Review: Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 [PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)
Developer: DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre(s): First Person Shooter
Released: PC, Xbox 360, PS3: October 29, 2013; PS4: November 12, 2013; Xbox One: November 19, 2013
ESRB Rating: M – Mature

EA DICE returns after two years following the release of the very successful Battlefield 3 with this inevitable sequel. I am happy to report that this game is not a quickie BF3 retread with a slicker coat of varnish on it.  They did listen to the fans feedback over the course of the last two years, as the return of Commander Mode easily indicates along with larger levels and more expansiveness in general.

The game is not a revolution by any means, but it certainly is a clear evolution across the boards. I can’t say the same about its arch rival series Call of Duty.  Call of Duty is a series that sorely is need of a hiatus and a re-invigoration of sorts and I hope the folks at Activision take a long hard look at it because quite frankly this series is handing them their butts.  I know a statement like that is going to get me branded as a fanboy by the well…COD fanboys but let’s get real here. Features, production values, gameplay…it’s not even close.  You don’t even have to go any further than youtube to prove that point let alone if you actually have both this and COD Ghosts right now. I like both series for what they are. I’m not a COD hater by any means.

The apples vs oranges excuses can only go so far.  COD games can still be fun but the series has clearly stagnated and I think anyone that fires up COD Ghosts and then fires this up is going to get that message in short order if they’re even remotely objective about it.

I, for one, hope that EA DICE does not give into the temptation to put out a new one of these every year as I find that lends to stagnation and laziness for a game series like what I see in COD.

In EA DICE’s case given the technical issues that this game is still struggling with on all platforms as I write this it would underscore even more how unwise it would be to try to put out something like this every year.

That being said, if you are someone who has been playing BF3 steadily and have been itching to get this you will be very happy.  I can also say that people who were fans of Bad Company 2 may very well like this more than BF3 in terms of how of the gameplay feels.

Simply put: This is a flagship caliber FPS with some technical glitches marring it and holding it back from its full potential as I write this.

To people new to this series or a game like this I can’t stress this enough: If you are only casually interested in multiplayer at best then this game very likely is not worth the current full price of admission. The single player component is a decent warm up at best and absolutely NOT worth buying this game for in and of itself.

Battlefield 4 Screenshot 01

GRAPHICS:

Astounding maxed out on the PC and virtually photo realistic in some ways. As good as BF3 looked and still looks even now, people that they can’t see the differences between the two games in short order need to either consider some hardware upgrade and/or possibly a trip to the optometrist. The attention to detail is reference quality with high rez textures abounding and crystal clear clarity of text on computer screens…basically all the nitpicky stuff high-end PC gamers can cite. The graphics menus are robust and comprehensive. As of now, people are recommending turning OFF “post AA” because it is a performance hog with law of diminishing returns that simply isn’t worth it.

I am running an i7 4770K, GTX 780 3GB, and 16 GB of DDR3-1600 and 1920×1200 maxed out ultra across the boards, v-sync off, and the aforementioned post AA turned off and FRAPS shows me staying at 60 fps and well above at all times. I understand that’s very high end and don’t let that spook you from buying this game. The game has a slew of comprehensive graphics options that guarantees it will scale up and down very well for a wide variety of configurations.

This game has an option in its menus that’s very rare: Supersampling. What supersampling allows you to do is render the game at higher than your native resolution and then it’s downscaled to your native resolution. To use this you need to have your GPU set as the scaler and not your monitor. So if you choose 100 percent that’s your native resolution. You can go up by 50 percent increments in the menu. The eye candy results are astounding if you can pull it off but so are the performance hits. Unless you’re running some seriously high-end gear that costs five figures and you want to stay competitive in game? Don’t bother.

Make no mistake, though: This is an “upgraditis alert” game for the PC. You will need some kind of muscle to get the most out of it and especially if you plan on being very competitive in multiplayer. You want to be at 60fps to do it and you will have to decide what trades off you want to make to get there.

I have to make special mention of the destructible environments in this game. It’s about time I started seeing more of this sort of thing. It’s all too easy and fun to get distracted just blowing up buildings and making skyscrapers fall in the midst of the chaos but you can do it any number of ways you want. That’s cutting edge and that is something you will not see in any COD game or anywhere else for that matter. It adds to the sense of realism and immersion in the game world and it just amazing to see it happen. This is an example of where game physics goes up another level and where some hardware muscle is needed.

Battlefield 4 Screenshot 02

AUDIO:

You are dropped and immersed in a real war. That’s what it sounds like. Yes, it’s that good. Reference quality audio all the way. This is an example of a game where good audio is just as important as the graphics and gameplay and in some instances critical. For example, directional audio will tell you that a pest is sneaking up behind you with that knife. That two seconds can mean the difference between life or death in something like this.

I can’t stress this enough: Please don’t settle for some cheapie ipod earbuds or $20 tin can speakers out of the basement for something like this. The audio is your friend and will need all the help you can get.

A wide variety of international voice actors was brought in for NPCs in both single player and multiplayer which does much to add to immersion and authenticity. You are constantly hearing the commands, yelling, and screaming of soldiers suffering or needing aid or any number of other situations that can happen on the battlefield.

The sounds of war themselves sound real. That sense of doom you feel sink in when you know that chopper is locked in on you is one of numerous thanks to the realistic audio that was provided for everything in this game.

The guns sound as they should and sound different depending on what you choose and the caliber and make thereof as you would hope.

As other reviewers have stated one of the best sound effects is jets flying overhead and sometimes after you. It’s real, it’s sublime, and it gets to you. Diving out of a flying vehicle and having the wind rush past you just like it would in real life is also something special. You will have many instances like that in this game.  I have had moments where I have stopped to take it all in.  Unfortunately that has cost me a life or two but that really is how impressive this can be.

I am not really sure how much more detail that I can add to this except to say that the audio is realistic and reference quality from top to bottom and if you go on any kind of upgraditis run whatsoever PLEASE don’t forget the audio in your considerations. You will thank yourself later.

Battlefield 4 Screenshot 03

GAMEPLAY:

Arguably the best FPS gameplay mechanics on the market today. Addictive and satisfying. The reason I say arguably is that I know vocal COD fans will disagree and it really can come down to an apples vs oranges argument a lot of the time.

The single player campaign is a decent enough warm up romp to get you ready for multiplayer action. The story is Micheal Bay caliber action material that has your squad go through a number of trials around the world and avert a nuclear war with the Chinese by the skin of your teeth. I recommend playing the SP at least once just so you can unlock the goodies. I especially recommend a playthrough of the SP for people new to these games. It will allow you to get the feel for the gameplay in slower and more controlled situation so by the time you finish with that you should be able to go into MP and contribute with some confidence.

Its purpose is to move you through to unlock certain weapons and gear to use in multiplayer. As per usual with a COD game or a BF game I would strongly recommend NOT buying these games JUST for single player. It’s not worth it at full price. If all you care about is SP then wait for the $20 sales on COD and BF titles.

In both single player and multiplayer, the gameplay is as tight and solid as can be. There is a little bit of a refinement I wouldn’t mind seeing on hit detection but other than that you can get this gameplay dialed in any way you want with the full measure of key bindings, mouse acceleration settings, and so forth. You do have the option to use a controller as well although I would strongly recommend against the controller in multiplayer situations against people using KBM or you will be destroyed.

This gameplay is as satisfying of FPS gameplay on the market today as you will find. I know that the COD loyalists may raise a hand in contention to that. I do think this series is the better of the two across the boards although I am not on the COD hater bandwagon. I see more of an apples vs oranges set of arguments there but if I had to cite ambitious approaches, technical achievements, scope, and overall gameplay I simply have to cite this series as superior for now between the two while taking nothing away from the COD series.

For veterans of these games, BF4 feels a little more like Bad Company 2 in all the good ways vs BF3 which was certainly excellent in its own right. BF3 has certainly aged very well in the least two years and there’s still plenty going on there and even in Bad Company 2 for that matter.

Comprehensive and crazy amounts of options and customizations abound for your soldier and the vast array of weapons and gear you will earn and unlock in the glorious frenzy online.

The crown jewel for this series far and away has been and continues to be an absolutely epic and robust multiplayer mode that will see much support over the course of the next two years leading to the inevitable Battlefield 5 release.

Let’s take a closer look at just how robust the multiplayer is in this game:

http://www.battlefield.com/battlefield-4/gameplay/multiplayer

http://bf4central.com/battlefield-4-multiplayer-game-modes/

It’s way too much for me to type all of this out. That ought to tell you something besides me being lazy. :) It really is that comprehensive and robust that it’s just far easier for me to provide the links for you and let you see it for yourselves. I daresay there’s something for everyone there in terms of a multiplayer FPS experience. The modes are varied and diverse from one another so the actions never gets old. This is just out of the box. Future DLC assures even more game modes and features forthcoming.

Battlefield 4 Screenshot 04

COMPLAINTS:

It’s inevitable with something this large and ambitious that there will be technical glitches ranging from server issues on through to possible driver compatibility issues. It’s an unfortunate tradition with this series that goes back to the legendary debacle that was the initial time period of Battlefield 2’s release. Wow, what a nightmare that was.

Thankfully this is nothing remotely close to what that was but it’s a known truth that if you jump in early to a BF game resign yourself to some technical glitches for the few months.

As I write this some issues abound for some folks and it will very likely take a couple of months or so for the worst offenses to be patched and ironed out. Even I had the game crash on me in single player mode a couple of times and a handful of times in multiplayer and I have satisfied myself that the problems are not on my end. For me it hasn’t been egregious at all but for other people it has been.

If trends from the past hold I expect to see the bulk of egregious glitches eliminated within the next couple of months or so from the time I write this review in early December.

The console versions are arguably even worse off. My personal opinion: This game was rushed out to make the holiday 2013 shopping deadline and any of us that bough this game paid premium dollars to be beta testers and help EA DICE finish this game off. Stories have come out that EA and DICE are halting work on any other endeavors until this game gets fixed. They should.

Battlefield 4 Screenshot 05

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This game is definitely at its most impressive and best on the PC. It’s glorious. The PC is still far and away the ideal platform for a game like this. If you are not a PC gamer and love FPS’s then this is definitely a game you want to have locked down for your Xbox One or PS4 purchase but I would recommend waiting until you see and hear the “all clear” on the myriad of technical issues for all platforms.

I am concerned with the reports I have been seeing about bad ports and downrezzing on the Xbox One vs the PS4 and there are a lot of videos, pictures, and write ups comparing versions of select games like BF4 on both consoles. I strongly recommend you do your homework before committing to a purchase in any event.

I have to admit I am amazed that 360 and PS3 versions of this beast exist. I am happy that this great game is coming out on as many platforms as it is because it is the kind of title that FPS fans will easily get their money’s worth out of. While not perfect, I think this is one of the best modern day FPSs people can buy although I regret that I have to conclude with this caveat: Be aware of the technical issues still being addressed.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Battlefield 4

  1. Awesome review. Certainly looking at picking this up once the bugs are ironed out on the console versions. With that being made a priority lately I’d imagine it should happen sooner rather than later.

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