“If your operation blows up, Chang will have all the excuse he needs to give all that anger, all that hatred, a real target. It’ll be war.” —Captain Garrison
The mission starts with Recker, Irish, and Pac driving to the Zhi Yu Towers in downtown Shanghai. They make a quick turn just before a military checkpoint and wind up driving straight through a riot. One rioter throws a rock at their vehicle, breaking the windshield and forcing the squad to proceed on foot to the tower. Once they reach the building, Pac unloads his backpack and gives both Irish and Recker UMP-45s. After reaching the sky bar, Tombstone engages in a firefight with the guards and encounter a locked door that Pac opens. Upon reaching the VIP room, Tombstone and Kovic orient each other, as well as Pac interacting with one of the VIPs. Kovic devises a plan to seize the helicopter on the tower roof. They all move out of the room, making their way further up the building. When they reach the roof, Kovic and the VIPs stay back whilst Tombstone engages the soldiers. Once all the enemy soldiers are eliminated, Recker secures the helicopter on the helipad. As Kovic gets into the pilot seat, Pac helps the VIPs in. However, one of them is shot whilst getting in. Recker joins Irish in fending off the attackers. Kovic flies off to the Valkyrie without Tombstone while they are fending off a PLA assault. After the attacking PLA are dealt with, Tombstone makes their way back down the building to the river. Along the way, the encounter Chinese armour and destroy it using mines. After hailing a boat, Chen and other civilians board alongside Tombstone. While the boat leaves the harbor, an electromagnetic pulse goes off over the Pudong. Tombstone witness a helicopter go down, and the surrounding boats come to a complete halt. Irish begins yelling at them to follow his boat to the Valkyrie.
- Remember Battlefield 3‘s Comrades mission? The opening drive here is reminiscent of that level, except this time, it’s Shanghai, rather than Paris. One of the more noticeable bugs in this segment is how a civilian phases through the vehicle, although it seems like only I’ve seen it so far. There’s a dinosaur charm hanging off the rear-view mirror, a callback to Battlefield 3, where Captain Miller was holding a toy dinosaur. DICE included the dinosaur toy because a toy would act as a reminder that Miller also has a family.
- This is the one point where my framerates did drop, when Admiral Chang is giving a speech on state television about the circumstances surrounding Jin Jié’s “assassination”. With the effects from the rain, water fountains below, reflections off the hotel’s facade and ground and lighting in the background, the moment is absolutely beautiful. From here on out, it’ll be fights against Chinese special forces loyal to Chang, although the run from this balcony to the hotel doesn’t seem to draw anyone’s attention
- Irish comments that the UMPs they get are “cocktail guns”, and although it would be most faithful if I stuck to the default weapons, I promptly took advantage of the weapons crate to pick up an AK-12, since I prefer assault rifles to personal defense weapons for campaign missions, where weapons versatility is fulfilled by an assault rifle, which performs superbly from medium to long ranges. Depending on the map, a shotgun or sniper rifle then takes care of everything else.
- Remember back in my first Deer Hunter 2014 post, I mentioned that Deer Hunter was the best way to experience the UTS-15? Now that I’ve finally tried Battlefield 4 for myself, I have some thoughts about this shotgun: despite its large magazine size, it takes longer to reload per shell than any other shotgun. It has good hip firing performance compared to the other shotguns, but otherwise, doesn’t stand out too much. In Battlefield 3, my preferred shotgun is the SPAS-12 for the multiplayer, and for the campaign, because there aren’t any weapon crates, my preferences matter less: I just use what’s available.
- I’ve now reached the rooftops, where I fight a wave of Chinese forces before securing the helicopter. After securing the helicopter, I spent a better ten minutes looking for one remaining soldier who was still standing and thus, prevented the level from advancing.
- For diversity’s sake, I’ve opted to use a bolt-action sniper rifle here. Now that Battlefield 4 has brought back weapon creates, I’ll always equip an assault rifle of some kind, in addition to another secondary weapon I feel best fits the mission. There are collectibles and weapons hidden throughout the campaign, like in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but because I was on a week-long trial of the game, I only had time to go through the campaign once.
- After things go south, Tombstone is forced back onto ground level and need to make their way to the harbour for an extraction. In the distance, the Oriental Pearl Tower can be seen. While the Pudong district is replicated with reasonable accuracy, The Bund is less accurately represented, being designed to suit the game’s mission. I was in Shanghai for the 2010 Expo four years ago; that proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and although I did not visit the Chinese or Japanese Pavilion, I was able to enter the Canadian Pavilion.
- That vacation was magical, and I recall the evening our tour group reached Hangzhou. The skies were ominous as our bus drove down the Chinese freeways, past the agricultural regions into the city’s edge, where the Holiday Inn Hangzhou Xiaoshan was. Our hotel’s restaurant opened into an adjacent open-air multi-story mall; as we sat down for dinner, a massive thunderstorm rolled in, dumping torrential rain that continued throughout the entire meal and continuing even after we returned to our rooms. A Chinese Type 98 tank shows up and forces Tombstone to take cover. Lacking any ranged anti-tank weapons, the only option is to make use of the M15 AT mine.
- I have no kills to my name as far as AT mines go in Battlefield 3, but since the tanks in this mission follow scripted paths, they’ll do just fine. To ensure that the tanks are wrecked for certain, I’ll place two mines close to one another to maximise damage. Recker can hold onto five mines at once, so there’s plenty without needing to go back and get additional explosives.
- The QBZ-95 and other Chinese weapons perform just fine, contrary to what people were hoping to see with the Chinese weapons (i.e. jam, break down or overheat). With the mission ending, Recker is treated to a glorious view of Pudong. In my aforementioned trip, a night boat ride was a part of the tour package, and so, I had the chance to take in this sight for myself. Back then, the Shanghai Central Tower had not been built, and the Shanghai World Financial Centre was the tallest building in the city. Things change very quickly in four years, illustrating the Chinese spirit and determination for progress and prosperity.
Shanghai is the second mission in Battlefield 4, and as per its namesake, is set in Shanghai’s The Bund. The mission is a return to the old days of Battlefield 3, beginning with a conversation and car ride. However, unlike Battlefield 3‘s ride, this one is cut shorter and ends with rioters wrecking the vehicle. The mission, occuring on a rainy evening, has a very chilly, blustery feel to it, and the atmospherics reflect that, with blue hues dominating the environments. This level represents the first time I’ve played through a game set in China, and although the gameplay is nothing new, it was quite fun to roll through Shanghai to extract several VIPs central to the storyline. By this point in the game, I had several weapons unlocked; the returning weapon crates means I’m quite free to mix and match weapons. Since I was playing through the Game Time program, the amount of time I had to actually play the game was limited, and this time around, with no quick-time events causing me grief, completing the campaign was more straightforward than Battlefield 3‘s campaign. The engage option also gives a greater sense of being in a squad: by issuing a command, I can direct the squadmates to fire upon other enemies on the map, either providing me with enough covering fire to take them down myself, or else outright finishing them. There’s also the bonus of having them marked on my HUD. As the mission’s end nears, there is a segment that involves taking out Chinese armour with explosives. This segment is said to be tough, especially if one is using anti-tank mines, as the tanks follow preset paths and cannot be lured into a trap. However, it winds up being more disappointing; the preset paths and firing delay between the tanks mean placing two mines in the armour’s path is sufficient to destroy the vehicle. I would have preferred having anti-tank rockets, which would’ve made things more fun. Other than that, Battlefield 4‘s second mission was quite thrilling to play, being the only mission in the campaign to cause a minor stutter in my rig with its fancy graphics.