Battlefield 4 – E3 Preview

Battlefield 4 was in full force at E3 this year. EA dedicated a huge chunk of their booth to the game, with a large cluster of stations all set up in a cordoned-off area. This ensured that, on each playthrough of their multiplayer demo, you played with a full server of 64 players. We went hands-on with the game during E3, and have our impressions ready for your viewing pleasure.

Are you a Battlefield fan? Then get your pre-order in now. Battlefield 4 plays pretty much like you would expect. Though I admittedly do not play Battlefield as often as I used to, I jumped right in and kept a decent enough kill-death ratio without much hassle. Each player class has its own positives and negatives, and I ended up preferring playing as an engineer. This class isn’t too powerful offensively, but you can repair and destroy vehicles with ease.

My adrenaline was pumping as I loaded up my RPG and began an assault on an enemy boat nearing a dock. I found some sturdy cover, and peeked out of each side of it to pop off a round. The boat stopped when it got hit the first time, scanning the area to see where I was hiding. Being flanked from their starboard side by some of my teammates, the enemy was too busy too see my rocket until it was too late. I gained a handful of kills as well as a bonus for destroying a target designated by my commander.

Speaking of Commander, the mode that made its debut in Battlefield 2142 is back, and better than ever. Though this was a strictly hands-off affair for the purposes of the E3 demo, an EA employee could be seen in the booth playing the Commander mode, dolling out objectives and laying down the hurt when requested. The premise of the Commander mode, for those who are not aware, is that you get to lead everybody on your team, highlighting objectives and telling them where to go. When your teammates listen to you, they gain a bonus for completing these objectives, so there is incentive to act as a cohesive unit rather than attempting to Rambo it (a tactic which will almost never work).

The game is gorgeous. There are fancy lighting effects, high-resolution textures and sparks flying everywhere. Since the map was full, it felt almost chaotic, but there was an order to the chaos. The battle played out with a very nice ebb and flow. I was put on the Assault/American team, attempting to overpower the Communist Chinese. At first, we were scattered, only taking one control point at a time as we would lose others that were previously in our possession. But soon enough, we began acting like a team, and the match was destined to be ours – if only our time wasn’t up! The match didn’t end in-game, but rather the stations abruptly went to a black screen – some even errored out, crashing to the desktop. Yes, we were playing on PCs the whole time, but given this series’ track record, the game should look fantastic on the PS4, and perhaps a bit scaled back on the PS3. Battlefield is very consistent in its play experience, so there is no reason for concern.

So the game is a fine improvement from previous iterations, but the question that begs to be asked is where can they go from here? The dynamic destruction seen was impressive, there is no doubt about that. Commander mode is back, and ready to be played from a tablet in a coffee shop if you so choose. But what’s next? Is Battlefield 4 the plateau for the series? Do future versions just pile on the players ala MAG? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but for the time being this feels like the definitive version of Battlefield.

Battlefield 4 is set to release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PCs this October 29th in North America, 31st in Australia, and November 1st in Europe and PlayStation 4, Xbox One when they come out.