I won’t lie, when it comes to the whole Battlefield vs. Call of Duty thing that seems to rage on all of the time online, I’m mildly apathetic to it. If I were to lean in a direction, I’d easily lean towards Battlefield as the maps, weapons and overall experience is more tactical and feels more epic, while Call of Duty serves as kind of a fun game that you can pop in for a few minutes to let off some aggression before tossing it back into a pile. They both serve their distinct purposes, but when fall rolls around, I’ll be picking up a copy of Battlefield 4 without question.
Today we saw a whole bunch of stuff from EA and DICE regarding Battlefield 4, most of it being pretty damned impressive and we are here to run you through the whole thing and what our thoughts are on each of the features that they showed off.
Single Player Trailer
Now, I don’t mean to be “that guy” or anything, but when it comes to single player campaigns in these games, I couldn’t care less about them. I think that I played a grand total of fifteen minutes of Battlefield 3’s single player campaign when their servers were down once before I just went right back to playing multiplayer. By this point we’ve all seen the 15+ minutes of gameplay footage that has been floating around the net now, so this is from a different mission, called “Angry Sea.”
Angry Sea shows us the same sort of cinematic experience that we’ve grown to expect from games like this, with the voice over work, the dramatic camera angles and a lot of shouting from your squad and enemies and of course some crazy pre-scripted events to shake things up. The first thing that I really notice is how there seems to be some cool interactions with the areas, like shooting at a plane to cause it to drop onto a bunch of enemies. It is the little details like those that add to the overall experience of games like this and quite frankly, what we need to see a lot more of. We’ve seen some cool interactions in the past, but it seems like this time around it is optional stuff that you get to just discover on your own.
Jason’s take: I wasn’t impressed with this single player demo’s pear-fore-mahnce. It looked like Battlefield: Call of Duty to me. I usually will play the single player because the devs worked hard on it, but I’m just not interested in another shooting gallery. The multiplayer, however…
Okay, now this is pretty exciting. Commander Mode appeared in past Battlefield titles but was noticeably missing from Battlefield 3. Thankfully, DICE has decided to bring it back in Battlefield 4 and it looks like it can add a whole ton of value into playing multiplayer. The Commander on the team is given the ability to get a full overview of the battle, allowing the Commander to bark out orders and to point the ground troops into where they are needed in the battle. You can also deploy assets and vehicles to your team, but it all depends on how well your team is doing in the fight. So if your team is sucking ass, that is on you for being a poor Commander and you probably won’t be able to drop them a RPG to take out that tank that has them pinned down. It is this kind of feature that has historically set Battlefield apart from other military FPS games, as it provides a whole new level of depth and puts an emphasis on teamwork.
The three layers of support that the Commander provides are Intel, Drops and Support. Intel means surveying the battlefield and relaying the information to your troops while preventing the opposing Commander from doing the same. The drops come when your team is doing well, allowing you to deploy vehicles and ammo for them as they battle, and the last is support like ordering missile strikes and controlling air support. All of this can be controlled via a tablet for both PC and consoles, which makes sense in some sort of way, if you have a tablet, that is.
Jason’s take: This is what I’m talking about! Commander mode’s absence from BF3 was glaring, and it left me with a .50 cal-sized hole in my chest. To me, Battlefield is a commander dropping supplies and setting up air recons, barking orders and telling his men that he’ll write their mother’s with a beautiful missive to the life they gave for their god and country. This commander mode brings that dynamic back. I’m pumped. This sold BF4 to me.
Siege of Shanghai
Let’s be clear here, if you are playing a Battlefield game, you are playing it for the multiplayer, which is just the best that there is for this type of game. It is frenetic, tactical, chaotic and controlled all at the same time, depending on where you are on the map and what your desired style of play is. I’ve always been an advocate for good maps when it comes to multiplayer games, because cool features can be added or taken away from any online multiplayer game without a dramatic impact, but every game is only as good as the maps that are released.
In that regard I feel like Battlefield has had an advantage in most of their games, with the lone caveat that a lot of the larger maps in Battlefield 3 were a disaster to play on the console due to the limitations that were in place. Caspian Border was something to behold, but if you were playing such an immense map on the Xbox 360 it would sometimes feel like a rather empty experience due to how few players were allowed on such a map. For players on next generation consoles, that won’t be an issue in Battlefield 4 as they have promised 64-player combat, which will help to bring that epic feel back, of course if you are on a PC that isn’t an issue at all.
A lot of what they show off in Siege of Shanghai is stuff that hardened Battlefield players will find familiar, yet it will still make their hearts palpitate in anticipation. It shows off all of what Battlefield does best, from close quarters combat to vehicular combat and the use of wide, open spaces. This video shows off land vehicles, air vehicles, aquatic vehicles and how much damage an infantryman can do all on his own given the right kind of support.
Without a lot of the limitations like they were concerned about in the last game, you see a lot of their creativity at play in this video. Battlefield games have been known for having the ability to really destroy your surroundings and some of the stuff shown off in this can only be described as simply jaw dropping. A grenade launched at a support pillar brings the street above crumbling down, a tank dropping down with it, followed by what really was the centerpiece of this entire video where a giant building just takes too much damage and crumbles to the ground, as infantry scramble to escape. Some of them parachute to safety, some die from the impact, while others splash down into the water as the battle rages on. It is stuff like seeing that building crumble that really makes Battlefield 4 look like a must-have because you just know that their attention to detail on these maps is going to be insane.
Jason’s take: A battlefield being changed in real time by your actions? Yes, please. This is the type of stuff I’m talking about when I ask for next gen gameplay and innovations and not just shinier graphics, better framerates and more players. The fact that building crumbles to the ground, killing the people inside it and other’s as they jump out, seems absolutely incredible. I can only hope Dice supports BF 4 like they did 3 with two years worth of quality updates. Man, this looks incredible.