Friday, 10 October 2014

An Android and his Nexus: Battlefield 4 Commander and Battlelog App

One of the mains reasons I wanted a tablet was so I could play some tablet-only apps such as the Battlefield 4 Commander App, and once I got my Nexus 7 it was one of the first things I got. I did a review of Battlefield 4 back in April and spent a part of it complaining about the Commander mode requiring you to sacrifice your player slot to be a commander whereas in Battlefield 2 the Commander was an actual player in the game. The Commander app is a bit finicky to start with as you have to download the Battlelog app as well, so basically you can go into either one first for example if you start up the Commander app and click server browser it takes you into the Battlelog app then when you join a server it goes back to the Commander App. The Battlelog app is pretty much identical to what you see on the browser version and it also syncs your profile and settings data so you have the same favourite servers and history etc which is a great help, it’s relatively simple to navigate but can be slow and laggy at times.

Looks familiar... that's good
So basically once you find a server you can join as the Commander and be amazed at how fast the damn map loads lol in stark contrast to when you’re playing the game and have to wait there for almost a minute. The battle screen is a simple and mostly colourless view of the battlefield you have your commander tools on the left and your squad info the right, with your usual other information such as chat log, menu and scoreboard buttons, time and score. There are three types of assets that you can use as a commander, these are Default Assets, Main Assets and Squad Assets.

Main screen on the Golmud Railway map, you can see the default assets up the top left, then main assets then squad assets in green.
Default Assets
Defaults assets are things like UAV scans and marking high value targets, these are always available to you but all have their own cooldown.
Scan UAV                  
Deploy an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which spots enemies in the area.
EMP UAV                 
Deploy an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) UAV, which hides activity in the area from enemy Commander. This causes damage to the enemy cruise missiles and gunship.
High Value Target
If an enemy soldier reaches a killstreak of 6, Commanders can highlight them as a High Value
Target (HVT) for their team. The player that kills this target within a short time frame will receive a
bonus along with the commander, and each kill this HVT makes while targeted will earn him a bonus.
Evac Order                         
Warn allied soldiers in the area of incoming danger.
Give an order to a Squad Leader to either attack or defend an objective.

You can see here by the dark patch that the enemy has used an EMP UAV and I have placed a High value target which in this case is a bomber jet.

Main Assets
Access to the main assets usually depends on which flags your team currently has captured as each one is tied to a particular flag, sometimes when playing the game as a soldier it’s good to know which points give the commander what resources as you’d want the one with the Gunship at all costs as it’s one majorly powerful asset when it’s in the air allowing up to 3 people to man 3 different types of guns.

Infantry Scan                    
 Spot all enemy soldiers on the mini-map.
Vehicle Scan                     
Spot all enemy vehicles on the mini-map.
Proxy Attack                     
Disable the Enemy Commander for 10 seconds
Cruise Missile                   
 Launch a cruise missile at an area, destroying all enemies in the area.
Deploy the AC-130 GUNSHIP. When the gunship is deployed it will circle the base that it is tied to. Your team can deploy in the gunship and parachute from it.

In this particulat instance my side has capture points B and C which allows me to use the Infantry Scan and Gunship assets

Squad Assets
As the commander you can select a squad by touching them and assign them to either attack a neutral or enemy flag or defend a captured one, after a while I worked out that when you issue an order it appears as a dotted line and if the squad leader complies and tells his squad to attacked that flag it becomes a full line. I vaguely remember this in the actually game now being loosely represented by a sort of triangle around a flag that your Commander wants you to capture. Anyway when your squad orders and obeyed and the squad works well together it adds to the Squad Asset bar which is on the bottom left in green and depending on how high your squad asset bar is you can do one or more of the below. Each of these assets cost a different amount of “chunks” of the bar going from promote squad to vehicle drop.

Promote Squad                
Promote your squad.
Supply Drop                      
Deploy crate via parachute, which automatically heals and gives ammo to nearby soldiers. Allied soldiers can also switch kits by interacting with the crate.
Rapid Deploy                     
Reduces affected squads’ deploy time.
Vehicle Drop                    
Context-sensitive parachute vehicle drop – Personal Water Craft (PWC) or a quad bike.

My squad asset bar is full here so I can use whichever one I like
There’s also a voice option so you can talk to the squad leaders, I haven’t really used this but I have heard someone speaking at some times, too hard to hear what they were saying though. I found that people aren’t that obedient most of the time, it’s only when I was in Japan that the quality of play, chat and obedience really went up, figures huh? There are 4 types of ribbons/medals you can get for playing commanders including:

Leadership - Receive 10 order followed

Surveillance – Obtain 10 scan bonuses

Resupply – Obtain 10 supply crate uses

Gunship  - Deploy 2 Gunships

The Commander app main screen with my commander medal and ribbon information and my beautiful portrait.
Though for the most part the points you get are nothing compared to the points you get when actually playing as a soldier, but I suppose there’s got to be a compromise there somewhere. One thing I found recently was that there was a fair few servers which didn’t allow for Commanders. I suppose that would be because a lot of people don’t like the extra level of difficulty with the Commander around especially when your side doesn’t have one and the enemy commander is pummelling you with cruise missiles and gunships and giving their team the extra advantage, there’s a setting in the server search which allows you to check that the server allows Commanders anyway.

Yay a server that allows Commanders!
Overall I found the app to work pretty well, there was some unexplained server disconnects but nothing that doesn’t happen in the main game, it’s fun to use if you have the opportunity to play and help out your friends, not to mention get some extra points for you soldier. It will never be as good as Battlefield 2 with its assets and commander physically on the battlefield but it’s still a bit of fun for when you’re not at home and need that Battlefield fix.


A short video of the Commander app in action on a Nexus 7

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