Battlefield 4 is DICE's fourth installment into their Battlefield series and by far the grandest game yet. The Battlefield series has always made it a point of pride to create epic and oft times barely believable moments through their games multiplayer and campaign through the liberal use of high destructible environments. For fans who played the previous installment of Battlefield 3 and felt awed by the sheer destruction and chaos on its massive maps, Battlefield 4 may just cause you to faint from awe. From the evolving environments, falling skyscrapers, vicious tropical storms, and larger scale destruction on larger maps than ever, Battlefield 4 is by all means a grand affair.
If you are buying Battlefield 4 for the campaign, you are going to have a bad time. The series has never been known for its stellar story-telling in single player mode, and that continues to be the case in Battlefield 4. With that being said, the single player is much improved over Battlefield 3, which is saying a lot because it is still pretty awful.
The single player is more irritating than anything. It is as if they took every possible cliché you could find in a military action movie and forced it on in there even if it made sense or not. Sometimes it is just so ridiculous that seems like it is intentional, as if they are trying to parody the whole affair. The single player campaign has generic mission types via boat, tank, stealth, and romping through the sewers as well as the usual case of betrayal, defying orders and generally saving the day as a ragtag team of soldiers. Of course, once you complete a mission it moves onto the next, giving just the bare minimum in exposition on what you are doing or why you are doing it. That's war though, right? Loud, chaotic, and no one ever tells you what the crap is going on.
Though they do try to pack in some character development and humanization of your squad by having them chat in between being assaulted by bullets. However, it is some of the most ineffective narrative ever written. You end up feeling nothing for the characters, even the dead ones. What's worse, they aren't even funny. They try to be funny, but it just ends up making you want to cheese grater your ears to the nub. Terrible writing aside, the campaign is much like watching an action movie. It is an assault of explosion, blood, and large scale destruction. If watching yourself fall from a crumbling building or skittering across a sinking ship is all you need to enjoy a game, then maybe you can find some joy within it.
However, no one plays Battlefield for its 'thrilling' single player mode. It seems DICE realized that when they only made it around 4 hours long when chugging around at a normal pace. It serves as a decent introduction to the vehicles and guns that await you in multiplayer, but it is terrifying to think that some people may make judgment on Battlefield 4 based on the single player campaign alone.
If you are an experienced player who is familiar with battlefield traditions, there is still some initiative to play the single player in the form of collecting dog tags. If you don't need a glorified action movie tutorial or fancy dog tags then there is really no reason to partake in single player play.
Enough about the terrible single player, you can't judge a game like Battlefield 4 on the quality of their campaign. The only real reason people play Battlefield is for the epic multiplayer. With Battlefield 4, the multiplayer has only gotten bigger and better.
DICE has really outdone itself when it comes to map design. Some first person shooters use maps that consist of a thinly veiled top path, middle path, and bottom path design but the maps of Battlefield 4 are so massive and riddled with different routes it is easy to spend the whole game never taking the same route twice. With the 64 player maximum that the PC hosts, these massive maps are needed. Due to the large map size and complex design, it makes 32 versus 32 feel much more like an actual battle rather than a close quarters cluster of grenades. Though some maps host 64 players better than others, for example Operation Locker is a larger and more complex no-vehicle map much like Metro from Battlefield 3. Which means when you put 64 players in it, even if it is bigger, when they meet in the middle you better have you grenades ready because everyone else will.
The biggest and most hyped improvement to their multiplayer is the evolving environments of the map (neither EA nor DICE can make me call it 'levolution') which can easy ruin your well thought out strategy, forcing you to adapt. In the Siege of Shanghai, a massive skyscraper comes tumbling down exposing a capture point in Conquest mode and otherwise depriving snipers of an amazing perch. In Parcel Storm a typhoon rolls in making a map that is dominated by helicopters and water vehicles more of a battle against nature rather than man. The boats fall victim to the ebb and flow of the swelling storm surge, while keeping a helicopter steady in the air for gunners to fire effectively is absolutely impossible.
Every map has some sort of massive evolution that the environment can undergo, however some are more effective than others. It seemed like some large destruction events were just put in for the sake of having one on that particular map rather than actually being useful in making players adapt a new strategy.
Battlefield 4 has a lot of the series classics, but it has revived one feature from way back in Battlefield 2—Commander mode. At E3 2013, they made this look like it was a ploy to take advantage of second screen features for next gen consoles. There is no second screen needed for the PC though. In commander mode, you overlook the battlefield and are given direct chat channels to all squad leaders. You can give attack commands to squads and they are encouraged to undertake them. As squads follow you commands, the commander is given more tools to help them like calling in UAVs over contested areas or tossing a few strategic airstrikes.
Commander mode is exceedingly useful, but only if people actually follow your commands. Playing commander over a bunch of random players is frustrating at best. If you have a group of friends or a clan that will actually follow what you say though, victory is almost assured as you will likely get to experience all the perks of having a commander.
Aside from commander mode, the classic loadout system of Battlefield 3 is back, but DICE went and made it better. Now there is a large array of guns that the different classes can use. This makes the classes defined more so by their gadgets rather than the types of guns they can use. Now an engineer can hop out of a tank and actually have a decent gun to shoot with, recon no longer has to choose between insane close range shotguns or long range snipers with the ability to use mid range rifles. The ability to use more weapons as different classes is about the only thing they changed. If it ain't broke, right?
Most of the classic multiplayer modes make their return to Battlefield 4 such as Conquest, Rush, Team and Squad Deathmatches, and Domination. However, Battlefield 4 brings two new game modes to the table—Obliteration and Defuse.
In Obliteration, two teams fight to pick up a bomb in order to drop it off at one of three objectives, arm it, than blow that objective all to hell. It is a lot like football, but with a volatile explosive rather than a ball of leather and air. Oh, and the linebackers shoot at you.
Defuse is a Counter Strike reminiscent game mode in which players are given a single life and split into two teams of five. Players can win by either eliminating the enemy team or arming a bomb and defending it. If it sounds like a recipe for campers, it is from what I have seen already.
These new modes are fun enough, but it seems like DICE did not exactly think through map design for all of the modes. Some maps are amazing for one or two game modes, while others modes are downright frustrating on that map. For example, playing Obliteration on Paracel Island is a frustrating affair. it is a map made up of islands, but when you die in the water, the bomb gets reset, so even if you are running the bomb in a group it can end up across the map if you die. This may actually be a glitch, but if not, it is irritating.
Overall, when ignoring the short comings of the single player mode this Battlefield is by far the best Battlefield. DICE acknowledged that destruction was easily fans most favorite aspect of the game, so they took it and made it bigger and better. Battlefield 4 is being hailed as the game that kicks off the next generation of gaming, and why not? If Battlefield 4 ends up as beautiful on the PS4 and Xbox One, then yeah, it is a great start to the next gen. Gamers can argue and nitpick about every little detail, but they cannot deny that Battlefield 4 is beautiful and more impressively, beautiful on a massive scale.
+ Large Scale Map Design
+ Complex Multi-Pathed Maps
+ Accommodates 64 Players While Still Feeling Spacious
+ So Beautiful
+ Can Destroy All The Things!
- Terribly Boring, Short Single Player Campaign
- Game Modes Don't Always Fit The Map
- Massive Destruction For Massive Destructions' Sake
- New Game Modes Aren't Exactly Innovative