Battlefield 4 review

Battlefield 4 review

T3 5
  • Battlefield 4 - EAs blockbuster fragfest/demolition simulator is better than ever and we put it through its paces on the Xbox 360...

    Battlefield 4 review

    Love

    • Stunning visuals
    • Superb multiplayer
    • Great collection of maps

    Hate

    • Lacklustre single player
    • Dumb AI

    Battlefield 3 is still one of EAs most successful games of all time, selling over 5 million copies in its debut week. But if 5 million sounds like a lot to you, bear this in mind - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launched alongside Battlefield 3, and sold 6.5 million units in 24 hours.

    When we visited DICE in Stockholm a few months ago, we were promised a game that that would take shooters to the next generation…

    This was of course referring to the next generation version of Battlefield 4 - a version we have played but not extensively enough for review just yet. We will be adding our impressions of the PC version in the coming days but for now, the current gen version is in our sights (played on the Xbox 360).

    Clearly, Battlefield 4 is a game designed with PC, Xbox One and PS4 in mind. If you’re not planning on investing in any of those platforms anytime soon, is the current gen version still worth picking up? Lets take a look.

    Battlefield 4: Campaign

    As you’d expect the single player mode is - at best - the cherry on top of an online multiplayer cake. And as cherries go, this one is enjoyable, but you’ll probably forget you ate it shortly after.

    It opens up with the ‘Fishing in Baku’ mission that we were treated to at E3 and carries on along the same theme for a good 4-5 hours of gameplay. Some will complain that 5 hours isn’t substantial enough for a single player mode, others will complain that they have to play it for the achievements so… potato potahto. You can’t have your cherry and eat it, guys.

    The gameplay is fun, but it’s eminently forgettable. The wall-to-wall scripted, set-piece action template for shooters has been around since Call of Duty 4 now, and it’s starting to feel a little tired.

    The enemy AI does some really dumb stuff sometimes, even on higher difficulty levels. We’ve seen enemies run past us, and through our squad untouched, before turning and firing on us. We guess that counts as flanking but we don’t think you’ll find that one in any tactical manuals.

    Battlefield 4’s campaign is far from threadbare, but we expect most people won’t feel the need to bother playing it, and more will only play it to get the achievements. Give it a go - you might like it.

    Battlefield 4: Graphics

    We will update with our impressions of the next-gen versions and PC version of the game when we have a chance to properly play them.

    The Xbox 360 version we tested looks surprisingly good. When we tested Crysis 3, the drop off between the gorgeous PC version and the console version was huge, with texture pop, draw distance issues and all sorts.

    By comparison, Battlefield 4 still looks great on console. Obviously, it doesn’t hold a candle to the next gen and PC versions of the game - the textures aren’t super-detailed and environments still look quite bare at long distance (more noticeable in multiplayer than campaign) but aside from that, this is as good looking a game as you’ll find on current gen. DICE - we tip our hats to you.

  • Battlefield 4 ups the ante in its brilliant online multiplayer mode by adding wanton destruction on an epic scale

    Battlefield 4 review

    Love

    • Stunning visuals
    • Superb multiplayer
    • Great collection of maps

    Hate

    • Lacklustre single player
    • Dumb AI

    Battlefield 4’s appearance at the EA E3 keynote this year brought the house down by literally bringing a virtual building down. The live demo for DICE’s online fragfest showed a firefight in a multiplayer match involving 64 players in a map with a towering skyscraper at the centre of it.

    As the battle reached its apex, the audience in the Shine Auditorium watched gobsmacked as the multi-storied building had its supports blow out. With a scream of tearing metal we then crashed into the map like a felled Redwood made from steel and glass.

    A few months on, we flew out to DICE HQ in beautiful Stockholm to get our hands on the game and see how things are shaping up.

    Battlefield 4: Environments

    The Battlefield series has always put a premium on destructible environments - last seen in Battlefield 3 - but in the latest entry in the series, the scale for this feature is off the charts. Not only does it occasionally look spectacular as in the case of the tumbling skyscraper – which provides the centrepiece of the game’s Shanghai map – it also opens up a ton of new gameplay options.

    For example, when the skyscraper drops, it creates new pathways through the map, although strictly speaking, players can do their own tinkering with their surroundings. They can, for example, use explosive and grenades against certain walls to create new routes.

    The skyscraper drop also covers the whole map in a massive dust cloud that limits players’ draw distance and visibility. This makes ground troops harder to spot from higher vantage points and it makes providing air support a logistical nightmare.

    DICE is calling this concept 'Levolution' - literally, the idea is that the map (level) evolves during the game, presenting you with new challenges to overcome, and tactical possibilities for taking on the enemy.

    Battlefield 4: Commander Feature

    To help coordinate the efforts on the battlefield, DICE have brought back the Commander feature from Battlefield 2, although it’s been slightly tweaked for this iteration. The Commanders on both teams view the battle from a top down point of view and they’re able to issue orders and deploy equipment, vehicles and drones for their side.

    Their stock of resources, however, isn’t limitless. Rather, it’s linked to the amount of points their team acquire in the battle. While they’re still able to issue orders and make their team aware about enemy troop movements, they’ll require their team to rack up points for, say, capturing a point on the map and holding it for a time, before they’re able to send in better equipment or call in a missile strike. Commanders can take part in online matches from tablets, providing they have a decent enough internet connection.

    Battlefield 4: Gameplay

     

    On the ground, Battlefield 4 plays the way you’d expect it too. Players pick a class and head into the map with a couple of firearms and items of equipment. Once there, their objective is to keep the Commander well stocked with points by completing whatever objectives the match type requires of them.

    Running on the Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefield 4 looks stunning; particles hang in the air in shafts of light in darkened environments and sunlight bounces off the HUD causing the odd, cinematic glint of lens flare. It’s hardly surprising that it’s one of the most widely used tools in EA’s game creation across most of its developers.

    As mentioned, we got to go hands-on with the game in Stockholm, and... well, it plays a lot like Battlefield 3. It certainly feels the same. The version we played was alpha code, on a new map so it wasn’t looking as pretty as all the in-game footage we’ve seen so far. That said, the power of Frostbite 3 was very evident, with action looking incredibly fluid, and plenty of lens flare and motion blur really bringing a cinematic realism to things.

    We were playing on PC so we can say little about next-gen console performance, but we’re told by DICE Creative Director Lars Gustavsson that there’s still plenty of work and polish to be done yet. We think it’s safe to assume that this game is going to look absolutely spectacular.

    Battlefield 4: Battlescreen

    Another accompanying app – Battlescreen – gives you a second screen map to play with much like Commander mode. In Battlescreen, you get a live tactical view of your current game, so you can see where your squad and team are currently, and where they’re headed, as well as an update on tickets and the like.

    If you’re squad leader, you can even tap waypoints on your tablet in the app, and your squad will all receive a waypoint in game. You will need to be connected to your console but all of this happens instantly via the cloud – and it’s all pretty impressive.

    You can even change games via the tablet app, without interrupting your current game. It’s a small thing, but helps to cut down the time looking for servers and that sort of thing.

    Battlescreen will only be available to those playing Battlefield 4 on next generation consoles.

    Battlefield 4: Obliteration

    During our quick trip to see DICE in Stockholm, we had a chance to play a new game mode – Obliteration – on a Paracel Storm – a new map based in the seas south of China.

    The map is reminiscent of Battlefield 1943’s Coral Sea map – it’s made up of a number of small islands, meaning you have to swim, or find transport across between them.

    There’s also a large warship anchored just off the coast, which will come crashing into the island mid-game under certain circumstances. We can’t say exactly what circumstances, as we weren’t shown, but the latest Gamescom trailer seems to indicate something storm-based.

    Obliteration is a new game type where both teams have to defend three objectives from each other. A single bomb spawns somewhere on the map, and the teams must get the bomb, then plant it and detonate it at an enemies objective. It’s frantic, and on a map like Paracel Storm, it’s tough. Vehicles and teamwork are both obligatory if you want to win (a.k.a. welcome to Battlefield).

    Battlefield 4: Verdict

    Battlefield 4 lives and dies on its multiplayer and all the signs are here that DICE should have another hit on its hands.

    The gameplay hasn’t really changed all that significantly since the last iteration, but between the new environment transforming mechanics, the Commander mode, Battlescreen and an evolution of Battlelog, Battlefield 4 feels like a step forward for the franchise. Lock and load for the online war this November…

    Battlefield 4 release date: 1 November 2013

    Battlefield 4 price: From £38.00 (on PC on amazon)

    Additional reporting by Pete Dreyer

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