Monday, 14 April 2014

My Usual Spiel: Battlefield 4, Lookin' good and Feelin' fine

Just a quick note on this review, as I finish this three expansion have already been released namely China Rising, Second Assault and most recently Naval Strike. I will go through the expansions in later post hopefully when all of them have been released, for this review I just want to focus on the initial game. Also I’ve decided to do a single score out of 10 and a what I like/didn’t like to give a better idea and sum up of the review though it doesn’t mean too much I’m just giving an honest opinion.

Release date: 31/10/13
Genre: First person Shooter 
Publisher: EA 
Developer: Dice 
Platforms: PC/PS3/X360 
Players: 1 to 64 Online 
Classification: M (ESRB)

Well that was quick, another Battlefield game already, I suppose it has been two years, it just seemed that every time I’d go back to Battlefield 3 there was a new expansion out though there was 5 different ones over that period too and 5 yet to come for Battlefield 4 but we’ll get into that later.

I was never terribly excited about Battlefield 4, after 3 I really didn’t know what to expect the game had changed so much since my beloved BF2 that I really didn’t think that much would change and suffice to say not much has changed, but what has changed has been good. It’s as if the feel of the game has been freshened up slightly, I used to dislike using battlelog, but having a bit of a poke around and exploring the various options has given me a better understanding of the whole thing. Even the parts that I found confusing in the last game regarding all the upgrades and unlocks for your weapon and also the main map interface just seemed easier to use. 

All good here at base, not blown up or anything.
 I’ve been having a lot of fun with the game since I’ve gotten it, and most of that fun was with friends of course. I managed to get Battlefield 4 for a bargain price at ozgameshop by purchasing the code only, usually I’d be sceptical of these sort of things but it went pretty smoothly I got the code emailed to me and I downloaded and installed and it was all fine though by “all fine” I mean that the game installed fine, there was still a few problems with connecting to servers and the games crashing but we’ll get onto that. Among a few changes China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) have made a return meaning that in some maps it’s the Chinese versus the Russians.
The new Chinese player models
I am now going to talk about the singleplayer mode cause I did play it but unfortunately it won’t be very high praise as it was quite insignificant. Practically being the same as before you were a part of a squad of American Soldiers and become part of a huge conspiracy/thingy except this time China plays a major role. So needless to say you go places, shoot people, blow up things, you survive explosions, buildings collapsing you listen to your squadmates and others banter alot, you smuggle people out, you make decisions, you do quick time events etc. It’s exciting don’t get me wrong but it’s just the same old go in shoot that, get him blah blah blah oh this happens oh that happens, meh well glad that’s over with time for multiplayer. I was reading an interview with the developers of the Battlefield series and one was saying that back in Battlefield 2 that “the game was pretty hardcore back then, with no singleplayer aspect apart from bot matches and only one game mode” and I though thought to myself “that’s all it needed!” though I digress some of the other game modes are fun, inc rush. This whole idea of matching other games awesome singleplayer mode like Call of Duty that DICE (or EA) has is just misguided, all they need is some kind of training mode for multiplayer and that’s it, the singleplayer mode is not needed and is a waste of time.

"Yeh I don't know why we're doing this either."
 This time when diving into Multiplayer I was determined to get to grips with the Battlelog. For those who don’t know the Battlefield 3 and 4 server browser and profile viewer/editor is accessed through Battlelog which is a site your web browser.  I been through it a few times and think I got the hang of what’s going on, I even updated my emblem which shows up on your weapon, occupied vehicle and player ID, you also see them in the player details bar of who killed you, this was useful information as some people have pretty funny emblems and I wanted to make one. I also signed up to Gravatar in order to change my avatar cause you know I like to fill out my profile. The Battlelog is pretty extensive with the stats showing lots of stats for the guns/items and vehicles.

The battlelog, much easier now that I know what the frack I'm doin
I purchased Premium for Battlefield 4 not too long ago and with that you get access to all of the current and coming expansions. Additional Premium Battlepacks which are sort of like prize bags where you can get anything from Weapon accessories, Dog Tags, Character customization and XP Boosts which I really need to remember to use. Premium also gives you priority in server queues, which is a huge help especially when you’re trying to join your friends and are 7th in line. All of this is good but it meant spending another $50, but I suppose it works out cheaper in the end. I must say though that I regret getting the “unlock all pistols” free as I realise that unlocking things is all part of the game though I suppose I don’t use pistols all that much and would take forever to unlock them all. 

Hiding near the flag, I do that a lot.
I haven’t really dug too deep into the server browser and finding games as I’ve mostly been playing with friends so I’ve just been joining their games. I’ve had some issues connecting, you just need to basically keep trying then it eventually works, though once you are playing there is still some problems with crashing though after several patches it’s become a lot better recently. I really enjoy the new in-game interface it really brings out my eyes, wait no, it really makes things easier. The spawning interface shows you what vehicles are available at what spawn point and areas that you are able to spawn other then captured flags and the HQ, these are represented by white circles on the HUD. You can also select your squad members and see through their eyes through a smaller screen to check if it’s safe to spawn, something I’ve forgotten to do many times. The usual class options are there allowing you to pick your class before you spawn and also shows you what weapons and utilities you have selected, which reminds me actually I need to make sure I’ve got everything set up correctly all this stuff being unlocked is hard to keep up with things as it is.

Spawn screen, the map is Zavod 311 on Conquest normal hence the smaller map
 Controls haven’t really changed, their basically fine, I’ve mapped my crouch key to one of my thumb mouse buttons which helps immensely and I’ve also finally found out why when I prone I jump immediately back up again (I was holding forward) apart from that I can’t see if too much has changed. The controls are you basic FPS controls so are easy enough to use and drive vehicles and fly helicopters and planes which seem slightly easier to fly then before though choppers are still massive targets for Anti-air anything. I do like the new truck vehicles and the Jet skis though their quite hard to manoeuvre being so twitchy, I managed to beach myself a few times. I must also say that boats are a bit OP with their main gun and two chaingun slots, especially in the Paracel Storm map which is heavily sea/island orientated oh and speaking of which, when that storm comes and the sea starts rolling it gets damn intense. 

Killer waves dude.

The character and vehicle customization screens are now much easier to use in my opinion, the kits have each customization now in categorized ‘slots’, weapons a that can be customised have a gear icon on them that leads to the weapon customization screen. The guns you unlock are now divided into sections i.e. assault rifles, shotguns making them much easier to sort through then Battlefield 3 where you just clicked through them all and you didn’t know what was a carbine and what was a “PDW”. I really enjoy the new in-game interface as I’m not sure the specifics of what they have done it’s just better than before, I approve!

Weapon choosing interface, it's complicated but still simple enough to manage.
 The graphics are beautiful as usual, sometimes I just stop to look around as it looks magnificent, then I get shot but meh, enough time to take a screenshot, seeing the Frostbite 3 engine in action is great  and most of the players and vehicles look damn real but of course they always have, you can’t really get much more real but they can try at least. What I liked most about the new maps was the difference in weather and time of day for example some were clear skies, others were either sunset, nighttime or stormy which I’ll get into with the Levolution, though some of the sunset (or sunrise I dunno what) looked amazing the sun glare was a bit too realistic, what I mean is it’s all well and good to successfully reproduce annoying sunglare but it actually gets really annoying sometimes. 

Ah what magnificent sunlight, just don't blind me please
 I can’t really say much else about the graphics though they look as great as they did last time, if not better. I enjoyed all the foliage and the trees coming down plus the major destruction of the buildings that has been toned back up to the levels of Bad Company 2, man on one map I saw the “Farm” flag (which is Alpha I think) at the start of a round which is a small farm settlement, about 10 minutes into the game it was completely flattened of anything that could be flattened and possibly some things that weren’t supposed to be able to be flattened.  There’s also something called Levolution which alters the map in certain ways such as buildings and towers collapsing and in the Flood Zone map you can destroy a Dam levy and well the place gets flooded and amphibious vehicles and boats start spawning. one of my favourites is the Golmud railway one where one flag is a train that if one team captures it starts moving along the tracks closer to their main base.

My thoughts exactly.

I can't tell you how glad I am that they've brought the Commander mode back from Battlefield 2, though technically it's not the same (nothing will ever be the same really). You need to be at least rank 10 to play as the commander and as before can be beaten to the role by a higher ranking player, you can also be voted out by mutiny though you can be "approved" of by players (giving you points) One of the biggest changes to the role is that the commander is no longer a player but I regarded as a "separate slot" on the server, this means that if you decide to go as commander you forfeit your player spot and if you want to go back to actually playing you have to rejoin the server. This sucks major balls and really deters me from going commander, especially when playing with friends. I think this change was mainly due to the Commander mode being able to be played on a mobile device such as an ipad (also available on android), which is fun but really it isn’t worth it, I wanna be a Commander on the field!. I miss all the hiding around your main base and killings those pesky Spec Ops infiltrators trying to blow up your stuff, of course I did that too.

I am in COMMAND, not sure which team is screwed more.
The commander mode is still a top-down view of the Battlefield however the available resources are a bit different this time around, for example some of the abilities like the Tomahawk missile and the gunship can only be used if you have control of a particular base whereas other things like map scans and supply drops can be used by spending “chunks” from the progression bar which are obtained by squads successfully carrying out orders that the Commander has issued. I’m actual thinking of getting a Google Nexus tablet so I can do some commandering in my spare time.

Here’s a full list
  • Tomahawk missile strike: +50 points to deploy + kill bonus
  • UAV deployment: duration: 10 seconds. +25 points for each kill your team gets within UAV zone
  • Supply drop
  • Map scan feature that reveals enemy infantry
  • EMP strike: duration: 20 seconds. +25 points for each kill within EMP zone
  • AC-130 Gunship against ground targets. +50 for each kill
  • Vehicle drop
  • Ability disable enemy commander for 10 second (I think) this one isn’t officially listed for some reason, probably added in a later patch
Hmm that vehicle drop didn't quite go as planned.
I've been playing the multiplayer of Battlefield 4 for a while and I'd have to say I'm liking it a lot better than the previous incantation, it's just some things that have been tweaked in the gameplay that makes playing so much easier of course the thing that makes this is always your squad members, if you're playing with friends you always have the better time than playing with people that you don't know who can most often be idiots. And that's another thing, the amount of aggression and vulgarity I see in Battlefield is abhorrent compared to other games things like people calling each other “fucking idiots” for doing simple mistakes, I even got flamed for being a shit commander when all I did where some bad UAV points (putting them over enemy bases) but the map was so small that was what we needed. Also the names are just disgusting, I saw a guy called “ScreamingFetus” in BF2 and I see other guys called “TangledHairyAnus” and I just think why? It’s not even funny it's just wrong, I’ll admit “Sexmegoood” was kinda funny but the guy was a total wanker flaming people for god knows what. In the end if you have great friendly team members and even friendly enemies, it’s a much better game, even when they’re not your actual friends. I had heaps of fun when we were given orders by the commander or squad leader to take a certain base or defend it and we did our best to (and you get more points as well), it’s the comradery that makes it great. 

Go go guys! attack that control point!
In regards to Hardcore and Normal modes, my friends and I most often play normal, as hardcore mode is really just a bit too hardcore for me lol as there’s a lot of support things like repairing the chopper while sitting in it, healing teammates, spotting enemies and knowing how much health your vehicle has that is hard to do in hardcore. The only real reprise hardcore has is that when you shoot someone first you will kill them rather than emptying almost a clip into them and then them killing you, so we play normal really all of the time. I’ve been experimenting with the Engineer class a bit more as thankfully there are handfuls of times where every person in the squad isn’t an engineer, and I’m also getting better at primary weapon kills as I have made the switch to using carbines rather than the PDW (Personal Defence Weapons) that the engineer start out with as the starting one is quite hard to use. I’ve also been attaching RDS (Red Dot Scopes) to my weapons on recommendation from a friend and I have to say they are amazing as I always using iron sights before which was often quite difficult to see the target, of course make sure you only use the no-zoom scopes or failing that the 1x zoom scopes.

Waargh! oh man this be dangerous, good thing I have my magical blowtorch which repairs all damage to the chopper regardless of where it is, though if that's how it works why the hell do I have to be hanging out of the damn thing, they need another "middle of the chopper" seat.
Battlefield 4 has probably been my favourite multiplayer experience since Battlefield 2, not to say it’s better though just now I’ve got to grips with things and am really enjoying the new battlelog and weapon/vehicle customising, I appreciate the new Commander mode and am having heaps of fun playing with friends and working as a team, I look forward to the expansions, unlocking more weapons/gear and being the commander with my tablet.


What I like:
  • In game interface is much better
  • ‘Levolution’ is awesome! (despite being a wanky title)
  • Playing with friends and/or friendly teammates/enemies is great
  • Commander mode is back!
  • Game feels better overall then BF3

What I don’t like:
  • We don’t need no Singleplayer story
  • Bugs, lots of them, at first
  • Should be able to do things in loading screen i.e. open battlepacks look at stats etc
  • Community is full of angry knobheads with stupid names though there is the occasional nice person

Our choo choo train!

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