I’ve laced up my boots and tightened my helmet for the first time serving on Wake Island years ago in Battlefield 1942. I’ve had countless battles across many foreign battlefields, capturing control points and arming M-Com stations. Staying in the modern era,Battlefield 4 continues the team-based focus that the series is known for, with battles ranging across land, air and sea. In a way,Battlefield 4 is the game that Battlefield 3 should have been, minus the crashing.
After the initial launch of Battlefield 3, DICE patched in the missing commo rose, which was a major component for those who played both Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2. It never made its way to consoles, remaining a PC exclusive until being added into BF4 across all platforms. By holding down the spotting button (R1/RB on consoles), you’ll be able to communicate with your squad more efficiently. In Battlefield 3, you had to point at someone playing either the Support or Assault class to request ammo or a medkit, but now you are able to request everything from supplies to salutations from the radial menu.
Across all platforms Battlefield 4 has 10 all-new maps spread across various different types of environments (glad to see a snow map at launch, even if most of the time is spent inside), each with their own “Levolution” event. Besides featuring vehicles and a larger player count, Battlefield’s maps have always felt more alive and interactive when compared to the static and stale feeling in Call of Duty. Starting off with small details, metal detectors will beep when running through them, metal security gates can be closed, railcar doors open and close, barriers can be raised and lowered and elevators allow for easy access to the roof of buildings. During a conquest match in Siege of Shanghai, control point “C” is located on the very top of a skyscraper, but at some point during the match the building will take a direct hit from a missile, causing it to collapse. The resulting event covers the entire map with dust and debris changing the landscape of the map.
If you’ve never played a Battlefield title before or have never taking the time to learn the controls of flying a helicopter between buildings, Battlefield 4 includes a Test Range, allowing you to pop-in and test drive all of the vehicles included in the game. Besides a couple flying drones, you won’t be able to test your skills against anything moving, so playing alone can only accomplish so much.
Out of the two newly added modes introduced in Battlefield 4 – Obliteration and Defuse – Obliteration feels like it belongs in aBattlefield game. Teams must battle for control over a single bomb, which must be planted in one of three objectives guarded by the opposing side. All three must be detonated in order to win and matches can turn into a stalemate lasting well over an hour, that is until DICE patched an unneeded time limit into every mode. Defuse feels very much like Counter-Strike, featuring teams of only five and only one life. You must kill all opposing soldiers or denote the bomb in order to win. For me, Battlefield is all about Conquest and large-scale battles, but all of the other modes including the vehicle-less Team Deathmatch and Domination are still included.
Returning for the first time since Battlefield 2, Commander Mode has been altered, having reserved slots on each team for a Commander. No longer is the Commander a soldier on the battlefield, instead using a tablet, phone or even through the game interface, you are able to support your side from a tactical view of the entire battlefield. You are able to launch UAVs to scout over a specified area, launch EMP blasts to take out opposing UAVs or even cause damage to vehicles, as well as designate orders to each squad. If certain control points are captured, you are able to launch gunships and even a devastating missile.
While games, such as Killzone, has done away with level-based unlockable weapons, Battlefield 4 features the most in-depth progression system to-date. Never before have I seen so many different types of weapon attachments – sights, muzzles, grips ad more – across an endless supply of weapons. If ranking up your soldier or your specific weapon class doesn’t unlock the next item, you have a chance at finding it in a Battlepack. These packs yield various attachments, camouflages and more, and are giving out every few levels. You may have better luck than me, but most of the items that I have found are for guns I haven’t unlocked as of yet or have no interest in ever using (anything in the Recon class). I don’t mind finding camouflage for weapons and soldiers in these packs, but certain attachments can only be found in the Battlepacks.
Even after the disaster that was the quick-time ridden single-player campaign of Battlefield 3, DICE has tried to put together another emotional tale, yet once again it falls flat. Shortly after infiltrating a Chinese skyscraper to extract VIPs, all hell breaks loose as you make your way from one set-piece to another. Tight corridor sequences plague the campaign, which is where the game is at its worst. Holding down the spot button in multiplayer would bring up the commo rose, but in the campaign it allows you to give orders to your fellow soldiers. The AI isn’t much more than bullet sponges, surviving direct hit after direct hit without succumbing to their wounds. At this point, I would rather Dice forego the time and effort building another Call of Duty clone and focus their entire attention on the multiplayer experience.
Already a handful of patches have been released for the game, slowly patching various bugs and issues with the game. Frame rate issues, server lag and disconnections were commonplace during launch week. It is quite evident that the game wasn’t ready at launch and only now are players able to finish multiple matches without server crashes. With the threat of the latest Call of Duty game ever year, it appears EA wanted to release the title prior to Activision’s behemoth, but at the cost of an unfinished product. Never before have I seen patch notes so frequently feature the words “should fix” in my life. The PS4 version still crashes regardless if you are playing multiplayer or single-player. Considering the game has a chance to corrupt or delete your save file, I would avoid playing the single-player or backup the file on a USB stick.
Due to the overwhelming issues with the game, Dice has announced that they will be stopping work on all of the expansions for BF4and other projects in order to fix the current issues with the game. In a non-surprisingly move, EA is still selling the $50 Premium add-on content for the game. To all of those disappointing fans (myself included), EA and Dice apologized for the current status of the game, giving players an entire week of double XP (which has now ended). For a game that has constant connection and crashing issues, giving players double XP doesn’t help when you are unable to play the game to even appreciate it in the first place.
I have no problem going on records to say Battlefield 4 is the best and disappointing experience I’ve had in a long time. A month and a half later, Dice is still patching the game to where it should have been at launch. In my testing, the PC version of the game is more stable than the PS4 version of the game, but EA/Dice still has a long way to go to regain my trust.Note: Battlefield 4 was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.