[As Read on GIO.]
“Battlefield 4 wins the battle, but it remains unseen if it’ll win the War…”
You know, personally, despite some minor gripes with it, I enjoyed Battlefield 3’s single player and cooperative campaigns at least marginally so. While I don’t so much care for the campaign in Battlefield 4 and actually consider it to be one of the weaker ones in the series- a series, mind you, whose foundation lies solely in multiplayer anyway, Battlefield 4 is far from a terrible game. It’s campaign is not bad so much either, merely somewhat flawed in a few ways that add up to support particular grievances players might have with it. Now, of course, that is my opinion anyway. I honestly think Battlefield 3 was a better game at the time, but I cannot deny the fact that the evolved multiplayer here is much more balanced in the long run and has certainly learned from that game. It might be sooner than I expected, but I am pretty pleased with this particular project, even with its flaws. Battlefield 4 follows much the same or similar path as its predecessors, with a heavy emphasis on multiplayer, and a more throwaway campaign- although it tries to mitigate that by injecting emotional moments into the pretty short campaign, without much effect overall.
I will talk about the campaign a little bit first, seeing as it is easily the more forgettable component of the game- although from the achievements, you would not think so, considering there are only a total of five multiplayer achievements of the forty-two total. The script itself reads like a classic B-movie action film, which is alright I suppose for a shooter with a heavy emphasis on actions versus words, but still somehow manages to fall flat between explosions and collapsing buildings that mark the exciting set piece moments scattered throughout the missions. Instead of focusing heavily on Russia as the bad guys, this particular Battlefield portrays factions of China and surrounding countries as the enemies. The story focuses heavily on a squad of American soldiers tasked with escorting some VIPs from Shanghai to an American fleet off the Chinese coast, however, pretty much everything goes to hell along the way, and you see various locales from prisons to mountain towns as you shoot your way across the country. The story is so short and lacks so much essence of what should make up a story that it truly does feel like an action film, and never really grabs your interest. Therefore, when you get to the three choice ending, you’ll probably just want to hurry up and get things over with, and not really care who lives or dies. I’ll give it it’s dues- it tries to make players feel emotionally invested, but is much to short to successfully accomplish that, clocking out at about six hours total.
The campaign is presented in more of a semi-sandbox style, and a less linear approach to combat opportunities, which is a thankful and welcome addition. However, the enemy (and even allied) AI is so abominable in most instances, that it’s easy to wipe them out entirely before too many shots are fired, and it doesn’t present too much of a challenge until you play on Hard mode, in which case they all become one hundred percent accurate aimbots, killing the challenge by going completely one hundred and eighty degrees the opposite way. This kills the single player experience, but actually helps to get players more invested in multiplayer, where the true meat of the experience lies, adn where this game earns the majority of its points in my opinion. Not only is multiplayer Battlefield 4’s one saving grace, but it offers up a substantial amount of content and time, even with its own flaws that are present and unfixed as of yet.
A little personal touch that I really liked about Battlefield 4’s multiplayer, although I myself did not need it, being the Battlefield vehicles guru that I am, was the addition of a training ground for vehicles and machinery for players to experiment around without fear of serious repercussions. I’ll admit, the first time you take off in a chopper or other air-based vehicle, you’ll probably crash it if you don’t have the proper guidance and knowledge. Rather than report to your local airfield to learn how to actually pilot the thing though, you can simply boot up the training ground and figure it out without fear of that lone rocket or rain of bullets taking the wind out of your coattails. The only truly notable drawback to this proving ground experience is the fact that one person at a time is present on the training ground range, meaning you cannot coordinate with others as you would during combat to practice countermeasures or maneuvers together.
Another well-thought out re-addition to the winning formula in Battlefield 4 is the return of Commander Mode, which allows you to make tactical decisions and suggestions to your fellow players during matches. Of course, you can only do as well as your teammates allow, but if you can get together a winning squad, you will truly be a force to reckon with- sending out drones, launching EMP attacks, and more. The best part about it is you don’t have to worry about spawning and dying, as you serve as a tactical overlord instead of a regular soldier on the field of battle. You can also utilize this particular mode with tablets and like devices as well, as is becoming increasingly popular with other console linked applications and modes. If your team does fairly well, then you can even earn killstreak-similar packages such as AC-130 gunship strikes and cruise missiles or bombing strafing runs.
The majority of Battlefield 4’s multiplayer operates much like the already existing groundwork laid by previous games in the series, with some subtly woven-in innovations in technology and ideas as well. Instead of having to completely rely on your headset, when others may not have one on them at all times, you can use PC-inspired button prompts via the right bumper to request aid and ammunition and other items. Even the points system has been revamped this time around, more in favor of team-based objectives than lone wolves or anything else. You get points over time instead of winner takes all or all or nothing versions during objective capturing game modes. For example, if you are battling for a certain command post station, and you get blown up shortly before you would have taken it over successfully, you still get some points for what you had already done instead of being so close and getting nothing for your team-based efforts. Not only does this work better for teamwork than ever before, but it further encourages backup and teamwork as well.
The map selection is pretty good and has some fairly sized to giant battlefields to peruse during combat as well. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the maps of Battlefield 3 without complaint, I do have a few concerning maps that simply don’t work with every game mode. But that’s really my only major complaint, as they all look and play beautifully for the most part during the majority of matches. The so-called ‘levolution’ moments where something explodes, crashes, blows other areas up, or otherwise changes the terrain are pretty neat feats of technology, but are pretty much only gimmicks and cool scenes in essence. Although I’ll admit seeing that building collapse for the first time, or that previously far off air craft carrier ride on shore is pretty intense and epic. These moments work great on most maps, but provide more difficulty and cause for bugs and glitches in others- namely Shanghai’s tower of doom and the elevator glitch of overly awesome death.
There are the same awesome modes as have been present since the previous Battlefield games, and then there are two major new ones as well, that change up gameplay a bit and also provide some equally thrilling new challenges. These game modes are predominately explosives related and reminded me a lot of Search and Destroy and Sabotage from Cal of Duty, albeit much more objectives based than those counterparts. The first is Oblieration, which gives you a neutral bomb and three enemy objectives to light up across the rounds/time limit. Not only must you defend your objectives, but you must constantly be ready to switch to the offensive as well and push forward into enemy territory. This is quite thrilling and requires a lot more teamwork than one lone player venturing into enemy territory as it often occurs in Call of Duty matches. The other new mode is Defuse(d), which operates somewhat the opposite of Obliteration, and more like Search and Destroy. Teams of five have one life per player and must either kill the enemy team or detonate their bomb to win. This is one of the quicker and much more punishing game modes, but also one of the tensest and most exciting as well, as to be expected.
Deathmatch and Domination and Rush and other modes are still present of course as well, but some (TDM and DOM mainly) just aren’t as exciting and don’t have very well supported maps for their sorties. In the game modes without vehicles especially, there is really no point in having any class other than an assault oriented one, as engineers are virtually useless at that point, and that ruins the core of what makes Battlefield so fun and intense- large, open, vehicle-using (suggested) maps. Thankfully, to go hand in hand with multiplayer, there is one of the deepest progression systems I’ve ever seen in a game, with players continually earning random and rank-related awards and unlocks. Camoflauge types, new knives and grips, sights, and much more attachments show up in hundreds of forms and colors. It is quite astounding, especially when coupled with the battlepack or random items given every two or three levels or so. Granted, since these are random, you could get anything from something you’ve already unlocked or something you don’t have access to, but it’s still pretty game changing when you get a great attachment for a gun you already have.
I think the bottom line is simply this: there are several improvements to be found in Battlefield 4’s multiplayer that make it a worthwhile experience and a step up from Battlefield 3, but it would’ve been much better if it had decided instead to focus solely on perfecting multiplayer and bypassing the single player campaign. If we’d have gone back to the Battlefield 1942 days, it could’ve been so much more revolutionary than the finished product. As it is, the technological capabilities are still quite impressive to behold, even on current-gen consoles and computers.
Concept: Enrich the multiplayer experience further, at the ultimate expense of the throwaway single player campaign.
Graphics: Beauty unparalleled as of yet in a shooter, only occasionally marred by muddied textures here and there.
Sound: Only in Battlefield.
Playability: Some controls have been simplified a little bit, but it remains largely similar to those of Battlefield 3 and classic Battlefield games, with a few new additions to the mix. It might be hard to pilot some vehicles at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.
Entertainment: You’ll certainly be spending your hours playing the addictive and impressive multiplayer component, and not the standalone single player one.
Replay Value: Moderately High.
Overall Score: 9.0