Battlefield 4 PC Review

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Battlefield 4 is developer DICE‘s latest action packed entry in EA‘s long and storied Battlefield franchise. Equipped with the highly anticipated Frostbite 4 Engine, it aims to please. And I have to say, the new tech doesn’t disappoint. Not much, other than the new engine, has changed. Let’s be real, there really isn’t a way to make groundbreaking changes to a tried and true formula like the military shooter. In the past, DICE strayed from their wheelhouse and we all remember how that turned out, we ended up with Battlefield 2142, enough said. From the new engine and graphics to the new game modes, weapons, and customizations has DICE done enough to convince you to spend your hard-earned money on their latest endeavor into realistic FPS?

The Frostbite 4 Engine combined with stunning graphics make for a truly immersive gameplay experience. The first thing that I noticed when I booted up the game was how indistinguishable it was from the rest of the Battlefield franchise, but man, the graphics were something else. I game on a 1440p display, and although I cannot quite run the game on ultra it still looks amazing. The best way to describe why I love the Frostbite 4 Engine was my first real experience with the truly destructive environment. I was playing a conquest game on the Siege of Shanghai. I had made my way up to the top of a sky scraper where objective point Charlie was located. I first thought about how I liked having an objective with really limited access. I took the elevator, yes you can work certain elevators, to the top and after an intense fire fight we captured the objective. A few moments later I realized why the developers decided to place an objective on the top of a sky scraper. The building began to shake and then I died. On my way up to heaven I watched my body begin to fall with the building as it collapsed on itself. After everything was said and done, there it was, a completely new objective within the rubble of the building. This singluar moment made the game worth it. I was not quite sure if it was an earthquake or if the building just suffered enough damage. A few maps later I came to the conclusion that it must have been an earthquake, because during a later game on Parcel Storm I encountered an actual storm.

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This for me was another feature that I think really sets this game apart from earlier versions, the havoc that the weather can reap on a game. I was testing out the recon kit and sniping from the main U.S. base which happened to be an aircraft carrier. A few minutes into my testing, after I’d bested my previous sniping record with a 500m head shot, I began to notice the waves in the ocean starting to kick up, shortly after the waves started, the rain became thick and the lightning in the sky made it near impossible to snipe from any sort of distance. At first I was pissed, but then I began to realize how cool it was and how it forced you to change how you played the map. The weather is evident in other maps in the form of snow storms, and presumably earth quakes. After that round was over and I marveled in the greatness of my new personal best I began to focus on some of the new weapon changes.

Aiming and firing a weapon doesn’t change much, you don’t just invent a new way to fire weapons in a FPS. You can however, add some enhancements to the way they work. Something that was added and you could say makes sniping easier was adding the ability to essentially zero your weapon to one of a few preset distances. If you are sitting in the mountains and are 500 or so yards away, with a few clicks of the hotkey you can have your weapon zeroed in on 500 meters. Some people will say that this makes sniping too easy, but I think if you already have a steady hand and sharp eye it doesn’t make it necessarily make it “easier” it just enhances your capabilities. Let’s face it, you will rarely have an enemy standing directly under a flag at exactly 500 meters, you will still have calculate some sort of bullet drop. This feature was available in all scoped rifles that I used. Along with new weapon enhancements DICE added a few game modes.

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Obliteration and Diffuse were added to the rotation this year. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time testing each mode, but I did play them a bit. Obliteration although new to Battlefield, is not really a new concept. There is a bomb randomly placed on the map and you must grab that bomb and bring it to an objective to blow it up and win. EA describes this as a fast paced game, but I found it to be the opposite, again this is just in my limited time logged on the specific mode. There were a few intense fire fights but with everyone on the map knowing the location of the bomb this led to a ton of bomb camping. A few people even commented on chat not wanting to go and grab the “bullet magnet”. The second new mode I found a tad more enjoyable. Diffuse is Battlefield’s answer to CoD’s Search and Destroy. It has a simple premise; you get one life, so make good use of it. There are multiple turns per round so it’s not like you die once and then have to load up a new map. You win this game by either defeating everybody on the entire team or capturing a military objective. I found this to be the more enjoyable of the two new game modes. Not everything about the game gave me the warm and fuzzies, there are a few things that made me go hmmmmm.

I will first start out with something that I both liked and disliked. Between rounds there was much more you could do within the game. You can look at leaderboards, your friends and really navigate your character in the same fashion that you once only were able to do through the web-based launch page. This new menu system took it, for me, to a level that was not needed. Screen changes! You had so many different screens to navigate through and you could easily get lost in the menus mid game. When you go to re-spawn and feel like switching squads, you have to navigate to a different screen. I think this is one thing that didn’t need to change; I liked having my squads accessible on the re-spawn menu. With the new menu redesign they added the ability to see, in real-time, where you were spawning. Needless to say, I felt less than satisfied with the change. The map system is another update that I didn’t really fall in love with.

I was flying around in an attack chopper and wanted to make my mini-map a little larger so I could see more, so I hit the hotkey that was used in BF3 to make my mini-map larger, and man did it ever make it larger, it covered the entire screen. There may be a way to change it back to normal, but for now I will just shake my fist in anger at DICE for this little inconvenience. They may have done this just to force you to use their new mobile app and the ability to use your tablet as another mini-map. The second screen experience is something that’s really being pushed as of late, and will continue to be next-gen. The Battlelog app is another feature in which I tried to like but am kind of conflicted about.

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Trying to use my iPad as another mini-map was interesting to me at first. I soon realized that I found myself looking away from my screen in such a funny angle that it was actually more distracting, I can’t really fault DICE for this, but logistically I find the feature hard to use. If I could put my iPad at eye level or something, then that would make things easier. Alternatively DICE could just cater to my needs and make a pop-out mini-map that I could drag on to my second monitor. Hey, a guy can dream can’t he? Again this is a simple inconvenience, not a dealbreaker.

Ultimately Battlefield 4 is one of my favortie FPS games. Sure it has its flaws, but I really think the Frostbite 4 Engine is borderline groundbreaking material for the genre. BF4’s flaws are trivial, and overall based on personal preference. I really don’t have a lot of negative things to say about this game. Battlefield 4 is a top-notch game. It has the staying power to be enjoyable for years to come. If you are looking for a game to drop your hard-earned money on and have previous versions of the Battlefield franchise in your catalog, you won’t be disappointed. And hey, if the only previous experience you had with this franchise was 2142 or battlefield Vietnam, you can only go uphill from there! Oh yea, there’s single player mode too….

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