As someone who’s been playing the Battlefield games for more than a decade now, it’s been fun to see how far the series’ have come. The original World War 2 multiplayer game I came to love all those years ago has now blossomed into one of the most fun and realistic modern combat games I’ve ever gotten the pleasure to play, and it’s been even more exciting to see one of my favorite game franchises grow from thousands of players to one that captivates millions today – one that now stretches across more platforms than I can count on my hand! DICE has become a master at what it does, crafting some of the most impressive features you can find in today’s video games, from Battlefield 4‘s engrossing single-player campaign, to its sweeping multiplayer battlefields that give players the chance to dominate the fight through the air, land, or sea. With the awe-inspiring power of the Frostbite 3 engine which Battlefield 4 is built on, gamers get to experience the highest standard of video and audio with superior, jaw-dropping animation in an extremely immersive game environment.
While Battlefield 4 is a great step forward for the series, the one thing it lacks is a breath of fresh air. As I’ve said before, I’ve been playing these games for more than 10 years now, and there is little fresh air to be found here. DICE’s approach to the game seems very reminiscent to how the Call of Duty games handle their franchise now – take what worked with the older games and fix it up with a few new ideas. For the version I played, the PS3 edition, a lot of the game’s new features were imported over from the PC version, where the game truly shines in my opinion. For instance, DICE took the commo rose from PC to consoles, which allows players to hold the right bumper to request ammo, repairs, and health packs from their teammates, which in turn allows for better communication between teams for those players who don’t have a headset.
A tweaked point system rewards players for trying to complete an objective rather than giving points to only those who complete the task at hand. A good example would be with M-Com stations where if you get killed at the last second before disarming the bomb, you’re still given points for your effort in helping out your team. As usual, the progression system is as extensive as ever, allowing players to rank up their weapons and class, and unlock a wide variety of new items ranging from sights, grips, and knives, to machine guns and rocket launchers. At every three levels you’ll also unlock a battlepack, which offers you the chance to earn a new attachment early on. However, since everything is randomly selected, you may still earn rewards for things you haven’t even unlocked yet.
The game’s 10 new maps are also a nice change of pace with the online mode, demonstrating that DICE can bring any environment to life when they put their hearts to it. This game features every possible situation you can possibly think of – fighting through the streets of an urban city, cruising along the countryside in an all out artillery battle between tanks, or even carrying out land assaults by making an ambitious landing from sea. With DICE’s new “Levolution” gimmick, the battlefield is designed to constantly change around you. One moment there could be a giant skyscraper in front of you, forcing you and your comrades into a viscous close-quarters fight, but then moments later that same building could suddenly be in pieces on the ground, causing for an entire strategy overhaul that requires you to work your way through the rubble.
The two new modes found in the multiplayer campaign are by far the best the game has seen in a long time. The first being Obliteration, which places a bomb, located in the center of the map, for opposing teams to fight for possession of in order to detonate it at one of the opponents’ objectives. If your team detonates all three, you win the match. The mode opens up a lot of doors for players to work together, because without cooperation, your team is doomed to fail. The other new mode is Defuse, which is a five-on-five match where each player can only respawn once. Your team wins if you can either defuse the bomb or kill the entire opposing team. It’s a nice change of pace from the wide open, large scale battles that dominate the majority of the game.
And for those players that have had difficulty with learning how to fly the game’s aerial based vehicles, Battlefield 4 now has a new practice mode that allows for players to figure out how to fly the game’s helicopters and jets without the constant threat of being shot down by the enemy. The catch is you can only do this while in a live game session, and only one of your teammates can be in this training mode each time, which is a bit of a letdown for those who are new to the game and are still trying to grasp the concept.
Another distinct new mode is Commander, which has been absent from the Battlefield games since Battlefield 2. The feature allows players to make decisions from a tactical map, assisting their teammates by launching UAVs to reveal the enemy’s position, directing squads to attack or defend certain locations on the map, and launching EMPs to disable the enemy’s UAV capabilities. If your team does well as a whole, the player in Commander mode will unlock new goodies to launch on the enemy, such as cruise missiles and AC-130 strikes.
The one feature that doesn’t quite live up to the game’s massive expectations is its very short single player campaign, which features the voice of iconic actor Michael K. Williams from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as Irish, a member of your small and changeable squad of Marines called Tombstone. The story follows a group of American soldiers who get caught up in the middle of a civil war in China, where their mission is to extract a couple of VIPs from Shanghai and take them back to their ship. Tragically, when they return to it, they find it completely decimated. From here, it’s a race against time as they fight their way across China, culminating in an ending that’s highly driven by choices players make. Unfortunately, the lack of attachment I felt to any of the characters is what ruined the experience for me in the end.
Although Battlefield 4 was a blast to play online like it had always been, its inability to drive the series forward into new territory left me feeling like I was just playing an updated version of the game’s predecessor. And as fun as the game’s campaign was, I felt like I was left in the dark when I failed to connect with any of the game’s characters by the time I had finished the story. Nevertheless, if you’re here for the multiplayer, the game is bound to keep you busy for months to come.
Images: Battlefield 4 Official Site