Are you ready to take a closer look at our first upcoming expansion pack, Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand? Read on for the first Back to Karkand trailer and the Lead Designer's thoughts on the idea behind this themed expansion pack.

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As you may or may not know, there will be even more Battlefield 3 goodness coming your way this December. Right now, a separate team here at DICE is hard at work wrapping up the first expansion pack Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand. Utilizing the power of the Frostbite 2 engine, the Back to Karkand expansion pack remasters four of the greatest Battlefield maps in the franchise: Strike at Karkand, Wake Island, Gulf of Oman and Sharqi Peninsula. Last week, we released the first gameplay trailer from Back to Karkand, and you can watch it again above.

First Back to Karkand previews online
Also, the first Back to Karkand media previews have started to appear online, so keep your eyes peeled. Here's a great preview by IGN, aptly named "BF3's Back to Karkand Destroys the Classics." And we also have Gamespot's impressions of playing on Gulf of Oman and Strike at Karkand, with some explosive footage to go with it.

Strike at Karkand, we meet again.
Lead Designer Niklas Fegraeus on the design
The design idea for the expansion pack was to let players revisit these classic maps as if time had passed by since they last played them in Battlefield 2. This will be apparent on all maps, but one prime example is on Gulf of Oman. Close to the beach, this new version of the all-time classic map sees a group of luxury villas erected by someone who wants to turn this piece of land into a paradise for vacationers. Now that war is once again coming to the region, those plans are likely to be ground quickly to a halt. Another example is Wake Island. Next to the airport, a conference building has been constructed. But the only conferences held there this Winter will likely be of the highly destructive kind. We met with Back to Karkand Lead Designer Niklas Fegraeus for a chat on his vision for these reimagined maps:

"I want returning players to get the sense that these are cool new maps, and then suddenly realize they know them by heart. The feeling should be new, but the actual map layout the same as before. For newcomers, these are simply four brilliant maps", said Niklas.

Besides getting an artistic makeover, the Back to Karkand team is also making sure the new maps take full advantage of Frostbite 2, including the ability to turn most of the maps into rubble. Do you think you are safe hiding inside the buildings of these classic maps? Think again!

But Back to Karkand is much more than just remastered maps. This expansion pack also includes five new dog tags, five new achievements/trophies (if you’re on 360 or PS3), three new vehicles, 10 classic Battlefield weapons and a new persistence system where players complete assignments to earn their rewards. We will return once a week starting now to give you more details on these additions together with more images and videos.

The artistic direction in Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand has been to reimagine these all-time classic maps as if time has passed a few years since we last visited them. That, and to add crazy amounts of destruction.
As always, if you pre-ordered your copy of Battlefield 3: Limited Edition, you are entitled to Back to Karkand at no extra charge and will be notified once it is available for download and play in December. Anyone else can buy it on the very same launch day for $14.99/1200 Microsoft Points, or the equivalent in their local currency. PlayStation 3 players will have exclusive 1 week early access to Back to Karkand.

Come back next week for more details on Back to Karkand.

Did you miss the earlier stories in this blog series?
#3: Introducing Gulf of Oman and Sharqi Peninsula
#2: “Wake Island has a special place in my heart”
#1: Your chance to relive the greatest Battlefield maps ever