Battlefield 4 hits all the right notes for what it tries to be. It’s big, it’s dumb and it’s loud. It features a ton of unlikeable dude-bro soldiers firing at anything that moves with little remorse in set pieces that would make even Michael Bay jealous. Built on the strength of its much-loved multiplayer suite, EA and DICE have once again failed to deliver anything even remotely memorable about the single-player campaign, making Battlefield 4 a risky purchase. It’s still worth experiencing though as one of the best online shooters on the market.
Battlefield 4 borrows heavily from modern fears to craft its campaign story, dealing with mounting tensions between the United States, China and Russia. It’s a by-the-books story that has some decently good intentions but never even comes close to delivering on them. None of the characters are likeable at all and you’ll have a hard time even rooting for the so-called good guys. Rather than depend on actual story-beats or emotional moments like games like the criminally under-appreciated Spec Ops: the Line, EA and Dice are content with filling their campaign with dated shooter clichés and over-the-top set pieces filled with destruction and lots and lots of explosions.
To be fair, some of these set pieces are pretty cool – like the sinking aircraft carrier that you’re trying to defend and escape all at the same time. It’s pretty cool to see all of these planes and choppers falling into the water and you have to keep your cool while taking out your enemies. The problems come when Battlefield 4 reveals so heavily on these sequences that they become commonplace and loose their appeal. Every chapter seems to find you being thrown out of some huge vehicle at breakneck speeds or losing consciousness at all the wrong places. Add to that the fact that your enemies seem to be bullet sponges content with hiding behind oddly stable structures as you empty clip after clip – forcing you to have to move forward and take damage when you’re trying to play smart.
But let’s be honest; no one is buying Battlefield 4 for its single-player campaign. No, you’re here for the multiplayer modes. You’re here to destroying buildings and steal jet planes. It’s here that EA and DICE mostly deliver and craft one hell of an online experience, even though it itself has a number of questionable features. It will still be hard though for other online shooters to compete with Battlefield’s generous multiplayer suite – even that other big budget shooter franchise releasing later this fall.
With Battlefield 4, the old adage still stands – there’s strength in numbers. The game’s multiplayer suite allows for up to 64 players in most maps and when your game is full, there’s no shortage of action. Planes will wiz by you shooting rockets, tanks will track you down and thanks to the new “levolution” system, entire structures will collapse around you. The levolution system adds to matches greatly since it has the potential to completely change the map completely mid-match. What’s a better way to eliminate a sniper threat than leveling the building they’re hiding in? Of course, most matches quickly become races to get to the planes and trigger these levolution moments, but they’re still fun none-the-less.
Battlefield’s immense multiplayer scope can also be its downfall at times though. Every game type is available on every map and if you happen to get a match on the wrong map, it leads to nothing but frustration and boredom. Take the obliteration mode for instance where one bomb spawns on the map at a time; you’re likely going to have to race across the entire map to either retrieve or disarm it, and the levolution modes often make things worse by putting unnecessary obstacles in your way.
Visually, the PC version of Battlefield 4 is free from most of the murky textures and shadows that plague the current console versions but it’s clear that the game was built to be a showpiece for next month’s next-gen consoles. Easily better looking (and understandably so), the next-gen systems feel like they’ve gotten the majority of the development time while current consoles feel like a rush job by comparison.
[rating: 3.5/5] Big, dumb and loud – Battlefield 4 is just what you’d expect. Built on the strength of the fun and addicting multiplayer mode that’s been the cornerstone of the franchise for years, Battlefield 4 delivers in some regards but fails miserably in others. The single-player is forgettable at best and current-gen consoles look murky when compared with PCs and next-gen footage but if you’re looking for a solid multiplayer shooter, look no further.