Next Gen has arrived, and EA has graced us with their epic, large scale shooter Battlefield 4. Does it hit the mark? Or do we have a current gen clone, masked as a next gen masterpiece? Keep reading for our next-gen Battlefield 4 Review!
Battlefield long has been known for it's large-scale, team based game modes that deviate from your typical team deathmatch types you get with the other competition. They have historically done a fantastic job mixing in soldiers, ground vehicles, and aircraft to give gamers a variety of ways to play. Battlefield 4 is no different. The game itself plays and feels great, whether you are in the campaign or the multiplayer. The control scheme is virtually unchanged compared to B3, and the overall control mechanics seem tight and crisp. It only takes 15 minutes or so to get in the groove and feel comfortable with the controls. With vehicles, they are a little more challenging than being on foot. Tanks and other land vehicles are fairly easy to control, besides some transport vehicles having a not so great camera angle. Jets and helicopters? Good luck!! During my time with the game, the air vehicles were very twitchy and really tough to control once airborne. I had a very difficult time maneuvering around and lining up for killshots. I've seen others be able to move swiftly as if they were Maverick in Top Gun, so it's not completely uncontrollable, I just haven't gotten use to and/or don't quite grasp the controls just yet. I've even been on a chopper as a passenger mechanic, while our pilot did a great job moving throughout the map and destroying all that got in our way. Overall though, I feel the gameplay itself is very solid, easy to get the hang of for the most part, and makes for some highly entertaining moments.
Now here comes the bad part: Battlefield 4 has been plagued with issues from release date, and still, we don't have fixes for all of them. It's gotten so bad, that EA and Dice have stopped all development of future DLC to focus solely on fixing the issues, as well as having put on their own site a list of known issues they are working on and have fixed. What's on said list you ask? For starters, we have campaign game saves that completely disappear after putting hours of work into them, intermittent crashes on both Xbox Live and PSN in the middle of a game, framerate drops, and disappearing crosshairs just to name a few. Some of these issues have had fixes uploaded via patch, but users are still reporting some of the same issues since Day 1. DICE should be commended for their relentless pursuit of a great game and their commitment to fixing all of these issues, but the question needs to be asked: Was this game put through the paces of Quality Control? Or was it pushed out to make the console launch, knowing these issues were still there? It's tough to say, but really puts a damper on an otherwise solid game.
In the campaign, you are Sgt. Daniel Recker, a member of an elite special forces group. It's been 6 years after the events of Battlefield 3, and the world super powers are at each others throats. The US and Russian governments tension between each other is at an all-time high and meanwhile, things are going sour in China. An Admiral in the Chinese navy who is planning a military coup, has helped assassinate a Chinese presidential candidate, convinced the Chinese public it was the doing of Americans, all while having the support of the Russians. Of course, we can't let that happen!
The feeling I received throughout the campaign, was that it's very closed off and linear. It's amazing to have these huge, sprawling multiplayer maps, but then the campaign receives this close quarters, tight spaces to navigate through like the gaming is pushing you in one direction. The storyline itself, is executed very poorly. Instead of fleshing out characters and having any sort of emotional tie to them, DICE goes the way of action-thriller and puts you through the paces of one explosion after another, while trying to pull off dramatic emotional cliche after cliche. At first, the explosions are pretty cool as the game just looks gorgeous. But after an hour or so, it's to the point where it's just unnecessary. The campaign is inconsistent and really never hits it's stride as it bounces from scenario, plot twists, and overall mechanics where you really don't get bought into the story being told and frankly don't care about the dramatics happening. B4 just doesn't grab you and pull you into it's world or narrative and comes off as a cliched C-rate Hollywood movie.
DICE has always been known for some fantastic looking games, and B4 is no exception. Character models look great, landscapes look great, and the destruction is very impressive! The Frostbite 3 engine provides some spectacular looking explosions and overall graphical quality. What's even more surprising, is how well the game looks online. The character classes all have their own distinct look as well as the environments providing detail not seen before during online multiplayer matches. With the new engine, buildings can be completely destroyed, totally changing the landscape of matches, and they've introduced a new networked water technology, allowing players to see the same wave and wave movement simultaneously. Never has a Battlefield game looked this great before and with time, I'm sure DICE will be able to develop some of the most impressive looking titles on next-gen in the coming years.
On the audio side of things, the game holds up to the graphics. Different guns will give you slightly different sounds, water crashing against a boat, and the wind blowing the rain in your face all sound unique and add a nice layer to the visuals. With a nice 5.1 surround sound system or headphones, you'll have the ability to hear footsteps, gunshots, and other player movements around you giving you a slight leg up on someone who doesn't have an audio setup. Vehicle sounds are all unique and actually having an audio system helps if you are on the ground and you hear a chopper getting closer. It gives you a few extra seconds to find cover away from the enemy. Occasionally when the framerate dips, the audio will take a slight dip as well, but this has been the only issues I've experienced since launch.
Here's where B4 truly shines, when it's working. The multiplayer is just flat out fun to play. There's a lot of value here in the way of various different game modes, depending on what mood you're in. If you are feeling the large scale, 32vs32 type of game, you have Conquest. There are 3 control points on a sprawling map, each teams objective is to control as many of those 3 as possible. You gain points for the amount of time each point is controlled as well as how many kills and assists you have while defending said points. Vehicles and aircraft are a must to succeed in this mode as well as diversifying the classes of each squad. If you don't have enough mechanics, you won't be able to keep your vehicles intact and in the fight. Without medics, you'll continue to lose tickets which can add up very quickly. If 64 players isn't your style, you still have various other modes to chose from with Rush, Team Deathmatch, Squad Team Deathmatch, Domination (soldier based, small-scale Conquest) Obliteration, and Mad Dash. If you are a Premium subscriber, you'll also get Air Superiority which is an all air vehicle based mode.
Multiplayer is really the crown jewel of the Battlefield franchise. The overall depth, variance of modes, and the fantastic maps designed for it make it one of the best in the business. Even during the large scale, 64 player matches, you never really feel as if you are too far away from the action. The respawn system is good enough to minimize the lull of trying to find your squad. The maps themselves, offer various different landscapes and terrain giving you enough variety as well. There's nothing like blowing up a building or group of buildings, and completely changing the landscape of the map itself. During some of these sequences, it could even mean the difference between a win or a loss if you don't react quick enough.
My experiences in the multiplayer were mostly positive. I had the occasional crash to dashboard as has been reported online, but not to the point where it completely derailed my fun. I also love the squad based system of communicating as well. No need to have to listen to dozens of others talking over each other or listening to someone blaring their music over their mic. Having it dwindled down to your squad alone, makes things a lot easier and teamwork more manageable.
Battlefield 4 is really a mixed bag at the moment. When you have as many issues with the game as being reported, it gives you pause as a gamer. Is it really worth your $60? That's the ultimate question. When B4 first came out, I'd definitely say hold off for awhile. There were way too many bugs and issues that really plagued the game to the point where it was mostly broken, which is cause for concern. Are we now in the era of releasing beta versions for money, and then fixing the issues later? That really seems like it with Battlefield 4, but now that majority of the issues either have been fixed, or well on their way to being fixed by DICE, I think this is a good game to get your shooter fix on. Multiplayer is outstanding and will be the mode that keeps you playing until the wee hours of the night while the campaign, not so much, but if you're into the shoot-em up Hollywood type of action movies, you may actually enjoy it. Once DICE fixes their issues, you'll have a solid game with numerous DLC options coming down the pipeline.
The positives are the fantastic graphical and audio presentation along with a fantastic multiplayer mode. The negatives are a forgettable campaign and numerous game killing bugs.