The Battlefield franchise has now reached its 12th instalment (with an additional 12 expansion packs/DLCs), contrary to the naming convention. And with the success of Battlefield 3, who can blame the developers, DICE, for continuing? Battlefield 3 sold over 5 million copies in its debut week, and is one of EA’s most successful games of all time. While many would compare that to CoD: MW 3, which launched alongside BF3 that sold 6.5m copies in 24 hours, the two games aren’t that much alike as you would expect. Nevertheless, we’re now in 2013 playing through BF 4, a game, not surprisingly, built for next-gen consoles and the PC. The game itself is a mixed bag from previous games in the franchise, reintroducing features that were lost, and often talked about, in subsequent releases.
If you’re playing through the campaigns in single-player mode, there isn’t much to write home about. The year is 2020, and follows on six years after the events in the campaign mode of BF 3. You, the player, are cast as the role of Recker, who has been endorsed to (unofficially) take the reign as Tombstone’s Sergeant after the sudden passing of the previous Sergeant. After gaining intelligence from the first mission, you’re sent off to follow the leads in China and help extract certain VIPs. There are a few small twists thrown in along the way, but nothing major in the end, despite the alternative endings you have the option of completing. Following the campaign will kill around 5-6 hours of your time; something that has been met with wrath in many games of late. In all honesty, the campaign modes aren’t the selling point of such games, and should only be used as something of a tutorial for all things new (or old). The multiplayer mode is where fps gamers earn their keep, and ultimately determines the game’s success.
BF 4 runs on the Frostbite 3 gamine engine, which was built to support next-gen consoles. As with each generation of gaming engine, it is expected that it will push the boundaries of graphics and reality that much further. That holds true in this instance as well. Not only are the textures and effects more realistic (apologies for the cliché), but the environment feels more responsive and alive, even at slightly longer distances.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the gameplay is that in this environment, almost anything can be shot at, damaged, or simply blown up. Destruction from gunfire adds to the realism of the game. A prime example of this is a failed attempt at hiding in a building from a tanker. While in reality it may seem pointless, often in games there are objects that are simply immovable, and no matter how much gunfire or explosives you use, there won’t be much reward. Back to the tanker: it can blow a whole throw any wall, revealing your, not so secret, hiding spot and take you out in the process. This type of interaction with the environment just adds to the ambiance, atmosphere, and realism. As always, players will often find themselves at the helm of some or other vehicle, which make things interesting, without being overly spectacular. Attempting to make controls more realistic, such as manning a helicopter, often proves difficult and causes unforeseen results, which, in event, actually add to the script, rather than always having to redo that particular mission.
While those aspects make for an interesting and unique adventure at every turn, there are a few elements that dumb it down a little. Irrespective of the difficulty level you play at, the AI tends to get things wrong. A few instances where they will simply run past you without opening fire, or hiding away at times, which becomes annoying when having to kill one last enemy to continue the progression of the stage in the campaign. These accounts are few, but they do exist throughout the 5 hour mission.
The money maker. In 2012, BF servers accounted for over 50 million online players, which is why multiplayer campaigns and gaming modes have become something of a staple in fps games. In BF 4 there are a variety of match types to choose from, which include:
- Conquest: Capture different control points within a map and protect them.
- Domination: Small-scaled version of Conquest, whereby there are no vehicles, only infantry.
- Squad Deathmatch: No explanation really necessary; one team against another.
- Obliteration: Each team searches for bombs, which are used to destroy three targets.
- Rush: One team attacks while another defends.
- Defuse: Plant and detonate a bomb. No respawn.
As with the single-player campaigns, the games are launched via the browser-driven Battlelog, which pose some interesting aspects of its own. While it does make things easier to navigate and provides a smoother UI than those built in-game, switching modes and campaigns means having to relaunch the game for each.
Battlefield 4 is a worthy successor from the previous title. While there are elements that need improving, which are more buggy than inherent disabilities, there are multiple aspects that make this game unpredictable, adding to the crazy fun. There aren’t any real safe zones across the environments. Standing atop of a building apparently out of harm’s way from a tanker only results in the total demolition of the structure to mere rubble. The phrase “controlled chaos” has been passed around in describing the game, and once you start playing, it’s not hard to see why. The game exists more as an online, multiplayer fps, with not too much emphasis and detail placed within the actual campaign, which resides simply on a need-to-have basis.