Review: Battlefield 4 Is Evolution And Refinement At Its Best
Battlefield 4 (BF4) builds upon the foundations laid down in Battlefield 3 (BF3) improving the game in all of its elements with immense destruction, vehicular combat, gunfire and added polish with the Frostbite 3 engine. In some ways, it's more of the same. However, it is far more refined and goes down well with a good meal of explosive combat.
- Worth The Time?Yes, if you are a fan of first-person shooters, you should definitely give BF4 a go.
- Things LovedFrostbite 3 renders the characters, environments, weapons and vehicles in the greatest detail and the game truly pushes what is possible. The campaign, for once, isn't as stifled as the previous outing and is pretty exciting to play through. Guns handle incredibly well, so if you are an assault-oriented player the game is a dream. Everything including vehicles in particular are streamlined to handle more effectively and intuitively than before and this makes conquest a much easier mode to get into, and to excel at. The difficulty of the learning curve doesn't feel at all daunting anymore and the game is far more accessible than in BF3. Levolution is pretty cool and brings dynamic changes to a map's layout when playing.
- Things HatedThe netcode for BF4 is pretty borked at the moment and will need some more patching before servers run properly, without disconnects and stuttering. There are a couple of bugs in the campaign and multiplayer that mean you either are kicked from a server or have your game freezing. This is more of a quality control issue and it is quite evident that the game wasn't fully bug tested. But this was also the case with BF3 which fared similarly at launch to BF4. This should all be resolved within the next few weeks.
- RecommendationIf you enjoyed BF3 and are a fan of military shooters, you should try BF4 out.
- Name: Battlefield 4
- Genre: FPS
- Players: 1-64
- Multiplayer: Yes
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4
- Developer: DICE
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: R450 (PC), R630 (Xbox 360, PS3), R689 (Xbox One, PS4)
- Reviewed On: PC
BF4 is a return to glory for the sequel of BF3 and improves on everything its predecessor set out to do, and then some. Despite a buggy launch, the game has refined much of BF3’s gameplay mechanics, added some new ones and gone one step further to improve the overall experience of Battlefield. This time around in multiplayer destructibility of your surrounding environment is key as Levolution allows players to change and alter the landscape of a map whilst playing changing the odds to their favour. Commander Mode makes a welcome return and puts you in the seat of power on the field of war. BF4 also has a strong emphasis on amphibious assault and naval combat, as a result ships handle better than ever. A new modes called Obliteration makes its debut, and now Domination (seen previously in the Close Quarters expansion for BF3) makes a return as a standard multiplayer mode in BF4. Battlefield 4 is lively and has Michael Bay style explosions to make it an even sweeter deal, if that’s your thing.
BF4’s campaign takes the story into the future, in the year 2020, six years after the events of BF3. The US is in a still tense relationship with Russia, and China is going through a power struggle culminating in a crisis and military uprising led by one Admiral Chang, who is the antagonist this time around. You play as Sgt. Daniel “Reck” Recker a member of an elite squad known as Tombstone, and are joined by SSgt. Kimble “Irish” Graves, and field medic Sgt. Clayton “Pac” Pakowski for much of the campaign. The campaign has you fighting through Chinese and Russian forces, in a variety of terrains from snowy mountains to skyscrapers, using boats, tanks, missile launchers and all sorts of weaponry in the pursuit of preventing all-out war. Battlefield 4’s campaign is a solid five hour experience on Hard difficulty, which will be no true challenge for veterans of the series or those accustomed to the FPS genre. It, however, has excellent set pieces and great cinematic quality throughout its play-through that makes it a worthwhile addition to the overall BF4 package, rather than some purposeless tacked-on extra.
The truth about “why” you’d be playing BF4 is for the multiplayer experience, which is where Battlefield 4 excels. After previously playing BF3 for a few months, I realised that I wasn’t the biggest proponent of vehicle use in the game and I favoured the assault class more so than the engineer, support or recon classes that others do. BF4 does a good job of accommodating players’ preferences and balances out the gameplay experience to make a game more fair in terms of the roles you choose for battle. What sets BF4, and its predecessor, apart is the squad-based focus of the game and that is what BF4 is all about, it’s all about “teamwork”.
BF4 emphasises the advantages of teamwork with Field Upgrades which replaces the specialisation system of its predecessor. Field Upgrades put more emphasis on good teamwork and allow your squad to gain perks such as the ability to sprint, or carry more grenades. Each class has four different upgrade paths with four upgrade levels. Essentially the more squad-based actions you perform the more experience you’ll gain, and you can gain further upgrades and specialise further. However, if your squad is eliminated in battle you will lose experience. This means that teamwork is of the utmost importance and truly drives the multiplayer experience in Battlefield 4. Squad size has also been improved now to a five player limit which means your squad can become a more effective fighting unit in battle. This is particularly important in bigger modes like Conquest when taking points on the map will be much faster with a five man squad so it balances the disadvantage a squad can have when exposed to tank shell fire and aerial assaults.
Battlefield 4 once again introduces a new feature with the ability to lean and peak from cover (with a compact weapon). Simply put, if you move close enough to a corner you can lean and peak around cover which can be a game changer for some players. This allows you to engage targets from behind cover which makes it difficult for enemies to take you out easily. This helps balance out the improvements made to gun handling which is a fair trade off. However, this feature is only available to players using assault rifles, PDWs, carbines, shotguns and pistols. One of the new weapon sets known as DMRs (Designated Marksman Rifles) does not have this feature. DMRs are available to all classes and are semi-automatic, offering great precision and stopping power with a balance between a full-out assault rifle and bolt-action sniper rifle. This is another great extra in the Battlefield 4 chest. Battle pickups which are unique powerful weapons scattered across the map, shown as a pistol icon on the HUD or mini-map, are another great feature added to maps, that although limited can bring lower-leveled players into winning positions amid furious battles and gunplay.
BF4 truly does go out of its way to make gameplay mechanics much easier to grasp for a newcomer. There is still a learning curve, but vehicles in particular do control much more easily and players yet uninitiated in Battlefield can take to it quite easily. Especially since the game now comes packaged with a test range mode that allows a new player the chance to test out all the classes, vehicles and weapons in a sandbox environment.
In terms of vehicles, Battlefield 4 has far stronger focus on naval combat, with this new iteration in the franchise comes new attack boats that are armed with an array of weaponry that is effective against many threats on the battlefront. With Frostbite 3, water physics have also been taken a step further and sea-faring consists of real-time waves and a choppy sea experience when the weather worsens. The engine brings to light dynamic weather changes like no other and this helps to liven up multiplayer games. Add to this Levolution and your multiplayer experience will never be boring.
One of the newest additions to the Battlefield formula is Levolution, which allows players to alter their environment in order to get a tactical advantage in-game. As a result, Battlefield 4 offers greater destructibility into Michael Bay level explosions where huge events like a dam collapsing or a skyscraper falling can occur due to player actions in a map. This makes a game of Conquest with vehicles like tanks, helicopters and assault boats all the more topsy-turvy when a Levolution event occurs. Players in essence can cause large set-pieces to occur by destroying objective points. Levolution is so deeply entrenched in Battlefield 4’s design that smaller scale events can happen such as cutting power to buildings, blocking pathways for enemy assault vehicles and other such actions. This means maps are no longer static and there can be a degree of flexibility in your squad’s strategy, which lends itself to an players having to evolve their strategy as a multiplayer game progresses. In a new mode like Obliteration, where a tug-of-war between teams requires teams to retrieve a randomly spawned bomb and deliver it to an enemy site whilst having to destroy all the opposing team’s bomb sites, Levolution can help a team turn the tide of war at the most crucial of times. This makes games unpredictable at times and can level the playing field when needed.
Commander Mode also makes a return to the Battlefield franchise, and now with BF4 you can once again make use of the mode (but only after your reach rank 10 in the multiplayer). When playing multiplayer modes like Conquest, Rush and Obliteration you can take control of the battle by issuing orders to squads, deploying UAVs to locate the enemy team to help give your squad needed help, and deploy a gunship to initiate Cruise Missile Strikes at enemy vehicles. What’s even better is that Commander Mode is easily accessible on tablets, so it is not difficult at all to drop into battle as a commander and take on a direct leadership role for your team.
DICE’s new Frostbite 3 engine is a true visual marvel as environments are realistically rendered with high quality textures. Physics and destructibility of the environments in-game are also vastly improved in Battlefield 4 and brings a whole new dimension to gameplay particularly with the inclusion of Levolution and its direct effects on multiplayer games. BF4 is stunning to look at with a high-end PC or next-gen console, and is as realistic as one will get on a gaming platform. There are, however, some minor negatives that need to be taken note of.
Battlefield 4, as it stands at the moment, is riddled with bugs and an unstable netcode that is slowly being patched and fixed. This means the product on launch day was released in an incomplete state and was barely playable. This has become a standard with many military shooters and is a huge negative of buying such games at launch, this is most certain for the Battlefield franchise. Rage-inducing experiences in BF4 have ranged from the game freezing during the singeplayer campaign, to being kicked from a server, to stuttering gameplay on servers and an abundance of bugs, and glitches, that have made the game unplayable at times. Yet it must be stressed that most of these issues will be resolved in no time, as this was much the same case with BF3 upon launch, but it is a reality. Yet if you can look past some quality control issues, BF4 is a refined evolution of BF3 and builds quite nicely upon its heritage.