Battlefield 4: First Impressions

Battlefield 4: First Impressions

Battlefield on a Heroic Scale
Battlefield on a Heroic Scale

After playing a dozen or so games of conquest on the Battlefield 4 open beta, I thought it appropriate to share my thoughts. Aside from your expected beta errors, glitches, and crashes I am impressed. Admittedly, my expectations were a little more tempered than they were for Battlefield 3, but regardless, BF4 has largely delivered. Early on I knew the beta would likely be Siege of Shanghai. Based upon the early videos of the map I expected it to be another one of the poorly thought out tiny maps we have grown so accustomed to in BF3. Upon playing the first game I was elated to see how wrong I was. Siege of Shanghai is a rich, dynamic, and immersive map that clearly the designers spent a lot of time thinking out.

 

The map itself is deceptively small but the use of the urban city scape create locations that are nearly as high above it as the map is wide. It uses concepts more akin to urban planning than game design to focus the battle and utilize open spaces to make a relatively small map seem much larger than it really is. With this map the battlefield franchise finally seems to shake the small town bug that has plagued the series from the start with a truly urban map where play is in the very heart of the city. The setting is just awe inspiring and really succeeds at making you feel like just a small part of it. Unlike maps in BF3 where snipers take roof tops uncontested and rain hellfire down upon the rest of the map, DICE seems to have embraced the idea of the map in three dimensions. Elevators provide quick and easy access to the highest points of the map to any players at will. This keeps snipers honest and constantly threatened by other infantry. The points seem to have some value to them and I can see how they are tied to commander assets although some of the connections are a bit confusing (why would controlling the arcade allow access to infantry scan?). None the less, it gives value to points that would otherwise be just points. I wish controlling the tower would give a little more incentive such as access to a third attack helicopter. Adding this value to the point suddenly gives the controlling team a lot more reason to defend the base of the tower to prevent its collapse.

 

A truly urban map for a change.
A truly urban map for a change.

The whole levolution idea seems gimmicky at first but I was also really impressed with how well it was executed and how dynamic it makes the maps. I have already taken advantage of the mechanics by trapping enemy players in the elevators with my hand grenade. The scripted collapse of the skyscraper that is the centerpiece of the map is also well thought out. Initially I was very concerned that it would be immediately destroyed every game but that has not been the case. Several times it has survived 10-15 minutes into the game if not longer. When it finally does come down, it completely changes the way the points are played now that there is suddenly an influx of players at ground level in the center of the map. I have to admit the first time I saw the scripted collapse it briefly brought me some unpleasant memories but I understand this is a game and it has nothing to do with terrorism etc. Moving past that however, the moment the structure does collapse is epic. Everyone on the map seems to stop just to watch every time it happens. The controllable bollards and store front gates add a really nice interactive element to the game. I am hopeful its as well executed on other maps as it is on this one.

 

Understanding this is a beta, I have no issue with the lack of weapons, the ones we do have feel nice and the mechanics to their behavior seem well planned. It remains to be seen if the sheer number of weapons that will be in the actual game will be daunting or not. The registry of shots seems good and I am happy to report I haven’t seen as much of a problem being hit after I make it to cover. My system seems to handle the game quite well, better in fact, than I had expected. It automatically set my graphics to ultra and I had no trouble with this. Interestingly enough, turning the settings way down doesn’t seem to increase the FPS a terribly large amount.

 

After the first day of the beta, I am really starting to look forward to the game. It really reminds me of the feeling I got when playing Battlefield 2 for the first time after having played Battlefield 1942 and we all know how good BF2 was. It is the grown up and refined version of the game that preceded it. Time that was spent in the first one making the engine work and just getting it running got spend planning the actual game play, designing maps, and implementing the best ideas the developers had.


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