The evolution of the battlefield

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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A cross-platform review?

This is only the first of the reviews that will be dedicated to Battlefield 4 and will be published on Resources4Gaming.com in the coming days. What you are about to read is the review for the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, based on an event that took place in Stockholm. In the coming days, as soon as Electronic Arts will send us review codes of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, we will proceed with the review of the latter, while for the evaluation of the Xbox One version you will have to wait until November 12, the expiration date of the embargo. processing.



Reviewing Battlefield 4 is no easy feat. It wasn't even doing it two years ago on the occasion of the third (highly anticipated) chapter; but today, thanks to the arrival of the new consoles, expectations are quite different. DICE has an even more difficult task: to "raise the morale" of Electronic Arts after the Medal of Honor debacle, but above all to affirm the technological superiority in situations where special effects are essential to grab the less "hardcore" public.

But behind an exceptional cosmetics that enhances the PC as much (and this is obvious) the PC as much as the PlayStation 4 (and this one is not at all) hides the usual and solid mega-project "made in Sweden". Solid but, alas, also with a double face: next to a multiplayer sector that keeps what it promised in previous meetings, we find a campaign that, despite everything, is still half a disappointment. Of course, those who buy Battlefield do not do it mainly for the five hours of single player, but there is no doubt that the campaign has the advantage of flexing the muscles of the graphics engine and that, like it or not, it is an important part of the gaming experience that we paid, and that must be evaluated with the same air of multiplayer. Consider this incipit a small disclaimer to meet considerations that will surely pop up over and over again in the comments.



Battlefield 4 is the triumph of team play but there are some shadows

The (non) story ...

Battlefield 4 is therefore single player and multiplayer, plus the very welcome appendage of the test field to begin to become familiar with everything we will encounter in the course of the game, including means. The campaign, lasting between five and six hours, has the hard task of making us forget the mediocre, but technically exciting if played on a properly pumped PC, of ​​the previous edition, undecided between the television approach to Generation Kill and the Call of Duty cinematic look. With Battlefield 4, DICE still proves undecided about what it really wants to propose and if a part of those that were the main defects of the past have been taken care of, at the same time others present themselves, between new and old problems not yet resolved effectively.

The quality of the storytelling is the biggest weakness of the campaign. The story revolves around a coup d'état in China, which eliminates the exponent most open to dialogue and party moderation, sending a hawk to power, who, as per the textbook, can only be cynical and ruthless. Who to blame? To the Americans, what questions, who are not invaded, but see a large part of their Pacific fleet completely at the mercy of Chinese attacks. From here a story unfolds that sees us fight by sea and by land (luckily never in the air, given the bad memories of the past) in which the small team of marines of which the protagonist is a part is tossed between Azerbaijan, the "Coastal" China and the hinterland, to find and save those who can restore the natural order of things. The classic political fictional tale, in short, complete with a double game on the phone, but narrated in a pedestrian way, with the characters tossed from one place to another for the sole purpose of varying the setting; with "secondary actors", but important, who enter and leave the stage only to advance the script. All this with zero pathos, without the player having that empathy with the protagonist necessary to tolerate a laughable story. And when DICE wants to tell the human side of its protagonists to try to stage something more than simple two-dimensional figurines useful only to attract enemy fire, it falls into the same mistake as Medal of Honor: Warfighter, that is, it transforms them into ridiculous characters, cloying and out of context.



It is not enough to make a soldier compassionate to give him depth, it is not enough to make him sacrifice in the most anticlimatic of endings to make him a tragic hero: never as now we find ourselves in front of specks done and finished. The narrative, in short, is the most forgettable thing of the package, and even if from Battlefield 4 we certainly expected a focus on multiplayer, here we have really crossed a boundary rarely seen in products of the genre. But despite everything, as written at the beginning, small steps forward have been made. The pace is finally on good levels, there are no more completely negative missions like the one on the sky of Iran in Battlefield 3, and more generally DICE has been good at almost always keeping the downtime below the guard level, throwing in the mixes situations at the limit that often change during the same mission, to the point of even touching "stealth". We are certainly not talking about a miracle of inventiveness and variety: a setting is practically recycled a couple of times and more generally you have the constant feeling of deja vu, but at least, taken by themselves, the missions are all in all quite fun.

Die hard

The level design takes its part to improve the situation, thanks to moments in which the spaces widen a lot, giving the player a wider range of possibilities than the usual routine of the scripted first-person shooter. The battle in the hangars, the complex and thrilling crossing of the city gates on the border with India, the "picnic" in the high mountains ... are short moments, but really well staged, very funny, capable of galvanizing even the player more allergic to this type of videogame experience, with the map becoming a sort of "mini sandbox" in which to move freely.



When spaces tighten these qualities fail, making Battlefield 4 decidedly conventional, but without a doubt this choice by DICE was spot on. A little less winning is the possibility through the right backbone to "tag" the enemies to Far Cry 3, even through the walls, thus making them always visible on the map and making things much easier, without forgetting that with a quick pressure of the the same button we can also issue a suppression order, particularly useful for flanking the enemies stationed (the construction of the environments encourages this strategy). The large spaces, however, also highlight the obvious difficulties of artificial intelligence. The scripted behaviors are particularly visible; often the enemies run towards us without seeing us because their routines require them to hide behind a certain shelter; others expose themselves in plain sight or hurl themselves in single file against us, or if hit once they continue undaunted to remain impaled in the same place, getting up and shooting because they were commanded to do so, perhaps without noticing the shelter that is crumbling underneath of them. This is not always the case, of course, and indeed the enemies often put us in difficulty as they are always many and very fast in moving between one cover and another.

Talking about circumventing movements to flush out the protagonist is excessive, but it should be noted that they often have the bad habit of appearing in previously cleaned up areas to surprise us behind, which is particularly irritating when you are about to arrive at the checkpoint and you die in because of someone who in theory shouldn't be in that place. Our companions, on the other hand, limit themselves to doing the homework: they have a good aim, but often they are not particularly quick to follow us and - even more frequently - they throw us out of our shelter if that is their designated place. Another thing we didn't like very much is the weaponry, not in visual and audio terms, but in the excessive amount of lead needed to knock an enemy down, both from close and far. There is a hitbox problem, in short, which unfortunately is also repeated in multiplayer. The shot to the head alone can instantly chill an enemy, otherwise even at point-blank range a shotgun does little damage, the same goes for the assault rifle, of whatever type it is. Even the sniper gun seems to tickle the Chinese, only sniper guns are always effective in any situation.

It is strange to see opponents constantly getting up after two, three repeated bursts and even not feeling anything when our bullet should be lethal. It seems that sometimes our shots get lost in thin air. The feeling, however, that every weapon brings with it has been reproduced in an impeccable way; or rather, each of them is unique, it is up to us to choose which one best suits our style of play. Talking about choice is right since with the progression after each kill (in a similar way to what is seen in Bulletstorm) the game calculates a score, thanks to which it is possible to gradually unlock new weapons, to be changed on the fly in the game by accessing convenient supplies of which the levels are dotted (we will find rifles and gadgets, to be understood as rocket launchers, mines and much more). The difficulty level did not seem particularly challenging: playing "normal" the hardest obstacle are some distant checkpoints, in conjunction with the sudden "spawn" of enemies, and even in the most advanced missions you play quietly without particular worries. Provided, of course, that you take advantage of all the possibilities offered by the level design.

Finally 64 players

So far Battlefield 4 has little or nothing to offer the experienced player, in addition to a cosmetics that, as per the manual, acts and will act as a real benchmark for everything that wants to be "next gen". Where DICE amazed us is obviously in multiplayer. The heart of the gaming experience is what we all know, finally equal on both PC and new consoles. So 60 frames per second and sixty-four players can be enjoyed by everyone, except of course for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners. We could define the multiplayer sector with one word: huge. And not only referring to the size of the maps, but above all for the endless variety of gameplay it offers the player.

To immediately explain the heart of the game, it is enough to have as a reference two maps that we have played in recent months and which are paradigmatic for the entire Battlefield 4 project, namely Paracel Storm and Flood Zone. The heart of it all is not the "minute" destructibility, that of the less resistant coverings and constructions, however used in large quantities everywhere, but the so-called Levolution, or the important changes to the map, scripted but triggered by the player, which destabilize the level during the game. In Paracel Storm, a storm slowly builds up, the wind whips the palm trees, the visibility is reduced by the sprayed water, the high waves do not allow us to aim steadily using a rubber dinghy or a motorboat. Thinking of swimming to silently arrive at the conquest point on the farthest islet is impossible. Without forgetting the ship anchored offshore that we can crash to create an obstacle on the shore. In Flood Zone, on the other hand, we can destroy an embankment and flood a small neighborhood, reduce the labyrinthine complex of buildings into real islands, thus passing from wheeled vehicles to amphibious ones and enhancing the hot spots located on the roofs: real " killing zone ", well structured, full of shelters, defilations and raised points. These are the most striking changes, but also in the maps where the destructive events are less pyrotechnic and more hidden, the level design, the width of the battlefield and the tactical union between land and air vehicles, make Battlefield 4 something great. Let's take Golmund Railway: an endless map, probably the largest of the package, in which everything revolves around a railway that cuts it horizontally, where a conquest point is an armored train carriage, which moves and forces us to chase it, to defend or attack it.

But it doesn't stop there. Golmund would seem tailor-made for the means, both for the planes and for the tanks, but also the infantry has its space in the sheds below, but above all on the hill where two targets are next to each other on real terraces, where houses are perfect for close combat; all this is then perfectly reachable from several points, both on foot and by wagons. Chariots that, on a map like this, are the perfect nemesis for infantry when out in the open in the wide grasslands at the foot of the hill. However, the vehicles now have weaknesses that can guarantee critical hits more than in the past. They can be blocked, but they can shoot but not move, in short, the novice engineer equipped with a rocket launcher will be able to hit a vehicle three or four times and do little or nothing to it. The veteran will aim at his "soft parts", immobilizing him perhaps with a single well-carried blow. Returning to the maps, another of the ten present at launch and that particularly impressed us is Rogue Transmission. Smaller than the previous one, but really ingenious; suffice it to say that it focuses on a gigantic parable similar to that of Arecibo, where it is possible to fight both above and below it, and that being destructible in several points it can be exploited to hit those who are below and vice versa. Here, too, a perfect "killing zone", not trivial, with many access points, which can also be traveled by vehicles, and perfectly delimited by three conquest points protected in some structures that are coupled with those below the antenna, difficult to conquer and defend due to the lack of light and steep terrain.

The new Battelog

To make the Battlefield experience more cohesive, Battlelog was practically rebuilt from the ground up. Accessibility was the first focal point taken over by DICE. First of all, it is no longer a separate application from the game; is always just a click away and you can join new games on the fly. Still on the "speed of execution" side, everything that is done for the personalization of our alter ego or, why not, of the vehicles, can be found in real time when selecting the class before going to the game. In practice, having a tablet that runs Battlelog while playing is equivalent to having a second screen, a real "companion". All the ancillary information about rankings and people, friends or not, with whom we are playing are also more in-depth. In the first case, you no longer have only a list of the best ones, but you can apply very detailed local filters, up to the city you belong to, while in addition to the usual amount of data regarding the statistics of the others, the system will give us the possibility to create real in-game missions and to keep track of those we are completing, without forgetting that Battlelog will be quick in telling us which unlock we are approaching, thus giving us the opportunity to focus our efforts in a certain direction.

Living room general

More generally, in addition to the Levolution, the ingenious level design and the variety of gameplay, it is the marked verticality to flavor all the maps a bit. If in the siege of Shanghai, in Operation Dawnbreaker and in the Flood Zone, skyscrapers and buildings dominate, effectively structuring the fighting on several levels almost clearly, it must be said that the remaining battlefields also offer never flat layouts, both in terms of present structures and in terms of orographic conformation. Hollows, hills and mountains always allow us to look down on opponents.

Hainan Resort, the beach holiday village, is surrounded by a plateau that scans the whole map, but there is also a skyscraper in the center that does this best, while the wagon factory in Zavod 311 or the medical facilities in Lancang Dam they are perfect "towers" to enjoy a privileged observation point on the maps. Nothing new, of course, but the impression is that DICE wanted to expand this sector to favor snipers, but also to make the battle for conquest points even more bitter - and therefore fun. A level design that favors all types of players for all classes, with the immense sample of unlocks, the so-called unlocks that are obtained both as you level up, and by constantly using the weapon you are holding, in order to get all those objects useful for its customization, and able to significantly modify the performance. In the same way, leveling up guarantees us new gadgets and battlepacks of different rarity to be opened when a particular score is reached. The specializations "complicate" the possibilities more, since they significantly influence the evolution of their class, making their growth path even more peculiar almost as if it were an RPG, which makes it even more the tactical nature of Battlefield 4 is evident.

Team play is fundamental, the space for lone wolves is even more reduced and relegated to team deathmatch only, also given the introduction, or rather the reintroduction of the Commander. From perfect parlor generals, tablet in hand, we watched our men on the map, guided them on the battlefield giving them orders, helped them by granting them constant UAVs and blinding the opponent's one, and once we had a target we unleashed the fury of a Gunship or launched a cruise missile to silence the survivors. The concept is simple: Commander and team work together. The better the team acts, the more help we can send them; the better you "work" following our orders, the more help will be in the form of vehicles, total map scans and much more. Everything seems to work without problems; obviously it takes speed and a glance, but the possibility of using the Commander not only on consoles and PCs but also via tablet when you are not physically in front of the monitor or TV is certainly a factor not to be underestimated, and that could make become this role a fifth class in all respects, and not just a simple bonus to make the nostalgics of the franchise happy.

PlayStation 4 Trophies

Battlefield 4 rewards the player with 43 trophies, which are earned in both the campaign and multiplayer. Most of the silver ones are won by taking home a certain score in the various missions of the campaign, while the golden ones involve us a little more, that is, they ask us to find all the hidden objects in the campaign, but also to engage in real and own combos. At the multiplayer level, the trophies are few, and also not particularly difficult, for example just winning a round for each type of game, or carrying 5 bombs in Obliteration.

There is not only the conquest of the race

In terms of content, the inclusion of the Commander is paired with some brand new modes that have nothing less than the classic ones, such as Race and Conquest and their derivatives. We are talking about Obliteration and Defuse, not linked to particular maps, since "everything is played on everything": only the width of the battlefield changes and obviously the number of players present. Obliteration begins with the two teams running towards the center of the map to collect a bomb to carry and detonate at one of the opponent's three control points. Once exploded, the bomb reappears somewhere else and the game starts over. Fast, frenetic and with the two teams massing, probably a little too "caciarone" towards the hotspots. But while waiting for another bomb to appear, it is good practice to disperse the group to cover the territory and perhaps use the fast and unstoppable quads to reach the goal. Defuse instead is the exact opposite of the term caciarone. Smaller maps and zero respawn. Triggering or defusing a bomb, that's all. If you die you have to wait for the turn to end. The dynamics are therefore characterized by great circumspection. Playing inside the tank factory in Zavod 311, the dark is our worst enemy, like the lead of the opponents, and even climbing on the roof, thinking of "sniping" big time, can be a bad idea given the time it takes. to climb and above all the great abundance of shelters outside with dozens of tank carcasses rotting on the ground. Two really interesting and fun modes, therefore, that surpass deathmatch, team and non-team, and that are perfect for taking breath from the efforts of Race and Conquest.

Thousands of characters to describe the new features of Battlefield 4 but, pad (or mouse and keyboard) in hand, how does the game behave? Exactly like Battlefield 3, that is the maximum variation (not counting the hardcore and niche titles) of the team game. The dynamism of the maps given by Levolution, the "minute" destructibility of the same, the perfect level design to enhance the four classes, without forgetting the excellent layout of the conquest points, allow the player - veteran or not - to enjoy the title exactly as you want. Everything contributes to making every single game virtually different from the other. Perhaps many will see the strong verticality as an invitation to "campers", but the ways to take out a well-placed sniper are many, and above all it must be considered that the roles require that there is someone who can defend or attack using strategies that can annoy them. attackers who want to throw their hearts over the obstacle. Sure, being killed over and over by the damn camper lurking on the roof of the skyscraper can be annoying, but taking the elevator and hitting it from behind is priceless, even better if we parachute behind it. And if we want to exaggerate, attack helicopters and jets of various kinds can open the doors of the respawn in a second. In short, it is part of the game.

All perfect? Not really. As we wrote in the campaign paragraph, sometimes the hitbox fails. Ranged weapons are all quite precise, perhaps too much, both pistols and small machine guns, provided that they are used single-shot, but sometimes it seems that the shots are not correctly registered and are thus lost in the void. It is a strange situation, given that ballistics plays a very important role, both for the means (in which the fall of the tank shots compared to the beta appeared to be correct) and for the rifles, especially those of snipers, more effective, which they enjoy the possibility of adjusting the rear sight according to the engagement distance. While the problem is relative in the campaign, in multiplayer it can be really frustrating and make a big difference in the game. A defect, this, which perhaps will be corrected with a patch, like a certain weakness of assault rifles, which do not seem to stand out compared to everything else. The new semi-automatic shotguns are a little better, but they don't give the impression of being something essential. And still talking about hitboxes, Battlefield 4 rewards a lot for the headshot: hitting the body does little damage, emptying entire magazines will become a usual practice in the game.

A nice surprise

We finally got to the technical side. Our PC and PlayStation 4 test showcased currently unmatched cosmetics. But the question that everyone is asking is whether the new born Sony can hold a candle to the home computer version.

The answer is yes, and surprisingly the distance isn't as high as months of rumors and leaks might have led us to assume. In short, the doubts arising from the August GamesCom test have all been dispelled. Battlefield 4 is a riot of special, volumetric and particle effects; every scene is a feast for the eyes, and even multiplayer doesn't suffer from a hefty downgrade to handle the sweeping spaces and sixty-four players. Perhaps the visual goodies are a bit limited, but the definition is of a high standard practically everywhere; only some secondary elements do not reach excellence, however stopping on a more than good level. The campaign therefore enhances all the potential of Frostbite 3. The race to Singapore airport with the storm that lashes the city leaves you breathless, a bit like everything that happens on board aircraft carriers. Even the less "pyrotechnic" and effective phases are of great impact, all with a vast visual horizon and rich in elements that build the environment, many of which are at our destructive mercy.

But where the engine amazes the most is in the lighting effects. Anything that can emit photons does so by coloring the scene accordingly: looking at the sun directly, observing it filter through a window or throwing an incendiary grenade into the dark is like watching fireworks in Naples for the feast of San Gennaro: you are left in the mouth open. Maybe SAYS has exaggerated a bit in the use of lens flare, omnipresent and really dazzling to the point of stunning, but otherwise we are faced with the best that can be asked now and that clearly spells out the term next gen. Once again the visual benchmark is Battlefield, and now on consoles too.

Comment

Version tested: PC, PlayStation 4 Resources4Gaming.com

8.7

Readers (558)

8.3

Your vote

Battlefield 4 respects the promises in the multiplayer field, confirming the good things that have been done with the third chapter. The Levolution works and drastically changes the face of the battlefield, significantly changing strategies and gameplay. Great fun, caciarone if you want, but still in the name of team play, never as fundamental now. And then, unfortunately, there is the campaign. A better thread than the one played two years ago in terms of pace, but plagued by an artificial intelligence on the same (mediocre) level, and even more burdened by a meaningless, banal and truly phoned story. What seems incredible, however, is the issue regarding the hitboxes of bullets in a game where ballistics is fundamental. It happens sometimes that some hits vanish into thin air, a "venial" criticality in the campaign, but which can be frustrating in multiplayer. Virtually flawless from a visual point of view, a real benchmark for the future, with the PlayStation 4 holding up well even against the most pumped PCs.

PRO

  • Technically exceptional
  • Levolution guarantees a lot of variety
  • Superfine level design
  • Team play and tactics like never before
AGAINST
  • Campaign with good moments, but amateurish in writing
  • Artificial intelligence not evolved compared to the past
  • Hitbox hits to fix, both in single and multiplayer

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • CPU: AMD FX 8350 Eight Core Processor
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Video card: Dual AMD RADEON 7970

Minimum requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista SP2 32-bit
  • CPU: Athlon X2 2.8 GHz o Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Disk space: 30 GB
  • Scheda video: AMD Radeon 3870 o Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT

Recommended Requirements

  • OS: Windows 8 64-bit
  • CPU: AMD Six-core CPU o Intel Quad-core CPU
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Disk space: 30 GB
  • Video card: AMD Radeon 7870 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660

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