Battlefield 4 Review
Superb graphics, good sound design, gets gameplay basics down
Unbalanced multiplayer, Origin is inefficient, consistent crashing, unstable servers, stingy XP and high unlock cost create an excessive grind, basically an expansion of Battlefield 3, boring single player, terrible story
Same Game, Better Graphics
“Realistic” first-person military shooters have been getting on my nerves quite a bit lately. First, there is a least one that comes out every year due to the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the only good one, mind you, and secondly, they never get any better. As far as Battlefield games go, I still believe the only good one to be Bad Company 2 which was easily one of my favorite multiplayer games.Â For those who read my preview of the Battlefield 4 beta, I was quite excited about this game because I thought they fixed the problems from the dreadfully bad Battlefield 3…instead, I find that none of those problems were fixed and Dice and EA decided to add a few new ones as well.
In order to compete with Call of Duty, Dice decided to take a stab at a single-player campaign in Battlefield 3 with subpar results. The story in this campaign was bad and the new campaign’s story is also about the same.
Players take the reins of Rekker, a silent protagonist despite being in charge of a group of Marines, sets off with fellow Marines Pac and Irish to stop an evil Chinese dictator. The antagonist is seen only once and is basically evil for no reason whatsoever and because Russia is backing him to stage a coup d’Ã©tat on the Chinese government, they are apparently evil as well. So here we have yet another game where you go around shooting Russians.
In regards to story, Battlefield 3 is to Black Ops as Battlefield 4 is to Black Ops 2. This means that there is a betrayal that has no impact because the betrayer’s characteristics and personality were not expounded on. There’s a guy from the previous game yet has no significance to story and the plot is overly dramatic, but still tries to use dialogue and themes that are considered to be Oscar-bait. The story overall is clichÃ©, stupid, inconsistent, and contains a terrible and abrupt ending with no closure.
Since I thrashed the story aspect of single player mode, now it’s time to do the same to the gameplay of the campaign. The singleplayer aspect of the Battlefield series has always been its weakest point and it’s the same for Battlefield 4. If you didn’t enjoy BF3‘s single player mode, then you won’t enjoy this one either. What’s really there to say about it? Players move from point A to B while gunning down just about everything on the way there. Some areas are bigger than others and players can choose what weapons to carry so at least there is some freedom to experiment and create a custom strategy.
The biggest problem with the story mode is that nothing unforgettable happens when the player is in control; all of the more exciting events are cutscenes. There aren’t even QTEs like in BF3. Now when I’m asking for QTEs to spice up the action, then you know there’s a problem.
The only real fun comes in the form of vehicle segments, though they are fairly linear as well and are just like the rest of the game which is nothing more than a shooting gallery. The overall basic gameplay is solid; aim gun, shoot, and it can be expected that the enemy will drop like a sack of bricks. It’s just that despite decent mechanics, just moving from spot to spot and shooting the same enemies get old since the seven levels are fairly long. Like I said though, these lengthy levels only feel longer due to a lack of variety and repetition. Much like a trip to the dentist, it’s over before you know it and then you can move on to the main focus of the game, the multiplayer.
I was right to be skeptical when I first saw the announcement for this game not long after the release of BF3 and I am ashamed for allowing myself to be drawn in by the awesomeness of the beta. Absolutely nothing has changed since BF3 and in fact, things are a little worse.
For those who have never played a Battlefield game on the PC, in order to play it, Origin must be opened, then players must sign in at the Battlefield Battlelog, and then after choosing a server or the story mode, the game opens. While games on Steam require the client to be running during play, I’ve never had the game freeze because the client crashed, and stop me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it inefficient to have the browser running while playing an online game?
While I am a fledgling PC gamer who may be asking a dumb question, I do know something is wrong when the game freezes because the Battlelog timed out. When my game wasn’t freezing due to this inefficient setup, I was being kicked due to abysmal server stability.Â EA is currently addressing the problems by getting dedicated servers but considering the popularity of the series and the company’s desire to compete with Call of Duty, which has dedicated servers, then this should have been taken care of already.
When I finally got everything working, I found myself to be extremely disappointed and ashamed for wasting $60 on what is essentially a prettier version of the previous game. One would have figured after the Humble Bundle contribution that the company hadÂ a change of heart, but it was all just another ruse. Battlefield 4 is basically an update to the original as the same four classes are present, same weapons, and same vehicles. There are new weapons like the carbine and DRM guns which can be used for any class and there are more naval vehicles this time around. In fact a lot of the maps tend to focus on naval combat this time around which is admittedly pretty cool.
Unfortunately, infantry combat is still unbalanced and possibly glitchy. It is near impossible not to get angry after putting half a clip of ammo into an enemy at center mass and point blank only to have the guy whip around and shoot once killing me instantly; not even a headshot. I had this same problem in BF3 as well and have no idea why since my computer is new, up-to-date and I have fast internet.
Vehicles are more balanced a least and take fewer hits to destroy, though the starting launcher for the engineer class is useless so players would probably have better luck prying the armor off a tank with a butter knife. Choppers in particular are much more vulnerable so landing a hit with a missile can easily put even the most skilled pilots out of commission.
Balancing in regards to infantry combat may get better upon ranking up, but the grind is so long and arduous that it’s hardly worth it. In the Call of Duty games, on the first playthrough before prestige, it is a joy to unlock a new weapon, attachments, and the experience challenges encourage players to try something new, but here challenges aren’t even opened until reaching level 10. I have been played the game for at least ten hours, on multiplayer, and so far I’ve only unlocked three primary weapons, a few attachments, and am on level 8. Whether I do good or bad, I average at least 5,000 points per game before bonuses and found the process to be a long, soulless grind.
When my bullets are registering, game modes like Conquest or Rush tend to be the most fun due to a large number of players and vehicles. Nothing has changed here either; same rules, different maps. Smaller modes like deathmatch, squad deathmatch, and domination, which is the same as CoD’s, could be fun if the spawning system didn’t toss me into groups of enemies; it’s like a gazelle wandering into a lion’s den. Considering there isn’t a designated team spawn, like in Conquest or Halo’s spawn system, players are dropped in at random leading to the inevitable spawn kill, the deadliest of sins to be committed in an online multiplayer game. This is one of the reasons I don’t care for Call of Duty and apparently no developer has yet to try and fix the problem, nor do they care.
To see if things evened out some, I tried hardcore modes, which I also preferred in Call of Duty 4, but even with extra bullet damage, my enemies still absorbed my shots and threw them back at me with increased force. Also, for some stupid reason friendly claymores and mines will kill teammates with me in particular. It’s probably some way to make the game more “realistic” which is stupid since I placed ten high caliber assault rifle rounds into someone’s chest only to have him run off without so much as a limp.
When I wasn’t watching the ground for friendly mines because some guy was placing them all over the map like a psychotic Easter Bunny, I was trying desperately not to get stuck to the environment. This happens more than you’d think especially since the fickle destruction physics make hit detection a little wonky. It is also annoying to climb up a building but be unable to get inside through the large windowsill because the programming won’t allow it.
In the trailers and all of the stupid advertising, the destruction physics of the Frostbite 3 engine tend to be the key focus with the ability to destroy entire skyscrapers; this is just smoke and mirrors by EA. You can destroy A skyscraper but just that skyscraper. The damage done in both single player and multiplayer is relatively minimal with a few large targets like a dam, though I’ve never seen anyone destroy it yet. Besides, this “levolution” as they call it, is cosmetic; you may flush out a few people out of the skyscraper, but afterwards the flow of the fight doesn’t change nor are the tides turned.
With a little bit of elbow grease and a hefty supply of C4, players could take down quite a few structures in Bad Company 2, and that’s a much older game. This is supposed to be a next generation game. Why is the destruction so fickle and why can’t all the buildings be destroyed, not just the small ones? This isn’t even a big issue but since it was on the huge list of broken gameplay promises, I don’t believe it’s a petty gripe. Oh yeah, there are two new modes add: Obliteration and Defuse. If you’ve played Sabotage or Search and Destroy from CoD4, and all the others for that matter, then you’ve played these.
Graphics & Sound
I played BF4 on PC with maximum settings and found the only positive thing about the game to be the detailed graphics and the great sound design. Considering this is an early next generation game, gamers can only imagine the level of detail on future games once next generation starts picking up speed. As for sound, the guns and explosions sound powerful with various modulation due to environment factors and even the voice acting sounds believable, despite the poor writing.
While the game looks great, even in the 64-bit version provided, this is not essential to making a good or even a decent game; aesthetics are only skin deep. Had the developers had put as much time and effort into the gameplay as they did in the graphics, Battlefield 4 may have been a much better game. This should also serve as a lesson for all developers.
Despite my near-constant reference to Call of Duty, I really am only a fan of the first Modern Warfare plus it is difficult not to compare since that game set the standard for online multiplayer during its generation. Sadly, Battlefield 4 is a waste of money for newcomers and anyone who despised the previous game since it is essentially that game with a shiny new coat of paint, considering its current state. The game might be worth it if all the issues, especially the technical ones, are resolved with forthcoming patches. But in its current condition, especially on the PC, it’s a sad state of affairs.
If you’re a Battlefield fan, then you might enjoy the game, though the PC online community is small at the moment and are currently dozens of empty servers. Does this mean the new Call of Duty will be on top again? Probably, but much like this game, it will be another yearly, assembly line piece of garbage used to generate holiday sales for oblivious shoppers.