Battlefield 4 Review
Battlefield 4 (PC)
Battlefield 4 (BF4), developed by Dice, published by EA and released on the 31/10/2013 brings with it another year of spectacular multiplayer First Person Shooter (FPS) modern warfare on an epic scale, especially on PC. But for those who are unfamiliar with the game, what is BF4, and for those who are familiar with the game, what does BF4 bring that’s new to the table? Have no fear, this review should (hopefully) answer these questions and, of course, the all-important question of, is it any good!
Now all those who are familiar with BF4 generally agree that multiplayer is truly where this game shines, however my job as a reviewer is to look at all the game has to offer, so this of course includes the campaign. Those of you who are just interested in my thoughts on the multiplayer should probably skip ahead three paragraphs. For the rest of you, let me quickly sum up the campaign by describing it as an average experience with pretty unintelligent bots and an unengaging story. It’s basically just another day in the life of your “average” military man, apparently unable to talk but loved by all (except the guys you kill), your character, named Recker, is involved in making difficult decisions, taking orders and shooting bad guys.
For the very first level of the campaign the start was underwhelming but it got exciting quickly. There was a cool action sequence, pressure to complete the mission, some explosions and the right balance of action and stealth moments, overall a good start to a mode that is usually ignored. There are collectibles to be found throughout the campaign and guns to unlock that may increase the replay ability of older levels. But then the cracks began to show in later levels as the single player flaws began to slip through. The game for the most part has resisted the urge to use quick time events, big plus, although there are still lots of opening doors for loading and waiting on AI to do stuff before progressing (how long does it take to pick a freakin lock when you have a gun!). Your squad mates will allow enemies to run past them and shotgun you in the face, enemy tanks move in the same pattern when not attacking making them extremely predictable, heck, even the emotional moments to the game are ruined by some poor animation like people gesturing at apparently nothing.
A couple of other minor gripes include some poor animation running on medium, like corpses having oddly balloon like hands, and the occasional tip missing from the game. I’m ashamed to admit I died twice trying to climb down a ladder before I realised I needed the squad mates to shut up before I could interact with it, but it seems unfair for the game to lock me into that situation. At the end of the day, I suppose it’s just disappointing how little the campaign in BF4 has improved since BF3, if at all. Even having it there as practice for multiplayer is pointless, as there is a test range for you to mess around in that allows you to practice important aspects of the game, such as flying (a big one, trust me), before jumping into your first game. So in summary, if you were not already thinking this, do not buy this game for the single player as it is overall an average experience that pales in comparison to the multiplayer.
So, with the campaign out of the way, I can talk about the main selling point for this game, the multiplayer. A quick explanation of the game fundamentals for those new to the series (again skip this paragraph for those that know this already); you have four classes to select from, Assault, Recon, Support and Engineer. Briefly summarised, Assault specialises in healing, Recon specialises in sniping, Support specialises in giving out ammo packs and Engineer specialises in repairing vehicles. Of the many players found in a game, the smaller ones generally being at about 32 players, you’re divided up into two teams and then placed in a squad of around 4 others. From here, there are several game modes to select from with conquest being the most common, requiring players to capture points while trying to kill more of the enemy team than they can of you. As you play you gain experience, rank up, unlock more gear, better weapons, modifications and battle packs which supply you with random goodies. There are vehicles to drive about, aircraft to fly and buildings to blow up thanks to the spectacular physics engine. Wooden wall in the way? Shoot it down. Enemy standing next to a giant oil tank? Light it up, watch the explosion and make it rain!
The multiplayer is as good as ever, I reviewed this game on the PC version and the 64 player servers make for some of the best and most chaotic multiplayer moments you can have in a game, especially with a couple of friends in your squad. Although when playing with friends, make sure to have mic communication, as it’s surprisingly easy to get separated in the massive maps you fight in! Progression can be quite slow, but this increases the level of play-ability. The biggest change that comes to BF4 has been dubbed “levolution” and this impacts on the game in various ways. One example of this includes the new weather effects, which are spectacular to watch and impact on the environment around you, especially one level that has a storm hit near the coast (the storm makes for some killer waves!). There are also major events that can be triggered by players in maps, such as the breaking of a dam or collapsing of a skyscraper that can make for some pretty spectacular moments. More minor impacts include shooting out the power in a building to give yourself a tactical advantage or raising a vehicle barricade, and while all of these changes are awesome, they do little in changing what was already set-up in the previous game.
Another major edition to BF4, unlocked at rank 10, is the commander mode that allows players to take some control over games from the maps perspective with the idea being to launch this functionality onto mobile devices in future. As a commander, you’re able to provide vehicles for your team to use, give orders to co-ordinate players and rain down destructive missiles on key locations of the map. Each team is limited to one commander only and a commander is given options depending on how well their team are performing. It can be annoying when only one side has a commander, feeling like a disadvantage to the other team, but overall the impact the commander has on the game feels minimal (from the ground at least), so this never becomes a major issue. It’s a cool feature and a clever way of integrating the game onto tablet devices, but certainly not a major selling point for buying this game.
Flaws to the multiplayer include the standard bugs that usually appear near launch such as the random cutting out of audio, crashing, no mini map displaying and more, but I expect most of these will be fixed within a month or two. Make sure to stay on games below 90 ping or lag could lead to some frustrating deaths. New players to the series might also experience some initial frustration when playing the game, but dedication or friends in tow can allow you to see past this and find a truly enjoyable experience. A final note is that, despite what the BF4 site may say, very little has changed to what was already a well-designed multiplayer, so don’t expect to play this and immediately notice any game changing differences.
So in summary, BF4 is a great modern combat warfare multiplayer game with plenty of spectacular moments waiting to be had. Maps are huge, load out customization is massive and those who enjoy this will find plenty to do. Everything that was good from BF3 can be found here, from the destructive mechanics, general game design and combination of vehicular vs. ground warfare. “Levolution” adds some excitement to the levels, weather effects are just gorgeous and the new commander mode while limited in design is a clever addition. However, the single player, while largely ignored by most players, is depressingly average. There are also still a few bugs to be found, new players may find it difficult to ease into the experience alone and overall little has been changed from the previous game. At the very least, gamers who are a fan of FPS in general are sure to find an enjoyable experience here, so if you didn’t already play BF3, now is as good a time as any to give the battlefield experience a go!
Link to view video above on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVbEk3f5ddA