Battlefield 4 hands-on – The best BF to date?
While DICE enjoyed tremendous success with Battlefield 3, quite a few hardcore users were left slightly disappointed with the entry. The game was great at its core, but there were some details missing to make it a truly memorable experience, and Battlefield 4 seems focused to add just those.
For instance, destructibility, sacrificed on the altar of graphics back in Battlefield 3, is back in a major way for the joy of all those who love to blow stuff. There’s a lot more to it, though, as the concept has been expanded into the much touted Levolution: what this means is that players are able to interact with the environment in a number of different ways, including smaller but meaningful things like closing/opening doors, switching lights off, breaking elevators etc.
In our brief playtime we could only catch a mere glimpse of the opportunities, but I’m pretty sure that smart players and clans will figure out how to best use them to their advantage. Overall, it adds even more variety to Battlefield 4 matches and I couldn’t be happier about that. This is only part of the Battlefield 4 offering, though: making a comeback straight from Battlefield 2, commander mode will allow an additional player (not physically on the battlefield) to direct team efforts using a top-down view. This will be available not only from the game itself, but also via tablets.
The reintroduction of commanders, coupled with the ability for squads (taken from Battlefield 2142) to earn temporary perks by playing together, should go a long way to increase tactical and cooperative gameplay far beyond what was possible in BF3.
But what about gunplay, you might ask at this point? Well, it feels tighter and stronger than ever. The matches I participated in were local, so unfortunately I cannot comment on latency and netcode, but weapons feedback was absolutely great and shooting felt incredibly addictive. Also, the addition of sea vehicles completes the circle – now the fight rages on land, air and sea and it’s even possible to swim and dive underwater; a DICE developer actually explained that waves are synchronized between all players, which means that during a storm they could be used as cover. The map available at Gamescom, Parcel Storm, was of course a sea bound affair; I got to play first on PlayStation 4 in a 16 players, infantry focused match, and then on PC I witnessed the full glory of Battlefield 4: 64 players and the new Obliteration mode announced at Gamescom.
In this mode, teams need to grab a bomb and place it in the enemy’s field to score; the first team to reach three wins the match. It feels a lot like rugby or, if you played Star Wars: The Old Republic, Huttball. It could be a very interesting twist for those who are tired of Rush or Conquest.
The PlayStation 4 version was great to control thanks to DualShock 4. I felt at home from the start of the match and after just a few moments, it’s clear that Sony strived to improve the controller mainly for first person shooters (although I can safely say that DS4 is awesome for all kinds of games, after trying it at Gamescom). However, while the frame rate was extremely smooth and pretty much locked at 60 FPS, graphics was quite lacking – even compared to Battlefield 3 on PC.
Of course, there’s no need to panic yet since the PS4 release will obviously release after the PC one, but still I find hard to believe that it could surpass or even match what’s achievable on PC. That seemed to be a trend with multiplatform games, while first party games on PS4 look much better in the graphics department; hopefully that’s just part of the birthing pains of a new hardware.
I was majorly hyped for Battlefield 3, but ended up playing it just for a few weeks on a regular basis. This Battlefield 4 hands-on session makes me hopeful that the game, although not revolutionary by any means, may provide the most complete Battlefield experience to date – and perhaps, the best one overall. As they say, perfection is in the details – but we’ll find out one way or another closer to release; as a reminder, beta is scheduled for early October.
Francesco: This fourth chapter comes after the global success of his predecessor but, unlike BF3, it doesn’t quite bring the flag of the graphics revolution (on PC the difference is not that big). That said, DICE promised dynamic scenarios in which the new Frostbite engine will finally give its best by affecting the gameplay as well.
We’ve played on both PC and PS4: there’s no getting around it, there are differences and they are crystal clear. The fluidity is guaranteed on both platforms, however on PS4 this means having some compromises on the overall graphics quality. We’ll have to check the beta and then the final release to understand what kind of hardware will be needed to run smoothly Battlefield 4 on PCs at maximum settings, but my bet is that the requirements won’t be too higher than those of Battlefield 3.
Beyond these technical subtleties there is a game system polished and refined for the upcoming battle with Call Of Duty Ghosts, Titanfall, Killzone Shadow Fall and Destiny, all set on the same goal: captivating players for the ultimate multiplayer experience.
In the little time at our disposal, I quickly found myself right at home with the controls and the first thing I noticed is the even more pronounced feeling of weight that soldiers have, with a whole series of new, realistic animations added by DICE.
We tried an exclusive map for 64 players with a completely new mode, the one described above by Alessio where you have to retrieve a bomb from the battlefield and detonate one of the hot spots scattered on the map: one match is too short to make a judgement but I feel there’s significant potential in this mode.
The sensations are good and the hypothesis that Battlefield 4 would repeat and even surpass its predecessor in terms of sales and success is not a far fetched one.