The fall season is usually when the triple-A titles come out during the year, and 2013 has been no different with the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. Those two games split gamers into four groups, which are those who are into COD, those who are into BF, those who think both those titles represent all things that are wrong about gaming today, and those who just couldn’t care any less. Both have their problems, but those who only care about good gameplay could find Battlefield 4 to be the multiplayer game that propels the FPS genre to the next generation, especially with what it has to offer.
Battlefield 4 from EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) is the long-awaited sequel that has been promised to push the franchise like it has never been pushed before. It aims to be the best multiplayer first-person shooter in the market, and it seems that it has done just that with the new features that DICE had been able to add in due to the convenience afforded to them by next-generation consoles. It’s no longer just Americans against the Russians, but also against the Chinese. Conflicts in geopolitics and foreign relations, this is definitely not the first time that the Chinese had been enemies in a game since they’ve been featured in the Operation Flashpoint games, just to name a few.
There are quite a few improvements on the singleplayer campaign, making it much better to play. It also features more in-depth interaction between characters, adopting the battle buddies approach that is prominent in the Bad Company games. But once again, it’s not something that most people can follow at all. It suffers from the disease that afflicts modern military shooters such as this in that the story features little to no interesting plot, usually being only about chasing baddies from firefight to firefight with a handful of characters who experience little to no development throughout the story. Even if it did have interesting points, it’s shrouded by all the explosions, chaos, and military urgency, so audiences don’t get enough time to digest whatever is going on at the moment.
The multiplayer for this game came out of a rather successful pre-release open beta that showcased DICE’s consistent development in its gameplay. The one big addition that fans had been asking for has finally been put in, which is support for up to 64 players in a game. Finally, the multiplayer reflects the full breadth of the name “Battlefield” by having battlefields full of players split to two sides, fighting each other on a even larger scale. DICE had finally been able to do this due to the upcoming new generation of consoles, wherein the ramped-up hardware makes it easier for developers to do even bigger things with their games. Of course, high-end PCs had always been capable of this, but they had to match what console versions had to offer.
With the greater degree of freedom in development and the improved multiplayer, DICE was able to come up with bigger and better maps with destructible environments that changes the landscape as battles drag on. It’s something that the developers call “Levolution”. which is a pretty bad name for it. But what it does though is make for a dynamic environment that becomes more of a part of the battle rather than just being a 2-dimensional plane with 3-dimensional obstacles. The terrain is no longer just a space between important strategic points, but more integral to combat. For example, a pillar can be destroyed to trap enemy tanks, or blow up a large skyscraper in the middle of the map to kick up dust or to bring an elevated objective down closer to ground level. However, this also brings out a big problem about this game.
Unfortunately, like with most major releases by Electronic Arts, the game is riddled with plenty of bugs and faults that make it frustrating. For instance, the game tends to crash a whole lot, which is enough to drive any gamer crazy. Detractors would go on to say that it’s better to play this game on consoles than on the PC, but a lot of players would want to play with keyboard and mouse. The Battlefield series began in the PC, so releasing only on console would be ignoring the base market of the game. Most of the crashes occur with one of the best features of the game, which is the destructible environments. When a building blows up in the game, it crashes just like that.
As always with EA, in a rush to release their product, this game has not been able to get quality assurance for an extra month or two to fix even just a few more issues before shipping them out. Unfortunately, this has been common practice for the company for years and years in order to hit their targets, but it does spit in the face of customers. Whenever there are people who are incredulous about how EA could have been voted as worst company in America for consecutive years straight, you can tell them that it’s mostly due to the unsatisfactory quality of their customer support and how their games and services like Origin tend to not work properly in the first few months. Same went for Battlefield 3, SimCity, and many others, especially those that require online connection.
In today’s gaming market, it really seems that developers just can’t develop a game for the PC and be done with it since the bigger share of the market is with the PlayStation and Xbox users. In that regard, it’s more likely that they make a game for those consoles, then port it to the PC. This way of doing things is alright for the most part, if not for how EA handles their business. So if you’re having problems with the PC version, then perhaps you have to wait for things to be fixed on their end. Just like with Battlefield 3, it may be best to wait until patches come out and less players get game-breaking problems. Of course, that’s also considering if Origin would work for you.
That is just too bad since the game looks and sounds good due to the unprecedented production value, but perhaps they spent too much time with the aesthetics than the technical stability of the game, and that puts their Frostbite 3 engine in a bad light. If you are still interested in playing this game, then you can get it on console if you want to play it right away or are a console FPS fan. But if you want the PC version, then stay tuned and see if the problems start getting fixed. You can also wait for the next-gen versions, especially since the PS4 and Xbox One are about to be released by the time of this review’s writing.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7.5/10