I won’t claim I’m absolutely legendary at Battlefield 3, but I have played it a whole lot, because it is one of my favorite games. I jumped at the chance to play the Battlefield 4 beta, and was informed I had early access because I played Medal of Honor: Warfighter…they lied. I couldn’t download the beta, so I was forced to wait for it to be open. A few days didn’t kill me and as soon as the Playstation store updated on the 4th, I downloaded it. As soon as it finished I jumped right into a match and….hated it.
I played Conquest and for those that don’t know, this is pretty much Domination, but on a larger scale with vehicles. There are three points – A, B, and C – that you must capture and hold. Each team has a certain number of “tickets” that are the reinforcement of troops—once those run out the game is over. Controlling one or no outposts will cause your ticket number to constantly decrease, even if no one on your team is dying. That’s the basis out of the way, no onto my personal experience.
I joined into a session that was ongoing and I immediately noticed this haze or something I couldn’t quite see through. As I was playing I kept trying to figure it out. Did the textures not load properly? Everything looks so bland. Maybe it will look better on the PS4? No that can’t be right, but it is just a beta, maybe it isn’t polished. I was a Recon soldier, because I love sniping in Battlefield, since there is a bullet drop over distance. It didn’t take long to realize there wasn’t any, and all my bullets were going pretty much straight—maybe dropping a tiny bit. Thinking how bad that is, I jumped in a vehicle and was equally disappointed. It took me a minute to even move the vehicle, because there is no longer a button to press. Instead, you push forward on the joystick. I hate this type of control system, and immediately jumped out and continued on foot. I kept playing as I told myself I would just have to get use to the changes—the game still will be good. It didn’t feel like there was anything new and it wasn’t as big of a change as I was hoping. I was seriously worried at this point.
Before the next match started, I backed-out to the main menu, and changed the vehicle control settings. I fixed them to how I wanted so at the very least I could drive a car now. I joined back into another lobby and the first thing I noticed was the haze disappeared. It was clear as day, it looked nothing like the first game. The second thing I noticed: there was a giant skyscraper. It hit me instantly like a big hand across the face informing me of my stupidity. Outpost B in my first game was on a pile of rubble, in my second game, it was on top of a skyscraper. It didn’t take much to understand that before I joined the last game, someone knocked over that skyscraper. Yes, that’s right, that building being toppled over is player-controlled.
Continuing in my idiotic mindset for the first game, there is bullet drop. I have no idea how I missed it the first time I was playing. The map isn’t the largest, since it is a city level, so I had to shoot across the entire map to notice something. Now I was happy about there being no dust, I could control the vehicles, and there is bullet drop! Currently, I am extremely happy with how Battlefield 4 feels. You can now interact with the environment. You can raise bollards on bridges to stop tanks from crossing. It makes the enemy hop out of the tank to lower them, which of course, makes them vulnerable for attack. In a building you can lower the shutters to prevent enemies from entering on one side, to funnel their attack. How does one get on top of a skyscraper? You take an elevator of course. It’s fairly comical as well. You’re outside dodging bullets and emptying clips into a firefight as you dash into the building reaching the elevators. Then you stop and wait. It’s only funnier when the three guys armed to the teeth are facing the wrong way when the doors open only to be gunned down in a couple seconds. Trust me, it happens the first few times until you understand the level.
Most importantly, the beta feels like a Battlefield game. The weight of the weapons is there, the varied classes are diverse enough to matter, the sound of a helicopter flying over you to the ear-ringing near miss of a tank shell exploding right behind you, the sheer panic when you turn a corner to see a tank, or how about the panic a tank feels when they spot someone with C4 charging them. Everything felt right as I played it.
Then, there are the added little things that make it even better. For example: when you’re near a corner or behind some cover, aiming will cause your guy to automatically lean around/peek over cover. It’s fluent and seamless to really feel authentic. A tank doesn’t just have unlimited ammo to shoot quickly either. You have four shots that you can shoot fairly quickly, and then reloading one takes more time. This is brilliant, because it makes you be a little more careful about shooting everything in a tank. I found this out by mistakenly going up against another tank with only one shot then waiting for a reload, and before I even could, I was destroyed.
I’m a huge fan of the quick communication as well. When you hold down R2/RB, command prompts appear for you to efficiently communicate with your team. Simple things like “GO”, “Thanks” “Affirmative” and more useful commands such as: “Medic” “Need Ammo” “Need A Ride”. These latter ones will also have a mark appear on the mini-map to let everyone know what you need. Most importantly, here’s a quick tip since many people may not know about this feature, as basic as it is. When you tap R2/RB, you mark whatever it is you’re looking at: a person, tank, or helicopter. It’s immensely helpful to your team in the battle. Seriously, always, always mark when you can. It gets you points too, so why wouldn’t you?
Team is the key word when it comes to Battlefield as many of you probably already know. In Call of Duty, one or two people can easily control the entire round. Not in Battlefield. Sure, one person may be the MVP and seriously contribute, but the best moments are when people work as a team. I was lucky enough to be part of a really good squad once, that throughout the entire game, we stuck together. One time we were stuck inside a building trying to take outpost C, because a helicopter was pinning us down. I had two RPGs left so I had to make them count. Suddenly, the helicopter gets a target on it and I realize some Recon troop (doesn’t have to be my squad) has a laser-site on it. With the heli painted, I can now lock on my RPG, making for an extremely easy shot. It only takes one to send the helicopter crashing. I hear a “move out!” from my squad member using his quick commands, and we’re off charging the outpost.
We enter a firefight where my two squad mates end up dying as I duck behind cover. I know there is at least one enemy left, maybe two. Popping out to shoot them is risky, so I wait, knowing in a few seconds, my squad will spawn on me. It’s an agonizing couple seconds when you’re all alone, but soon they appear and we pop out of cover easily taking down the last enemy. He was charging me and got stuck out in the open. As we wait for the outpost to be taken completely, shouts ring out “I need ammo!” “Medic!” We throw down kits to restock on what we need and as soon as we are ready. We jump in a nearby vehicle and rush off to the next outpost.
It’s a blast when things go correctly in this game, and it’s refreshing to know that the same old Battlefield feel is still present. The ability to use different tactics to achieve your goal is always an inventive style of gameplay. For example: generally, whoever controls outpost B on top of the skyscraper will have the better strategic position to control the battlefield. One game the other team controlled it completely. They had the elevators locked down with C4 so there was no way you could even step out without being blow up instantly, if you managed to get past that there were hundreds of bullets to rip through you anyways. I tried taking a helicopter up, but there were Recon troops using laser-sights so any RPGs would take me out instantly. Attempting to take that outpost was suicide, so I hoped in a tank and began shooting at the supports. I saw teammates of mine shooting RPGs at it as well and before you know it, the entire building was coming down. Outpost B was now on the ground and it was a whole new battle. It’s the magic of Battlefield that brings you so much entertainment.
The beta gives us a little idea when it comes to leveling. It’s pretty similar to previous Battlefield games. You level up your individual “kits” as you use them, level up generic weapons like “assault rifle” or “sniper”, and also vehicles you may use. For those that care, C4 is now used by the Recon class (how it was in Battlefield 2). There are now Missions that are basically a way to compete against friends. Who can get the most knife kills, the most headshots, or the most captures? Simple things like that which may become more addicting than you originally believe. There are battlefield packs you earn every few levels that unlock items with a possibility of an advanced item. What I also like is the new feature of the field upgrade system. Based on how well you and your squad does during the match, you can earn perks like faster sprint, more armor, or an extra grenade. The better you do, the faster this bar goes up; however, if your entire squad dies, then it resets and you have to start from the beginning. It’s another nice touch that makes you focus on team work instead of individual success.
Best of all, Battlefield 4 finally adds colorblind support! Yes, to many of you out there this doesn’t mean anything, but to people like me, this makes all the difference, and that’s why it’s mentioned here. Even better, there are three options to choose from: Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia. No more shooting your green squad-mates because you swore they were red. Again, to many gamers out there, you couldn’t care about this, but the importance of this feature cannot be overestimated for those that it affects (as seen in this reddit thread).
I did run into a few problems, which I assume (and hope) they will be fixed before the actual game launches. Marking people is somewhat difficult, even though I had my cross-hairs on an enemy, it wouldn’t allow me to mark them. It’s frustrating when such an advantageous feature doesn’t work right. The other main problem was sometimes my own teammates friendly marker would not appear above their head. So, you start firing at them and it is only after you see your bullets have no affect that you realize they are on your team. Sometimes the marker never appeared, or it would take a good five or more seconds. It wasn’t just me either, I noticed my teammates shooting at me quite a bit, and I sadly understood why. These should be simple fixes and this is exactly what a beta is for. There were only a couple times when I couldn’t join a session but nothing like GTA V.
Something I noticed that could be complete fantasy, is the game felt a little easier. Flying a helicopter was really simple I found, I consider myself a good pilot, but I crashed into a skyscraper once, and bounced off. I was on fire, which scared me of course, but it was put out automatically and I flew on without a problem. In fact, if you’re health falls below 50% in a vehicle, that doesn’t mean it needs to be fixed right away. It is a little more user-friendly this way and less intense compared to Battlefield 3, but that could also be a downside to some. Shooting seems easier on a whole, and leveling as well. However, saying all this, I have to keep in mind this is just a beta. Everything might be toned down to be easier, the helicopter is a Little Bird so it can dart around easily, the leveling is most likely upped to give a better experience in the short open beta where people don’t have time to level fully, and also, these could be a bunch of newbies I’m playing against, which just makes me feel like I’m better than I actually am. I can’t say for sure yet, but it just continually feels like this game is easier than Battlefield 3. We’ll have to wait and see if it actually ends up any easier. Either way, I love this beta and strongly suggest you download it before it closes. It has made me even more excited for when the game launches on October 29th.