It’s been two years since DICE gave the world Battlefield 3, a pretty impressive multiplayer experience that was visually astounding, too. Fans of the series are more than likely already taking part in the sequel in its large scale warfare and accompanying shenanigans. What about the naysayers though? Has DICE done enough to win them over with the latest Battlefield?
The Single Player
You get those games that focus on single player, but then tack on multiplayer as an afterthought. Then you get those games that exist for the multiplayer, yet also squeeze in a single player in some form or other. I know I am not the only one who couldn’t care less for the single player in Battlefield 4, but for those who do, what exactly are you getting?
Welcome to Tombstone squad, you’re here to shoot stuff and be a part of a perfectly stereotypical military shooter. Your team consists of the usual suspects: the moral compass, the irrational hot head, a supposed civilian who wants to help, and finally you, the silent as ever protagonist who just does what he is told. Who is out to kill you? Oh, China and Russia of course! The story itself is honestly a little hollow and unimaginative. However, it is definitely an improvement over the Battlefield 3 campaign, something which I never even had the heart to finish.
What many people will enjoy is the persistent scoring that accumulates throughout the campaign. Killing an enemy nets a default kill score of 100. This basic score can be boosted by simple tasks such as pulling off headshots or raking in killing sprees. Reaching certain score tiers on each level unlocks new weapons which are freely available at weapon lockers that are scattered throughout. This is quite neat, as it allows the player to equip themselves in whatever way they want to. There are also gadget lockers throughout, allowing the equipping of important weapons such as RPG’s or C4.
I played the campaign on hard, because real soldiers eat bullets and tanks for breakfast! What I didn’t plan on was my game crashing randomly, more so when I died. That’s not so bad is it? Let’s factor in that you have to watch the beginning of level cinematic again, and again, and again, without the option to skip it. Random crashing aside, if you’re looking to pick up Battlefield 4 just for the single player, keep in mind that it is quite short, spanning 7 missions that are anywhere from 30-60 minutes each depending on what difficulty you play on and how efficient you are at shooting the enemy. The campaign has its moments, but overall it is rather average.
I’m willing to bet that a large portion of you skipped over the single player blurb just to read more about what makes Battlefield what it really is; large, open scale warfare. DICE really hasn’t changed or innovated the core game drastically, meaning that this feels both a whole lot like its predecessor, yet still manages to feel fresh enough thanks to some minor and major changes.
The deployment screen and map look a whole lot better for starters. You can now see your squad mates point of view before you spawn, letting you decide whether you should risk spawning in that heated gun battle to help out, or spawn safely at a nearby safe zone. One change that I am completely happy with is the squad number being bumped up from 4 to 5. It just feels a little better and an entire squad is just that teeny bit harder to eliminate. Commander mode also makes a return, allowing a player to provide the ultimate support for their team.
There are still four classes to choose from: Assault, Engineer, Support, and Recon. Each has their own unique weapons, but every class also has access to carbines and shotguns. This is quite neat, allowing the creation of hybrid classes in a sense. For example, I enjoy the fact that the recon class has access to C4 explosives (and the support class too at much later levels), but I may not be the best shot with a sniper rifle. I can still enjoy the equipment unique to that class by equipping a carbine instead, something much better suited to my play style.
I hear you like unlocks, who doesn’t? As is to be expected, each class has a multitude of unlockable weapons, and each weapon has an unbelievable amount of accessories and scopes that can be unlocked. Customisation is extensive, allowing players to tailor their soldiers to their play styles. There are also new grenades to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. My favourite is the impact grenade. It does a little less damage compared to the standard grenade, but two can be carried and it explodes as soon as it hits the ground, giving the enemy almost no time to run away.
Destruction is still the name of the game, with the Levolution feature being added to mix things up a little. Basically, each of the 10 maps on offer have a potential large scale change which can affect a number of things. For example, one map has empty streets and ruined buildings with several levels to traverse. A levee can be destroyed with explosives, resulting in a huge surge of water that causes a flood. When I first played the game, I started this map when it was fresh and untouched, and another time I joined after this levee had been destroyed. Tanks and Jeeps were replaced with boats and traversing the map had changed completely.
My biggest fear with Levolution was that each map would always have its event triggered, meaning it is constantly played in that state. Thankfully this is not the case, as I have played many of the levels in their natural state as well as their event triggered variants. One thing I’m still craving is full destruction. Although many of the buildings and their elements can be destroyed, there are still those pesky indestructible things.
There are seven games to choose from: Conquest, Rush, Obliteration, Defuse, Domination, Squad Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. If you are familiar with the Battlefield franchise then you will most likely recognise most of the above. My favourite so far has been Obliteration, a new game mode in Battlefield 4. A team has three bomb points of their own to defend as well as three enemy ones to attack. The round is over when all three points are destroyed. A bomb will spawn randomly somewhere on the map and it has to be picked up and carried to one of the three points. While a carrier has a bomb, they are highlighted on the map, making them a prime target for death.
The visuals in the game are nothing short of impressive. One of my most memorable moments was playing on a map that consisted of many smaller islands. The sun was shining, flags were being captured and everything was being destroyed in glorious fashion. What I wasn’t prepared for was a random tropical storm. Suddenly the wind picked up, the sky turned black and the heavens opened to let down buckets of water. The waves grew wild, making riding a boat or jet ski a little trickier. It was beautiful to say the least. If you are planning to get this on PC or the next generation of consoles, you are in for a visual treat.
Unfortunately, much like the single player, I was treated to some first class game crashes. It mostly happened during level change, but it happened in the middle of some games too, for no real reason. I know this problem is not unique to my experience, as many friends suffered the same problem and even worse in some cases. What I don’t quite understand is that there was an open beta prior to launch. Surely that was the time to pinpoint and fix these problems? Thankfully, these were the only issues with the game and it is something that should be fixed soon.