With six years between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3, DICE assured fans that it would be around the same amount of time before Battlefield 4 came out. Perhaps it was just a tactic to get owners of the game to buy the franchises first ever season pass in Premium, but the fact remains that it wasn't even a year when it leaked that those who pre-ordered Medal of Honor: Warfighter would receive access to the BF4's beta. That said, many fans were a little unsure about the title going into late October, and they rightly did so.
Game developers and publishers really have their work cut out for them these days. Despite decreased sales year over year due to the declining (and now recovering) economy, more and more games have issues with their online services at launch. Unfortunately, we can't tell you that Battlefield 4 is any different. While there are plenty of servers to choose from the service is plagued with freezing issues when in loading screens. DICE has identified many of these issues and pegged them to be fixed in a patch, but until then playing the game is nothing short of a fight occasionally.
On top of that, the server browser remains a clumsy and clunky beast which, at least on console, would probably be better off eliminated. It does allow you a certain amount of liberty with the type of game you play, it also creates a rather massive barrier to those who just wish to jump right into an official server. While their is the option to simply launch a quick match, that doesn't guarantee that you will be put into an official DICE or EA server. And sure, it does afford you the ability of hosting your own server, as of right now they are few and far between. Perhaps we'll see more as the lifespan of the game progresses, but right now all of the benefits it offers are nonexistent.
The good news is that the game's campaign is the best to date and actually offers characters that you can get attached to. Irish, Pac, and Hannah, all members of Tombstone, the squad that you, Reck, are assigned to. There's inner conflict, outer conflict and a good amount of believably towards the events. Running through the back-alleys of China while an uprising ensues feels remarkably fresh. While the game occasionally does fall victim to the "you can't touch the main character" attitude, it does provide glimpses of vulnerability that help remind you that this squad is indeed human and always on the brink of death.
That said, DICE recommends that experienced shooters play on the Hard difficulty. Having done that, we can tell you that it is indeed the approach that most want to take. Our only complaint surfaces when you're dealing with tank warfare. The A.I. is way too smart in this segment and rarely misses a shot, forcing you to replay the section over and over until you learn that you're better off waiting between each and every engagement while your tank repairs. It's a small issue, but one that does take up a good thirty minutes of the five hour campaign.
We're a fan of Levolution, the more destructive capability the better. However, the amount of effect each environments Levolution has varies wildly. Flood Zone's levee break is nothing short of an annoyance, traversing what used to be streets turns navigation into a flat out hassle. While others like Siege of Shanghai's skyscraper collapse are incredible to behold. Others are as simple as a smokestack collapsing or an antennae crashing to the ground and slightly altering a capture point.
The rest of the multiplayer remains largely unchanged from the previous installation. There are still four main classes: Assault, Support, Recon, and Engineer, and their unlocks are mostly handled the same. The main difference is the introduction to Battlepacks which function a lot like Mass Effect 3's weapon packs. At certain ranks, or through Premium, you may be awarded Battlepacks color coded by rarity that offer weapon attachments, camoes, and more. In a new note, you can now customize your vehicles as well, assigning them camoes and placing your own logo, created via Battlelog, on them.
With a franchise largely renown for its multiplayer you expect the team to have everything ready to go when the game launches. Right now that isn't the case, so whether you should purchase or not depends on how much you trust DICE. While the game lacks the visual appeal of the next generation consoles (sans PC), it could still very much be a worthwhile investment of your money to buy the game now and begin progressing your profile before the game launches with your respective next console purchase. As Electronic Arts has mentioned, all stats and Premium purchases will carry over for a $10 upgrade fee when the time comes.
Some nights Battlefield 4 felt straight up unplayable. We trust that DICE will remedy the issues with the title, but it does stand on the weakest foundation that we've seen from the studio for quite some time. Luckily there isn't a hell of a lot else as far as huge names go on next generation consoles. That lasting appeal until next spring is something that makes Battlefield 4 really attractive.
- Gives you something to do while waiting for truly next gen titles next Spring.
- Multiplayer remains an incredibly deep experience.
- A not too shabby campaign.
- Lots of bugs and freezing.
- Server browser is clunky on the consoles.
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An Xbox 360 copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes.