Publisher: EA (Electronic Arts)
Platforms: PC, Xbox, PS3, XBO, PS4
October 29th, 2013 PC, Xbox, PS3
November 15th, 2013 PS4
November 22nd, 2013 XBO
Battlefield 4 Review
Forget single-player mode, most seasoned Battlefield players won’t bother with it. For them the pleasure is in taking part in the large-scale battles that have always defined the Battlefield series. The newly-released Battlefield 4 builds on the great product that was Battlefield 3, and only makes it better. Larger maps, more guns, more vehicles, and a host of new features make the multiplayer experience truly enthralling.
BF4’s most talked-about feature is “Levolution”: in-game events that have the potential to change the landscape completely. A huge tropical storm in the Paracel Storm battlefield causes waves to pound the shores and sends a battleship crashing onto an island. In Flood Zone, breaking a levy causes the whole map to flood, significantly changing how the battle is fought. Levolution is a huge step forward in the first-person shooter genre. We have marvelled over the importance of destructive environments in a FPS, but Levolution blows everything out of the water. Sometimes literally. Running on the revamped Frostbite 3 engine Battlefield 4 looks and feels like the next generation of the first person shooter genre.
The one drawback to Levolution is that the massive staged events repeat like clockwork every round. For example, in Siege of Shanghai the main building collapses in the same way, which loses the shine after a while. It would have been neat if the collapse happened in a different way every time, adding variety to these events. But the lack of this feature doesn’t diminish the game, and Levolution is a much-needed step forward in map design and is the hallmark of BF4.
BF4’s graphics are cutting edge across platforms. While we have only seen glimpses of PS4 and Xbox One gameplay, as usual the PC version looks the best, but not by far. It may take a monster rig to run BF4 on PC on the Ultra graphics setting, but even on low settings the game looks as good as anything on the market. The best addition to the console versions is the addition of 64-player battles, which will bridge the gap between console and PC in a big way.
Moving on to gameplay: As expected from Battlefield games, BF4 is still all about the massive 32- versus 32-player games, fought from tanks, helicopters, boats, and the occasional jeep. Its gun game is as tight as ever and feels much more balanced than BF3. Vehicles have been downgraded to make them less important than in BF3 and easier to take down, though in the hands of skilled operators vehicles can still make life hell for the other team.
The ranking system has also been redone. Battlepacks, a new feature, are a nice reward for increasing in rank and can provide anything from new gun camos to weapons attachments. Another new feature is the boost system which can be activated to receive extra XP or points. These can be unlocked through Battlepacke and are a nice add-on to encourage players. Leaderboards have been revamped to allow players to see where they stand among their friends or in their city, their country, or the world.
A very well-designed spectator mode is also included. It is already making waves in the competitive arena and promises to give BF4 the cinematic angle that it has been missing.
Commander mode has been widely discussed. This new feature allows one commander per side to drop down resources for the team, call in air strikes, pass orders to teammates, and more. Unfortunately, commanders cannot play as soldiers and must join a server on their own slot, which can be boring as commander’s will not get a chance actually spawn in as a soldier. It would have been great if the commander was allowed to fight as a player while still commanding the battlefield. Nevertheless, it’s a neat feature and will surely be a favourite of organized-gameplay communities. Altogether, the large variety of guns, vehicles, maps, and features make BF4 an amazing experience.
Now let’s talk about all the problems, and believe me there are many. First and foremost, server stability is currently unreliable. Various bugs in the game cause servers (especially those for PC) to crash frequently, causing players to lose all they have unlocked and earned in that round. Battlefield’s developer, EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE), is rolling out patches but each fix seems to cause new issues somewhere else. Players are unable to join servers, the game lags, and frame drops during Levolution events are common. Various other bugs and issues can make the game unplayable and very frustrating. Some players have chosen to return to the dependable BF3 waiting on DICE to fix BF4 before they return. The game has the uneasy feeling of a rushed implementation and DICE will need to work hard over the next few weeks to iron out these issues.
Overall BF4 is an excellent step forward for Battlefield. It maintains the strong sense of large vehicular gameplay while still managing to feel fresh. Massive set-piece events, a huge variety of guns, a comprehensive spectator mode, the redefined commander position, 64-person battles on console, and a host of other new additions make BF4 a must for every gamer. While the current bugs may frustrate a few, BF4 will go down in history as being a turning point in the FPS genre.Battlefield 4 Review,