“For the wolf to survive, it’s gotta chew off its own leg.” —Staff Sargent Willian Dunn
Daniel “Reck” Recker, Clayton “Pac” Pakowski, Kimble “Irish” Graves, and an amputated William Dunn find themselves trapped in a submerged vehicle while Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” plays in the background. Having regained unconsciousness, Recker is asked to shoot out the windows to the car, and the scene fades to black. Fourteen minutes earlier, Recker finds himself in an empty building. With his rifle empty, he sees Russian soldiers peeking through the windows, searching for him and the others in Tombstone company. He makes his way through the building, encountering Dunn and Pack, who have picked up intel and are wondering where Irish is; he is being pursued and coming from the north. The unit regroups after a short firefight and make their way to the abandoned factory, with Hawkins (Firebird 2-1) providing supportive fire along the way. However, as Tombstone nears the roof, an Mi-28 Havoc fires upon them. Nearing the chopper, the hind destroys one of the factory’s smokestacks, causing it to collapse onto the building. Recker falls through the crumbling floor and manages to grasp the edge before falling over, catching Dunn. The piece of wall Recker is hanging onto fails, and Firebird is shot down. Recker finds himself under a concrete slab and is dug out by Irish. Meanwhile, Dunn is trapped under rubble; realising he’s trapped, he orders Recker to amputate is leg. Recker hesitates but complies, freeing Dunn. Irish commandeers a civilian vehicle and Tombstone makes their way to the secondary extraction point while under fire from the Hind. As they drive through an oil field, the Hind lines up to strafe them, but Recker dodges it and manages to destroy the chopper with an M320. After the crash, the intel is revealed to concern Admiral Chang’s alliance with Russian forces.
- I’ve actually been waiting for quite a while to answer this question for myself: just how well does Battlefield 4 handle on my machine at ultra settings, which is considered to have enthusiast hardware? The answer is “surprisingly well”: despite only having 2 GB of VRAM, I’m averaging around 45-50 FPS at a 1920 by 1080 resolution. At high settings, I consistently maintain around 70 FPS at 1080p. This fact means another victory on the wall for my machine 🙂
- Strangely enough, while the original trailer shows Recker with an M16A3, the actual game itself gives Recker a SCAR-H with holographic sight. As per my typical campaign style for outdoor maps, I also opted to go with the Mk 11 Mod 0, a designated marksman rifle, for versatility at medium and long ranges. Battlefield 4 dispenses with the blue filter and UI of its predecessor, instead, choosing more natural colours and a less obtrusive, grey UI.
- I’ve waited for such a long time to actually see this scene for myself on a 1080p display, and it was well worth it. The Battlefield 4 campaign is supposed to be roughly four hours long, so I should be able to beat it quite quickly and perhaps try out a few moments in multiplayer, if only to explore the Chinese maps, one of which features Hong Kong.
- I’ll opt out of the SCAR-H and switch to the Russian Ak-12, a modern AK derivative with a PKA-S sight, magnifier and heavy barrel. Compared to the AK-12, the SCAR-H does more damage per round, fires slightly slower, has a lower muzzle velocity and has a smaller magazine size. The idea of magnifiers is not new, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 already had them back in 2011. Battlefield 4 adds a lot of new features to the table that increase the sense of customisation; its impact would be substantially greater in multiplayer, but from what I’ve heard, Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer feels more solid.
- I know this scene is scripted, but it looks amazing: it is great to have some air support. Unlike the trailer, I do not have access to a MGL or Shorty 12G, but instead, I do have access to my usual arsenal of assault rifles and marksman rifles. This morning, I was driving out to the mountains for the annual family brunch at the Chinook Family Restaurant at the Banff Park Lodge. Under sunny skies, the Trans-Canada highway was quite quiet, and ironically enough, Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart started playing on the radio: my thoughts immediately turned to Battlefield 4.
- After arriving at the old factory, the wisdom of having good ranged weapons become clear. RPGs are fired here, leading to more explosions that outline the power of the Frostbite 3 engine. Having arrived an hour before the brunch, my family decided to take a stroll in the cool, calm morning air around the Banff Park Administration building, which overlooks Banff Avenue. Even though it was early Sunday, staff were already tending to the grounds, making sure the flowers and grasses were watered. As we were about to leave, a tour bus arrived, bringing with it the sort of enthusiasm that crowds have. The Cascade Gardens is just south of the building, but it’s presently undergoing maintenance in some places.
- At this year’s brunch, I was able to try a little of everything, starting with a plate filled with a Full English Breakfast items (a custom-made omelette with cheese, tomatoes, banana peppers, green onion, mushroom and ham), bacon, sausage and hash browns, my second plate was geared towards lunch entrees, which included Mediterranean-style chicken kebabs, Arctic Char with citrus salsa (Survivorman-style), and Yukon potatos. I also spent a good half hour digging my way through my third plate, which was purely King Crab, before finishing off with a chocolate mousse and coffee cheesecake for desert.
- A stroll along the Bow River followed, before the drive back home. I’ll set aside recollections for the day and return to Battlefield 4 now: in the trailer, much of the fighting was skipped, and soon, Tombstone reaches the abandoned warehouse. There are small pools of water here and there, but even though the game has left the development stage and has already been deployed, it looks like ripples in the water didn’t make it into Frostbite 3. Other bugs in the campaign can be noticed, occasionally breaking the flow in an otherwise near-photorealistic engine.
- This part of the game was quite difficult, and players can see Recker’s hands shake before he amputates Dunn’s leg to free him from the burning wreckage. Compared to the 17-minute trailer, it seems that colours have become more vivid, whereas there was a more grayish filter to things back then. The final phase of the mission involves a short drive to the secondary extraction point and even features a moment where Recker is forced to take out the Hind with a rifle-grenade, rather like how Marlowe did the same in Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s Cold War mission.
- There’s around five days left in my trial now, so I’ll probably take some time this week to beat it, now that the Giant Walkthrough Brain has settled down a little, and I’ve implemented several new features to improve its immersion factor. I’ve also fixed a few bugs and limitations that were present at the Banff Summer Arts Festival showing; while minor, it’s better to have fewer bugs. Over the next week, I’ll try to roll out talks for Glasslip, Aldnoah.Zero and Sword Art Online II: between anime reviews and Battlefield 4‘s limited playtime, Battlefield 4 comes first.
March 26, 2013 was more than a year ago now: this is when the Battlefield 4 gameplay trailer was revealed for the first mission. It was a sunny day, and I had handed in my thesis paper just days before. When I saw the trailer, I was quite excited: at the time, the new computer was still in the planning phase, and I was looking forward to playing a next-generation game on my system. When Battlefield 4 released on October 29, 2013, and I watched through some of my favourite YouTube channels’ gameplay footage, as well as some of the reviews, I was quite disappointed: Battlefield 4 was (and still is) quite buggy. Battlefield 3 veterans attest that compared to its predecessor, Battlefield 4 is unstable, and so, I decided to opt out of playing it, eventually purchasing Battlefield 3 during the Black Friday Origin sale (and the Premium edition during the Easter sale). However, Origin offered Battlefield 4 on its game time program, allowing players a week of unlimited access to the game, and, with my curiosity piqued, I downloaded the game to try out. I finally began the campaign yesterday, but my screenshots turned out faulty. Today, after returning from the family annual Banff Park Lodge’s Sunday Brunch, I played through the first mission again to capture better screenshots. Once the first mission was done, it’s clear that Battlefield 4 has improved some gameplay elements in the campaign: in particular, adding the hit indicator gave shooting a more tactile feeling, and the ability to direct my squad to attack targets was nice, making it easier to clear out certain sections of the level. The graphics, doubtlessly something people have discussed in great length (far greater than I will here), have improved slightly since Battlefield 3: water effects are clearer, and lighting is more dynamic, whether it be environmental or effects on the weapons. Human faces also have a more life-like feel to them. Beyond this, Battlefield 4 does not appear to have improved too dramatically from Battlefield 3 graphically, but destruction does make a welcome return to nearly the same extent as that of the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 era. From the audio department, the weapons also feel more powerful. This is a welcoming change from the guns in Battlefield 3, which sounded like airsoft guns. While the first mission impresses, I know that the remainder of the campaign, though pretty, is considered to be lackluster. Even so, I’ll try my best to keep an open mind, and beat the campaign before exploring some maps in the multiplayer, hopefully, alone, so I don’t get shot down randomly.