The big one has landed, of course I’m talking about Battlefield 4 and not Call of Duty: Ghosts. Just to clear up, I’m not in any way biased towards Battlefield, but you’ve got to admit Call of Duty has taken a hit this year in terms of review scores. So what can Battlefield 4 deal in payback damage? Well it seems quite a lot!
Players of Battlefield 3 will tell you that the multiplayer was brilliant – the map design was spot on, the graphics looked beautiful and you could create some memorable moments online. That’s the thing with Battlefield, there’s so many events that can occur in a game, you as the player make them. For instance, in my first Battlefield 4 game online I had the joy of witnessing a dam collapse down on a helicopter after an engineer shot the final rocket into the wall, causing devastation on those below it. A whole barrage of rocks came flooding down from the dam walls, causing a mist of chaos and it certainly made that game memorable for me.
The last Call of Duty comparison, I promise. Now when I play Call of Duty, I don’t get that. The action is too fast to really remember too much, unless you get an awesome no scope sniper kill across the map, but the chances are you’ve probably forgotten it by the next game. I can still recall moments in Battlefield: Bad Company that I’ve experienced with my friends.
The usual game modes return to Battlefield 4 such as Conquest and Rush, but there’s also some new ones thrown in there too – with the likes of Obliteration and Defuse. DICE has really come up with a number of ways to keep the multiplayer feeling fresh and to make the game warrant a “4” slapped on the end of it. Obliteration involves players destroying high value targets around the map with a bomb, which randomly spawn. The other team, whose job it is to defend these targets from destruction. It’s actually pretty enjoyable and injects pace into the multiplayer action, say compared to something like Conquest where games are drawn out by a score limit. This is simple, destroy those targets and win.
As for Defuse, this is effectively Search and Destroy. Team size is limited to five and the map area is smaller making for close quarter combat. The objective is to destroy the target or eliminate the other team, which also means there are no respawns. It might seem punishing for a lot of players who might not be as good at the game as others, but it’s Battlefield’s take on competitive play and gives something for the more hardcore player to test his skill at.
Of course, Battlefield 4 does come with a single-player campaign, which most of you probably don’t care about other than for a large amount of achievements, since most of them are single-player ones. The story follows Tombstone squad and reassembles something from the Bad Company series, in that you’re given an objective and mostly left to take your own approach to do it. Do you grab a sniper and take out the enemies from range or do you grab a vehicle with a mounted gun and go in loud and heavy – that choice remains with you and it’s something DICE has taken from community feedback.
The plot isn’t going to be as engaging as say Bioshock: Infinite, in fact it feels quite flat and I kind of expected it to be. But it gets the job done and it’s an improvement over Battlefield 3’s campaign, in that the gameplay is less restrictive. There are however, a lot of scripted events and closed off areas where you have no choice but to go that way. What I would like to see in the campaign is some sort of heated battle you’re thrown straight into the middle of and you’re left to your own devices, a bit like Operation Flashpoint, which I have to heap a lot of praise for.
Going back to the bulk of the game, the multiplayer maps bring with them a term known as “Levolution”. I’m sure you’ve seen them all by now, so you know what I’m talking about, but it’s basically where the maps change based upon something the player has done in the game. For example, the map Flood Zone will fill the streets with water when a player destroys the levy holding the river back, making it impossible to have battles on the ground due to the rising floodwater, so you’ll have to take to the rooftops. It’s these changes that make each map feel different, the only problem I found was how quickly they were occurring, since it’s common knowledge that most Battlefield players enjoy blowing the map up. Unfortunately that means the Levolution triggers too.
The map design for each map also seems to be carefully carried out like a fine art. DICE sure know how to make a map, although I wish there were more built up maps like Siene Crossing on Battlefield 3. Hopefully that will come in later DLC, as at the moment it feels like every map is built for vehicle combat. That’s what I liked about Siene Crossing, sure there was still two tanks on the map, but tank drivers had to be aware of their surroundings as the streets were narrow and usually filled with player-placed mines.
One of the problems in the beta was balance to guns like the damage values, well thankfully DICE has addressed that and now I struggle to unbalance guns. There are a few which deal significantly more damage than others like I keep finding myself getting kills quicker with the AEK-971 and obviously your attachments are going to make a huge difference to the way a gun fires. The most important thing you’ll want to do is eliminate as much recoil as possible to give yourself a steadier aim, which really helps out a lot.
If you want additional attachments you can unlock them the usual way with kills with that gun, but there are also Battlepacks which you unlock gifting you camouflage for your guns, new weapon attachments and XP boosts. I quite like the idea of having packs you can open at the end of a game, especially if I get lucky enough to get something decent out of them. You also have to earn these packs by levelling up, so I got my first pack at rank 3.
As with Battlefield, vehicles form a large part of multiplayer and it’s not just about running around the map firing guns at one another. There’s so much variety on offer in Battlefield 4 from attack boats to the Little Bird attack chopper. If you don’t like vehicles online, you probably won’t enjoy Battlefield, that’s a fact. However, there are game modes where there are no vehicles such as Squad Deathmatch. Handling vehicles seems to be a lot easier in Battlefield 4, especially the helicopters which seem a lot more stable and for less experienced pilots like me, you might be able to pick up a few more kills now.
If you’re one for the back seat role of gaming you can always check out Commander Mode, which still has a place for you in the online action, but as the leader in the air. Pointing out enemies to your team, issuing commands to squads and raining down hell on objectives with cruise missiles. It’s nice to have a break from being on the ground in the thick of the action to just being in the air and looking down on it instead. Tablet users will also be able to use this with next-gen, so that should make it more enjoyable while you’re downstairs in your living room “watching TV” with the missus.
Graphically the game looks amazing, shadows cast perfectly and the light really opens up areas of the map for you. As for the sounds, you really get the feeling you’re firing that gun in your hands. I did hit a snag in the single-player where the game’s frame rate literally dropped to a series of screenshots after I shot out a helicopter pilot and it came hurtling down to the ground and exploded, but maybe that’s just a limitation of playing this game on the current-gen consoles. I don’t like saying it because the Xbox 360 has served us gamers well, but it does feel like the right time to bring out the Xbox One with better specs.
If you’re considering next-gen, this game should definitely be on your list. Whether you want it now largely depends if you can afford to wait two weeks or if you’re desperate for a head start so you have better guns and vehicle unlocks from day one of the Xbox One release. Personally, I would wait and after seeing what this game looks like on PC, the wait would be well worth it. Alright, the Xbox One isn’t going to look as good as that, but it’s still going to look much better than the Xbox 360 version and hopefully handle the action better.
Overall, Battlefield 4 is probably one of the best modern shooters I’ve played. It looks great, sounds realistic and the gameplay is really engaging and often makes me feel like I’m actually a soldier on the battlefield at times. Not only that, but those Battlefield moments I mentioned at the start of this review are ever more present in this game and with a next-gen release coming soon, I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on it. And yes, I can see it stealing the show from Call of Duty: Ghosts this year.