“Prepare 4 Battle” —Battlefield 4 tagline
After beating the campaign, I hopped into Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer and began exploring the online aspect to the game. To keep things simple, I stuck mainly with team deathmatch and conquest game types, and as matches progressed, I could not help but compare Battlefield 4 to Battlefield 3; now that I’ve actually played through both games, I find that both games have their strengths and weaknesses relative to the other game. Battlefield 4 is actually quite solid from a gameplay perspective: some of the glaring bugs and flaws in the netcode seen in the earlier versions appear to have been rectified in some of the patches, and for the most part, I was consistently landing shots that I fired. Of course, with the Game Time counting down, I was only able to reach level four and only unlocked the SCAR-H for the assault rifles. Over the course of the games played, I found that my average performance wasn’t actually too different compared to what it was in Battlefield 3, and admittedly, it was quite entertaining to see high level players wonder in the text chat how some level two player could hold out that well. This is because old skills do carry over, and with a good idea of how Battlefield 3 works, most of those experiences translated to a better performance. Like Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 conforms with the stock paradigm, which states that a game is accessible to new players if it is possible for a player to, using basic equipment and skills exclusively, accomplish their in-game objectives appropriate to their level in the game. In a first person shooter, this translates to players being able to perform reasonably well using the weapons unlocked by default against players who have been playing longer. Despite only having the basic weapons and almost none of the unlocks, I never felt like I was at a disadvantage to the other players. Like Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 remains accessible to entry-level players.
- Whereas my first Battlefield 3 kill was with a knife on Caspian Border, I scored a kill with the AK-12 while playing through Operation Locker. The AK-12 is the starting assault rifle for the assault class, and comes with the Kobra optic, Laser Sight, and Ergo Grip by default. Despite its lower rate of fire, its low recoil makes it one of the best assault rifles in the game, and I was able to perform admirably with it, landing my first-ever assault rifle ribbon.
- Apparently, the U-100 MK5 is one of the most popular LMGs in Battlefield 4 and is also the starting LMG. With exceptionally low recoil, this gun is suited for longer range engagements, as its slower rate of fire makes it less effective at closer ranges, but apparently, there’s a new trick called “tap firing”, which is touching the left mouse button just enough to fire one shot, and clicking it again to fire the next shot in rapid succession. This trick is supposed to be good for recoil compensation, being roughly equivalent to having a quick-firing semi-automatic weapons.
- Tap firing also seems to work in Battlefield 3, so I might just go onto an empty map and try that out. The Siege of Shanghai is one of my favourite maps for its urban setting, and although the map is a fictional depiction of Shanghai, the appearance and layout isn’t all that bad. I especially like the sky-bar at the top of the building: after entering an elevator, one is taken straight to the top floor, where a slick panorama and shiny marble floors await the player.
- I did spent a better hour exploring all of the maps available in Battlefield 4 and have a large collection of screenshots for all the vanilla Battlefield 4 maps. I triggered some of the Levolution mechanics for all of the levels on empty servers; on an empty Siege of Shanghai Conquest server, I took the M1A2 and continued firing shells at the building’s support pillars until the building collapsed. On the Dawnbreaker map, which I was not able to play any proper games on, I made use of an ATV to open all the gas mains to cause an explosion. These were quite cool and change up the maps quite a bit, although in practise, most players focus more on the objective, rather than the destruction.
- This was my second LMG ribbon: the first one was acquired on Zavod 311, although the classic “screenshot bug” meant I didn’t get any of those images, which also included a squad-wipe ribbon. Here, I used the U-100 MK5 to clear out an entire helicopter’s worth of people after the pilot and most of their squad flew too closely to the building and somehow missed me. I was able to target the players in the chopper, plus the pilot somehow, and that left a chopper in more or less pristine condition. Since I can’t fly well, some of my teammates commandeered the chopper soon after.
- After a death at one point, I subsequently spawned on a squadmate who was already piloting a chopper and entered the gunner’s seat. Between his flying and the minimal air resistance, I spent ten minutes firing the chopper’s cannon at targets trying to capture the point. One of the nuances about vehicles in Battlefield 4 is that they now must be reloaded from a slowly regenerating ammunition pool, so one cannot expend all of their ammunition, then reload and continue firing without delay.
- Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually gotten an air vehicle ribbon in Battlefield 3 before. Maybe it was the lack of anti-air forces, or the fact that there were so many people trying to rush one of the capture points, but I was able to get many, many kills in the helicopter. Careful use of ammunition prevailed, and I got the number of kills required for the ribbon. Someone on the other team finally had the presence of mind to shoot me down, but I was able to escape and secured the capture point.
- Engineers start with PDWs in Battlefield 4, rather than carbines. While it’s more realistic that vehicle operators carry light, compact weapons, it also reduces the engineer’s capacity to survive for long when everyone else has longer range weapons. At close range, though, PDWs dominate, and I did get many kills with the starting engineer PDW. I think that, were I to continue playing, I would probably get the LMG medal first, followed by an assault rifle medal and PDW medal.
- I am very much an objective-oriented player, and will typically focus on doing whatever it takes to score points. On conquest matches, I will focus on capturing points that are the most deserted: sometimes, players will camp at the flag with a C4 detonator in hand, and blow up anyone unlucky enough to think the capture point was up for grabs. I don’t have very many kills using the C4, which is impairing my ability to get some of the assignments in Battlefield 3 done.
- I think the headshot ribbon replaces the accuracy ribbon in Battlefield 3. Despite relying primarily on automatic fire at close quarters, I aim for the head when opponents are more than ten meters away: my HK 416 has the most headshots of any weapon I wield, but my M98B has the most headshots proportional to kills earned, with roughly two-thirds of my kills being from headshots.
- Resupplying my teammates is one of my favourite things to do, and it’s also an extremely easy way to earn a large number of points very quickly. One simply needs to place a resupply create where a lot of players are, and the ribbons will come in very quickly. I think that the resupply medal was probably the first medal I picked up in Battlefield 3.
- I am playing on Flood Zone here, which features a destructible levee. Once the levee is destroyed, the map fills with water and naval craft will spawn for players to use. However, as with Siege of Shanghai, players were more focused on the objectives, and ultimately, I did not experience any Levolution events in an actual game. Levolution might be cool, but it would appear that players are less interested in triggering them for cool effects and more interested in simply pwning others.
- I saw a “snipers only” server and foolishly decided to join it, knowing that the other players were almost certainly to been further ahead in the game than I was and would have sniper rifles with accessories suited for their play style at their disposal. In general, once enough accessories have been unlocked for a weapon, the weapon becomes significantly easier to use because it’s now configured for a specific play-style.
- I was able to take down another player and steal their sniper rifle, which had optics for easier usage at closer ranges, a straight-pull bolt for faster follow-up shots and a cool green laser pointer. This weapon helped me get enough sniper rifle kills to get my first-ever sniper rifle ribbon (in Battlefield 3, I avoided using the sniper rifles and only got my first ribbon in a game of Gun Master, where the starting weapons were sniper rifles). As of this moment, I have ribbons for all of the starting weapons in each class.
- Some weapons, such as the USAS-12 and the MGL, are pick-up only. The USAS-12 found in Zavod 311 comes with 12 Gauge Frag rounds, a Holographic Sight, a Laser/Light Combo, and an Ergo Grip. I hardly ever use the USAS-12 in Battlefield 3, owing to its weaker performance. Prior to the patch that reduced damage for frag rounds, the USAS-12 was a common weapon that wrecked everything, but after the patch, the weapon became ineffective for most situations.
As has been mentioned by other Battlefield 4 veterans, the netcode is problematic, and I found myself dying despite being hidden around corners, or else dying despite firing first because my hits weren’t being detected. Spawning was also a problem, as I would sometimes spawn in the middle of a firefight and die immediately (this has also helped me on some occasions, where three re-spawning players somehow wound up in front of my M249). Moreover, the unlock and progression mechanic is convoluted. In Battlefield 3, it was simple to use a weapon in a class and earn points for it: for instance, I used PDWs frequently as the recon class and those points went towards unlocking the M98B. In Battlefield 4, one can only unlock more assault rifles by using assault rifles. Moreover, some actions simply don’t yield as many points as they used to. Reviving a teammate with the defibrillator only yields 25 points, rather than 100, and the very action of reviving someone takes longer, discouraging their use. A slower unlock progression forces players to spend more time in the game, or else pay to unlock the content). However, it’s not all gloom and doom: the most notable improvement between Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 would be the upgraded lighting in all of the maps in the latter, which add to the sense of realism. Running around through the different maps, it was most enjoyable to see all of the details on my firearms thrown into sharp relief, and on some maps, the change in weather changes the way one navigates the map. Destruction also makes a much-welcomed return, bringing back to mind the level of chaos from Bad Company 2. On Parcel Storm, firefights soon level the small buildings, and the clear skies give way to a storm that darkens the map, giving it a completely different feel. Siege of Shanghai looks absolutely gorgeous, with Pudong serving as the backdrop for frenzied combat; I’ve longed for a shooter experience set in China, and Battlefield 4‘s default maps definitely provide a unique change of pace, setting combat amongst urban environments rather than small hamlets in the middle of nowhere or desert maps. Some gameplay mechanics also are geared towards helping improve player experience. The first is the fact that the individual who killed the player last is highlighted and indicated on the map to facilitate revenge, and dealing enough damage to a player will count as a kill even if someone else gets the finishing blow. In Battlefield 3, these were only assists, and it is quite frustrating to nearly get a kill, only to have a team-mate steal the kill. I imagine this is why my initial KD ratio in Battlefield 4 is higher than it was in Battlefield 3. With that said, I found that Battlefield 3 is better designed and balanced in general, being built to encourage progression and team efforts.
- This sniper match turned out to be an extremely long game, since the kills were coming in very slowly for each side, and ended up being surprisingly close. After dying five times in a row, I decided to switch up my style and went only for melee kills.
- Thus began what was a fun killstreak that consisted of me sneaking about the map and knifing anyone I encountered: since I was not firing, I didn’t show up on the mini-map, and most players were probably zoomed-in, looking for people to snipe, leaving them unaware of their environment.
- As Raʾs al-Ġūl puts it, one must always be aware of their surroundings, and in a snipers-only game, players tend to be focused on finding targets, making it quite amusing to knife people. There’s a mechanism to counteract a melee now by mashing the melee button, although I’ve only ever been successfully countered once before.
- According to the kill feed, I got a kill with the XM25 here, alongside an avenger ribbon for downing someone who had got a kill against one of my teammates.The short length of time I had in Battlefield 4 means that I have no medals: these take quite some time to unlock and typically require a certain number of ribbons to be accumulated.
- The fact that I’m running with the M249 here illustrates that I chose to sacrifice Irish in the campaign. Sacrificing Hannah yields the P90 for the engineer class, and sacrificing the Valkyrie yields the QBZ-95-1. Apparently, unlocking all of these weapons was difficult owing to the bugs in Origin, even if one simply played the final mission three times, but this might have been patched.
- Battlefield 4 rewards players for getting kill assists now, something that should’ve been implemented in Battlefield 3. I recall that, when Battlefield 4 was in beta, some individuals noted that the game was not running smoothly even though they had an NVIDIA GTX 780, a five hundred-and-thirty dollar GPU. My GPU cost a little less than half of that, and it seems to run just fine, suggesting that the game’s been optimised since the beta.
- On my campaign posts, I had all of the settings raised to ultra, and the game ran superbly. In multiplayer, I prioritise performance, and stepped everything down to high settings. Even if things weren’t maxed out, things still look amazing, as this screenshot attests. Ordinarily, Parcel Storm is a sunny map, but occasionally, storms roll in, covering the sky in ominous looking clouds. Owing to the relatively short amount of time I spent on Parcel storm, I did not get to see the destroyer/frigate crash into one of the islands, or perhaps I was in the wrong place.
- The starting weapons are surprisingly versatile and effective: contrasting previous games, they all have starting attachments to help players out, and I found that even these basic weapons were more than capable of doing their jobs. This is weapon balance done right, encouraging players to continue persisting and become more familiar with the weapons in each class. By providing a set of accessories from the start, a weapon might also become easier to use (players can simply remove the Kobra RDS if they don’t like it, for instance).
- I recall that in Bad Company 2, weapons came with iron sights by default, and accessories were added by accumulating time with the class. However, once unlocked, accessories could be used with any gun. Battlefield 3 and 4 require that a weapon get kills in order for accessories to be unlocked, and as such, players seeking to unlock accessories for all of their favourite weapons will need to get used to iron sights for the most part. Some weapons have very good iron sights and will perform quite well without optics, but other accessories, such as the heavy barrel and foregrip, help with specific play-styles. I usually run with a foregrip and laser sight on most weapons to accommodate my preference for CQC.
- My favourite maps in Battlefield 4 are Zavod 311 and Siege of Shanghai; here is a moment with me getting a headshot on Zavod 311, a derelict Soviet tank factory surrounded by a forest. I have a strange fascination for haikyo, and Zavod 311 (Завод 311, or Factory 311) is a beautifully designed map. The decay in the area is extremely well done, with hints of nature gradually reclaiming the area. The tanks that used to be produced appear to be the the T-54; the first prototype was completed in March 1945, and the tank entered mass production in 1947. Now, not to bring up yet another Girls und Panzer callback in a Battlefield post, but technically, the T-54 would be competition-legal in Panzerfahren, in which tanks before August 1945 are permitted.
- It seems that the M249 is probably one of my favourite weapons for the support class, owing to its high rate of fire, manageable recoil and good iron sights. At close quarters, this weapon dominates, but the spread becomes more noticeable at longer ranges. Adding a foregrip will help mitigate this, improving the weapon’s usability, and perhaps because this gives the weapon a small improvement in long-range performance, a foregrip is one of the later unlocks for the M249 (and most LMGs in general).
- We’re just about nearing the end of the talk in Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer, and I’ll briefly take a bit of time to compare Battlefield 4 with Kantai Collection, two drastically different games, for the heck of it. Kantai Collection is an online card game that is only available in Japan; players outside of Japan must make use of various techniques (which I will not go into any details here) to connect to the Japanese servers. Even after all this is done, the game itself doesn’t seem like it’s all that fun to play. Besides the slow, monotonous road towards acquiring resources, the combat itself is dull and uninspired despite being PVP.
- For the amount of effort put in just to play a flash game about anthropomorphic battleships, I personally do not see any joy in repetitively performing a set of actions to gain experience points. In the games I play, experience points are actively gained, leaving a significantly more meaningful experience in-game, as the path towards getting said points is different every match. The act of gaining experience should be an immersive experience in and of itself in a good game. As such, I probably won’t be playing Kantai Collection any time soon.
- Conversely, the Kantai Collection anime was announced for January 2015 a while back, and I probably will check that out. I’m anticipating a light-hearted series that’s more about the anthropomorphic ships, rather than any analogues to real battles from the Pacific War between 1941 and 1945. Back in Battlefield 4, I just got to unlocking the defibrillator before my trial expired, but it was much tougher to use than its predecessors and also yields fewer points for each successful revive if the revive is done as in Battlefield 3. Contrasting Battlefield 3, dropping med kits for teammates will now yield ribbons, too. Progression in the assault class eventually yields a medic pack, which heals a single player to full health.
- The last game I played before my trial ended was a squad deathmatch game at Siege of Shanghai, which culminated with my squad winning . By this point in time, I had unlocked the holographic sight for the M249, and had unlocked the M145 3.4 x optics for it. A victory seems like a fine way to conclude a Battlefied 4 trial, and with this Game Time trial now over, I’ll be returning to Battlefield 3.
My Game Time trial expired a few weeks ago now, and at the end of it, I enjoyed the experience Battlefield 4 offered. The Frostbite 3 engine produces a noticeable improvement on the graphics, and when my shots were landing, every gun felt powerful and were satisfying to use. Origin’s Game Time program, for all the negativity produced by vocal critics, does offer one the change to try out some of the games out there, giving players a chance to test-drive a game before deciding they wish to purchase it or not. This opportunity allowed me to experience the campaign in all its glory and gave me a sample of what the multiplayer was like. However, for the enjoyment I had in Battlefield 4, I probably won’t be purchasing this game in the foreseeable future because of one personal matter: time. With my upcoming real-world commitments, I do not imagine that I will be able to invest as much time into a new game to rank up, unlock things and experience Battlefield 4 fully. With this in mind, the Battlefield 4 Game Time trial was quite fun, allowing me to access the entire game over the course of a week, and while vocal (mostly uninformed) critics decry Origin for making Battlefield 4 a free trial owing to the game’s limitations, the fact is that such a trial does offer players a chance to see if the game is suited for them.