Now that the review embargo for the Xbox One version of Battlefield 4 has lifted and I've spent significant time playing both single- and multiplayer, this update confirms that the below review text and score apply to the Xbox One version as well, with a few notes. Firstly, the textures, lighting, and color saturation are all slightly worse than on the PlayStation 4 version, but still much better than Xbox 360/PS3. Secondly, though there occasional connectivity issues with the online multiplayer, the majority of our play time was issue-free and full of the immense, chaotic excitement that makes this game shine. - CTW, 12/2/2013, 17:00 PST
There's something evergreen about Battlefield's brand of online warfare. The combination of breakneck infantry fighting and explosive vehicular warfare breeds conflicts that are exciting, tense, and, perhaps most importantly, diverse. With weapons, gadgets, and upgrades tailored to create a wealth of combat roles, it can often seem like there's no end to the gratifying ways you can contribute to the war effort. This variety has enticed players into Battlefield games for years, and in Battlefield 4, it's alive and well. The online multiplayer is an absolute blast.
But Battlefield is about more than just multiplayer these days, and the single-player campaign in BF4 also has some exciting moments. These are sequences that channel the freedom and variety of multiplayer; the levels spent mostly in corridors and in close-quarters combat are more frequent, however, and not nearly as enjoyable. The characters that drive the story show flashes of appealing personality, but these are drowned out by cliche relationships and boilerplate dialogue. Though BF4 outdoes its predecessor, the series has a long way to go before the campaign is more than a sideshow diversion.
Fortunately, the online stage is expertly set for some exhilarating moments. One of the best new things about BF4 is Obliteration mode, in which two teams fight to gain control of a bomb and use it to blow up three enemy positions. Unlike returning standby Conquest mode, in which the battle ebbs and flows between a handful of set positions, Obliteration boasts conflict zones that can change in a flash with the timely use of land, air, and sea vehicles. Motorized transport has always been a pillar of combat in the Battlefield series, and Obliteration mode makes mobility more important than ever. (Thank goodness for the new test range that allows you to practice piloting every vehicle!) A skilled helicopter pilot can swoop in to pick up the bomb carrier and then zip off to an objective point, leaving enemy infantry in the dust. Escaping the chaos to grab a personal watercraft can turn the tide, but perhaps it's better to blow it up so your enemies don't grab it for themselves. Plotting your own dramatic maneuvers while defending against the enemies' is a lively challenge that takes on new urgency in Obliteration.
Matches without vehicles, however, have a different pace. Victory comes from solid squad support and sharp shooting. Battling for bomb possession in winding prison tunnels is a brutal close-quarters affair, and well-balanced matches run the risk of devolving into lengthy scrums in which neither team can make headway. Keeping your squad alive is crucial here, not just as mobile spawn points but also to preserve your field upgrades. These are new attribute bonuses that you gain through squad-related actions, bestowing you with resistance to suppressing fire or better flak protection, for example.
Being able to shoot a little straighter or survive a nearby grenade blast can make a difference in these fast-paced, infantry-heavy matches of Obliteration, as well as in small, speedy matches of Domination (small-scale Conquest) and Team Deathmatch. The other new mode also involves bomb-carrying, but because it has bite-size maps and no respawning, Defuse demands a more careful kind of infantry combat. Weapon choice and enemy detection are key in these short, fraught encounters, and while the heightened tension can result in some very satisfying wins, smaller arenas are not where Battlefield 4 is at its best.
The standout action comes in large-scale conflicts that take advantage of the 10 large, well-designed maps. Richer color saturation makes them a pleasure to look at, from the lush alpine fields surrounding a massive satellite dish to the sparkling neon lights of a coastal city. Buildings frequently have stairs or elevators that allow access to upper stories, giving snipers long sight lines and providing parachutists with jumping-off points to better traverse the map. This increased verticality adds some strategic options, but the bigger change is the greater prevalence of water. Marine combat is a much bigger factor in Battlefield 4, whether you're zipping down the narrow canals of a seaside resort while your passenger mows down infantry or patrolling the lanes of a small archipelago and shooting helicopters out of the sky with a fully crewed attack boat.
Naval dominance can help you control a match, but water-based mobility is another huge consideration, as anyone who has trudged across a large empty field instead of hitching a ride knows. Swimming leaves you vulnerable, though you can at least pull out your sidearm, so it's best to secure transport when you can. This much is obvious when fighting in a stormy island chain, but until someone blows the levee on the slightly waterlogged urban map, you can do just fine scurrying around on foot. When the water does rush in, the whole place gets submerged beneath ten feet of water and things change significantly. If you don't stick to the rooftops or hop in one of the newly spawned boats, you're in trouble.
This deluge is the most drastic of the marquee environmental events that you can trigger on each map. Some of these occurrences bring significant change, like the destruction of a skyscraper, while others are more subtle, like closing jail doors to shut off a hallway or raising bollards to block a road. These special events are complemented by the wide range of destructible structures and deformable terrain. Blown-out walls and collapsed buildings have a hard time hiding enemies, and roads pitted by bomb craters are more difficult to navigate smoothly. Destructibility has been amped up from Battlefield 3, and being able to blast your way through certain obstructions is a liberating and empowering experience.
In most cases, you must supply the ordnance to take advantage of this destructibility (some maps have large triggered bombs that do the job on their own). Among the weapons and gadgets for each class are a number of explosive options tailored to take down threats on land, at sea, and in the sky. There are also items that support your allies in a variety of ways, from keeping them alive to alerting them to nearby enemies. Thanks to some loadout shuffling and the presence of weapon classes that unlock for every soldier type, there are more ways than ever to customize the four basic archetypes to fill a multitude of combat roles. Of particular note is the new ability to zero your scope, a trick that lets you quickly set the distance at which your bullet will hit the center of your sight, providing a valuable aid for long-range sniping.
Between vehicle and soldier customization, there are a ton of ways to be effective on the battlefield and rack up the points that increase your rank and unlock new stuff. You can intermittently earn battlepacks that provide small rewards, and new map-specific battle pickups like sniper rifles, automatic shotguns, and grenade launchers give you powerful ways to adapt your strategy on the fly. If you prefer to take a broader strategic view, you can join a match as a commander once you hit the requisite level. With a bird's-eye view and a chat line to every squad leader, this mode lets you set objectives for troops, scan for enemies, and reinforce your team in a few other ways. Vehicle and supply drops can conceivably be a great boon to your grunts, but the tools that become available to you depend largely on how well those grunts accept and follow your orders. Oblivious players can make Commander mode drag, so it's a hit-or-miss experience.
The single-player campaign has its ups and downs as well, though alas, more of the latter than the former. It's good when you're fighting your way through a village, using scattered weapons and the odd vehicle to carve a path to your allies. Sections like these approximate the combat diversity of multiplayer and are genuinely fun, while other sequences aren't as successful. Fighting through streets and buildings evokes nothing more than the dozens of other shooter campaigns in the same mold, and though the gunplay is competent, it lacks a spark to sustain it. A difficult tank battle and some dramatic moments might manage to get your blood pumping, but on the whole, the action feels lifeless.
Though the plot chronicles a high-stakes conflict, Battlefield 4 invests its storytelling energy in its characters. Unfortunately, they all-too-often act as soldiers who have character, rather than characters who are soldiers.
The characters in your squad could have enhanced the experience, as they did in the excellent Bad Company 2. Indeed, your squad's idle discussion of fortune cookie messages and the prospect of eating pigeon channel some of the great character writing from that game, but these highlights are few and far between. Most of the character development focuses on cliche roles such as "gruff dude who doesn't trust newcomers" and "earnest guy who follows orders." Though the plot chronicles a high-stakes conflict, Battlefield 4 invests its storytelling energy in its characters. Unfortunately, they all-too-often act as soldiers who have character, rather than characters who are soldiers. And the results are drab.
So with five versions of the game spread across two generations of consoles, which is the best Battlefield? Unsurprisingly, the PC version remains on top with excellent visuals and sprawling 64-player matches that make the most of the great maps and incredible combat diversity. The PlayStation 4 version joins the PC in the top tier, with comparable visuals and 64-player matches to boot. The Xbox One version, however, remains under review embargo for another two weeks, so we can't evaluate it until then. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions still deliver solid visuals and exciting online play, but with matches limited to 24 players at the most, current gen already feels like last gen. Texture pop-in delays are much more noticeable in the PS3 version, making it the least appealing of the bunch.
Regardless of platform, Battlefield 4 multiplayer is a blast and definitely the best reason to return to this hallowed franchise or dive in for the first time. Though the campaign makes strides in the right direction, it remains a sideshow to the main event. Expansive and exciting, challenging and empowering, Battlefield 4 multiplayer is a thrilling endeavor in this generation or the next.
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NA October 29, 2013
EU/AU October 31, 2013
NA November 12, 2013
EU/AU November 29, 2013
NA November 19, 2013
EU/AU November 22, 2013
— Rear cover of Battlefield 4 box art
Battlefield 4 (also known as BF4) is the thirteenth installment in the Battlefield Series developed by DICE and published by EA. It is the sequel to Battlefield 3 and was released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC on October 29, 2013. It is the first game in the franchise also released on eighth generation consoles, being released for the Playstation 4 on November 12, 2013 and the Xbox One on November 19 of the same year. Battlefield 4 is also available for unlimited play for EA Access members on the Xbox One as one of the service's launch titles.
Achievements and Trophies
- Main article: Battlefield 4 Achievements and Trophies
Many elements from Battlefield 3 as well as other past installments return, such as the same four class system, a similar heads-up display, kill cams, as well as increased destruction. Players can now use dual-scoped weapons, including weapons with different firing modes (e.g. single shots, automatic fire). Players now have more survival capabilities, such as countering melee attacks from the front while standing or crouching, shooting with their sidearm while swimming, and diving underwater to avoid enemy detection.
The singleplayer campaign features many elements from past installments, taking place in numerous locations across the world. Levels are now built in sandbox-style environments, allowing players more freedom to complete objectives. Players can now spot enemy targets to notify the AI of Tombstone squad. The singleplayer also features three separate endings based on the player’s choice in the final mission.
The singleplayer features assignments that require specific actions and unlock weapons for use in multiplayer upon completion. Collectible Weapons return along with the introduction of Collectible Dog Tags which can be used in multiplayer. Weapon crates are found throughout all levels, allowing players to obtain ammo and switch weapons. While crates hold default weapons, collectible weapons may be used whenever they are acquired and level specific weapons may be used once a specific mission assignment has been completed by obtaining enough points in a level.
The singleplayer campaign is set in the year 2020, six years after the events of the previous game. While the War of 2014 has ended, tensions between the United States and Russia are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, looks to overthrow the Chinese government by blaming the United States for the assassination of Jin Jié, the country's future leader and voice of peace. If successful, China would gain Russia's full support, resulting in all-out war with the United States.
The player controls Sgt. Daniel Recker, a member of a United States special operations squad call-signed Tombstone. His squadmates include: squad leader SSgt. William Dunn, second-in-command SSgt. Kimble 'Irish' Graves, and field medic Sgt. Clayton 'Pac' Pakowski. Tombstone is joined by CIA operative Laszlo Kovic, and Chinese Secret Service agent Huang 'Hannah' Shuyi. They are tasked with stopping Chang and preventing another great war.
Tombstone was tasked with retrieving vital information in Baku, Azerbaijan. Pursued by Russian Special Forces, the squad engaged in numerous firefights as they proceeded toward the extraction point at the top skyscraper under construction. The building, after sustaining massive amounts of damage from Russian forces, collapsed as Tombstone reached the extraction point. The event resulted in the helicopter's destruction as well as the amputation of Dunn's leg due to it being trapped under rubble.
Stranded, Tombstone commandeered a civilian vehicle and attempted to escape with an enemy helicopter in pursuit. Recker was then tasked with destroying the chopper with a grenade launcher. While successful, the squad's vehicle went off road and plunged into the sea. With the vehicle sinking, Dunn, who was not only trapped between seats but also critically wounded, handed Recker his revolver and ordered he shoot out the windshield so the rest of the squad could make their escape. Much to the dismay of Pac and Irish, Recker reluctantly shoots the window, allowing them to escape but resulting in Dunn's death by drowning.
The Intel recovered tells that Admiral Chang is planning a military coup d'état in China which would allow him to gain full Russian support if successful. Unfortunately, Captain Garrison's superior, Oracle, reveals that the United States had already known this information and that the purpose of Tombstones mission was to reassure them of it, meaning that Dunn had died for information that they already knew.
Tombstone returns to the USS Valkyrie where Garrison informs them of the assassination of Chinese presidential candidate, Jin Jié; and how Chang convinced the Chinese that the United States was responsible. He then sends Tombstone on a covert mission to Shanghai to rescue three VIPs: CIA Agent Kovic, Hannah, and Hannah's husband. Full filling Dunn's last wish, Recker is made squad leader of Tombstone.
Tombstone manages to extract the three via helicopter and then proceeds to take a tourist boat back to the Valkyrie. Much to their surprise, however, an electromagnetic pulse goes off, frying all electronic equipment in the area, including the boat. Realizing that other refugees are stranded on boats around them, Irish helps to lead them to the Valkyrie.
Once aboard, Captain Garrison sets a course for the USS Titan which will be able to house the refugees. Upon locating the Titan, it is found to be heavily damaged by Chang's Chinese military. Garrison thereby orders Tombstone, along with Kovic as acting squad leader, to scour the wreckage of the Titan for survivors and Intel before it sinks.
The squad recovers a hard drive with data telling of what happened before the Titan was attacked only to be forced to engage with Chinese soldiers that had boarded the ship. Having sustained too much damage, the Titan finally buckles under its own weight and splits in two forcing Tombstone to abandon ship. Having hijacked an assault boat, the squad makes its way back to the Valkyrie only to find it under siege by Chinese forces.
Kovic is critically injured as the squad attempts to repel Chinese forces, resulting in Recker being put back in charge of Tombstone before he dies. Tombstone then clears the bridge and rescues Garrison and Hannah's husband.
Garrison debriefs the squad on the incoming assault on the Chinese-controlled Singapore airfield to destroy Chinese air superiority while their air forces are grounded by a storm. Hannah volunteers to join Tombstone, much to Irish's chagrin. They successfully assault the beach and lead an advance towards the airfield, with the help of US Marine tanks, losing most of their forces in the process. While crossing a bridge to the airfield, Recker becomes pinned down by a car blown by the strong winds and tries to break free with the help of Tombstone, to no avail. A large freighter crashes into the bridge, throwing Tombstone into the sea below.
Fortunately, they survive and make their way to the airfield via a sewer. After Pac fires the signal flare, Tombstone attempts to evacuate the area using an enemy vehicle, but is hit by friendly fire, seemingly killing Pac and rendering Recker and Irish unconscious. Hannah betrays the squad, bringing Chinese soldiers to capture Tombstone. Recker and Irish are interrogated in a prison by Admiral Chang and Bohai over the purpose of their mission in Shanghai. They are then thrown into prison cells soon after.
Recker is later awoken by Dimitri Mayakovsky, a Russian prisoner suffering from radiation poisoning as a result of the nuclear explosion in Paris six years prior. The two break out of their cell and release the other prisoners, including Irish, starting a mass riot. With the prison guard overrun, the Chinese military arrive and launch an assault.
Recker and Irish hold them off long enough for Dima to open the prison gates, only to be caught by Hannah and other soldiers. Hannah shoots the soldiers holding Recker, Irish and Dima at gunpoint; she explains that she had been tasked to protect Jin Jié, who had been posing as her husband. The group fights their way through the Kunlun Mountains to a cable car, which goes down the mountain. The tram is shot down by an enemy helicopter, resulting in Dima's death.
Forced to continue on foot for two days, Tombstone makes their way down the mountain, forced to hunt for food to survive. They find a jeep and drive to Tashgar, finding it under siege by both Chinese and Russian forces. They eventually find Major Greenland, who commands the remainder of US ground forces in Tashgar. She states that the mobile anti-air control by the Russians is putting them at a disadvantage.
Tombstone volunteers to demolish the Tashgar Dam to flood the area and destroy the Chinese-Russian forces in exchange for a ride back to the Valkyrie. They are successful in their task and are sent to Suez Canal to await extraction back to the Valkyrie.
They are picked up by a C-130 using the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, and are then paradropped onto the Valkyrie, which is sailing blindly into Admiral Chang's forces. Tombstone assists in clearing the deck of boarding Chinese forces and find Garrison, who is holed up with Jin Jié, other survivors, and Pac (who had survived Singapore by "crawling through a thousand yards of shit with a hole in his stomach").
When Chinese forces finally reach the door to the medical bay, Jin Jié convinces Garrison to let him show his face to the soldiers, as they had been fighting under the illusion that Jin Jié had been killed. Recker opens the door and is knocked down, but Jin Jié calms the tension between the three forces showing his face to them, ultimately signifying an alliance and friendship between the United States, Russia, and China. The Chinese soldiers celebrate the news of their leaders return and call off the attack and inform the Russians and convince them to change sides in the war.
However, upon hearing this news, Chang barrages the Valkyrie with his warship, hoping to "bury the truth" with it. With no ordinance to strike back, Recker, Irish and Hannah once again volunteer to manually destroy it with explosives. Driving a boat to the warship's blind spot, the trio set the remote charges and use grappling guns to bring them to safety before detonating the explosives.
Unfortunately, the remote detonation fails, requiring manual replacement of the charges. Hannah volunteers to set a new charge; but Irish stops her, volunteering to do it himself, as China would need her. Recker is forced to either do nothing as Chang's warship obliterates the Valkyrie, thus killing Pac, Garrison and Jin Jié; or to send either Hannah or Irish back down to set the explosives. As soon as the detonator lights green, Recker detonates the charges, destroying Chang's ship but killing whoever planted the explosive.
A Marine rescue helicopter then picks up Recker and his remaining teammate, reporting to Garrison that one member could not be found. During the credits, the player hears a new dialogue between Irish and Hannah, discussing their pasts, and how they have to keep moving forward with "no fucking regrets", implying that the teammate that went down may have survived.
Ranks and Awards
Battlefield 4's multiplayer has one hundred and forty ranks, with each rank holding five sub ranks with roman numerals. There are forty-five ribbons which are unlocked by completing specific actions. Earning one ribbon fifty times awards a medal with forty-five Medals in total in the base game. Service Stars are awarded after earning enough experience progression for that object. There are one hundred and thirty available service stars, each capable of being earned one hundred times.
All classes featured in the previous installment return in Battlefield 4, although with a few changes. Carbines have become all-kit weapons along with Designated Marksman Rifles (DMRs) and can now be utilized by all classes, as with pistols and shotguns.
- Support - Retains C4 and claymores with its weapons now having an increased suppression effect compared to other classes. It will also be issued an XM25 and a remote controlled mortar for indirect suppressive fire.
- Engineer - PDWs replace Carbines as the kits primary weapons, so as to emphasize it's close quarters role.
Maps and Gamemodes
Battlefield 4 features a total of ten maps in the base game, all of which are available on all seven gamemodes in the base game. Two of them, Obliteration and Defuse, are new additions to the series, putting further emphasis on team-based play. Additional maps and gamemodes were added through expansions.
"You'll back me up, right?"
This section contains spoilers for Battlefield 4.