The main contender against the arguably most popular franchise Call of Duty has to be Battlefield. Even though these two games are often compared closely with one another, they really aren’t that similar. They may be both first-person shooters, but that’s only the genre. Nothing shows this contrast greater than Ghosts and Battlefield 4. Like the title suggests, Battlefield tries to encompass an entire battlefield into its gameplay and man does it succeed.
When I say succeed, I mean the multiplayer, because the campaign is nothing to write home about. You play as Sergeant Daniel “Reck” Recker member of the US Special operations squad with the call sign “Tombstone”. Unlike Battlefield 3, where the player jumped around to control different military soldiers to experience as much of the military as possible, Battlefield 4 never changes characters. That certainly keeps the story more coherent, but the story is laughable so it doesn’t really matter either way. The story takes place six years after Battlefield 3 and is pretty standard. Tensions are still pretty high between Russia and the United States, but now China is also a worry. There is a coup d’état in the works by a guy named Admiral Chang, and if he succeeds he will have full backing from the Russians.
I’m afraid to go further into the story because I think it may be spoiler territory, but it’s actually a little hard to be sure. There are plenty of “twists” but that’s in quotations, because there was never a single moment in the game that I didn’t see coming from a mile away. There were laughable moments when some big secrets were revealed, and I always thought, “oh…was I not supposed to know that yet?” So I won’t say anything further about the plot, but needless to say, things don’t go so well. War comes closer and closer, and your squad is the only one who can stop it…of course.
The music is doable, nothing entirely memorable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad—it gets the job done so you can’t complain. The graphics on the other hand are beautiful. Battlefield has never looked so good, and once again next-gen displays its power. The facial features are scary accurate, the lighting effects are amazing, guns have great detail, the color range is vivid, and the sets are beautiful. The amount of detail incorporated into every level is astounding, and there are plenty of big action sequences that will really take your breath away. Then there is always that great moment of reaching the end of the level, looking back, and seeing all the real-time destruction that occurred in the previous firefight. Best of all, the levels are huge. Admittedly, most of the time you are forced down a linear hallway, but there are multiple instances where you are given one big open square, and it’s up to you on how you complete the objective.
Now to the all important aspect of this game: the multiplayer. Battlefield has become famous for having large-scale maps, lots of vehicles, and tons of destruction. Battlefield 4 does all this and then some. Dice did exactly what a fourth title in a franchise should do. They kept all the same core gameplay, everything that everyone has always loved, and they tweaked the winning formula only slightly to make it even better. Let me say right now, if you loved Battlefield 3, you will love this installment.
Battlefield isn’t just about big maps and lots of things that go boom. Battlefield has always put a heavy emphasis on teamwork, putting its importance higher than almost everything else. This is easily seen right away with four distinct classes: Assault (medic), Engineer, Support, and Recon. This isn’t anything new and the classes are pretty self-explanatory. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses. Unless, of course, you work together with your squad to diversify between classes, then you’ll overcome any weakness. Once again, teamwork is imperative.
Battlefield forces this upon you by putting you in a squad with other people no matter what. I can safely say, if your squad works together, you will have an infinitely better chance at completing whatever objective you are attempting. The Squad Leader can mark the targets they want the squad to attack or defend, and you will receive more points for listening to those commands. There are also Field Upgrades, where the better your squad does, the more powerful they become by getting bonuses like armor increase, faster heath regeneration, and others such goodies. However, if everyone dies at the same time, then some progress is lost. Meaning, if you’re the last person alive, it’s better to wait for someone else to spawn before risking your life. Are you getting the point yet? Work with your squad, because there are too many benefits to waste if you fight alone.
Honestly, if you try to play the multiplayer with a mindset of individual play, you’ll really be missing out on what’s great about it. Yes, there are the standard modes of Team Deathmatch and a smaller version of Squad Deathmatch. Those will probably be your best bet if you just want to run train on people without worry of a helicopter flying by and blasting you with a missile. The truly entertaining modes are those that utilize the entire playing field with large teams.
This is when Battlefield 4 shines as one of the best multiplayer experiences around. The maps are huge, and I do mean huge. Everything about this game is massive, especially when it comes to destruction. Think you’re safe under that highway, in that hotel, or on that skyscraper? Guess again. A few charges here, a few rockets there, and you better get running before those structures collapse on you. I lost count how many times I’ve seen tanks take out an entire building because there was one person hiding in it that they wanted dead. Not only does it look amazing, it also changes the battlefield. A fallen skyscraper kicks up a lot of dust, and a pile of rubble makes for great hiding places. Then there are levels where weather can change, and what was originally a sunny day is now a typhoon with giant waves to navigate. With the most interactive environment I’ve seen yet, Battlefield 4 keeps what people love and makes it even bigger.
Unfortunately for some, the biggest lobby, which is Conquest where both teams can have up to thirty-two people are only for PC, PS4 ,or Xbox One. It’s so massive, the old generation can’t handle it, especially the biggest map of all. This one map is absolutely enormous, with a total of seven different outposts to fight over (a level usually only has five). When I first played that map, I was able to start in a tank as the driver, and second person soon spawned as my gunner. Little did I know, there were four more tanks to ride in. As our army began their first movements, the roaring jets zoomed over head followed by the whirling blades of helicopters. I felt like I was in a tank platoon as we all stayed together, and soon we could see the other team. Terrifyingly, all their tanks stuck together as well, with helicopters hovering over them, and we headed straight for them. One of their jets flew low to make the first strike. Then the tank barrage started, as the sound of cannon fire was constantly booming, with back and forth volleys between the two armies. The helicopters began their own air battle above our heads. Helicopters exploded and came crashing down, with soldiers bailing out and opening their parachutes hoping to reach the ground or be picked off helplessly in the air.
My tank was taking a lot of damage, but someone else on my team was repairing it—trying to keep it alive as long as possible. My gunner was shooting any infantry he could see—in fear they were aiming rockets at me. Alarms were ringing in my tank that someone was using a laser-sight to paint my tank as a target for their team. I lasted no longer and finally was destroyed. I had to sit there for a moment and gather myself. I had played a lot of Battlefield before, but it never felt like that, it had never been as massive as that onslaught of vehicles. Playing a game mode that I’ve played hundreds of times before, and it still felt entirely new.
That’s what Battlefield does best, and it’s something I’ve always loved about it. There is so much to do in the game that it never grows old. Each level changes based on the game mode, maybe not physically, but tactically. In large levels like Conquest, it feels like anarchy unless you have your wits about you, and you may be able to take a Flag without seeing anyone, since the maps are so large. In Rush, it feels like stages of attacking and defending constantly, like there are lines you need to push through or hold. Obliteration, a mode where both teams fight for one bomb, can feel like a tug of war.
I’m not just talking about the different game modes either. Battlefield 4 is so large and so diverse, that it can feel entirely different even in the same game mode. One level, you may focus on sniping for long distance headshots, or find yourself in a sniper duel with another player across the map. Another time, maybe you feel like leading the charge on the ground, and taking outposts, or setting the bomb. When that grows old, you can always hop in a helicopter or jet and have a mini dogfight. Once again, the games feels entirely new. Then get in a boat, or a tank, or an anti-air vehicle and ruin everyone’s day that is foolish enough to fly over you. Battlefield 4 does such an amazing job at incorporating so many different factors, that the game is constantly new and diverse to really give it some longevity.
Even better, the Commander mode has made a return to Battlefield 4. Remember how I keep saying that Battlefield stresses teamwork and communication? The Commander Mode is the pinnacle of this concept. One person on each team can volunteer to be the Commander. Doing so takes you out of the game and your screen becomes the map. You no longer fight, but guide your team to victory. You can use UAV’s to see enemy troops, fire cruise missiles, use EMPs, infantry scans, supply ammo, promote squads, and more. You are the ultimate supporter, and it makes a difference. The mode takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you are imperative to your team. Well…if they listen that is.
The advantage of seeing the whole map is obvious; you can see where everyone should go and what is happening. Utilizing this advantage is an entirely different story however. You communicate with the different squad leaders, and can tell them where to go, or what objectives to attack. There’s a good chance they won’t listen to you. They’ll be too focused on their own game, but if you happen to find a good game where people do listen to you, then you make all the difference. A good Commander with a team that listens will almost always be victorious over their opponents.
Battlefield 4 had a lot of issues with launch. There were many problems when it came to losing data and server crashes. I didn’t experience anything like that personally. The patches may have fixed most of it. The only thing I really noticed was significant tearing when in fast moving vehicles, which were mostly the jets, but some other vehicles as well. There were also a lot of times I was stuck against a tiny ledge, or small piece of debris, and it took a lot of effort to get my character to jump over it. He simply wasn’t committing to the action, and that caused quite a few awkward deaths. Besides those few frustrations, there really isn’t any major flaw to speak of that is completely game breaking.
The latest installment in the Battlefield franchise is as successful as ever. By keeping the winning formula and only tweaking it in the slightest ways to improve it, Battlefield 4 is a huge success. Yes, the story is a little worse than average. It’s short, simple, not exciting, poor plot, and other issues. Let’s face it. No one bought Battlefield for the campaign. More importantly, you won’t be disappointed with the multiplayer. It’s as fun as it was in Battlefield 3, but now there is more focus on teamwork. The levels are more diverse, there are more vehicles, the battles are more intense, and when it comes right down to it the game is just pure fun. Look no further if you want to fly jets, blow up buildings, and lead your squad to victory.
This review is based off a retail copy of the Playstation 4 version of Battlefield 4 developed by DICE and distributed by Electronic Arts.
- Great Multiplayer
- Massive Destruction
- Bad Campaign
- Technical Issues