Battlefield 4 Beta: why you should probably wait for the actual game

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Now if you’re reading this article, some of the questions you’re probably wanting answers to are: is the beta worth getting into, does Battlefield 4 (BF4) look any good and from what we can gather, has there been much changed from BF3? Well for those of you in a rush let me answer all of these questions in order by saying no, yes and not really. For those of you who have a little more time, stay and read a while, as I explain why I think this is the case.

So why would I recommend that you stay as far away from the Battlefield 4 beta as possible without marooning yourself on an island (unless you have the money for a nice vacation of course)? Well the potential hours of frustration that you may spend simply trying to get the game to load up are not worth the withering amounts of broken content that you’re offered in return. Now let me make it clear that this is not an attack on the game itself, more on this in a sec. But unless you’re a big DICE supporter who specifically wants to help the developers by giving them an idea of some of the more glaring bugs and issues they may have with server support through the forums, or, you’re willing to accept that the beta is not the final product, you will not enjoy the beta.

levolution_1_wtrmrkI was unable to get past the loading screen on the PC version after various attempts at implementing fixes to no avail (including a complete re-install) and looking online suggests that I’m not alone on this. Finally in frustration I swapped to the PS3 version which, after a couple of failures to load again (raaaage), finally placed me into a pixelated, bug ridden, and laggy if not admittedly playable world. This is exactly what you should expect with a beta, so there isn’t really any cause for concern, but the key point I want to stress is that if you’re wondering what BF4 is like, do not use the beta as a measure for this.

I played a quick 20 minutes of Conquest, one of the most common Battlefield modes where both sides are given a limited number of tickets or lives to start with ranging in the hundreds while fighting for key control points on the map, with about 16 other players. In that time I was able to take an elevator onto the roof of a tall building being shot at by a helicopter, join a shootout back down in the metro tunnels while capturing a point, ride about in a tank (which was promptly blown up 2 minutes later) and even score a kill. Yet the aforementioned beta problems prevented me from having any real fun during this experience. Due to poor FPS (Frames per second) deaths felt cheap more often than fair, the areas around were not pretty to look at and there were a limited number of players actually participating in the game.

Battlefield-4-Paracel-Storm-4So based on my personal experience with the beta, why would I claim that BF4 is any good? Well primarily because I was fortunate enough to try out the actual product at an expo I recently visited (EB games expo 2013 Sydney) and there was a world of difference in the level of enjoyment I had with it. The map was admittedly different, made up of smaller islands instead of a sprawling city scape, as was the mode which had us fighting over a single bomb attempting to blow up the other side’s bases, and there were still only about 16 players participating. But while playing at the expo, riding about on the boat with squad mates with the waves crashing against the islands during an approaching storm just looked gobsmackingly good. The game ran smoothly and there was a much larger amount of stuff going down, deaths practically never felt cheap.

Now there is no denying that I was playing on a pretty decent PC at the expo so it may not really be fair to compare it to the PS3, but the experience I had while playing this is the way BF4 should be perceived prior to its launch. An (mostly) unbuggy, smooth, action packed, adrenaline fuelled, multiplayer shoot-em-up that will have you running about in trenches one moment, to flying about on the passenger side of stormy conditions while watching a bomb explode the next. So if it hasn’t been made clear already, unless you strongly wish to provide DICE with support on an early version of the game or wish to see BF4 in any form, even an inferior one, I would strongly recommend that you do NOT try the beta (ain’t nobody got time for that).

launch-missile-strikes-v1So before closing, I did mention at the start of this article that, from my experience, not much has really changed between BF3 and 4. Some of the more significant changes include the design of levels which now have massive events that can be triggered, from the collapse of a massive skyscraper, the destruction of floodgates that leads to the entire map being flooded, and the crashing of a huge destroyer ship onto a nearby island. Smaller triggers, such as shooting out the power to turn off lights or raising barricades to bring vehicles to a stop can also be used for a tactical advantage. As mentioned previously, weather effects during the match can also impact on the level. During the Siege of Shanghai, a fog cloud may roll in on the cityscape impacting on vision for everyone outside. In fact, the developers are so proud of these changes that they have christened them with their own buzzword, ‘levolution’, but I’m still a bit pessimistic as to whether these changes can truly be seen as an evolution in game design.

A commander mode has also been implemented that allows players to log onto battle log and then use, for example, their mobile devices to view games and potentially take control of them from the maps perspective by allowing them to issue orders and drop supplies for their team. This is certainly a clever feature, but its impact on the main functionality of the game remains to be seen. Currently this seems to pretty much sum up the majority of key changes to BF4, however being based on personal experience it’s quite likely I failed to notice some of the cross platform or behind the scene tweaks. With less than a month to go till its official launch, BF4 certainly looks promising, that is as long as you don’t play the beta…

For more Battlefield 4 info check out the official BF4 site (images take from here) at: http://www.battlefield.com/au/battlefield-4

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