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Remarks on Battlefield 4 Meets Life: Understanding A Responsible Assessment of When Help Should be Rendered

“Why won’t anyone help me?” –Bender, Futurama

Battlefield’s medic kit is an iconic part of the series: besides being responsible for healing friendly players, medics are armed with either a defibrillator or syringe that allows them to revive downed teammates, bringing friendlies back into the fight and restoring a lost ticket. This mechanic is integral to the Battlefield experience, and over the years, different iterations of Battlefield have made minor modifications to the medic for gameplay balance. In earlier titles like Bad Company 2 or Battlefield 3, medics carry defibrillators that can be used to instantly revive fallen teammates. With only a minor delay to their operation, the defibrillators could be immensely powerful, allowing a skilled medic to revive their entire squad on very short order. To counteract this, Battlefield 4 introduced several changes to the defibrillator to encourage more strategic and thoughtful use of revives: the defibrillators now required charging before they could bring players back to full health, and moreover, could only be fired three times in a row before a cooldown occurred. Because of these changes to how defibrillators worked, Battlefield 4 players found themselves being revived with a reduced frequency, while medics initially saw these changes as reducing the efficacy of individual medics in matches. However, over time, medics and players would adapt to these changes, and by the time Battlefield 1 released, medics were once again immensely powerful; their syringes could be used on consecutive teammates with only a small delay, but otherwise brought players back to full health upon a successful revive. In Battlefield V, squad mates could now be revived, and medics can revive all teammates using their syringe, although in both cases, there is a delay while the revive occurs. This was done to balance the fact that Battlefield 1‘s syringe had proven to be extremely versatile and, similarly to earlier defibrillators, could undo the outcomes of a firefight when used correctly. Of all the iterations in Battlefield, the revival mechanics of Battlefield 4 are the most balanced, yielding medics with a useful toolset for aiding their teams, while at the same time, also encouraging smart, tactical play in order to maximise efficacy.

With their equipment, it is common expectation that, in Battlefield, medics fulfil their role of reviving downed players and bring them back into the fight: besides saving one the trouble of having to navigate back to a capture point or firefight, this action also restores a lost ticket. These tickets add up, and a team with effective medics can stave off ticket loss in this way, aiding their fighting chances during a match. However, revives are not always provided to players who may need them, and in a post written to a local blog, Youth Are Awesome, writer Deaniell “Dean” Cordero’s post voices his grievances in Battlefield 4 pertaining to how the medics always seem to skip on reviving him, before indicating on how the medic’s behaviours as being equivalent to turning one’s back on those in need. At the time of publication, Battlefield 4 had been a year old, and at this point, players likely would’ve already familiarised themselves with the defibrillator’s mechanics. While the revive mechanic is unlikely to be the cause of Dean’s frustrations, there are numerous reasons why he’s not been revived during matches. A complete revive takes a few seconds, and therefore, one must make a quick decision as to how they wish to proceed. From a practical perspective, there is also the matter of elements like positioning and circumstances. If a player dies as a result of rushing an objective on their own and encountering a full squad, there is no incentive to revive them because this would also result in the medic’s death. Similarly, if one was sniped because they exposed themselves to enemy fire and was travelling on their own, as a medic, I see limited incentive in travelling across the map to revive this one player. Other players may swap out their defibrillator for the M26 MASS or M320 for extra firepower to assist in dealing with threats. There is, in short, a plethora of reasons that one cannot simply expect revives from medics: when I play the medic class in Battlefield 4, I factor everything into account before deciding whether or not to bring a teammate back to life. Are they in a dangerous area? Were they squadmates? Do I have other, more urgent tasks that need to be dealt with? If it is safe to do so, and there is merit in doing so, then I bring out the defibrillators, otherwise, my teammates will simply have to deal with returning to the spawn screen. The alternative is that I get sent to the spawn screen and deprive my team of tickets, which could, at scale, cost us the match.

Additional Remarks and Commentary

  • My time in Battlefield 4 was short: after I picked the game up in 2015 on a sale, I spent a year enjoying things before transitioning over to Battlefield 1, and so, returning to Battlefield 4 after a several years’ absence was a trip down memory lane. This post deals predominantly with the medic class, and consequently, all of the screenshots here are related to the medic’s ability to heal and revive teammates: I’ll open with a still of me scoring my first kill in many years and healing allies on Operation Metro, a chaotic map that returns from Battlefield 3.

  • Right out of the gates, returning to Battlefield 4 after the likes of more recent installments felt a little strange: newer titles have superior movement and better weapons mechanics. Battlefield 1 had introduced the concept of vaulting over fences and walls, which made map traversal more dynamic, and the crouch-slide mechanic is something I’ve come to use when trying to escape greasy situations. Not having either here in Battlefield 4 did lead to a few more deaths than expected, but once I refamiliarised myself with the maps, things began returning to me.

  • The other change that more recent Battlefield titles took in the right direction was weapons handling. In particular, Battlefield V‘s mechanics were consistently fun: Battlefield 1 also had decent handling traits, but aside from the bolt-action rifles, random bullet deviation would occasionally make medium range firefights more frustrating. I refer to random bullet deviation informally as the Kantai Collection factor, because it’s a reflection of how Kantai Collection is fully dependent on random chance to play. While some folks swear by it, I prefer a bit more consistency in my games.

  • For my return to Battlefield 4 and the process of picking up screenshots for this discussion, I ran with the medic pouches. These pouches are capable of healing one ally at a time and can be thrown, whereas medic crates are dropped onto the ground and have an area-of-effect. Medic pouches in Battlefield 4 do not track as strongly as their successors in Battlefield 1, but they will still be thrown in the recipient’s general direction. I generally run with pouches because they allow a more mobile play-style, whereas crates are better in defensive scenarios.

  • This post, a rebuttal to Youth Are Awesome’s Dean, actually had been in the works for quite some time: as the story goes, in the late summer of 2014, I became curious to learn of any methods behind acquiring the convention’s “secret” pins. At the time, Otafest had just started on releasing their own convention merchandise, and pin trading quickly became something I got into. Aside from common pins, some of these “secret” pins were cast in brass gold and possessed unique designs that made them sought-after. After doing some searching, I came upon an article at Youth Are Awesome, a locally-run blog, detailing one attendee’s experiences during Otafest 2013. Upon finishing this post, I had a better measure of how the secret pins were acquired.

  • What had caught my eye was a related talk in Battlefield 4. The game had been about a year old at the time, and back then, Origin had given players a ten hour trial of the game. When I finished reading through Dean’s post, however, I was left a trifle disappointed: rather than anything insightful about Battlefield 4 itself, the post had simply stated that Battlefield 4‘s medics were lacking empathy because they were not reviving him often enough, and that, given how various charities exist to help others, there’s little excuse that medics in a game couldn’t do the same. Dean’s perspectives are consistent with youth, being idealistic and optimistic, but perhaps not the most pragmatic.

  • At this point in my summer, the Giant Walkthrough Brain project had reached a stopping point and had been all but ready for the Beakerhead festival, so I had quite a bit of spare time left over to myself before graduate school started. I thus played through the campaign during the trial and spent a few hours in the multiplayer, as well. With a few hours of the multiplayer under my belt, I considered drafting out a rebuttal of sorts to Dean: motivating this was a comment from Carol Zhang, expressing agreement with the sentiments in Dean’s post.

  • While Carol is correct in that life is not a zero-sum game, and that people could stand to help one another more often in reality, Dean’s own experiences in Battlefield 4 do not necessarily reflect on medics behaviours in the community and their relation to real-world attitudes about rendering help. In the end, I drafted out a rebuttal, but with my first term in graduate school starting, I ended up shelving this reply because my schedule immediately filled up as I took on both my programme courses and TA work. In this time, Youth Are Awesome has closed commenting to Dean’s post, so I will not have the chance to provide this rebuttal in the original article.

  • However, I still hold that this exercise is worthwhile for two reasons: it allows me to take a look at exploring how game mechanics and real-world behaviours impact medic decisions in Battlefield 4, and secondly, it did give me a reason to return to Battlefield 4, which I’ve not otherwise played for quite some time. Despite the fact that I’ve not played a multiplayer match here since Battlefield 1 released, old habits remain, and I found myself performing more or less as well as I previously did in most matches, especially in infantry-focused rounds.

  • Here, I will remark that I’m probably the sort of medic Dean would wish to see in his lobbies: I regularly revive and heal teammates (so long as it is appropriate for me to do so). While capturing screenshots for this discussion, I ended up unlocking a Defibrillator medal during one match. Medals and ribbons are something from Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 that I greatly miss: both games, along with Battlefield 3, had a thoughtful system for rewarding players who carry out role-specific tasks, but since Battlefield V, ribbons have disappeared entirely, and medals can only be unlocked once.

  • I see myself as a player of intermediate skill, performing well enough to help my team and maintain a win rate of around 55 percent in Battlefield 4. I would’ve been interested to see Dean’s Battlefield 4 stats to determine whether or not his sentiments surrounding medics were justified, but with this being said, outside of my group of friends, I’ve encountered any Battlefield players from the Calgary area. It appears that folks with similar interests to myself are exceedingly rare in my neck of the woods: even among my group of friends, no one else is big on things like military-moé or slice-of-life anime.

  • Having said this, my friends do have an interest in FPS, and this has allowed me to previously experience Battlefield 4 more wholly: while I’m below average when I solo, I remember a team-building event I hosted back when I was working with my first start-up. After we picked up burgers, we spent the afternoon playing Battlefield as a squad, and ended up tearing up every server we joined during that afternoon. While Battlefield is a game about knowing the maps, weapons and gear, teamwork is an even larger component of a successful match.

  • Having squadmates calling my shots, travelling with them and being present to immediately hand out resupplies, medic pouches and revives meant that afternoon, we won all but two of the matches we played. Having a coordinated squad is the best way to enjoy Battlefield bar none, and the gap in the experience is such that, even on occasions where we’d lost, it still felt like we’d won because we had such a good time. I’ve previously noticed this about Halo, as well: as fun as it was tearing up servers on my own in Halo 2: Vista, the best memories I have of Halo 2‘s multiplayer come from LAN parties.

  • Looking back, while Battlefield V and Battlefield 1 have both improved in core gameplay elements, what makes Battlefield 4 enjoyable is the depth of its customisation system. Unlike Battlefield 1 and V, the modern and near-future setting means that there’s all sorts of room to incorporate current weapons, vehicles and equipment. Of all the Battlefield games, 4 has the most sophisticated setup, allowing weapons to really be fine-tuned to how one prefers to play. Looking back at my own inventory, I’m a little surprised to find that despite not having played very much (I only reached level 45), I still have most of the attachments and unlocks for my preferred weapons in Battlefield 4.

  • I have heard that Battlefield 4‘s launch was very rough, with the game being virtually unplayable in multiplayer after it’d become available, and even high-end machines struggled to run the game. It took almost a year for DICE to bring Battlefield 4 to a playable state, and by the time I started the trial a year later, the game had been in a solid place. On the other hand, Battlefield 1 had a very smooth launch: the game worked out of the gates, and the only real gripe I had was that the progression system and customisation was exceedingly limited. This was, however, offset by the fact that new content was regularly being added to the game.

  • A quick look around Youth Are Awesome finds another series of articles from an author called William, detailing his experiences with Battlefield 3, from the open beta right through to launch. In his first post on the open beta, William argues the game needed better player visibility, destruction and a fairer progression system, calling them “necessary improvements”. These were non-issues in the full game: 3D spotting makes it easy to keep an eye on foes, destruction is plenty dynamic, and the starting weapons are excellent, so those starting the game can still perform well enough if they play strategically.

  • William would go on to write impressions of the multiplayer in a short post that does little more than imply that he’s an uncommonly good player capable of carrying the entire team on his own. Although youthful writers occasionally may be a bit more boastful than they should, people do grow out of this phase of their lives. As it stands, while I’ve seen and experienced cases in Halo where a lone player could wreck havoc on a server, I’ve never seen an individual player single-handedly carry a match of Battlefield precisely because of the scope and scale of matches.

  • In the present, I’ve found that Battlefield V has offered an experience approaching what I remember of 341: while the game is missing iconic maps from World War Two, and content has been coming out at a snail’s pace, the gunplay mechanics are solid. I note that Dean hasn’t written any new articles about Battlefield V or 1 . In fact, his latest posts for Youth Are Awesome date back to Valentine’s Day of 2015. A part of me wonders if Carol’s comment in his Battlefield 4 article, and the subsequent lack of interactions in articles where he subtly hints at being single, may have contributed to a decline in his interests in writing for Youth Are Awesome; Dean’s probably missed that readers commenting on an article does not correspond to an interest in a date.

  • Having said this, a subset of readers in Carol’s age range may also misinterpret admiration for a writer as romantic feelings. Regarding this, I do have one final remark for Carol: while Battlefield players in Calgary are rare, Calgary is a larger city, and there do exist players (i.e. myself) that are worth talking to. It further helps that, unlike Dean, who indicates he’s published a book (but a thorough search finds exactly zero results), I’ve actually got a handful of published conference papers and a graduate thesis: I’m reasonably confident that for Carol, I’d make for a more interesting conversationalist over coffee than Dean would.

In his post, Dean views the actions of Battlefield 4‘s medics unfavourably and compares them against charities like the YWCA and Food Bank, which have been serving those in need for over three decades. With these charitable organisations as inspiration, Dean argues, there should be no reason for medics not to carry out their duties (even if it means legging it across the map to revive a lone player who was downed). However, even in reality, not all help rendered might be helpful. Some organisations, for instance, may take a cut of donations given to them and reduce the actual amount of help that can be delivered to their intended recipients. In other cases, helping others may come at an expense to oneself (e.g. if a friend is struggling with something, and one is also going through difficult times, one might not be in the best position to be helpful). Reality is multi-faceted and complex. While Dean’s sentiments might be admirable, they also mirror on the naïveté of youth. I’ve now been a volunteer judge at the local science fair for upwards of five years, and one of the most enjoyable aspects about this work is that there’s always been a charm about seeing what youthful minds are up to. Without constraints of the market, or other forces, youth are free to be themselves and explore avenues that adults typically do not consider. However, the other side of this coin is naïveté; without experience guiding their decisions, there are cases where the thought processes from youth can, understandably, come across as incomplete. In this case, Dean’s thoughts on Battlefield 4 and its relation to charity, while well-intentioned, are not entirely correct. Much as how help should be given only when appropriate, in Battlefield, medics do have the responsibility of assessing a situation before switching over to the defibrillators, and downed players must understand they are not entitled to being revived, especially if their cause of death was rushing a corner blindly and falling to a squad of foes who out-played them. Rather than griping about the absence of revives, then, one must simply apply the lessons learnt from such an engagement and strive to become a better player.

One Year of Service in Battlefield 4

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” —Theodore Roosevelt

I’d expected to only play Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer intermittently after purchasing it, but back during May, DICE began rolling out the “Road To Battlefield” programme that saw the release of all of the DLC for free: beginning with “Dragon’s Teeth”, the DLC became freely available over the course of the summer, and so, I eventually picked up “Final Stand”, “China Rises”, “Second Assault” and “Naval Strike”. I’ve only played a handful of the new game modes and maps, but the greatest addition the DLC conferred to my experience was the inclusion of new assignments and their corresponding unlocks, as well as new maps. I recall when I’d picked up Battlefield 3 Premium and marvelling at all of the new features — the excitement there had been in gaining access to new maps and unlocks, as well. However, this time, the complementary DLC come from a promotion leading towards Battlefield 1. In the time since my last Battlefield 4 post back in March, I’ve ranked up around twenty levels and add thirty-four more hours in multiplayer, bringing that total to seventy-two hours. “Dragon’s Teeth” had come out in May, and I recall many an hour spent in the Sunken Dragon map armed with the MP-412, trying to get kills on opponents while in the water in order to unlock the Unica 6. Several long and difficult matches later, I’d succeeded, and proceeded to the next assignment, which involved using the Unica 6 to score twenty headshots. After numerous deaths, the Desert Eagle was finally unlocked, and has since become my favourite heavy pistol. Although the road to obtaining the Desert Eagle was a tricky one, it was also marvelously rewarding to succeed.

This is the sort of experience that has given Battlefield 4 such longevity: on occasion, I drop into a match now and equip a new weapon to try out, unlocking new attachments and accessories for it. In the occasional match, medals and awards pop up to alert me that I’ve completed some assignment I’d not even heard of before, unlocking new weapon skins or even weapons in some assignments. The unlock system in Battlefield 4, being a more refined upgrade to Battlefield 3‘s system, always finds a way to give back to players for investing time into the game, as well as for being adventurous, and in doing so, continues to encourage players to return, either to work towards unlocking all of the weapon accessories in order to make the weapon something they enjoy using, or else promote altering one’s playstyle with a new weapon. At this time, I’ve unlocked all of the shotguns, as well as all but one of the assault rifles and pistols. There are other weapons, such as sniper rifles and designated marksman rifles, that remain to be conquered, but even once everything is unlocked, there remains the weapon mastery challenges (get 500 kills with a weapon) to be completed. The sheer diversity of things to do in multiplayer well beyond completing objectives means that there’s always room to play Battlefield 4, and over the foreseeable future, I will likely alternate between Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 depending on whether or not I’m seeking a more modern experience, or Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I threw down enough resupply crates and ammo pouches such that the resupply medals were my most received medal after the suppression assists. In Battlefield 4, the support class had access to LMGs, along with DMRs and carbines, and for the most part, I particularly enjoy using LMGs for their high ammo capacity. The M249 became my favourite LMG in both Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, handling superbly with low recoil.

  • Here, I earn my first-ever chain link ribbon after trying out the game mode for the first time. These screenshots date back to May, during which I would have been in the middle of working for my thesis paper. I did take a few hours off each day to play Battlefield 4 and found out about the free DLC programme while looking up whether or not there would be any events for double XP.

  • “Dragon’s Teeth” was the first of the DLC to be offered free of charge; its theme is conflict-ravaged urban settings, and my favourite map is probably Propaganda, which is set in Pyongyang in North Korea. Besides Soviet-style apartments, there’s a statue of the North Korean leader and large billboards. I had a fantastic time on this map, but it appears that games set on DLC maps tend to be more specialised, rather than the conquest or TDM I’m most fond of playing.

  • If memory serves, I went nine and twenty-nine during the one conquest match I tried unlocking the Unica 6: the assignment involves getting five kills while swimming and opening the flood gates. Both objectives proved quite difficult, as the other team had superb defense: I was sniped or died to campers hiding out in the towers where the controls where while trying to open the gates. Even after succeeding, the five kills while swimming were a challenge, since players simply shot me out of the water. I eventually succeeded with the fifth kill, finishing the assignment and earning myself much fist pumping and yelling.

  • One of my favourite features in Battlefield 4 is the whole notion of “assist counts as kill”, which I find to be a mechanism that appropriately rewards players for dealing a majority of the damage to another target before someone else finishes them off. It is especially satisfying when one is killed before they can get the kill, only to have “assist counts as kill” pop up on the screen, awarding credit for having done the bulk of the work for another teammate to finish them.

  • I predominantly play TDM in Battlefield 4, but in general, Conquest is my favourite game mode, bringing large-scale battles to life as teams try to capture and hold objectives in order to deplete the opposing team of tickets. Its smaller counterpart, Domination, is most similar to King of The Hill in Halo, although there is more than one hill and the hills do not move. In this particular game, I’m playing on a remastered version of Battlefield 3‘s “Operation Metro”, which I spent many hours playing during the days of Battlefield 3.

  • It was a Herculean task to get twenty headshots with the Unica 6 in order to unlock the Desert Eagle: I normally roll with the MP 412 Rex, which has a higher firing rate and for which I’ve got the green laser sight for to improve hip fire. I count on getting two body shots in close quarters in order to best an opponent while using a sidearm and so, never bother aiming for the head. However, a combination of luck and the occasional unaware player meant that after some effort, I finally unlocked the Desert Eagle.

  • I primarily like the Desert Eagle for its aesthetics, and for having the fastest reload of any of the so-called “hand cannons” in Battlefield 4, and my most-used pistol is the MP 412. For the lighter pistols, I used the M9 the most extensively. I am a huge fan of pistols, and typically have a blast on the pistol only servers, but in ordinary servers, a good pistol can be a fantastic complement for one’s primary weapon: a hard-hitting pistol goes great with shotguns or PDWs, while something like the G18 or 93R is a fantastic backup for bolt-action rifles.

  • I haven’t gotten a KILLTACULAR since my days of playing Halo 2: Vista, which was defined to be getting four kills, each within seven seconds of one another (or, four kills within twenty-eight seconds) until now: using an anti-tank rocket, I blew up a vehicle carrying four occupants here. In Halo 2 on Lockout, I became so familiar with the spawn points so that I could use a sniper rifle and battle rifle in conjunction with plasma grenades to clear out the opposing team’s players as they spawned, eventually earning me the covetted killimanjaro medal (seven kills, each within seven seconds of one another).

  • The engineer class in Battlefield 4, like Battlefield 3, finds most utility on games where there are plenty of vehicles. I usually roll with the repair torch for the sake of being able to rapidly repair friendly vehicles, although I remember chaotic matches where I make to equip an anti-tank rocket, pull out the torch by mistake, then proceed to walk up to the vehicle and begin damaging it with the repair tool, eventually causing it to explode.

  • Thanks to the antics of Girls und Panzer, I usually try to flank enemy armour to destroy them, but the main battle tanks in Battlefield 4 are also effective against lighter vehicles and infantry. The combination of double XP events in conjunction with capturing objectives while in vehicles has allowed me to unlock almost all of the accessories for the tanks: I’m only three short at present. My typical loadout for a tank is the default loadout, but it strikes me now as strange that I’ve not altered the tank as the defaults have worked so effectively.

  • Dragon Pass in the “China Rises” expansion has some of the nicest scenery in Battlefield, and here, I get a spot bonus as I run through the rice paddies and karst rock formations of the Guilin valley. According to the time stamps on my screenshots, after May and June, I stopped playing Battlefield in July, since I was in Cancún for the ALIFE 2016 conference. After I returned, my goal was to finish revising my thesis such that it was submission ready.

  • At the end of July, I submitted my thesis, but during a tense week in early August, my thesis was rejected for formatting issues. However, after three attempts, my submission was finally accepted, and so, in early August, I resumed playing Battlefield, recalling one particularly hilarious match where one fellow going by the name of Mars732 continually spouted profanity when I got him with the SPAS-12.

  • Even after acquisition of new DLC, I still think that my favourite maps of Battlefield 4 are Zavod 311: the forest environment and abandoned T-54/55 factory is an excellent environment that suits a variety of play styles. Here, I unlock the RPK-74 as a reward for completing the “Powder Keg” assignment, and further recall another assignment where I had to get one M320 kill, one pistol kill and one defibrillator kill in one match. Players recommend getting the three assault rifle ribbons first, otherwise the kills won’t count, but I jumped in a little late, and neglected to get the ribbons beforehand. So, I hastened to get eighteen kills with the assault rifle, and after a tense match, I unlocked the L85A2.

  • After a year of playing Battlefield 4, I finally witnessed the Levolution event naturally occur during one conquest match on “Siege of Shanghai”, when the central skyscaper’s support columns were damaged by tank fire sufficiently for the entire thing to collapse. I was on a mission to finish the “Make a Dent” assignment, which unlocks the MP7. Getting the anti-vehicle ribbons was not a difficult task, but the portable anti-air kills proved more difficult. I was completely unsuccessful with the Stinger missiles, but in a later match, a lucky shot with the Igla netted me a nice double kill, unlocking the weapon.

  • Unlike Battlefield 3, the DMRs in Battlefield 4 deal much less damage and require three shots to kill even in close quarters. Quite a force to recon with in Battlefield 3, I found that they’re not as useful in Battlefield 4, being outperformed by higher fire rate weapons in close quarters and lacking the accuracy to be effective sniper weapons at longer ranges. Still, there are some days where I’ll feel up to trying them out, and I’ve unlocked a handful of attachments for the RFB that make it slightly more usable.

  • As I hardly ever play the recon class at long ranges, the marksman ribbon is something I’ve not seen during my game time until now. I’m not particularly good with sniper rifles in general, and consequently, have not unlocked many of the weapons. In Battlefield 3, the DMRs and bolt-action rifles were under the same category, so I usually just rolled with the M417 and had a blast two-shotting folks at close quarters.

  • After a friend suggested I try out the M240B, I immediately took a liking to the weapon and got fifty kills over the course of two TDM matches, unlocking the support expert title and the associated RPK-12. I’ve now reached expertise for both the medic and support classes, leaving only the recon and engineer classes left to master. However, having spent a “mere” seventy-two hours in Battlefield 4, I’m still a long way from unlocking everything.

  • Shotguns see limited utility for most game modes, but on “Operation Locker”, they’re beasts to be reckoned with. Insofar, my favourite shotguns are the SPAS-12 and the 870 MCS: I have been called a “shotgun n00b” before for making use of shotguns in TDM, although I’m unfettered by the remarks; TDM is where I go to focus on farming kills for weapon unlocks, and over the past week, I attempted the “Road to Battlefield” challenge, which asked for twenty-five M1911 kills.

  • I’d not actually used the M1911 up until that point, and so, had no attachments for the weapon. Instead, I ran the weapon with no accessories, managing to perform quite well with it and earning me the moniker “pistol n00b” by some players. I’m not bothered, since doing so allowed me to complete the mission, earning me a cool weapon skin and dogtags for Battlefield 1, as well as a gold battlepack for Battlefield 4 (I got two knives from this drop, so I was quite pleased with the outcome of that assignment).

My performance in Battlefield 4 is primarily objective-driven: in most matches, I play to capture points, arm or defuse MCOMs, or else do what is necessary to win a game, even if it means my KD ratio takes a hit. This particular play-style comes from my personal preferences in how I approach problems in reality; it’s acceptable for me to take a few hits here and there provided that the team overall is doing well. Consequently, I will utilise my class to its fullest to assist my teammates in a match, and on several occasions, have reached close the top of the scoreboard despite having what would considered be a poor KD ratio (less than 1.0). This is because I’m more interested in capturing points, healing and reviving teammates, resupplying teammates and repairing vehicles than I am with kills in objective driven matches. To offset this, I play team slayer in order to accumulate kills and unlock weapon accessories. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve also played in a squad with my friends: that was an immensely enjoyable experience where our team won one of the two conquest large matches we played. The first one, we were able to mount a comeback, and the second one was a closer game that we’d narrowly lost. Playing with friends is a vastly different experience than playing solo, although in all cases, I have the most fun where I’m able to help my team out. Now that Battlefield 1‘s out, I’ll probably be dividing my time between this and Battlefield 4, which means that my time in Battlefield 3 has drawn to a close.

Three years since I came back: A retrospective on Battlefield 4

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” —Albert Camus

Three years ago, the seventeen minute-long trailer depicting Recker’s mission in Baku was released; during that time, I had just submitted my undergraduate thesis paper and was preparing for the defense. It’s surprising as to how quickly time passes: a year-and-a-half later, I played through the Battlefield 4 campaign during Origin’s Game Time programme, but back during November 2015, I caught wind of another Origin Black Friday sale and proceeded to pick up the Battlefield bundle (which also includes Battlefield: Hardline in addition to Battlefield 4) for 60 percent off. In effect, I got Battlefield 4 for nine dollars, and Battlefield: Hardline for nine dollars, a fantastic deal. This gave me the opportunity to play through the Hardline campaign back in January and experience the police drama that TheRadBrad experienced back in March (when I was watching his play-through videos in between working on a multi-agent rescue simulator), and on some occasion, I’ve been dropping in to play some of Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer. When I first played through Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer, I had around three days left in my trial period, and I only reached rank four after around four hours of gameplay. I was thrilled to learn that the starting weapons came with attachments, and thanks to the “assist counts as kill” system, maintained a slightly better KD ratio than I did in Battlefield 3. However, over the course of the past three months, I’ve logged an additional thirty-eight hours in the game, and thanks to the monthly deployment events’ double XP weeks, I managed to unlock all of the LMGs and all of the pistols, some carbines and some shotguns. As well, I’ve also been able to unlock some cool new dog tags through the community missions (including the Virgo dog tag, which has quickly become one of my favourites for its design).

This extra time has allowed me to gain a slightly better grasp on the differences between Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, which were a little more difficult to pick out with only four hours of multiplayer experience. The most noticeable downgrade is the movement system: my soldier feels a lot more sluggish compared to Battlefield 3, and this has gotten me killed on more than one occasion. Movement in Battlefield 3 was more responsive, and experienced players could find ways of extricating from situations where their opponent fired first, allowing them to escape or even counterattack. There’s also an unusual spotting mechanic that causes the soldier to hold out his left hand, effectively locking one from aiming down sights. At close quarters, the resulting decrease in accuracy translated to bullets not hitting their target, and gave away my position, leading to death. I’m sure than someone will be able to provide the technical term for this or better yet, explain how to break out of it, but for now, I’m simply avoiding spotting unless I’m relatively far away. Negatives aside, there are some elements I’ve gotten used to: the more complex loadout menus and bewilderingly diverse range of accessories no longer intimidate me, and I find that it’s very nice to have all of the different options available. Battlefield 4 allows for more customisation than Battlefield 3, and this gives a bit more personalisation (in this post, I’m running with the Ooarai logo from Girls und Panzer in most of my screenshots). The thing that I’m thoroughly enjoying most about Battlefield 4 is the gun-play: guns feel like they hit a lot harder, resulting in more tactile gameplay. On the whole, while perhaps not quite as good mechanically as Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 nonetheless remains quite fun and had solid support until quite recently.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Unlike Battlefield 3, where I tend to be quite consistent, my performance in Battlefield 4 seems to vary all over the place; some days, I’ll be doing exceptionally poorly, while other days, I’ll be somewhere near the top of the scoreboard with a KD ratio of 2.0.

  • Last I played Battlefield 4, it was back during August 2014, after the Giant Walkthrough Brain had finished its first showing. The project was slowing down, as only minor adjustments needed to be made for the Beakerhead performances, and Battlefield 4 had just become available on Origin’s Game Time programme. My goal was to complete the campaign at the time, and I managed to play several hours of the multiplayer, reaching rank four.

  • So, when I returned back during December 2015, I was quite unaccustomed to the control mechanics in Battlefield 4, but fortunately, I had unlocked the M249 for the support class and also had access to the SCAR-H for the assault class. These weapons proved quite effective and I used them frequently to play matches.

  • The assault class improved yet again once I unlocked the M416: my favourite assault rifle in Battlefield 3 (I have 10 service stars with it), its reasonably high rate of fire, controllable recoil and short reload times makes it one of the most versatile rifles in Battlefield 4.

  • I’ve been predominantly playing TDM matches ever since I bought Battlefield 4: it’s the best option for just entering a match for fun and also to experiment with different weapon setups. Most matches have a hundred tickets, so they can be completed over relatively short periods of time. Here, I’m experimenting with the carbine weapon class as an engineer: I’m not too fond of the reorganised weapon setup in Battlefield 4, where PDWs became an engineer-exclusive weapon, while carbine and DMRs became all-class weapons.

  • Looking back, I’ve actually gotten quite a fair portion of the Battlefield 4 arsenal unlocked such that I can play to my preferred style for each class (not shown in this post is the fact that I’ve become somewhat competent with the M40A5), and so, I might start stepping out of my comfort zone to play more conquest and rush matches, provided that I’ve got the time to do so between my existing backlog (more on that in a few figure captions) and other commitments.

  • A section of the Dragon’s Valley map was re-imagined as Noshahr Canals, although the widths of the different pathways in the map means that it handles nothing like the original Noshahr Canals. The charm about the original map was that everything was very tightly packed together, and while there were just enough open spaces such that all play-styles were possible, the map favoured CQC engagements.

  • I think I’m only rank 25 at the time of writing: while I played quite a bit of Battlefield 3 after picking it up in 2013, these days, my gaming backlog is nontrivial and presently, I’m slowly making my way through Valkyria Chronicles, as well as Sniper Elite V2. My workload’s dropped off a little, now that I’m back from my first-ever conference, the next big thing on my plate are the series of presentations our lab will be doing over the next month or two, plus yet another conference publication with a deadline in three weeks.

  • I still have strong memories of playing conquest on this map on a rainy Friday evening after returning home from a lab meeting. I’ve just unlocked the FAMAS in this here moment, a French service rifle that I’ve never used frequently in Battlefield 3. The iron sights are atrocious, blocking out one’s entire field of view and I’ve lost opponents quite frequently as a result. Fortunately, unlike Battlefield 3, the RDS is unlocked after 10 kills, so one need not endure the iron sights for too long.

  • The PDWs are now limited to the engineer class, and here, I’m rocking a pimped-out UMP-45. A careful glance at the image shows that the weapon is sporting the Pure Pwnage logo, and in most of my other images, the Ooarai logo of Girls und Panzer fame can be seen. As I’m not a premium member and have no intention of joining the premium ranks this time around, I don’t have access to some of the special shapes that allow me to reproduce Miporin’s face, so I’ll stick to the Ooarai logo.

  • Besides the M416, the SCAR-H also has performed admirably in my hands as a mid to long-range weapon: I fondly remember a match where I went on an 11-killstreak and ran out of ammunition for my weapon, and was eventually forced to pick up the kit from another player, managing to get some kills off that before running out of ammunition and dying.

  • Ever since I played Battlefield 4 through Game Time, I’ve been using FRAPS to capture all of my in-game screenshots. Thus, when moments such as medals arise, it’s become a simple matter of mashing the screenshot key to permanently record the memory into an image file. Of course, one has to stay alive long enough to capture the screenshot, lest the medal disappear upon death.

  • The assault rifles, LMGs and pistols are my most-frequently used weapons in Battlefield 4 at present simply because of how much infantry-oriented game types I partake in. Battlefield has always been about large-scale battles with 64 players and plenty of vehicles, but I’ve a propensity towards enjoying combat between foot soldiers rather than vehicles.

  • Back during December, I was farming pistol kills during double XP events to unlock all of the pistols, knowing that outside of pistol servers, I would be unlikely to use my sidearms frequently enough to unlock the others. The pistols are actually quite fun and can be split into two camps; there are the lighter-hitting, faster-firing pistols and the so-called skill cannons, which fire slowly but hit like a truck. My favourite pistol is the MP412 REX: ever since I acquired a green laser sight for it, it’s become my preferred sidearm for being able to down any opponent with two shots.

  • I die at the hands of someone using the AEK-971 far more frequently than I do any other weapon precisely because I am a close-quarters player. Cited to be a “tryhard” weapon, the AEK-971 is one of the fastest firing assault rifles in Battlefield 4 and once players learn the recoil patterns, the weapon is highly effective at close to medium ranges. I’ve only a handful of kills with it so far, preferring the M416 because it’s got a faster reload time.

  • While Operation Locker was a map I was not initially fond of, I’ve since grown to appreciate it for its combination of close-quarters environments with longer hallways, making it a highly chaotic environment that is well-suited for shotguns. This map’s dark corners also make it well-suited for ensnaring enemies with M18 claymores (provided that the server will allow them).

  • I’ve been hearing all sorts of rumours concerning Battlefield 5, with some of the more interesting ones suggesting that the game was going to be WWI themed. Some of the more notable YouTube channels (notably, Matimi0) counter that since most of WWI was trench warfare and featured bolt-action rifles and some pistols, it might not accommodate the weapon and accessory diversity that most are used to seeing from a Battlefield game.

  • Official sources state that Battlefield 5 will return to the military from Battlefield: Hardline‘s law enforcement setting, and that is about it for what is reliably known. I was personally hoping for Bad Company 3– the reason Bad Company 2 stood out for me was the insane destruction in the multiplayer and a highly memorable, colourful cast of characters in the single player campaign.

  • Quite recently, I’ve taken to playing with shotguns during some TDM rounds in close-quarters matches such as Operation Locker: the 870 MCS is among the first of the shotguns unlocked, and it is absolutely beastly. It has the highest pellet count of any pump-action shotgun, and proved lethal in the confines of Operation Locker. Later, I returned to Noshahr Canals of Battlefield 3 to try it, and it turns out that the 870 MCS is just as potent a shotgun there.

  • Now that I’m done reminiscing about my memories of Battlefield 4, and with the month of March coming to an end, it’s time to remark that regular programming will resume in April. I’ve gotten the drafts for Aokana and Haruchika now, and those posts should be coming out within the next few days. After that, I’ll be discussing She and Her Cat: Everything Flows and Anthem of the Heart.

I probably won’t play Battlefield 4 with the same frequency that I did for Battlefield 3, but it will be quite fun to join the occasional game and see what happens, especially during events. The XP bonuses are particularly nice, allowing me to unlock weapons and class-specific equipment more quickly, and even though I’m far from reaching the higher ranks, I’m nonetheless making good headway in terms of unlocks. Ever since unlocking the M416 for the assault class, Battlefield 4 feels less foreign than it did when I first played through it during August 2014; in fact, going through Battlefield 4 and unlocking the different weapons and equipment leads me to recall when I first picked up Battlefield 3, where, despite being completely terrible at it, I had great fun with the unlocks. I’m experiencing the joy of unlocks again with Battlefield 4. This time of year is also when news of a new Battlefield typically come out: from the sounds of it, Battlefield 5 is going to release somewhere later this year, and three years ago, a 17-minute trailer was released following the Baku mission. No such trailer was released this year, but it will be interesting to see what the latest battlefield will entail.

Battlefield 4 Multiplayer- A First Look

“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.

Battlefield 4- Suez

“You can sink ships, you can wipe out people, but you can’t kill an idea.” —Hannah

After paradropping onto the USS Valkyrie, Tombstone discovers that the ship under siege by Chang’s forces, with most of the ship’s onboard aircraft either destroyed or heavily damaged. Garrison requests assistance over the radio and is ordered to neutralize all PLA forces on the ship. After clearing the deck, they encounter Pac, who survived his injuries sustained in Singapore but declines to recount how he had escaped. Eliminating the hostile forces along the way, Pac leads them to Garrison, who is holed up in the medical bay along with Jin Jié and the ship’s doctor. Upon arriving, they discover that Chinese forces have almost breached the medical bay door. Seeing no other way, Jin Jié states that they must allow the soldiers to enter so that they can see his face and cease fire. Garrison opposes this action, believing it would result in all their deaths. Against Garrison’s orders, Recker complies to Jié’s wish and opens the door. As the soldiers enter, they hold Recker at gun point. Jié then reveals his identity to them, ceasing any hostilities. The soldiers then rejoice that their leader is alive and call other Chinese forces to spread the word and inform the Russians to switch sides in the war. Chang’s warship then launches an attack on the Valkyrie so as to bury the truth. With the Valkyrie defenseless, Irish and Hannah devise a plan to plant C4 on the enemy warship and destroy it. Garrison, realizing the risk yet knowing there are no other alternative, approves of the plan. Before departing, Pac reveals that he is staying behind on the ship to help protect Jin Jié and makes them all promise they will all return safely. Recker, Irish and Hannah take patrol boat toward Chang’s warship, avoiding heavy fire from enemy watercraft along the way. After reaching the ship, Irish plants the C4 and the group uses grappling hooks to ascend to the bridge above for safety. Hannah is then given the honor of destroying the ship, only to discover the remote detonation has failed, requiring someone to sacrifice themselves and manually plant more C4.

  • For one reason with another, Recker starts out with the MGL, but after landing on the Valkyrie, there’s a weapons crate. For the fight ahead, I’ll choose to pick up an assault rifle and marksman rifle to be effective at medium and longer ranges. From what I’ve heard, DMRs are not widely used in the game’s multiplayer and lose their effectiveness at long ranges.

  • The damaged, blazing deck on the USS Valkyrie brings back memories of Crysis‘ final mission; after launching a failed nuclear strike against the Ceph on Lingshan island, the Ceph begin assaulting the USS Constitution and overwhelms much of the US forces, dealing severe damage to the aircraft carrier. After Nomad stabilises the ship’s reactor, he goes on to fight the Exosuit and a full-on alien warship with a tactical nuclear grenade launcher. There were so many particle effects here that my old machine crumbled under the stress and dropped down to 10 FPS.

  • This is what the Slender Man rifle looks like in Battlefield 4: its appearance encouraged me to give it a shot, and although it lacks the same feeling as its Bad Company 2 counterpart, it proved to be very effective in clearing out the Valkyrie’s deck. By this point in time, the Marble Hornets ARG web-series has concluded. On June 20, five years after the first entry was uploaded, the series concluded with Entry 87, showing that Tim and Jessica had survived everything and ending on the note that things seem to be well, after a harrowing run that kept me on the edge of my seat when I watched each entry.

  • I’ve gotten the basics for the XM25 now, and here, I successfully used an airburst detonation to clear up the remaining PLA soldiers on the Valkyrie’s deck. The inclusion of a computerised IRNV scope makes the weapon feel futuristic and allows the PLA forces to be located more clearly. Owing to the smoke, and the fact that some PLA had MGLs of their own, I found myself dying here far more often than was necessary.

  • There is a large number of PLA forces on the deck, and while ammunition is not a problem, reloading can be. To this end, I switched to the QBB-95-1, which handles like an assault rifle with a larger magazine size. The weapon made it much easier to progress through the remainder of the mission, and the laser sight facilitates shooting from the hip better. Ever since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, aiming down sights became the next big thing for shooters, and almost all shooters in the present have this functionality to encourage precision shooting.

  • Older games like Halo and Half-Life 2 and Counter Strike did not include aiming down sights, and zooming in was only available for weapons with mounted optics. As such, firing from the hip encouraged a more high-paced gameplay. In the present, firing from the hip results in poorer shot placement, although some weapons in Battlefield 3 do quite well when fired from the hip, such as the shotguns and PDWs. I tend to fire from the hip in chaotic close-quarters battles and aim down the sights for longer range engagements, although I love having a laser sight, since that helps with hip fire.

  • A Chinese helicopter circles the Valkyrie, and during the frenzy, I somehow managed to shoot another helicopter down with an anti-tank weapon after it held a position over the Valkyrie’s deck. Contrasting Battlefield 3, there are far more opportunities to use anti-air weapons, and although I only made use of the Stinger once during the South China Sea mission, I did enjoy the fact that the weapon and gadget crates afforded more flexible play styles.

  • After Jin Jié reveals his identity to the PLA soldiers, they immediately cease fire, spread the word to the other Chinese forces and subsequently convince the Russian forces to join them against Admiral Chang. It turns out that Jin Jié’s words were correct, and by taking a risk, the conflict was stemmed. The resolution is quite rewarding, showing that diplomacy can prevail over force, sharply contrasting Simeon Weisz’s claim that ” Bullets change governments far surer than votes” from Lord of War.

  • The last phase of the mission doesn’t involve any shooting, so one’s choice of weapons no longer are relevant. After Jin Jié’s revelation, Admiral Chang orders his warship, based off the Independence-class littoral combat ship, to fire upon the Valkyrie. The Independence-class was built for the US Navy, and the first ship was commissioned in 2010, with a second commissioned this year. There are plans to construct ten more of these ships, which are designed to operate close to the shore.

  • The mission’s final moments involves driving a RHIB towards Chang’s warship while under heavy fire, as day breaks. This final moment has a melancholic, yet heroic feel to it, and after the player makes their choice, seemingly sending one of Tombstone to their death, the game ends, although the implications are whoever was sent to place more charges did in fact survive. Thus ends my Battlefield 4 campaign series, which was a short, buggy but nonetheless cinematic and enjoyable ride. After this comes a talk on Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer (and how it compares to Battlefield 3), as well as a talk on Titanfall.

Suez is the final mission in Battlefield 4, and as the morning progressed, I began the last mission to the game. Upon landing back on the Valkyrie, I was met with a considerable amount of resistance, although, now that I’ve unlocked the Type-88, I was able to stay back from the front lines and engaged everything from a distance to prolong my survivability. The remainder of a mission was a wild firefight in close quarters; having unlocked it back during the Singapore mission, I made extensive use of the QBB-51-1 LMG, which handled more like an assault rifle, and a shotgun. After the Valkyrie was cleared, and Jin Jié’s role in everything was revealed, things took the familiar “partial resolution” route: just when it seems the main conflict is solved, the antagonist (Admiral Chang here) plays one final card, forcing the protagonists back into the fray with the intent of solving it. Under heavy fire from Chang’s ultra-modern destroyer, Tombstone eventually reaches the warship and plants the explosives, which fail to detonate. I had finally reached the point in Battlefield 4 where I would make the choice to send Irish or Hannah to manually detonate the C4, or else leave the Valkyrie to be destroyed. I ended up sending Irish, but I did find myself wishing that I could have volunteered Recker to detonate the explosives; after seeing all that Irish, Hannah and the Valkyrie had been through, this would have been the best option, but was not available. Once I made my choice, the end credits began to roll, and, after a year-and-a-half after seeing the first gameplay trailer, I had finally finished the Battlefield 4 campaign. Now that I’ve experienced it for myself, I would concur with the notion that the campaign was too short to properly develop the characters further, stymied by a story that didn’t flow too well, and the ending system was also a little lacking. However, I found the campaign to be reasonably entertaining from the gameplay and visuals departments: compared to its predecessor, the squad commands and shooting felt more tactile. It felt good to know that my shots were landing, and being able to direct my squad to engage the enemies took fire off me, allowing me to live longer. The graphics are absolutely stunning, and now that the campaign is complete, I feel very pleased that my rig, now a year old, manages to run the game without any difficulty even on ultra settings.