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Review

Battlefield 4 Review

Obliterating the enemy.

EA’s main contender for the First Person Shooter throne is back with the latest entry in DICE’s Battlefield series. Battlefield 3 saw them create a new universe for the single player, broaden the scope of the multiplayer once more, to include up to 64 players on PC and the return of jets. Does Battlefield 4 continue the push to an ever more refined version of this expansive wargame?

Battlefield 4′s single player campaign revolves around the actions of Tombstone squad and the USS Valkyrie, in the middle of a war breaking out between Russo-Chinese forces and the US.

There are some really nice ideas folded into the campaign from the multiplayer, which try to make the game stand apart from both Battlefield 3 and other shooters out there. The very first mission, Fishing in Baku, shows this off quite ably, giving you new tools and mechanics to play with in a level which features a more literal field of battle, rather than a disguised corridor shooter.

So you have at your disposal the Tactical Binoculars, which allow you to scan around to spot and mark enemies by holding the right trigger. Tapping that trigger when looking at an enemy will direct your squad to target them with a hail of gunfire, which might allow you to flank and get the drop on them.

Then again, you can just hop into a buggy and skid around the map with Irish, a squadmate portrayed by Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire), firing at enemies, go on foot and sneak up for stealthy kills, or almost whatever you like. It brings that element of freedom from the multiplayer back into the single player, and blends it with some of those more scripted sequences quite nicely.

“The game’s short campaign feels as though it’s missing a first and third act on either side”

Or it would if the whole thing didn’t feel like it was held together by duct tape and elastic bands. I found events failing to trigger and requiring me to restart a checkpoint completely, far too easily stumbled upon a number of enemy spawn points, and consider the ally AI to be distinctly lacking in intelligence, as they happily run past enemies, don’t bother to follow me around and couldn’t hit a barn door with their gunfire.

The story and script is similarly lacklustre, as the game’s short, seven mission campaign feels as though it’s missing a first and third act on either side. Major world events never feel fleshed out and characterisation is particularly one dimensional, where Irish irrationally despises and distrusts Hannah, only to change his mind at the drop of a hat.

The franchise’s roots have always been in the multiplayer, but after the fun-filled and cleverly pastiched single player of Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3′s flawed but solid new foundations in a more serious universe, it looked like DICE might be getting the hang of single player campaigns. Instead we get this disappointment which is also, as a twisted upside, surprisingly short.

bf4big

Evolved Controls

  • Battlefield 4 adapts the control scheme, with a shoulder button or trigger now dedicated to spotting enemies and bringing up the CommoRose conveniently. For vehicles, the left stick now handles throttle control, making things more consistent for newcomers. Old hands might want to use the “Veteran” controls, though on PS3 this oddly uses L1/R1 for the throttle as opposed to L2/R2 from BF3.

However, it is the multiplayer which still makes this worth your time, bringing back the core gameplay of Battlefield 3, but with tweaks and changes across the board. There’s nothing too revolutionary here, so in general you should be able to pick up and play the game just as before, even with the altered control scheme.

The first thing you’ll notice when diving in, is that the game is a lot more lenient and generous to new players. Your starting load out on foot gives you two pieces of equipment and two attachments to your main gun, while all of the vehicles give you similar boosts. It’s a night and day difference when you can now hop into a plane and start off with flares, heat seeking missiles and radar right away, instead of having to struggle to get kills and points with just your main cannons, while those who have levelled up slaughter you merrily.

As you level up, guns you unlock will start off with iron sights once more, but through randomised Battlepacks, you can pick up new camoflague, weapon attachments and XP boosts. These are unlocked every few levels as an additional reward to the regular progression, and are an interesting twist, though I personally would rather have a standard and clear upgrade path.

The new game modes also shake things up, and though Conquest, Domination and Rush all return, we have new ideas such as the stand out new mode, Obliteration. This sees both teams fighting over and trying to deliver a bomb to each of three enemy locations. It’s much more like a sport, almost, but it set things up brilliantly for tense gameplay that absolutely requires teamwork and the use of vehicles to get the best result.

And vehicles are back en masse. Boats are given a much more integral role, and lead to more water-based maps. Paracel Storm and Flood Zone in particular absolutely require the use of boats, submersible LAVs and, of course, helicopters, to get around as quickly as possible.

The way that the water can easily bobble you about as the wind picks up and creates stronger waves in the middle of a tropical storm on Paracel Storm is quite fantastic. Combined with the new attack boats, which are effectively the LAVs of the sea, there’s a lot to like about this new addition, and what it brings to the gameplay.

There are a handful of neat tricks built into the maps, in the form of Levolution. They’re nice touches, that will open up or close paths and routes through a map, whether it’s locking a roof access ladder, or dropping the antenna into the dish of a giant Goldeneye-esque satellite dish. I’m still not sure it justifies the marketing term, but at their best, these are big events that can change the way a map plays.

“The multiplayer is the life and soul of the game, and lives up to and improves upon what Battlefield 3 had to offer”

For current generation consoles, you’re still stuck with smaller maps and 24 players, while PC and next-gen will see the full 64. At times, even with the narrowed focus, it can feel a little empty, with what are still large maps taking quite a while to cross in order to get to the action. Not to mention that, though I think it looks great for a PS3 game, it certainly suffers from detail and texture pop in, and the visual gulf to the PC on High setting is huge.

The best experience is always to play in a squad with friends, sticking together and spawning off one another. Additionally, I actually found that infantry only maps and the game modes which really push players to just one or two objectives help to keep things more entertaining on current consoles. However, it’s when maps can host 32, 48 or 64 players on PC and next-gen, that this game will really come alive.

What’s Good:

  • Polishes and refines Battlefield 3′s multiplayer gameplay.
  • A bevy of new and interesting maps and game modes, with some spectacular Levolution moments.
  • Both new and improved naval combat.
  • Some nice ideas in the single player gameplay.

What’s Bad:

  • Buggy and poorly written single player campaign is ultimately very disappointing.
  • Can still feel empty and sparse on current generation consoles.
  • A bunch of launch bugs and crashes, which are already in the process of being addressed..

Gamers have always been rather vocal when traditionally single player franchises add a multiplayer game, worrying about the diversion of resources. Battlefield 4 goes in the opposite direction, with a single player which feels tacked on purely to show off some of the online map locales.

But the multiplayer is the life and soul of the game, and lives up to and improves upon what Battlefield 3 had to offer. There’s greater variety of vehicles, maps which push off into new and interesting directions with changeable elements thanks to Levolution.

Yet finding a score is tricky. The single player is quite frankly poor, while there is quite a deficit between what current and next generation machines will offer. Though this score is weighted to reflect the overall package available, you personally need to take into account what you want from the game, whether that’s a good and solid single player, and what platform(s) you will be playing on now and down the line.

Score: 7/10

This review is based upon the current generation and PC versions of the game.

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23 Comments
  1. wonkey-willy
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    so basically battlefield 3.5
    this could of been an add on as opposed to a full blown,full priced game!
    Bring on cod

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 12:08.
    • wonkey-willy
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      from what ive seen(only seen a mate play it) the levolution is just a set piece on each of the maps not everything can be destroyed unlike bad company.

      Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 12:10.
      • DJ Judas
        Epic
        Since: Aug 2008

        There are levels that are completely destructible. It’s just the cityscape levels that are impossible to accommodate complete destruction in.

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 12:35.
      • Eldaveo
        Member
        Since: Oct 2013

        Sort of. Environments seem a lot less destructive than Bad Company 2, but you can still blow away the various chest-high walls, etc scattered around the map.
        You’re right though, BF4 is essentially BF 3.5, roll on COD! :)

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 12:35.
      • BrendanCalls
        Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc - YOHIMBÉ!!!
        Since: Forever

        I’d disagree. There’s quite a bit to set it apart from BF3, more than enough to qualify it as new game. I can’t say about BFBC2, only played a few hours of it in total.
        Also where did this “0.5″ description get traction, I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past but lets face its a cliche that seems to only get applied to the top games, COD, BF, FIFA etc…
        What can be expected of these types of games, wholesale changes are impossible, it can only be improved and or refined upon really. Marking every new iteration of a shooter or a sports game as “previous version + 0.5″ isn’t really fair.

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 13:11.
    • boeboe
      Member
      Since: Feb 2013

      Was that sarcasm when you mention COD?

      Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 13:38.
  2. double-o-dave
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    I haven’t played the single player, but as for the multiplayer I’m enjoying it a whole lot more than BF3. For some reason BFBC2 which I love and BF3 just seemed completely different where is this seems more in-between. Like it says in the review, I’d prefer a much for straight forward upgrade path like BFBC2. At the moment it confuses the hell out of me trying to keep track of whats unlocking and so forth.
    I’m looking forward to the PS4 version (even though its 900 upscaled to 1080) as I never noticed there was such a difference between 720 and 1080 til I bought a 27″ LED monitor a couple of days ago as opposed to my 42″ HD Ready plasma. Now I can see why people whinge when games are not 1080.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 12:52.
  3. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    I wish they would release the multiplayer as a standalone download at almost half price. That would make me buy it on PS4 day one, I’m not interested in paying full price for this as is.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 14:29.
  4. Old School
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    I like this site and their reviews are normally spot on but I have to say this review misses the mark completely. You should have based your review off the next gen version of the game and not docked points for it being held back on current gen.

    Judging it too much by the single player just shows you don’t understand what Battlefield actually is, it’s an online game pure and simple, the campaign is an after thought, it’s there if you want but anyone who knows what BF is understands it’s a multiplayer game.

    Bugs? Don’t remember Skyrim getting docked points for bugs and a lot of those bugs won’t ever be fixed.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 17:34.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Thanks for the feedback, and I appreciate that Battlefield is very heavily aimed at the multiplayer side of things. However, we’ve aimed towards giving a review of the overall package.

      As I said at the conclusion, if you are skipping past the single player and the current generation versions, then you personally can decide to think of the final score we’ve awarded as an 8 or 9.

      Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 18:09.
      • Old School
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Fair point, hope I didn’t come across as rude. Was just surprised to see Single Player get talked about so much.

        She. Tbf this is your opinion and I should respect that, still love the site lol.

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 18:15.
      • Old School
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Ignore the she bit Lmao.

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 18:21.
    • gazzagb
      Master of speling mitakse
      Since: Feb 2009

      It’s not exactly TSA’s fault that they were sent current-gen versions of the game to review, is it?
      And I think MS have embargoed the Xbox One version of the game, but Eurogamer have a PS4 version if you want to read a next-gen review, although they say pretty much the same that the single player is disappointing.

      I agree with you though that a MP-focused game shouldn’t really be knocked on it’s poor single player (same thing often happens with COD), and the same with the Assassin’s Creed games where the SP is way better than the MP (although strangely reviews don’t complain about that as much!)

      Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 18:25.
      • Old School
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Didn’t realise they only had current gen to work with. Stupidity on my part.

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 19:26.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        No problem. I just wanted to hop in and make sure to qualify my opinions in context. :)

        We had PS3 and PC together, which I specifically requested in order to be able to talk with some relevance to next gen.

        Again, finding what we felt was an appropriate score for the end was damn tricky! The words are always more important. :)

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 19:46.
      • gazzagb
        Master of speling mitakse
        Since: Feb 2009

        How would you compare it to the BF3 campaign Tef? Even though it was short + a forgettable storyline, I enjoyed the different vehicle levels and set pieces, so hoping for more of the same really.
        Nice review too! :)

        Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 22:58.
  5. Ryumoau
    Member
    Since: Jul 2013

    Hopefully Ghosts will put more effort in its single player mode than the last two battlefield games have.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 18:24.
  6. scion_tc1
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    A nicely wrapped up review if I say so myself. The single player is lacking, but lets be fair who the heck buys Battlefield for the single player anyway? It really is a multiplayer focused game. With that in mind I’d say it’d get a 9/10 as when it works (Damn RSoD – which seems to be fixed… for now) is a damn good game. I do agree though as a whole with the terrible campaign 7/10 would be a fair score.

    Teflon it was great laugh to play with you… not so much against you ¬.¬ Shall need to do it again some time.

    Also. Holy cow I actually commented on something in TSA. lol.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 19:04.
  7. wick15
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I enjoy BF4. It’s certainly a massive step up from 3. The multiplayer is a lot more forgiving and enjoyable. What I would say though is that the game feels incredibly rushed. The beta they had a month ago clearly has had no effect on the final build of the game. I spent the majority of Friday just getting the game to work properly on my PC. I could list the bugs, but there are far too many. The game has clearly been pushed to get out before Call of Duty. It really could have done with being delayed by a month or so. Not all of the bugs are down to DICE though. AMD and Nvidia should have pulled their fingers out and got some proper drivers released for the launch, especially AMD since they’re the official PC hardware partner for the game.

    Anyway, rant over. The game is fantastic when it does work and I think Teflon’s review is pretty fair on it.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 19:05.
  8. matthangzhou
    Member
    Since: Sep 2010

    I’ve enjoyed playing the game so far. Like the China inclusion instead of the usual US vs middle east/russia.

    Not to happy with being charged twice for it from Gamestop. Definitely not worth the $80 I’ve been charged.

    Comment posted on 04/11/2013 at 19:45.
  9. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    to be honest I think this review is a bit poor. Everyone knows Battlefield is for the MP, SP is an add on and that is the way it is. To give it a 7/10 when the game is clearly much better than BF3 is strange. The MP fun I’ve had so far has already made my purchase worth more than BF3 and COD put together.

    Comment posted on 05/11/2013 at 09:35.
  10. tomtom789
    Member
    Since: Nov 2013

    Did you know if you get Battlefield 4: Standard Edition (PlayStation 4) at walmart.com you can receive a free $10 gift card. I believe you can still get the gift card here: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=6u8GgEN4Bi7ZGZE6ZMgc4A%3D%3D

    Comment posted on 28/11/2013 at 16:44.

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Battlefield 4
  • Developer:EA Digital Illusions CE
  • Publisher:EA
  • Platforms:PS3, PS4, X360, X One, PC
  • Release Date:01/11/13

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