I’ll be the first to admit that I regularly contribute to the problem of purchasing annual releases of first-person shooters. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I really can’t help myself because I’m really good at them, so when I heard about the release of Battlefield 4, I was cautiously optimistic because, while Battlefield 3 was fun, given EA’s track records for games, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the game flops. After participating in the open beta/glorified demo, I was pretty happy with how Battlefield 4 turned out because I had gone into it expecting Battlefield 3.5 and that was exactly what I got – not that there’s a problem with that
If you are somehow unfamiliar with the Battlefield series, it essentially bridges the gap between casual arcade-y first person shooters such as Call of Duty and hardcore tactical military sims like Arma. Maps are very large, but not totally open world such as in Arma games, and the gunplay sits somewhere in between Call of Duty and Arma with guns not being laser beams of death with no recoil but also not unwieldy and ultra realistic.
The biggest draw to this game would be the vehicular combat. While you can spend most of your Battlefield career playing infantry, players can hop into a multitude of vehicles including tanks, helicopters, jets, and boats, and provide covering fire for their teammates while they try to capture points or do objectives. This provides a lot of shenanigans you can get into when you’re playing with others, such as dedicating your time to blowing up vehicles as a squad of Engineers or loading light vehicles with C4 and ramming them into larger vehicles to destroy them.
There have been a lot of improvements to the game; I would say that Battlefield 4 does a better job at being Battlefield 3 than Battlefield 3 itself. For one thing, the blue filter that DICE added to Battlefield 3 for no apparent reason is gone. This is probably the most important change overall because Battlefield 3 was a pretty fantastic looking game, but the blue filter was a completely unnecessary addition to the game, and all it did was make the game look worse.
The netcode in Battlefield 4 is another improvement over the previous game. While I still do die behind walls, I feel like it happens much less frequently before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still incredibly frustrating to die when you were already in cover, but it only happens maybe 20% of time rather than every other death like in Battlefield 3.
Gunplay as a whole in Battlefield 4 is much more satisfying as well. Guns feel much more responsive and accurate, and DICE has done a good job of making gun attachments more viable and diverse rather than the de facto setup for all guns being heavy barrel/fore grip.
Overall, the four main classes have been improved. While Assault, Engineer, and Support remain mostly the same, Recon now has access to C4 and a thermal binocular to laser designate vehicles and spot enemies in the distance. Combine that with carbines being usable by all four classes, Recon can now function as a sort of spec ops soldier with C4 and spawn beacons instead of being the usual useless sniper class that everyone hates and wishes would die because they never contribute to the team.
The maps in Battlefield 4 are much better designed than in the previous title. DICE uses something they call “Levolution,” which is their design philosophy that uses an awful name. What DICE has basically done is create maps that focus heavily on vertical warfare. Maps contain tall, multi-story buildings for people to fight through, and skyscrapers can be landed on so Engineers can keep the skies clear with rockets or for useless Recons to snipe at players on the ground. This provides a bit more creativity for players in where they’re able to go. In addition to multi-story buildings, certain buildings in maps can be completely demolished or dynamic events will occur on the map that change where points are. One example would be flag C in Siege of Shanghai, which is a skyscraper that the flag is at the top of. Once destroyed, the skyscraper collapses, and a new flag point is created in the rubble. Another example would be in Paracel Storm, where flag E, which is located on a broken warship, crashes into a beach on the map, so a new flag location is created.
While I do enjoy playing Battlefield 4 and have logged quite a large amount of time into it, there are problems that do plague the game. One of the major issues would be the amount of crashing that occurs. On launch, my game would crash once every three games. It was incredibly frustrating because I never knew when I would be able to have a good game in, and crashes count towards your profile as a loss. While the crashing has been mostly fixed I think, there are still times where my game crashes, and it’s always annoying.
Another issue I have with Battlefield 4 is that Battlelog returns as the only way to launch the game. While I like Battlelog in the sense that it shows you the overall stats and unlocks that you have for the game, having it be the only way to browse for servers and launch the game is absolutely awful and clunky. I would much rather DICE return to having server browsers in-game like in Bad Company 2, and I’m not entirely sure why they chose to keep using Battlelog because it’s a chore to constantly have to reboot the game to hop servers.
As a whole, I really like Battlefield 4. It feels like what Battlefield 3 should’ve been, and I thought Battlefield 3 was a fun game. If you liked Battlefield 3, then you’ll probably enjoy Battlefield 4, but if Battlefield 3 wasn’t your thing, you probably should avoid this title. I’m glad this game ended up being fun because it solved my craving for a yearly first-person shooter, and I really didn’t want to have to buy Call of Duty: Ghosts to get my fix.
Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One; Publisher: Electronic Arts; Developer: DICE; Players:1-64; Released: October 29, 2013; ESRB: M; MSRP: $59.99; Official Site