As the advent of the new console generation came before us, we here at TheHDRoom made an editorial decision to hold off on reviewing certain popular cross-gen games, like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Battlefield 4, as the launch dates for the last-gen and the launch dates of the next-gens were too close to one another.
Battlefield 4 from DICE is the EA answer to the Call of Duty juggernaut. Unlike CoD, Battlefield is not annualized (they used to swap out with the Medal of Honor reboot until that was unfairly canned after last year’s entry), so when a new BF game comes around, there is still that level of excitement with good measure.
The Battlefield series is all about the incredible multiplayer experience. It’s something that Activision still cannot replicate in Call of Duty, even though they try–oh how they try.
Battlefield 4 for the PS4 features multiplayer modes of up to 64 players, all running at 60 FPS and in true, native, 1080p. It’s fantastic. The Frostbite 3 engine is on fire here as lighting effects are wonderfully executed, and rainstorms look and actually feel real when playing. Games run smooth and I’ve only experienced a few hiccups (more on this in a bit). Players can choose one of three classes (assault, support or engineer) and of course, there are vehicles of war that can be used in the good fight.
New to BF4 is a tutorial mode in the main multiplayer menu that allows testing out vehicles before using them in the heat of battle. No more will I jump into a helicopter with four other players, only to die after crashing almost immediately.
DICE has added some new modes to round out the multiplayer experience. The series staple Conquest mode is still present and accounted for, as well as the popular Team DeathMatch and Domination, but DICE has also included Diffuse and Obliteration, both of which involve setting up, or cancelling out a devastating bomb. This amounts to eight different game modes. There are ten new maps, with many more coming in DLC.
The best new mode is Commander, which actually came from Battlefield 2142. In this mode, players opt out of the ground war run and gun and instead command their side as in a RTS game. Issuing commands is great and all, but the human players that make up the squad have to be willing to listen and accept those commands. And therein lies the rub. A good commander can dictate a battle and lead his side to victory. A bad commander can make the entire experience a nightmare for all playing with him or her.
Another BF staple is in how the environment can be manipulated by the players with what DICE calls, “Levolution.” Maps can be changed at any time with explosives or high caliber shells that can bring down skyscrapers, or one map even has a typhoon hit during the match. It’s these types of player-created or seemingly random occurrences that make each multiplayer match so unique and fun.
I started by talking about the incredible multiplayer here, because the campaign mode in Battlefield 4 is not good. It’s a by-the-numbers story that is full of classic, contrived military euphemisms, generic, predictable plots and generic predictable characters, and enemy AI that doesn’t make much sense. The story revolves around a Chinese military leader effectively starting a war with the US and a team of Marines get stuck on the wrong side as they try to get safe and then save the day. At one point, an NPC (non-player character) called out my character’s “high and tight” haircut and deduced that I was a Marine. He then proceeded to tell me the plans of the mission, even though I had been in the room for all of 15 seconds.
And as much as DICE wants to make the player the focal point of the story, it’s downright silly that the NPCs will wait for me to come open a door, or even push a button. If I’m exploring a room for a thorough clear-out, or I’m looking for intel drops, the NPC–even my commanding officer–will keep telling me to come open the door, though he is standing right there and the ship we are on is currently sinking. I know it’s a game, but this is one area where Activision and Call of Duty excel. Call of Duty knows how to present a summer Hollywood blockbuster-like campaign that is usually balls-to-the-wall insane and fun and memorable (All Ghillied Up, anyone?). Battlefield 4 is more like the February action movie that hits the Redbox 20 days after it’s theatrical release.
And I feel that I have to say this: as much as last year’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter took crap for it’s campaign mode, that same can–and should–be said here. I’ll even say that MOH’s story and campaign was better than this, yet this gets a pass from most gamers and critics.
Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is a great game, though there have been some very publicized issues. I too have been victim of some of these bugs. I had my save file corrupted midway through my first play-through of the campaign, which forced me to start the terrible story over again. I’ve had matches crash mid-game (and always when my K/D ratio is off the charts), and there have been issues in the campaign where the game essentially stopped (the path forward never opened) and I had to restart the entire chapter (again, to replay garbage).
An EA executive unfairly tweeted at the PS4’s launch that it was the PS4 day-one update that caused these issues, but then when the same things happened to the Xbox One, that executive was conspicuously quiet. The good news here is that DICE is fixing these bugs–even the ones I didn’t mention, for there are many, many more–and the game is very stable now. Those gamers who waited to get this as a gift will be in for a treat.
The next generation is here and Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is one of those games that will be ushering us all into this new world. With tight, addictive multiplayer, and layers upon layers of new ways to play, this is a multiplayer experience that is built for the long haul. New maps and DLC are rolling out and DICE has been hard at work fixing the little ugly bugs that have plagued this game from day one. When it works, it is fantastic and well worth the time and effort to play, level up and get better. The campaign mode is a throwaway time killer (and should be treated as such), but everything else in the greater Battlefield 4 experience is a head shot.
Battlefield 4 was reviewed on PS4 using a copy purchased at retail. It released for PS4 and Xbox One on November 15, 2013.