And oh my goodness, is there a lot of “meh”.
So Battlefield 4 finally premiered at this year’s Game Developer Conference. If you’ve enjoyed Battlefield 3 but can’t for the dickens of you remember what it was about – except that it was better than Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s storyline, in which you’re correct – then obviously you’d be curious as to what the single-player component of Battlefield 4 contains, right?
The footage shown at GDC 2013 was just that – a prologue mission from the Campaign – but more than anything, served to showcase how the game looks. And we won’t lie – it’s gorgeous. Insanely detailed and just flat out gorgeous in a way that made us sit up unlike, say, Killzone: Shadow Fall that made us tilt our heads in slight confusion.
However, this is still a game, not a tech demo. And while we’re not going to be judging the entire game based on a simple 17 minute trailer, it was DICE’s opportunity to show us how much Battlefield had evolved in the leap from 3 to 4, from Frostbite 2 to Frostbite 3. So first, we’ll get to…
But seriously, have you seen this game? It is just gorgeous.
And it’s gorgeous in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. The draw distance is incredible, only limited to what you can see with the naked eye. While DICE have stuck to the same dilapidated buildings and the moss-grown, worn out factories we’ve been seeing for years now, hot damn do they fill them with nuanced detail. Just the sight of the multitude of birds en route to the factory? Beautiful.
Of course, other improvements include the sound. A minimalist approach to the music was taken – which we couldn’t be more thankful for, since it highlights the incredible effects emanating from the guns, explosions and so much more. The world feels alive in Battlefield 4 and whether it’s the creaking of floorboards under your feet or the tumbling of enormous pillars as you plummet to your doom, the sound plays a huge role.
We’d hate to nit-pick on this – but we will. Exactly what has changed with Battlefield 4? We have the obligatory vehicle sequences, running past a helicopter as it sprays bullets at you, the bullet time moment of taking down said helicopter, the rote “shock and awe” moment of having to lop off our comrade’s leg – everything just feels so paint by the numbers But worse, we’ve seen it all before. The shooting, the weapons, even the depth of destructibility.
No matter how good the game looks, it is impossible to deny that it doesn’t put forth anything new based on the 17 minutes of footage we saw. Yes, there could be some new, intriguing mechanic we don’t know of yet, but the basic running and gunning looks and feels like the same game we’ve been playing for a while now.
And now we come to easily the saddest part about the Battlefield 4 footage – it was okay. Don’t get us wrong. It’s gorgeous, insanely detailed and a living, breathing world. But then so was Crysis 3. Want to know what separated that game from something like, say, Tomb Raider or even Far Cry 3? Gameplay. Oodles and oodles of gameplay and possibilities.
Battlefield 4 looks like it retains the same linear, overtly scripted approach of its predecessor. Honestly, were there any paths you could diverge from in the prologue mission? More importantly, have you not done the same things before in other shooters? A case could be made for games like Spec Ops: The Line, which present the same time-worn gameplay but still manage to keep things fresh and interesting with their stories and the sheer unpredictability of some missions.
So far, Battlefield 4 is a really good-looking FPS – and while that’s not enough to go on right now, Battlefield 3 was also a really good looking FPS. And that game’s single-player campaign was just bland and boring.
Of course, this is only for the single-player. We’re not counting the one, single factor that made Battlefield 3 the enormous success that it so rightly was – the multiplayer. And given the number of additions and modes that its predecessor received, there’s no doubt that Battlefield 4 will work hard to one-up it (with naval combat being hinted at – imagine the possibilities for Conquest mode).
But as it stands, unless DICE has some serious twists and turns up its sleeve, Battlefield 4 will be following the third game too closely for comfort.