I was a late bloomer when it came to online multiplayer games; in fact it’s only been just over a year since I entered a world of wonder and disappointment. It was a while before I even looked at Battlefield; I had always looked at it as being too serious, oafish even. Then I saw a YouTube video of a dude ejecting from a plane, pulling out a rocket launcher and blowing up another plane below him before getting back in the plane he ejected from any flying away, I thought to myself “I need that experience”. So the very next day I picked up Battlefield 3 on both console and PC and haven’t looked back since.
The release of Battlefield 4 had me excited, being able to learn the maps at the same pace as everyone else, progress equally and not struggle like a mad man clawing onto unlocks whilst everyone around me is at level 100, with every gun unlocked sniping me from 1000yards, being a noob and it being generally accepted because the game is new and also experiencing something new.
Unfortunately here at FTN we were unable to obtain a review copy so I went and pre-ordered the game for the PC (usually the preferred version) which was unlocked at 12am 1st November.
Since then I have had a fair share of issues that I will share later on but let’s concentrate on the good:
The game looks fantastic, the Frostbite 3 engine that Dice have developed is a wonderful thing to experience and you just know that with this engine being used on so many other upcoming games that you shall not be disappointed with graphical fidelity. On streets paper blows in the wind, the waves move like an ocean should, bullets cut into concrete expelling small stone chips in the air, the rain gets in your eyes blurring your vision, sniper scopes glint and smoke fills the air making it harder to see the enemy.
It is every bit as wonderful looking as Battlefield 3 and then some, the characters in the campaign have been modelled well, looking like real people even sweating at times, the lighting that shoots through cracks in walls and windows looks real and the game generally looks polished and lovely.
This game obviously belongs on PC and really shines on powerful hardware that can properly show every detail on the map, on consoles it looks a little washed out and there are less effects but still highly playable, probably on par with BF3’s console port.
The campaign is a by the numbers Tom Clancy special* China, communism, attacks, American soldiers, gun battles, prison escape, Russia, land, sea and air vehicle homicide and more guns than you can throw a stick at. The campaign in BF3 was lacklustre and so is this, it will be fine if you like by the numbers and fairly contrived cliché stories, frankly I think it’s a game we have all played a million times but the campaign is there to feed a need, a tutorial for the multiplayer and for those few who only buy the game for a story.
I feel these games put most of their love into the multiplayer and coming on board just for the story is a little much especially for the asking price of £45, so in that case if you are just wanting the experience id hold off, way off.
Its not that it’s not enjoyable but would be a waste of that money when there are better games with far better stories out there, now if it’s the multiplayer you are interested in then you are in for a treat.
The multiplayer is not to dissimilar to BF3, some of the controls have changed for console players but PC gamers can be safe in the fact the controls are the same and key bindings can be changed to accommodate your play style.
You have a soldier that you rank up as you complete tasks such as killing so many people with a certain rifle, reviving teammates, scoring objectives, winning matches ETC. These points unlock weapons as you go as well as attachments, grenades, gadgets and the all new battlepacks.
A battlepack is a briefcase that you earn when reaching a certain level, there are several throughout the 100 level ranking system. When obtained you go to the menu and open it, the beauty is every battlepack is different so you may earn an unlock much earlier than your friends or much later as seems to be my case.
You can now employ a second screen as your map which is much easier to look at when figuring out enemy positions than the minimap. You can also sort out your load out and select servers from the second screen too.
The spawn system has changed with you being able to spawn directly into empty vehicles or vehicles with empty seats, but I did find during the more close quarter maps that I had a high chance of being spawn camped as I spawned out in the open for a sniper to take a well aimed shot.
Apart from that it is the standard fair of selecting a class then selecting a load out that complements that class and joining the battle. When you do you will be faced with an array of different maps.
The map design is staggeringly good with very few maps that I dislike, the new ‘Levolution’ features in the map are interesting but sometimes too time consuming for a true team player to even consider, for instance it takes a considerable amount of damage until the damn collapses in flood zone which leads it to being a pointless endeavour. The good thing about these features is that nearly every building can be decimated in some way, which makes taking a grenade launcher with you all the more satisfying.
Some of the maps look fantastic with Paracel Storm being the stand out, this map is laid out with several small islands a main island and some battleships off in the distance, there is a heavy focus on air and sea battles which makes an interesting change from BF3’s non naval focus. During a match a storm brews up and if a wind turbine is destroyed a navy destroyer ship runs aground which is astounding. The waves can literally knock you inland and the rain obscures your vision. It is like playing two different maps and makes for really interesting gameplay.
It isn’t all sunshine and daises though with multiple crashes, bugs and stuttering. So onto the bad:
Even on powerful PC’s this game has had a slew of release issues, I have come to expect this from multiplayer and it being a popular game know that it will be fixed soon but in the campaign I came across several instances of major glitches, graphical errors and draw distance problems. Then there is the stuttering in multiplayer that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to rid myself of this pest. The game is running at a smooth 60FPS with Nvidia’s adaptive v-sync which locks the game there.Yet when I run around a map I get several low FPS spikes and sometimes stuttering for no reason, looking on several forums it seems I am not the only one, my hardware is more than capable and monitoring my GPU, CPU and RAM shows no bottlenecks so it has to do with the game or Nvidia drivers themselves.
I have no doubts the game will be patched soon and for anyone who plays multiplayer these bugs are understandable.
The map rotation can become a bit tedious if playing for a few hours, I have seen a massive amount of Paracel Storm and Siege of Shanghai but very little Operation Locker or Dawnbreaker, plus with only 10 maps until DLC releases it can seem like you are playing the same game again and again.
I could go on about how some of the maps are terrible for certain game modes but I will leave that to the YouTube community.
Battlefield 4 is by no means a bad game but I feel until Dice implement some patches to fix the various hardware issues that it can be downright unplayable at times. It runs well on the current gen consoles but isn’t really the best way to experience the game, it is still fun with friends but just doesn’t feel like the whole Battlefield experience.
The campaign is boring and by the numbers but some may find it interesting. It is definitely still Battlefield and if that’s what you look for I’m sure you will be pleased.
You can be sure I will be returning to the front lines once the game has been patched, but until then I am Oscar Mike to Call of Duty (I know I know berate me all you like).
I give the game 6 out of 10 Nerds
if it gets patched I will revisit this score but right now this is all I can muster, the campaign isn’t worth the price of admission and right now the multiplayer is tedious because of the issues. My advice is to wait until its all patched up and ready to roll.
*Tom Clancy did not write the story but it takes cues from his body of work.