After several delays the anticipated third continent, Amerish, is finally out. In a radical depature from the visual design of Indar and Esamir, Amerish is mostly lush highlands teeming with greenery and the sounds of singing birds from every peak. Amerish shows incredible attention to detail: from the many little outcroppings dotted with flowers to its distinct, beautiful setpieces like the sun setting over Amerish's central mountain range.
More importantly, combat on Amerish is radically different then either Indar or Esamir. Vehicles cannot simply go around onerous areas or flank their targets because of the frequent rough terrain where Heavy Assaults can happily rain rockets on them. To further limit the amount of power vehicles project, much of the time points are sequestered away from areas vehicles can enter by means of barricades or jump pads, such as facilities like Lithcorp Secure Mine or Splitpeak Pass. When points and the spawn buildings are on the same level and accessible there are often barriers erected around the spawn to prevent the vehicles from being able to camp them. At the same time, the huge amount of cover and locations other tanks simply cannot reach does give the Magrider a distinct advantage over other tanks.
Many bases are designed with a more sequential feel, in contrast to the equidistant points arranged in a rough triangle or circle which dominate Esamir and Indar. Instead you go from A to B to C or from outer camp to outer camp, e.g. Xelasi Bio Lab or, once again, Lithcorp Secure Mine. This forces somewhat more directed battles and funnels the great numbers of uncoordinated players towards objectives without forcing them to get into an organized squad or outfit.
There are also two three point bases that are completely inaccessible from the ground: The Ascent and Raven's Landing. This means you need to drop on them with loaded Galaxies and attack with a combination of Liberators and rocket pod equipped fighters, and if it wasn't for the AA nerfs and fighter buffs they would be incredibly defensible. These two points are also linked by a winding road that goes over a bridge covering a narrow chasm, which could give some cool armor battles or simply lead to one side ramming the other's tanks off the side (a form of combat that favors Vanguards due to their thick armor).
Painfields have been put back in and are currently a bit buggy. They often go rogue when you lose the point on a single point base or in the sub-bases you would find on major base like a tech plant or biolab. But they still fulfill their primary purpose: once a base is captured you have at most three seconds before your shields are completely ripped off and not much longer before they kill you. They still give you enough time to react and run for your life if you happen to spawn in at a base that's about to be lost, but that's the limit of their mercy.
(Editor's note: After the time of submission and publishing, painfields were once again disabled.)
One of the biggest changes in this patch is the engineer's repair tool gaining a heat meter. Similar to base turrets, continuous repairing builds up heat. In theory this is designed to prevent a gaggle of engineers from letting a sunderer survive attacks from multiple MBT's or Heavy Assaults; in practice, even with a heavily certed repair tool, fixing anything becomes an exercise in tedium. You need to either stagger your repairs or have your gun simply stop working after repairing less then a quarter of your target's HP if it's anything tougher then an ATV or a terminal.
Now multiply this by 30 if you, the intrepid little engineer, just took an amp station. The Spawn Control Unit, the Spawn Control Unit's shield generator, the two shield generators for the inner building shield, one for each outer shield, and then each of the amp station's 18 anti-vehicle turrets and 4 AA turrets. (Did I mention Higby took out most AA turrets? He took out most AA turrets.) You must actively meter your use of the repair gun for each and every one of these objects or commit to spending as much time staring at them lovingly as repairing them.
I am incredibly glad they left the rail on the tool so I could mount a gun on it to shoot myself with.
Overall I would say this is one of the strongest patches PS2 has had in months. Amerish is a much more fun continent then Esamir was and has a very distinct flavor. The return of painfields and many of the small balance changes make the game much better, but the repair tool changes and the AA changes loom over everything else. The Anti-Air issue is so gamechanging and important that it will occupy an article of its own.