Cheesy title, I know. I, as most of you probably did this weekend past, spent my few days off playing the Battlefield 4 Beta. As I am the owner of an XBOX 360, I can only give you my opinion of the game on that console. But, from what I saw and played, Battlefield 4 is shaping up to be one of the best shooters of all time. Yes, that’s right, I said it – ‘of all time’.
To be perfectly honest, it was pretty buggy. But, then, it’s a Beta, so it isn’t going to be the finished product. There was the occasional tank glitch where it disappeared from my screen only to reappear behind me and, surprise, surprise, blow me to kingdom come. There’s also a real problem with textures properly loading and I spent the first three minutes of the game running around as if I were playing ‘Battlefield 4 – Minecraft Edition’. But it didn’t really ruin my experience. It was frustrating, for sure, but no less fun. When the textures did properly load, the game was visually stunning. The city space in ‘Siege of Shanghai’ was breathtaking, it was as if I were actually there. The buildings begin the level in almost perfect condition but, give it three or four minutes and the map is almost unrecognizable. Windows smashed, chunks out of the different levels, bits and pieces falling everywhere – it was a true war-zone. EA have taken a real step forward since Battlefield 3, with the new game engine making destruction seem as though you are running around in the midst of an earthquake (or siege on a major city). The glass shatters around you as you sprint from objective to objective, the dust billows through the streets as tank shells and RPGs fizz past your skull – it is immersive to say the least. And, all of this is perfectly punctuated by the center piece of the map – the skyscraper.
We’ve all seen the video of the skyscraper coming down during gameplay, and to be honest I was a little skeptical at first. But I’ll admit that after a few play throughs, I was impressed. In the first few games I kept missing the demolition. I could see and hear the tanks shooting at its structure whilst the enemy and my teammates battled on the upper levels. I would catch the occasional glimpse of concrete erupting from its base thinking, “OH! Is this it? Is it coming down?” – only to be shot in the back whilst I spectated nothing much. But then, the almighty crash would come as the base buckled and the tower collapsed. But where was I? Well of course, I was the other side of the map, or dead waiting to respawn, or accidentally crashing a helicopter in to a building whilst trying to watch the building come down, killing all inside. But, let me tell you, once I’d seen that collapse, that moment where those inside the building smash out of the windows and begin the free-fall to hopeful safety. Those few seconds where the glass shatters from bottom to top and the wave of destruction ripples through the steel and concrete of the building above – it’s awe-inspiring. It tumbles to the ground like a massive game of Jenga, though rather than wooden blocks it’s a skyscraper, and rather than loosing a family game all those players near and inside perish in a plume of dust and debris. That moment is a true testament to the new and improved Frostbite game engine.
But, what of the gameplay? Well, it’s much of a muchness. The actual gameplay has changed very little, other than a few new and improved game modes (that we will get to play a little more on release). Though, to be perfectly honest, this is a good thing. Battlefield 3 was one of the finest FPS games that I’ve played, probably ever, or at least since ‘Call of Duty – World at War’. So why change something that isn’t broke? The reactions seem a little quicker and they’ve changed some of the classes a little (the med-pack for the assault class looks a bit different, though does the same thing, nonetheless). They’ve made small changes which, stacked up together, will probably notice but on their own they fly low under the radar. Finding the action sometimes proved difficult. Spawning on team mates seems to be the easiest way to be launched into the battle, but then you run the risk of being gunned down before even touching the controller. If you choose to start at base or an objective, you might be running around for a while before even catching a glimpse of the bad guy. That being said, once you’ve finally reached the action, it’s as ferocious and exhilarating as ever!
From what I’ve played, this game seems like a great improvement from Battlefield 3, whilst keeping the general tone and play style of its predecessor. But, only time will tell if this is going to be as big, or bigger, than Battlefield 3 or even its competitor, ‘Call of Duty – Ghosts’. It’s certainly shaping up to be a winner!