Battlefield 4 had its share of problems. When the fourth installment of the always-entertaining military shooter franchise was released on November 15th , there was the expectation that the game would work. Well, maybe not flawlessly, but that it would playable. And why should PS4 gamers think otherwise? Critically acclaimed developer Digital Illusions CE (DICE) has delivered a rich and dynamic Battlefield experience time and time again. So who would ever think that Battlefield 4 would become a beautifully destructible mess?
Of course it took DICE a few months to fix all the glitches and deliver the Battlefield 4 that somewhat matches the pre-release hype. Notwithstanding the bugs, annoyances, and miscellaneous shortcomings, Battlefield 4 is actually a very good game.
Battlefield 4 looks spectacular. DICE put a lot of painstaking detail into the dynamic lighting, shading and textures. For example, the weapons look ridiculously realistic. Each one has a distinct look that DICE captures well. Whether you’re in campaign mode or multiplayer, there is no level that doesn’t radiate as the weather beats down on it. Speaking of weather, every level seems to change when there’s a different weather system — and the changes seem to happen when you’re about to reach a cutscene or a milestone. BF4 wants you in the action as much as humanly possible — and it stops short of putting you through cardiac arrest. The shooter delivers an intensely packed environment that feels a lot like a giant sandbox — but once you explore all the nuances that the level offers, it gets better. Trust me.
You come with the expectation that something amazing is going to happen; that once you fire that rocket launcher into a building, things are going to get completely demolished — that is if you can stay connected long enough to enjoy the mayhem. Thanks to the game’s embrace of cinematic destruction events (also known as “levolutions”), every match is unique and spontaneously spectacular.
When the level changes, so does your strategy and loadout. Everything you know is thrown out the window and shattered into a million pieces. Once you discard everything you once thought would lead your squad to victory, the fun begins. Suffice to say, Battlefield4 thrives on creativity and strategic improvisation.
Battlefield 4 takes place in 2020, six years after the events that transpired in the game’s predecessor. Tensions have flared up between the United States and Russia. You play as Sgt. Daniel “Reck” Recker, a member of a U.S. Special Operations’ Tombstone squad. You’re paired up with teammates Staff Sgt. William Dunn, Kimble “Irish” Graves and Sgt. Clayton “Pac” Pakowski. Admiral Chang, Battlefield 4′s manipulative lead villain, has blamed the United States for the assassination of Jin Jié, China’s peaceful, populist leader. The blame-shifting was part of Chang’s strategy to overthrow the Chinese government and gain Russia’s support in the process. If Chang proves to be successful, an all-out war against the United States would be inevitable.
The single-player campaign mode efficiently utilized dazzling set pieces, which kept me engaged in the chaos more than the obnoxiously cliched plot. You get so caught up in the mayhem that you almost forget that the campaign is strictly on rails — really shiny, slick, and well-polished rails. Enemy artificial intelligence is quite formidable in that opponents adapt to the changing scenery. Likewise, the AI effortlessly executes squad orders . Need some bad guys blown to bits? Done. Need an air strike on some unsuspecting Russians? Sure, why not! DICE really goes out of its way to put you in the war experience.
At one point, I stopped caring about what happened to Recker or anyone else. Then again, forming an emotional bond with video game characters isn’t commonplace. However, the characters in Battlefield 4 really aren’t memorable. They may help drive the story forward, but they ultimately fade into the smokescreen of combat. Either that or they become an untimely distraction. DICE wants gamers to feel a connection with squadmates as a way to reinforce the importance of working as a team. While DICE’s intentions are good, campaign mode occasionally falls victim to a soap opera complex, which disrupts the flow of the game.
Fortunately, Battlefield4 makes players think on their feet without much time to completely comprehend the full weight of the mission. There is a sense of urgency that runs through the game. If you get too infatuated with the gorgeous scenery, you will pay the consequences. When there’s a gunfight, find cover. When that cover is suddenly blown into bits, better find a good place to hide. To DICE’s credit, the developer does a decent job balancing story and action. However, campaign missions are surprisingly short. For a game that’s as bold and daring as Battlefield 4, there should be an increased dosage of action.
You can tell when you’re about to encounter some heavy gunfire when you come across a weapon crate. Weapon crates come in handy. The abundance of crates in campaign mode keeps the player in the action, so they’re not preoccupied while searching for ammunition.
There’s always a chance to obtain collectible weapons and dog tags. There’s always a change to switch weapons and familiarize yourself with the in-game arsenal. Even in your downtime, there’s always an opportunity to switch things up without feeling like a gun is pointed at your head. DICE encourages players to try something new, to think differently. Being consistent in BF4 means you’re too predictable — and being too predictable will likely turn you into Swiss cheese.
Multiplayer is no different. Players have access to modes including Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch, Domination, Obliteration, Defuse, Air Superiority and Capture the Flag. No matter what gamemode you play, there will be major destruction events that make you rethink your strategy. Players can destroy houses, dams, roads, skyscrapers — you name it. No matter what uniquely and superbly designed map you’re on, there will always be something to obliterate. No matter how often I saw things destruct, I was always surprised and overcome with boyish glee. On the flip side, some players will grow weary from having to think and readjust too much for a first-person shooter. To be fair, it takes a lot of brain power to adjust your strategy and loadout for 18 maps, including downloadable content maps from China Rising and Second Assault.
Before stumbling blindly into a dynamic battlefield, players have a choice to pick one of four classes: Assault, Support, Recon and Engineer. Each class has a customized set of weapons and equipment. Additional items can be unlocked after completing assignments. Weapons and equipment can be modified. The seemingly infinite customizable options available will allow the player to find a comfortable way to play. Players can even customize the way their weapon fires: single file, multi-burst, and full auto. The options don’t feel extraneous. Rather, the customization allows the player to feel a sense of mastery. Games like Call of Duty have customization features that focus primarily on appearances whereas Battlefield focuses on functionality, which can be custom-tailored in mid-game.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the vehicles: There’s ATVs, tanks, jets, helicopters, boats, gunships — and I’m probably forgetting some. Battlefield 4 goes from good to great when you hop into one of the game’s many vehicles. There was so much adrenaline pumping through my veins when I flew my attack helicopter between skyscrapers on the Siege of Shanghai multiplayer map. I could never get tired gunning down the enemy team. The first-person cockpit view adds a nice touch that keeps players fully immersed in the match. It’s completely understandable to look at the television screen in complete disbelief and wonder if you’re actually playing a first-person shooter. DICE has implemented balancing factors, so that assault vehicles are not completely overpowering. For instance, most assault vehicles have limited ammo capacity and take a while to reload, so it’s important to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to fire — or else you might end up in the line of fire sooner than later. Did I mention vehicles that be customized too?
Battlefield4 is so complex and rich with content that it’s taken months for people to dig through the game and uncover brand new experiences. Even though the game was released back in October last year, Battlefield 4 never feels dated. There are gamers who are constantly uploading their matches on YouTube and sharing their streams on PlayStation Network; many of these videos touch on very specific nuances about the game that deserve a second look. For example, there is a way that players could appreciate Battlefield 4 in a hands-off kind of way: Commander Mode. One player on each team to issue orders and strategizes from a top-down tactical screen to 31 teammates. This gives each game an extra layer of strategic coordination that makes every match feel worthwhile.
Let’s be clear: Battlefield 4 really shines when it comes to multiplayer mode. Once you leave the world on rails and explore the intensely packed multiplayer maps, you feel that you’re in the middle of a chaotic war — and there’s nothing more satisfying than being in the middle of the chaos. Fortunately, DICE was able to smooth out the gameplay experience over the past few months, restoring Battlefield 4 to the glory it should’ve had on launch day. Don’t worry, folks. You can play Batlefield 4 and enjoy the near-flawless combat that will keep you glued to the frontlines for months, if not years, to come.
You can purchase Battlefield 4 for $59.99.