to the trenches, tunnels, rice paddies and wooden villages, everything just feels right. Add in the radios from vehicles blaring a Vietnam era soundtrack combined with the amazing visuals and visceral sounds of the core game and it completes the illusion.
Seven new vehicles were added into the mix, although the maps are tighter and therefore make them slightly less dominating. Along with new vehicles are fifteen new weapons, including the iconic flamethrower. The three WWII weapons from Battlefield 1943 and the core Bad Company 2 (if you had a high enough veteran status from playing other Battlefield games) are also included.
Naturally when new weapons are introduced, the balance between classes is also affected. Notably, DICE removed the ability to put sights and scopes on all weapons except sniper rifles. This means that Engineers and Medics are not as overpowered as they were in the core game since it’s much harder to out-shoot a sniper at long-range with iron sights. They also removed the stock silencer on all SMGs. Players should also be happy to hear that the claustrophobic nature of the maps compared to the vanilla Bad Company 2 leads to some faster paced gameplay and limits the effectiveness of long-range snipers, whom the community have lovingly dubbed “bush wookies”.
Oddly though, they removed the motion mines from the Recon class. However, I think this may have been a conscious decision based on the technology available during the war. Likewise, defibrillators are replaced with syringes, drills with torches and C4 with TNT, although those are all only aesthetic changes.
It should also be noted that there aren’t many (any?) mounted turrets and anti-air guns on the maps and they also removed the tracer darts, again probably because of the setting. But don’t fret. The health of the Huey choppers seems to be a lot less than the helis in the core game so they are not too difficult to take down with simple Light Machine Gun fire, making the choppers far less overpowered even in the hands of a skilled pilot. All in all, Vietnam is much more balanced than the core game.
In terms of unlocks and rank, you get to carry over your current level and experience points if you are an older player, meaning you can continue to earn experience and rank up, regardless of whether you’re playing the core game or its Vietnam expansion. I had everything unlocked already but my friend who only just started playing Bad Company 2 recently, told me that weapons and equipment still needed to be unlocked if you haven’t maxed out your classes in the core game yet. From the looks of it, it seems there is stuff to unlock in Vietnam as well, although you may not have to work at it too much or at all if you’ve played with each class a fair bit in the core game already.
Bad Company 2: Vietnam feels almost like a completely different game with all its rebalancing, new weapons, maps and vehicles. At 1200MSP ($15), this is a ton of new content and shows that other popular war game that also charges $15 for DLC how premium content should be done.
In fact, this expansion has even more content than the stand-alone XBLA/ PSN title Battlefield 1943, which also costs $15. Vietnam would have been more than justified as a stand-alone title, which makes you wonder why DICE and EA decided to go the DLC route. One would think releasing it as a stand-alone title would allow more users to purchase and play it since they wouldn’t need the Bad Company 2 disk. The success rate of this kind of plan has already been proven with Battlefield 1943 but I digress.
Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam is a great compliment to its core game, taking all that we loved about the tactical squad based-shooter and transferring them into an entirely different setting with new guns, vehicles and massive changes to class and game balance. It comes in at a great price and is the perfect reason to take a break from Halo and Call of Duty and return to the Battlefield. This is one of the best DLC’s of 2010 and is a must-have for any Battlefield fan.
Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam offers great value with tons of new content. The immersive visuals and Vietnam era music add to the already fantastic package and it all culminates in a superb add-on.