In its 11-year history, the Battlefield series has provided gamers with some memorable moments. Whether it’s a dramatic scene from the single player campaign or a spectacular kill in multiplayer, gamers will never forget that moment for as long as they live.
EA Digital Illusions CE, the game’s developer, is hoping to provider gamers with even more lasting memories in the latest instalment, Battlefield 4.
The title is the first in the series to use the Frostbite 3 engine, which has seen a number of enhancements in the gameplay. The first of the main new implementations is the ability to lean around cover and walls in order to fire at enemies. While this isn’t the most effective cover system, it’s a welcome addition to the series.
Furthermore, during the single player campaign, players are now able to target an enemy or a group of enemies using the right bumper, otherwise known as “engaging”. This feature is also available online, as players can alert their teammates to the location of the opposing teams by “spotting” them.
Other new features which have been introduced to the gameplay include the ability to counter melee attacks from the front; being able to shoot with a sidearm while swimming and diving underwater to avoid enemy detection. All of the new additions ensure the pricey upgrade from its predecessor is worth every penny.
Once again, the game is split straight down the middle with the single player and the multiplayer. They almost feel like two completely separate games.
Battlefield 4’s only single player game mode is the campaign. Set in 2020, six years after the events of Battlefield 3, tensions between Russia and United States are at an all-time high due to a conflict. Players take control of Recker, a member of the special operations squad Tombstone (alongside Dunn, Irish and Pac), as they attempt to stop Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, from overthrowing the Chinese government. Unfortunately, the story itself is not explained well and players will find it difficult to get to grasps with it.
As we have (regrettably) come to expect with single player campaigns in first-person shooters, the story mode can be completed within approximately five hours. Furthermore, the campaign’s script feels more suited to a film over a video game, and the lack of emotional attachment to the characters means players won’t get engrossed, even in the more dramatic scenes.
Such scenes include players blowing up a dam, infiltrating a town and paradropping onto a ship – the standard thrills and spills we’ve come to expect from first-person shooters. While none of the features are particularly new or innovative, there are a couple of exhilarating moments which will have gamers at the edge of their seats. Plus, there are three alternative endings, adding to the replayability of the title.
During each mission in the campaign, players earn points by killing enemies. Each defeated enemy is worth one hundred points, with bonus points awarded for multiple kills, special types of kills and squad kills. The points are totalled and players are rewarded with a bronze, silver or gold medallion for each mission. Each rank contains unlockables in the form of weapons, which can be used in the campaign. Once again, this isn’t a particularly original feature, but it does add another dimension to the story mode.
For the first time in the series, Battlefield 4 introduces more sandbox-like levels. The campaign is a lot more open, allowing for multiple ways of approaching targets and for discovering collectibles. Such collectibles include weapons, which are usually obtained from deceased enemies. Although, at the start of the game, the choice of weapons is sparse, collecting them over the course of the campaign quickly builds up the player’s arsenal and is rewarding.
In addition, dog tags can also be gathered; these are hidden in areas players aren’t likely to traverse and, once secured, can be used in the multiplayer portion of the game, mostly for bragging rights.
One of the big surprises of the campaign is the inclusion of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the very beginning. While it may come as a surprise, especially to hardcore gamers, the song is accompanied with the line “Oh man, I don’t wanna die to this song”, providing a laugh out loud moment early on.
Unfortunately / Thankfully (delete as appropriate), the remainder of the game’s musical score is a lot darker. After the success of the Battlefield 3 soundtrack, Jukka Rintamäki and Johan Skugge return in the latest outing with another excellent set of compositions. The themes evident throughout the soundtrack feature a deeper tone than in previous versions, which nicely reflects the direction the series has gone in.
It’s clearly obvious that the game’s developer has focused the majority of their time and effort into the game’s multiplayer – where the title truly comes alive. Battlefield 4 supports up to twenty four players over Xbox Live across the title’s seven game modes.
The online has seen the introduction of two new game modes: Obliteration and Defuse. Obliteration has two teams fighting over possession of a bomb that needs detonating at enemy objectives, while Defuse consists of quick rounds in which both sides take it in turns to detonate the bomb.
Elsewhere, Battlefield 4 sees the welcome return of the Conquest, Team Deathmatch, Rush, Squad Deathmatch and Domination game modes. Each one provides gamers with a different objective, and there’s enough variety in each of them to keep players entertained.
There are ten multiplayer maps in total (with more promised via downloadable content), each of which varies in size and landscape. Smaller maps allow for some extreme close-combat fights, while the larger maps are the base for some epic vehicle battles.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Battlefield title without the vehicles, and the latest instalment is no exception as tanks, APCs, jets, helicopters, transport vehicles and boats all make an appearance. While players are able to briefly use vehicles within the single player, there’s ample opportunity to try them out online, though new players may find them difficult to control at first. Needless to say, they add a touch of realism to the title that players will appreciate.
Furthermore, destructible environments, one of the series’ stand-out features, are back. A good majority of Battlefield 4’s landscapes can be destroyed by heavy artillery, which (especially in multiplayer) can be used to the player’s advantage and opens up new areas to access. It’s a great feature, which has been utilised well.
However, despite all the game’s strong points, it does have its flaws. There are noticeable bugs, such as textures failing to load, and the title can cause consoles to freeze (especially while loading multiplayer games).
Overall, Battlefield 4 is a great addition to the series. While the single player campaign will inevitably be overlooked by players, the multiplayer is as strong as ever, despite its problems. Nevertheless, you can’t help but feel that the developer has been holding back for the next-generation version of the title. If you’re picking up a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One, it may be worth holding out.