The beta is over, the clock is counting down, and we're all just waiting for Battlefield 3 to hit the shelves. Despite the single-player looking more serious and up-scale this time around, a lot of people's attention is going to be on the multiplayer. After an extensive hands-on with this wonderful, wonderful mode, Strategy Informer is going to give you a quick run-down of all the Multiplayer maps that will be available at launch, barring the 'Back to Kharkand' maps:
Caspian Border - Played on: Conquest - This is what it's all about, really. One massive location that lets you all jump in jets, helicopters, tanks, APC's and whatever else is lying around and just go tear the place up. It's fairly rural, with lots of fields and forest interspersed with villages, checkpoints and connecting roads, and there's a lot of M-Com stations to fight over. There's a reason this map was pretty much the poster child for the game when gameplay footage was starting to emerge. Go nuts.
Operation Metro - Played on: Rush - Well, you know all about this map, don't you? It hasn't changed much since the beta build, although there is supposed to be an APC for the beginning bit, which should be there in the final game. For those of you who didn't play the beta however, Operation: Metro is situated in Paris, around an underground station. In Rush, you start in a park, then infiltrate the metro station itself (two sets of M-Com stations here), and then end up in an urban area on the other side. Very straight and narrow, especially in the underground sections so not many angles to cover, and bottlenecking is a danger.
Seine Crossing - Played on: Team Deathmatch - another Infantry-centric Urban map, aesthetically this looks a lot like the later stages of Metro on Rush, mainly because it is also set in Paris. Tight alleyways, exposed streets, and buildings means that you have to keep a keen eye open as the enemy could come from anywhere. Sniping is possible but staying hidden is unlikely, as the locations are all pretty obvious. Always watch your six, the enemy has a nasty habit of appearing behind you.
Tehran Highway - Played on: Team Deathmatch - Battlefield sure does like it's Urban environments, doesn't it? There's not a lot to this map - contrary to what the name suggests you don't actually play on the highway, but instead are fighting in the area directly below it. There's a couple of tiers to this map, with some houses and a road on the upper tier, and then a more wasteland-ish type area with scatter buildings on the lower tier. A couple of vehicles are present on this map, and there's this footbridge right in the middle that can be a nuisance if you let the enemy dig in there.
Noshahr Canal - Played on: Team Deathmatch - Looks more like a port than a Canal, but however you see it this is a medium-sized map with a bit of variety. There's the waterfront, with a small beach, loading crates and other similar equipment, there's a scattering of admin buildings, and then right out in the sticks is the train yard. There are a couple of vehicles - a tank and an APC, but other than that it's mainly infantry based again, with clusters of tightly packed objects, and then areas of wide open space that you need to cross to get to the next lot of cover.
Damavand Peak - Played on: Rush - This map get's our vote for having the most interesting concept, at least in Rush mode. As the name suggests, Damavand Peak starts off high in the mountains, although instead of attackers having to fight their way up to some kind of summit, defenders have to protect their mountain strongholds from enemies coming from even further up the mountain. As the defenders get pushed back, they eventually get pushed right off the peak altogether to bases in the valley below. How do the attackers get to them you ask? They jump. Or rather, they can parachute down, or take the helicopter that spawns. Very fun to play this one, from both sides, and the last set of M-Com stations adds armour to both sides as to spice things up a bit.
Operation Firestorm - Played on: Conquest - If you liked Caspian Border, you'll love this one as well. The 'other' massive map, Firestorm swaps it's jungle for a dessert/barren wasteland, and swaps the various checkpoints and villages for one large industrial complex right back slam in the middle. Jets come back, as well as the full array of vehicles, and in conquest mode all the control points are centred in the complex, which is a mixture of rigging, warehouses and offices. Lots of room to manoeuvre round the outside of the complex, although very close quarters when you get inside.
Grand Bazaar - Played on: Team Deathmatch, Rush - Well, we don't know about 'Grand', but it's certainly a Bazaar. This is a small, infantry only map (even its Rush variant is pretty short), and is an urban map although without the tall buildings of Paris. There's an area with lots of stalls, there's a couple of roads, and an enclosed marketplace, so lots of cover, and lots of corners to watch although death from above is not so much of an issue here. There's some sniper spots but they're easy to find.
Kharg Island - Last, but certainly not least, is Kharg Island. The specifics of this map are shrouded in mystery... mainly because it was the only map we didn't get around to playing and EA haven't filled us in on the details yet. Who knows what secrets this island holds? There is actually a real Kharg Island, which is in the Persian Gulf and belongs to Iran. It's supposedly the worlds largest offshore crude oil terminal, so perhaps a mixed rural/industrial locale? Although if there isn't any amphibious assaulting to be had, we'll be very disappointed.
Hopefully this will whet your appetite as you wait for BF-Day, and you may even be able to start thinking about strategies. Sorry we couldn't provide you with any visual assets to accompany them, but EA are still being very secretive about a few things, so you'll have to wait and see for yourself. For a multiplayer game, there is a good range of maps here to accompany the various game modes, and that's not to mention the Back to Kharkand maps.