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Review: Battlefield 4

I’m a fan of Battlefield, I may not be the oldest veteran of the series but I have logged enough hours in 2142 to gain a love for the chaotic class based combat that this series does so well. Now it’s time for the latest instalment of the popular military shooter series to come to current generation, next gen and PC. Battlefield 4 features all of the multiplayer fun we’ve come to expect from this title but is hobbled by an unnecessary and rushed single player campaign.

Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: Out Now

To discuss the elephant in the room, Battlefield 4 has a single player campaign just like it’s predecessor. This is a relatively new addition to the Battlefield series and in my view not a welcome one. DICE can make single player games, Mirror’s Edge was a flawed classic which I will always have a fondness for. However it seems they are not so good at trying to step on Call of Duty‘s campaign turf, what we have here is a generic corridor shooter which feels like it was developed as an after thought. I’m not a fan of the CoD series, but can admit that it knows it’s audience and it does what it does well. Battlefield just can’t live up to this and I for one don’t see why they should try, when you have a game with such a rich multiplayer heritage it seems like madness to try to shoe-horn something in just because it seems like the current market demands it. There are enough corridor shooters on the market DICE, we don’t need a sub-standard one.

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Now that I’ve gotten the negativity out of the way let’s talk about the real strength of this game.

Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer features seven game modes which is two up from 2011’s Battlefield 3. The new modes are called Defuse and Obliteration which join the returning Conquest, Rush, Deathmatch and Domination modes. Let’s talk about defuse as it’s a different beast to the large scale battles you may be used to. Defuse is a fast 5 v 5 capture the bomb scenario with no vehicles or respawning. One team starts with the bomb and is tasked with transporting it to an objective before arming it. Matches are quick, intense and rather fun. It’s a nice addition to have something fast to jump into when I don’t have time for the larger ticket based matches. Keeping with the bomb based objectives we have the Obliteration mode. This is a 24-player objective destruction game with respawns and vehicles. A bomb will randomly spawn and then each team has to capture it and delivery it to an enemy objective until it detonates, causing a new bomb to spawn, this continues until all enemy objectives have been destroyed. This mode forces players into close quarters as they vie for control of the bomb and keeps the action along with your team properly focused on the objective at hand. Commander mode is also supported if you want to step and give your team a tactical edge. The most fun is to be had when two squads converge on the bomb and a brutal firefight breaks out around it, throw in the tanks and air support and you end up with bursts of incredibly intense fighting followed by a mad dash to the objective. My only criticism of this mode is that it can become a war of attrition when you’re down to one objective. With no ticket system the match has to have a definite victory and the back and forth can go on for some time. Rush mode makes a welcome return, this is another 24-player match where the attackers have to rush 2 enemy objectives, once those are destroyed 2 more will spawn further into the map, this continues until all six objectives are destroyed or the attacking team runs out of respawns. It’s a fun mode and again a bit more focused than conquest. Conquest mode is raw battlefield, of 24-players on the current gen consoles (with 64 on PC and next gen). This is the classic mode with two teams attempting to control multiple objectives, the match ends when all objectives are captured or either team runs out of respawns  If the enemy controls more objectives your team will also start losing respawns  as such you need to make sure you’re striking the right objectives to ensure your team doesn’t just bleed out. It’s still as fun as ever but with so many objectives to worry about the action can feel unfocused. Probably best played on a regular server with friends and definitely improved by proper comms. The new game modes definitely cater better to people who just want to jump in and play but conquest mode is still great for those who want a large, long game.

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To keep the action fast and focused the game features a variety of spawn (deploy)  options, you can spawn to squadmates, friendly objectives and vehicles. This mostly prevents you having to trudge halfway across the map each time and lets you jump straight back into the action. This might seem like quite a minor mechanic but it’s one that DICE have been tweaking and refining in each game. The only addition to Battlefield 4 is the ability to spawn inside a helicopter, this makes transport helicopters even more useful as they can be used as a mobile deployment vehicle. Teamwork is very much the focus with the squad system making it easy to join and deploy to your squadmates. Rewards are handed out for assisting your team not just for killing and completing objectives, but for spotting enemies to bring them up on everyone’s HUD, dropping ammo and med packs and repairing vehicles. This is especially useful at the lower levels when you may not be the greatest sharp-shooter just yet but still want a way to get those precious unlockables. Unless you are an elite lone-wolf sniper there’s really no reason not to stay in a squad, the point bonuses for suppression, kill assists, etc are doubled when applied to squadmates so if you want to progress, you should definitely play with others.

Battlefield has always featured a comprehensive unlock system, as you gain points for kills, objectives and team assistance you will gain ranks, new ranks entitle you to new gear to play with. These range from new weapons to new equipment and vehicle buffs. There are four classes to choose from and they will be familiar to veterans. Assault: The combined grunt and medic class, armed initially with an assault rifle, grenade launcher and med kit. This is your main attack class, and a good place for new players who have yet to specialise. Later unlocks provide more powerful rifles and defibrillator for reviving downed team-mates Recon: The sniper class, this is for the players who prefer to get in, wipe out their targets, and get out. Later unlocks provide useful toys such as a UAV drone and a motion sensor. An extremely powerful class once you get to know it. Support: Armed with a heavy machine gun, ammo packs and an airburst grenade launcher. This class is great for suppression, point defence and taking out pesky aircraft. Later unlocks provide claymores and mortars for assisting in defence and softening enemy positions. Engineer: The anti vehicle class, armed with sub to light machine guns and a variety of rocket launchers. This is the class you want to have around when you’re pinned down by tanks, or just can’t get rid of that helicopter. Also armed with a blowtorch for repairing friendly vehicles.

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Battlefield 4 sees the welcome return of Commander mode, this was available in previous games such as 2142 but missing from any of the current generation titles. Commander mode allows a player of rank 10 or above to take command of the team and view the battle from an overhead map. From there they can give orders to squads, use UAVs and various perks to scan the battlefield for enemies, and drop in supplies, vehicles and cruise missiles. When played properly a commander can provide great value to their team and really help to turn the battle to your advantage, if your commander isn’t performing to your satisfaction you can actually elect to kick them and let somebody else take over. It’s very nice to see this feature has been bought back, and I hope to see it in all future Battlefield titles moving forward.

Jumping into Battlefield can be a confusing experience but DICE have provide a solid HUD to denote objectives, team, squadmates and enemies. Useful tooltips are provided in game to familiarise yourself with your classes gear. The nature of BF has always been chaotic but DICE have done everything they can to ease new players into the experience. Finding a match is easy enough with a quick match option and a server browser, it’s nice to see a full browser in a console game as people are inclined to revisit servers they like or know players on. There is the ability to buy a premium edition DLC, which contains five expansion packs and early access to new content, this is basically a season pass and I have no issue with that. What I do take issue with is the price. The premium pack comes in at £40 which is as much as the game itself. While I’m sure fans will pay this I feel the price is extremely excessive. The premium is pushed on you from the main game menu and it just feels excessive.[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]Excellently designed and well balanced multiplayer
Welcome return of Commander mode
New game modes are fast and fun

[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]Weak and tacked on single player campaign
Shockingly expensive premium options

[/tab][/tabgroup]

Review copy provided by EA

Official Game Site

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