By MachoFantastico 0 Comments
Is Battlefield 4 simply Battlefield 3 with a new coat of paint? At first sight the answer might appear to be yes, yet in this latest iteration of DICE's ever popular combined arms multiplayer shooter, it's obvious that the Swedish developer have gone with the well trusted belief that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's not to say Battlefield 4 is without innovation, it's just many of these noticeable changes are small when compared with the bigger picture.
There's still explosions a-plenty, there's still fighter jets crashing into building in a spectacular display of wondrous destruction and there's still those moments that slap you in the face and reminds you that hell, Battlefield can be one truly epic experience. However the free-form, often unpredictable nature of Battlefield's multiplayer is in contrast to the tight linear gameplay of it's single player campaign. Though short, 4's campaign is most certainly an improvement over DICE's previous attempts to provide a fun challenge for the single player. Though when compared to those previous attempts, that's probably not saying a great deal. Set mostly in China, the campaign sets you up as the squad leader of a group of typical soldier stereotypes to rescue some sensitive data amidst what appears to be China heading towards civil war. Now I'll admit that I've forgotten pretty much everything about what was happening in its short 4-5 hour campaign (guess it was that memorable) but DICE have made some adjustments to make it at the very least a more satisfying few hours, something that I can't say for most of theses military campaigns we get these days.
From a new points system which works in conjunction with a worldwide (and friends-based) leaderboards to the added ability to now choose which weaponry and gadgets you can take into each level. Yes this isn't anything radically game changing to the way the campaign plays out, but on a personal note I appreciated the fact that Battlefield was a little more forgiving in how I could tackle a situation, especially at points when the game world opens up a little and you're not simply playing another corridor shooter. Don't get me wrong, this campaign is still your typical shooting gallery, though the added points system does add a least a degree of substance to your actions and the Battlelog, which returns in full force here does a good job of comparing your performance against that of your friends and the world. As squad leader you're also given the ability to scan the battlefield, highlighting possible threads and objectives as well as a very light and somewhat insignificant squad command system which adds little to the game. So it's a shame that despite these welcomed new additions, the story is so forgetful and unmemorable. It as a few moments worthy of checking out, but once you've seen one overly scripted moment, you've seen them all and they fail to excite to the same degree.
So, what about that multiplayer? After all it's what you came to Battlefield 4 right? Well rest assured, multiplayer remains the real reason you went and picked up a copy of Battlefield 4. Still as exciting, as unpredictable and as challenging as it ever was multiplayer as seem a few new upgrades that helps it stand above it's predecessor. Fundamentally it's the same Battlefield you know and love, providing unscripted moments that make it such a fun multiplayer mode to play. However it's the small changes that seem more significant and well appreciated here, from the cleaner user interface which does a better job of one, not taking over too much of the screen and two, actually providing useful and detailed information. Battlepacks are a new addition to, these are basically packs of instant unlocks that are earned at specific levels, giving new players the boost they might require against tougher more experienced players. These unlocks vary from new gun gadgets (iron-sights, etc) to weapons skins and timed experience boosts. Thankfully if these early days are to go by, the battlepacks don't appear to be affecting gameplay in a negative way and the fact that it's currently 'not' pay to win is a positive thing, especially as all battlepacks are free to earn and free to open. DICE have learnt a thing or two when it comes to map design to, though they don't all work out as well as I'd hoped.
Of Battlefield 4's ten maps available at launch, the vast majority of them are a blast to play and an improvement over the launch maps we saw in Battlefield 3. This is mostly due to DICE realizing how to best set up a map for a specific mode, many of which return from BF3. Conquest, Rush, Team and Squad Deathmatch are all here, including a new mode titled Obliteration which as two teams battle it out for bombs which spawned at random locations and each team must kill and cause absolute destruction with the aim of obtaining the bomb and dropping it off at a specific location to arm and destroy that objective. Obliteration is a fun frantic mode, yet it feels designed with consoles in mind though don't hold that against it. The maps are varied enough to, from the boat dominated Paracel Storm to Siege of Shanghai, which was seen in great detail in the beta. There a nice mix of maps that combine well in a variant of gameplay styles, though they're not all winners, in particular Operation Locker which appears to be Operation Metro 2.0. Still it's the chaos and teamplay that makes Battlefield multiplayer still as enjoyable as it ever was and for the most part Battlefield 4 feels like DICE have learnt a lesson or two when it comes to making the gameplay experience as fun and easy to pick up and play as possible, including the fact that many must have vehicle unlocks are now available from level one, a small but appreciated improvement for those who might have gotten fed up of being taken down with seconds of jumping in an helicopter because were without flares.
We can't go on without talking about Frostbite 3, the latest version of DICE's heavily in use graphics engine. Having played on the PC, at ultra settings there's no denying that Battlefield 4 is one of the best looking games currently available. From it's wonderful use of lighting (which finally includes the fact that they've gotten rid of the blue tint that covered so much of Battlefield 3) to the stunning sound design, Frostbite 3 impresses from the get-go. Whilst I have encountered a few too many bugs for my liking in both multiplayer and singleplayer, once I was able to find temporary fixes Battlefield 4 ran like a charm on a HD 7970 Ghz edition. It's worth noting that multiplayer in specific is being affected by a number of serious bugs, which one would hope DICE fixes in good time. Servers have suffered multiple crashes and I've come across a number of texture issues in multiplayer matches to, so it's been far from a free from troubles launch despite the beta. But even with that in mind, it's not difficult to be taken in mind the way Battlefield 4 both plays and looks. The much talked about Levolution offers it's fair share of dynamism to the maps, but from a personal point of view the feature feels a little flat once you've seen the tower in Shanghai fall for the fifth or sixth time. Though one memorable moment was had when the dam on the Lacang Dam map collapsed killing me as I stood right underneath, I guess that was one of those epic moments DICE have been talking about so much in their marketing.
Once the dust has settled and flood levels steadied, Battlefield 4 is still a blast to play in a multiplayer setting. Improvements have been made, though go in knowing that these changes don't drastically make Battlefield a different game. If you've never been taken in by it's crazy jet flying through a tunnel moments, or numerous epic moments you see scattered throughout YouTube, than BF4 won't go changing your mind. But if you're one of the many who can't quite help but stop and take in all the dynamic chaos, knowing that none of it is exactly scripted and that it's all created by players, than you'll find much to love about Battlefield 4. Gameplay still feels as solid as ever and it's obvious DICE have learnt a thing or two from Battlefield 3. Even the single player campaign, whilst still average at best feels like an improvement over previous attempts and while some will still choose to ignore this single player mode entirely, rest assured that there's fun to be had if you do decide to give it a go. Battlefield 4 isn't anything radically different, yet it feels like a culmination of what made past Battlefield games so great with a mixture of additions that only makes Battlefield even more memorable and fun.