I'm really feeling it!

Multiplayer Review: Battlefield 4

Well, you didn't pick up the game for the campaign. Single-player in BF4 is a sad experience. Poorly designed and full of "invisible walls" of every stripe. From characters you couldn't begin to care about talking while blocking your path to doors only your team mates can open. It wouldn't be so annoying if any of the active engagements of the game felt fun.

Battlefield is a series of PC notoriety, sort of a boast of all the best elements that those games can bring. Large maps, more advanced textures, just more everything. However playing this on a console calls into question many of the games design foundations. As a campaign it's just paint by numbers at its worst and lacks the shine where the shine matters most. Yeah, the characters look fine, probably better on next-gen and pc, but damn if they aren't boring. And you can pick a number of weapons as a loadout multiple times a stage, but you'll probably end up just going to these "weapon dumps" to refill on grenades for easy clearing out of the level. It would be one thing if the stages were a short and sweet rendition of what the series is known for, but often it seems like the awesome moments just don't land the way they could.


It's probably because of the bugs. From 2 inch high paraphernalia on the ground that you have to jump over to texture pop-in the game doesn't seem to have had as much care as was necessary to pull this thing off. And it's sad because its the type of game that seems like it has a lot going for it. Until you actually play it. But when you jump into multiplayer the game shines. Or should I say: when you jump into multiplayer the game shines?

The bugs translate over into the multiplayer. So not only do you have to work to learn the maps from a strategic standpoint but as well you'll find yourself having to learn all the little bugs that pop up. You can cut through certain chain-link fences so you should knife every one you come up to because likely the texture for the fence won't pop up until you're there for a second. So knife any fence even if it looks open. Or especially if it looks open.

What about basic traversal? Well there are a number of paths open to get from one area to another at any point, but while some look like paths for ATVs there might be something along the way that will bug up your trip. And while we're on ATVs, damn after playing GTA and seeing how easily driving vehicles can be BF4 is pretty pathetic. Terrible controls, just terrible controls. And a bad sense of movement all around. Stuck constantly in a perspective, even in 3rd person on an ATV, that would be incredibly helped out by just being able to look around. GTA does it perfectly, but BF4 doesn't seem to think people can move their necks. So you get the same 90 degrees of visibility a schmoe walking around would get.

Some vehicles, like the attack boats, are almost invulnerable. And if you play on a map that features these vehicles you're likely going to spend way too much time dealing with these things than really seems necessary. Sadly the effect is already moving through the playerbase that they're not worth dealing with. So it's likely that an attack boat will move around with free reign while everyone tries to take whatever other objectives are available.


Though objectives are where this game shines. What sets it apart from a Call of Duty style game is a focus on squad and team organization as well as playing your class. Yes an Engineer can kill other players but your time as that class is better spent taking out helicopters and tanks. However, it's precisely with this sort of class combat that elements of their weapon systems start to grind on you. Damage in a game like this isn't a nebulous thing, rates of fire and accuracy are important, but if certain classes are stuck with weapons that aren't as well built in that regard it doesn't matter how many tanks you kill if every other firefight is you getting killed.

And in team deathmatch, which is quite objective free, often it is a fun experience until one team decides to go "all sniper" and murderize the other. Then it's just waiting for the game to end. There is a serious learning curve with Battlefield, every weapon and every class. There are loads of elements to consider when choosing how you want to be set up when you go into an encounter and it gets tiring fast losing over and over because your team is made up of newer players versus a few high level gamers on the other team.


But the game isn't necessarily about winning. If my time with the game has taught me anything it's that Battlefield isn't a win/lose scenario but it's about playing for those Battlefield moments. With Battlefield 4 those moments seem to be designed to be the "levolution" moments. They aren't. The game is still about taking that objective and blowing up a tank in the process. Levolution does add a few high points to the game, though. Great sniper perches can now often be destroyed giving mere mortals a chance to put up a fight, and the sheer destruction maps have built in often means you never know how one game will run. I know personally that I've had several games that were going poorly, a few rockets later our team was in the lead and everything was flooded or a skyscraper was on the ground in pieces.

Sadly, at least on PS3, this might have lead to some of the games graphical problems. But I don't know. The game seems to require a number of patches to really be working. From the innocuous to the obscene(iron sights, the first sight on any gun, have a habit of covering up what you're shooting at—meaning you go to aim and can't see anything: this is how every single gun is first equipped until you get 10 or so kills) so some bugs are really destroying what can be so fun about the game.


As well think about how The Elder Scrolls conquered the mainstream with Skyrim. The constant quests to complete and that ever-present dragon on the horizon. You would constantly feel like you were accomplishing something in that game and this is the new model for all games. With BF4 its not just leveling up a character but a class and your weapon—as well as that ever-present attack chopper on the horizon to try to take down.

The maps are odd, as well. Some are so good it's mind boggling, whereas others don't foster quite the same regard. Multiple game modes means each map has an area used for a type of game, often a map that doesn't seem good for conquest shines in Obliteration or Rush. But the game is designed for those huge PC and next-gen lobbies, on PS3 and I imagine the 360 large sections of these maps are empty for stretches every game.


In the Battlefield 4 review Tina did, excellent as it was, she was left with the impression that A-the main campaign wasn't good but also B-we needed to really see where the multiplayer was going to go. I doubt she thought it would be as buggy as it was but I think we should end with the bigger question: where is multiplayer going in general?

Destiny will be out in a few months, a perpetual game where those that make the game have as much control, in the long run, as those that play. While it's obviously going to be an expensive project can games like Battlefield, which aren't seeing as much polish put on their original release, really stand up to this new era of games? Yes GTA Online has some problems, and damned if the developers don't seem to be playing to the games strengths nearly as much as they should, but at some point another game like GTA 5 will release, with more thought into the multiplayer, and these games seemingly running on autopilot really won't stand a chance.


This "not and MMO and not just multiplayer" genre is going to be not just experimented with over the next few years but likely, with the type of money and time Activision is investing in Destiny, mastered outright. So, if you're going to more or less release the same game every year or 2 why put so much energy, i.e. money, into parts that don't matter? As Destiny is saying-why not accept you're re-making one game and just do it for real? In my estimation this question is going to be a lot more dramatic in the next few years. As I said in the start of my review the Battlefield 4 campaign is awful, so why even make it? Couldn't that energy have been spent actually polishing the maps?

All in all Battlefield 4 is a very fun multiplayer experience that, weeks after release, is still hampered by bugs that likely were the result of development. While still showing a trademark Battlefield mentality throughout the multiplayer design elements, like being able to connect with friends, seem to have not been though about at all. Leave that with a number of elements to the game that no amount of hints can explain and all I can say is that the game is fun despite itself. Yes, there are some small and large problems in the game but this is one of those games where when it works it really works. Sadly, like Tina I can't recommend this game right now. Play at your own risk, since it is fun. But if and when they actually get a good patch up this game will deserve a place in the library of most fans of multiplayer games.


But every time I look up info on this game the google search always drops in a few news stories about bugs in the game. I mean it's a fairly constant stream and for a game that has one of those "season pass" and "premium" membership systems going it's pathetic that new content will be released before anything is done to fix old bugs. Hopefully though we get a chance to see what this game should look like at some point. Well, until then.

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