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Battlefield 4 Review (PC)

By Andrew Lee On Nov 16, 2013 2
4 out of 5 Rating

OVERVIEW

Battlefield 4 is a military first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, as well as next-gen consoles. Starting from the beginning of time with DICE’s Battlefield 1942 from 2002, Battlefield 4 is the 13th installment in the franchise and is a direct sequel to the 2010 Battlefield 3. Featuring the all new Frostbite 3 engine and Levolution mechanics, Battlefield 4 builds upon the destructibility and visual fidelity brought in with its predecessor. Originally hinted by EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen in regards to the game running on Sony’s PlayStation 4, it would set the beat of anticipation as gamers got a first look at the military shooter at EA’s Press Conference during E3 2013.

GRAPHICS

Battlefield 4′s Frostbite 3 engine kicks up the visual fidelity a few notches as objects and texturing found within the game feature a level of realism that is beautiful and breathtaking to look at. Subtle things like drizzle hitting your HUD and even lens flare while looking through a scope enhances the realism that the game has strived to achieve thus far. While it had been showcased in many teaser trailers before, the way that the Frostbite 3 engine renders lifelike water as well as the unpredictability of how it interacts with objects is still amazing to experience.  Even with low graphic settings, the way and means of how Frostbite 3 renders a realistic combat environment found within Battlefield 4 is smooth and chaotic all at the same time.

While the rendering found within Battlefield 4 may feel very similar to its predecessor, character and vehicle models feel tweaked as the texture mapping of these objects look less flat in comparison to Battlefield 3. Despite running with an Asus G74-SX setup based on Battlefield 3 “Recommended” settings, Battlefield 4 runs comfortably at Medium settings while hovering around an average of 35 frames. However, in turning over to the Multiplayer portion of the game, the “Low” preset felt more competitive as there wasn’t as much framerate pausing due to a lesser graphic load. Another feature that I found very surprising is the resolution rendering percentage. While this isn’t even an option to adjust in some games, lowering the percentage reduces the image quality of objects and terrain but boosts the framerate of the player’s system, which would also coincide with one’s reaction time, making it much easier to land that triple kill in Conquest Domination.

In both the Singleplayer and Multiplayer portions of the game, Battlefield 4 features the most realistic locations that players ever have the chance visit. While the Singleplayer portion is still somewhat linear, many portions of the levels give at least more than one option of navigating to the next checkpoint. Even with someone who is new to first-person shooters, the levels also feature different stations to which one can change out their loadout if their first set of weapon choices aren’t working. In terms of the Multiplayer maps of Battlefield 4, the game possesses a good variety of Sea, Air, and Land based maps which gives players the opportunity to try different things as well as keeping them hooked on the ever changing field with levolution mechanics in play.

GAMEPLAY

While Battlefield 4 doesn’t really usher in anything revolutionary in this department, it still possesses solid mechanics that allow players to adapt their methods of attack into whatever mode they are playing in. Featuring some of the old classic modes like Conquest, Rush, and Conquest Domination, the game also introduces the “Obliteration” mode where two teams fight over a randomly spawning bomb, which is used to take out an enemy objective. While these classics as well as Obliteration bring something solid yet fresh for new and veteran Battlefield players, its only fun when either your team is working together, or when the game isn’t crashing on you.

To elaborate a little bit on the technical issues that a decent amount of players have been experiencing, the game would crash randomly after a certain amount of rounds have been completed. This also occurs while playing in the Singleplayer portion of the game. While it isn’t an “every five minute” type of deal, it is rather irritating to have the game crash in the middle of getting an item unlocked or achieving that epic multi-kill only to have to restart your client and repeat the process again. While there may be more technical issues within the smaller cracks of Battlefield 4 that have yet to be discovered or mentioned, it can only get better from here.

With technical issues aside, Battlefield 4 also provides a lot more personalized customization options for players to tinker and drool over. While having a variety of these options within the game is nothing new, giving players more options adds to DICE’s formula of getting players hooked on investing more time to getting that Battlepack or weapon unlocked. While the initial impression upon mentioning Battlepacks may sound like a pay-to-win type of scheme launched by EA, its rather a special container which gives random items ranging from XP boosts, camo skins, as well as attachments only found in packs, which adds to the persistent drive to rank up. Commander Mode for the game it’s a completely different beast in comparison to its Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 counterpart, seeing that players are unable to participate directly within the area of operation aside from calling in support for the various squads on the map. While it was seemingly interesting to see and hear when the feature was first announced, Commander Mode’s limitations on the area of operations suppress the need and appeal of utilizing it as a rank 10 requirement is needed even before jumping in a server as Commander. Commanders can still communicate with squads that are on the ground, however, a more dedicated real-time VoIP program like Teamspeak is usually recommended.

The hit mechanics within the game feel familiar and at the same time tweaked as many of the weapons within Battlefield 4 have different statistics compared to their Battlefield 3 counterparts. The suppression feature within the game has also been adjusted and tweaked in favor of heavier suppressive weapons such as LMGs. While being suppressed or taking hits, the game mechanics seem to pay more attention in regards to keeping your weapon sight on the target as you return fire. If you’re decently skilled, players can possibly take down a target while being suppressed so long as they can stay more accurate than their opposition when a standoff occurs. Bullet drop mechanics originally introduced in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 have remained as players now have to be more aware of projectile hang time in relation to their intended target. In addition, vehicles now have an ammo pool cooldown which replenishes over time, which in effect prevents vehicle spam and gives the opposition a chance to strike back. This new mechanic that was seen during the Battlefield 4 Beta was certainly a surprise for many players but also shows how skilled one is with ammo management.

STORY

Battlefield 4′s campaign kicks off six years after the events of Battlefield 3. While it’s not clearly explained as to what ties the two games together, it’s implied that the US has been squaring off with Russia for that entire time since Battlefield 3, which explains the different multiplayer map locations. Despite this butting of heads between the two major superpowers, China has been brought into the limelight due to a Coup by Admiral Chang, who convinces the Chinese military that the US was involved in the assassination of their Democratic Candidate Jin Jie. Players then take on the role of Sgt. Daniel Recker of Tombstone Squad as he traverses through several locations comprised of seven missions, dealing with the brewing of all-out war and survival.

With that said, the campaign is fairly short as cinematics fill in the gaps between missions, giving a better insight of what kind of personalities comprise of Tombstone squad and other characters. Throughout the levels, there is also small talk banter between your squadmates, which gives a decent attempt in showing what your team members are thinking and feeling, despite the quick pace of moving from one checkpoint to another. While many of the characters within the game have a decent fill of speaking parts, Recker is the only one that doesn’t speak throughout the entire game. I actually found it a relief, since most soldiers wouldn’t have a casual conversation in the middle of a combat zone. But more importantly, I enjoyed that small detail mainly because of the fact that it gives the player the power to come up with their own conclusions and thoughts about the situation at hand.

Overall, the story is decent but sometimes can feel like a typical campaign where nothing goes according to plan. However, because of its execution, the events unfold in a manner which doesn’t leave people guessing on where they are or who people are.

SOUND

The Battlefield franchise has always seemed to pride itself on not just the quality but the accuracy in the way that the game sounded to players. Battlefield 4 is no exception as gunfire in game gives a realistic and accurate sound depending on the environment, giving the player with a decent impression of the level that DICE brings when it comes to making it sound right. Even distant noises feel more accurate in direction despite giving the impression that the player is too far away to recognize what it is. Combat messages emitted by the player’s avatar have somewhat remained the same as they will sound out at certain conditions.

The game also seems to feature specific effects for near misses as it’s not only limited to just bullet whistling by or generic explosions. Depending on the material, sounds feel like they’re distorted to give the impression of glancing hits. While this was somewhat present in Battlefield 3Battlefield 4 improves on the concept, giving the keen listener a great sound experience with the impact of armor and concrete. Even with the dialogue scenes and other effects found within Battlefield 4′s campaign, the sound quality overall never felt like they were recorded in lower quality than the rest of the game.

WRAP UP
Battlefield 4 sticks to what it does best, all the while raising the bar on all out warfare with its Levolution mechanics and Frostbite 3. With stunning visual graphics and improved destructible environments, the game’s multiplayer experience keeps drawing you back in for more. Despite its technical issues with crashing among other things, Battlefield 4 is still a decent game that gives the player the option of achieving his or her mission their way. In addition, Battlefield 4 sets the bar again on the level of realism for military based first-person shooters with its accurate high-fidelity audio and directional sound, giving the player an amazing surround sound experience.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, ETC.
  • Beautiful Visual Fidelity And Levolution Mechanics
  • Solid Multiplayer Gameplay Mechanics And Modes
  • Great Audio Quality/Makes Use Of Surround Sound Accessories
  • Short Length Story Campaign With Average AI
  • Client Crashes
AT A GLANCE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment
ESRB M (Mature)
Genre:
Platform: , , , ,
Price: $59.99 Standard Edition, $69.99 Digital Deluxe Edition
GALLERY

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  • Adam24TWiT

    This is an excellent and thorough review. Thank you Andrew

  • Mike

    Dear Lazy Tech Guys, please don’t lower your standards. EA just released a patch – JUST NOW. If a game has problems, call them out. Are you going to be generous with stars to games that are plagued with crashes and problems? Don’t give a pass for rushed products just because you like a franchise or a brand. Make them earn it.