I burst out of the top-most elevator onto the rooftop of the main building at the center of Battlefield 4’s Siege of Shanghai. Frantically, I look around and spot an enemy recon sitting parallel to me on the other roof, laying waste to my squad mates in the floor below me. Ten rounds later, I’ve dispatched the sniper and made way for my team to push over to the other side.
As I peek over the roof edge, I begin exchanging fire with a recently spawned enemy assault. It was just after we began this exchange, I heard a creak. Or as experienced beta players know it, a warning. The building began to pitch back and forth as I’m spraying wildly, trying to take the enemy out before I have to parachute to safety. We’re both refusing to give up and dive off, but it’s too late for both of us. We die as the building crumbles beneath our feet and pulls us into the depths of its concrete grave. This is Battlefield 4.
My first impressions of Battlefield 4 came from E3 2013, in sunny Los Angeles, where I got to play an Alpha build of the game on a high end PC, but that was extremely limited and incomplete. The game ran well enough for an Alpha build. It was a bit choppy, but it was to be expected in such an early build. The game left a lasting impression, as more of the same 2.0. The beta expanded on this and gave me a chance to really experience the changes in BF4 from BF3 and for an idea on how I felt about BF4. (The BF4 Open Beta just went up this morning.)
I will start off with, after playing BF4’s Beta, I no longer want to go back to play BF3, despite my owning BF3 Premium. Let’s start with Battlelog’s updates.
A Newer, Cleaner Battlelog
The changes to Battlelog, really flesh out the scale of the game and simplify much of the cluttered interface of BF3. The improvement to the interface makes things a bit easier to navigate and really see what unlock, mission/assignment, or medal you are chasing. The interface is very visual, with large outlines of the possible weapons and swatches of the medals to show you what you can get.
Menus and Multi-Colored Glow Worms?
The menus are a massive improvement over the Battlefield 3 menus, with the ability to click on the map to deploy and list formats for everything. The squad menu has been redone to see your squad mates, as well as other squads. The remake of the loadout page is slightly clunky, with the TO DEPLOY button leading back to the map. A couple times I caught myself hesitant to click it as I kept thinking it was a DEPLOY button. Of course I wanted to review the map before picking a spawn location, but this is a super minor nag. DICE also went above and beyond with the colorblindness modes, addressing three different types of colorblindness. Now, we can move on to the actual gameplay.
The beta runs pretty well on a modern machine, with my GTX670 at reference 680 speeds keeping up fairly well at about 60 FPS on “Ultra” spec. (Full Ultra spec is enabled but not the exact spec it will be in the end, if I remember correctly.) I didn’t want to focus too much on performance, as I expect the game to be much more polished on release, with most of the hitching fixed.
A Welcome Revision to a Great Formula
The gameplay is extremely similar to BF3, but slightly slower paced. The guns feel very convincing, but on normal mode (the only mode available in the beta) I felt like people were massive bullet sponges. Two people dumping an entire clips into each other at point blank range, with hit indicators galore, only for one of use to reload slightly faster and get a lucky round to the others head is a bit annoying. Lag and lack of optimization may play a role in this as well though. I also typically play hardcore on BF3, further skewing my judgment on the toughness of e-flesh and flak jackets in BF4.
Vehicles are there in full force in the beta, with the jets being the only noticeable exclusion. I flew the helicopter first, which ended in my clipping a skyscraper with my tail rotor and spinning to my doom. I figured I had retained my helo skills I picked up from BF3, but alas I think my relentless League of Legends play has caused them to deteriorate.
The inclusion of the awesome ‘Levolution‘ gameplay into the Frostbite Engine makes the game pretty exciting, even if it’s one building collapsing at a near random time. The tactic introduced makes the game a bit fresher than a mere rehash of BF3. Plus the battle for the rubble really makes for interesting gameplay, with tons of nooks and crannies to hide in to bushwhack people sprinting to cap. Suppression works wonderfully well in the beta as well, with more medals given out for shooting at people and the screen blurring and jarring when you’re being fired at.
Final Thoughts. For Now…
All in all I think that the BF4 Beta is a pretty fun beta, that highlights the things to come. I wasn’t too excited before E3, but the new idea of Levolution really transformed my typical play experience and the dynamic maps makes me pretty excited to see the final release. For the time being though, I’ll be busy with the BF4 Beta in my gaming time. Get to gaming in the BF4 Open Beta now at this link!