Beta Impression: Battlefield 4

I have been playing the Battlefield 4 beta these last few days, and I’m not quite sure what to think.

40 fps on High without current video drivers.

40 fps on High without latest video drivers.

It certainly isn’t the jump in quality from Battlefield 2 to 3, that’s for sure, although there are some interesting moves. For example, the default rocket launcher has a tracking mode that activates when the Recon class designates a target with their binoculars; this sort of solves the incredible power discrepancy between Engineers that had unlocked the, er, lock-on launcher versus newbie players.

Another interesting change was how they gave the Recon class (aka snipers) C4 charges. While this makes roof-top campers extremely annoying – they can drop C4 at the elevators and wait for the door opening sound for an auto-kill – it also creates an amazing tension in the class. Do you run out and C4 that tank while risking being caught in close-quarters with a sniper rifle, or do you hang back and try and snipe with a tank blowing you and your team up? Giving snipers claymore mines and assault classes C4 makes more thematic sense, but reversing those roles makes for more interesting gameplay decisions. Even better, the thermal Binoculars you get not only lets you lock on to vehicles for your teammates to kill (you get bonus XP when they do so), but it lets you more easily spot enemies running around that are too far to hit. Or, honestly, that you aren’t skilled enough to hit. Just spotting them is basically 1/4th a kill though, and it’s a useful service to do so.

Win-win.

However, some design changes have gone in the wrong direction. Technically, it was Battlefield 3 that “introduced” the concept of the medic class having to actually unlock their core ability, i.e. to revive people, but Battlefield 4 is taking that to ridiculous extremes. It takes 11,000 Assault-class XP to unlock the Defibrillator, which I hope to god is a placeholder value. Perhaps if smaller maps were available it might not be so bad, but actually getting that amount of XP on a class that otherwise brings nothing interesting to the table is a massive chore; not only do the other classes have easier ways of racking up easy XP, but remember that BF4 (and BF3) made the change to a regenerating HP model too. Between that and the near-zero Time To Kill numbers, the ability to throw a Med-Pack is only ever useful when you find yourself dueling someone from behind cover.

That tower is just bad news anyway.

That tower is just bad news anyway.

The unlocking situation gets even more ridiculous when you look at the Support class, aka the ammo guy. While I suppose it was annoying/immersion-breaking when a single Support dude could drop an ammo box and spam infinite grenades over the wall, putting the ammo box behind a 52,000 (!) XP grind-wall is an extreme overreaction. The most obvious trickle-down effect is that it makes every class weaker by extension: what good is an Engineer without rockets? Given how you respawn with full ammo, the smart move is then to play both aggressively and carelessly by spamming everything you have and then effectively suicide yourself for Round N+1.

While there has also been some grumblings over the idea of “Battlepacks” – random lockboxes filled with camos, dog tags, XP bonuses, etc – as someone who played Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer for a while, I don’t see it as such a big deal. Yes, it is a cynical cash grab given how you can pay money to buy those things. However, as far as I can tell, you do not actually unlock more powerful weaponry from these boxes. Which automatically makes them less of an issue than ME3’s lockboxes where opening a rare Widow or Carnifex/Paladin was basically the start of your game.

Beta is beta though, and this one is more restrictive than most. Overall, I can’t say that I’m too impressed. It’s honestly been so long ago that I uninstalled BF3 that I forget if being able to spawn inside a vehicle from the Deploy screen is something new to BF4 or not. And, really, that’s kinda what it comes down to: why do we need Battlefield 4 again? Once all the maps are unlocked, then perhaps we’ll see where the differences lay. Plus, supposedly Commander Mode is back.

But right now I do not see any reason why I would be compelled to purchase Battlefield 4 on Day 1 as opposed to when they bundle the game + first Map Pack together. Or, really, when they bundle the game + Season Pass.

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Posted on October 15, 2013, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I was hoping for more, but unless you go for a Planetside sort of feel, there is really nowhere they can take BF except for furthering the franchise into CoD territory. What’s worse though now is that players will be split between BF3 and BF4, given BF4 is more of an expensive horizontal move then some huge gameplay upgrade.

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    • Yeah, I kept hearing about how BF4 was developed “in parallel” with BF3, using a completely different team, and I kept thinking: why? What possible point is there in that, other than trying to emulate the yearly CoD release schedule?

      Which, I guess, is the answer.

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  2. I’m in agreement, mostly. I love the Battlefield series but I feel like Battlefield 3 lost me along the way by separating me out from the rest of the pack, punishing me for not buying every DLC for full price on release day. I spent most of my time waiting in queues for the few remaining non-empty second-class servers and eventually got bored and gave up.

    By the time BF3 Premium hit what I felt was a reasonable purchase price (after already spending $65 on the original), so much time had gone by that my excitement for playing the game had ebbed and none of my Battlefield playmates were still playing, either for the same reasons as me or because they’d been playing since release and had moved on.

    Asking us to fork over $110 for BF4 and Premium just for the privilege of having a decent long-term experience with the game pisses me off. Give everyone the new maps (like DICE once promised they would) so you don’t fragment your player base and let the holdouts decide if new guns and vehicles are worth paying for. Foster some brand loyalty instead of pressuring your customers into spending money by holding the multiplayer gameplay hostage.

    I really wish Watch Dogs hadn’t had to be delayed since that leaves BF4 as my only real option for a game to play when the PS4 comes out.

    Also, playing as support in the BF4 beta I was handing out my ammo pack from the outset. I didn’t have to unlock it. Or are you talking about an ammo pack that refills grenades? I didn’t test that.

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    • Yeah, the default ammo pack only allows you to refill bullets. The ammo box unlock is what you need in order to give people more grenades, rockets, and other gadget ammo (like the airburst rifle that support gets by default).

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  3. I have the premium edition BF3(bought it on ridicolous amazon sale for $15) and just dont see all the need to play more of the same especially if I need to pay for it. and i Know EA gonna milk users with half a dozen DLCs yet again.

    BF3 scratches the itch of “modern warfare” combat with vehicles. Which is frankly nowdays not too much of an itch ,I always preferred less vehicle oriented FPS (Like counters strike or TF2), and only started playing vehicular fps with BF2 mainly because just how good it was overall at the time.

    With planetside2 out there and BF4 being basically rebalanced bf3 with new maps I just dont see it being huge success

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