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Battlefield 4 - What we know so far


Battlefield 4 is due out in the last quarter of this year (the shortest odds are currently in October, Battlefield’s usual release month) and if it’s half the game that EA are talking it up to be, then it’ll be a cracker. Of course, don’t forget that EA talked up BF3 a lot (which had excellent multiplayer, but a forgettable campaign). This go-around, however, it looks like they’ve learned from that experience and have been shaping something substantially more engaging for the next instalment in the venerable series.

Frostbite 3 and the experience

It’s a new Battlefield, which in recent years has generally meant a new version of Frostbite. Frostbite 3 is the latest iteration of DICE’s cutting-edge engine, and as well as highly-polished visuals it is expected to give Battlefield 4 a greater degree of destructability compared with Battlefield 3. Water is also looking to play a much greater part of the experience, with teaser videos pointing very strongly to naval vessels returning to greater prominence in the series.

Frostbite 3 is also designed to make things very scalable, from high-end to low-end machines, so current-gen consoles will get a version of it to play (the game has been confirmed for PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and ‘next-generation consoles’ – oddly, they haven’t confirmed it for the PS4 yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet it will turn up on the console). However, DICE have stated that they won’t be releasing Battlefield 4 on the Wii U or Vita, as the different control setups require extra work actually redesigning the game (rather than just scaling the experience that they’ve already put together).

While there was some discussion of the engine, DICE made the point that the experience itself is the focus of Battlefield 4. In an interview on Eurogamer, Patrick Bach from DICE argued that a cutting-edge engine was a given for a series of Battlefield’s stature, and that most gamers are more interested in the experience that engine provides, rather than the particular lighting model or the number of polygons in each character. While Eurogamer suggests this is a “seismic shift in focus”, it’s pretty clear from the 17-minute reveal trailer that DICE are still very much interested in delivering a cutting-edge visual experience. The lighting, geometry, effects and texture work were all stunning. However, they’re not just doing this, and are focussing more on making those cutting-edge visuals engage the player through ‘Battlefield moments’.

Single player

It was for this reason that DICE chose to focus the reveal on Battlefield 4’s single player component. Unlike Battlefield 3’s linear battlegrounds, Battlefield 4 sounds like it’s heading back towards the kind of single-player experiences seen in the Bad Company games (albeit with somewhat more serious characters), where levels, or parts of levels, were presented as a sandbox, with the player largely able to determine how they achieve their objectives in the context of the sandbox. From our perspective, this will be a huge improvement from Battlefield 3, and make the single-player experience stand out from the largerly linear single player experiences found in other contemporary military shooters (ArmA aside).

DICE also expanded on wanting to give players a feel of being in the shoes of one character for the whole experience, and connecting with their squadmates. In their words, they want it to feel ‘human, dramatic and believable’. It’s not as clear how they’ll go with this, as they’re trying to hit a very broad audience here, with a large range of standards. EA’s Medal of Honor reboot told an excellent but quite (for a video game) realistic story that went over the heads of most of the audience and almost all of the critics – for those brought up on Hollywood shooters, it was so realistic that it didn’t give enough drama.

In the wake of this experience I’d expect DICE to take more of a gung-ho Michael Bay approach to storytelling, than a Blackhawk Down or We Were Soldiers angle, and focus more on ‘human’ and ‘dramatic’ than ‘believable’. The 17-minute trailer definitely leaned more towards the first two, which, given the nature of most modern video gaming critics, is the safe approach to take for a multi-million dollar blockbuster. DICE have to be careful to maintain a clear vision here though – trying to combine the two approaches can detract from believability and at some parts in the trailer it felt like they were trying to have two bob each way.

Multiplayer

DICE haven’t revealed the multiplayer component of the game yet, preferring to focus on the single-player reveal. We have seen, however, a number of vehicles and weapons in trailers and in promotional art which should give us an idea of what we’ll get in the full game. For the full list, go to the Battlefield Wiki (the good people that put these together), but as a teaser, there’s decent odds we’ll see:

  • The Mi-28 (Russian), UH1-Y Venom (US) and WZ-10 (Chinese) helos
  • The RHIB boat
  • The US M1 Abrams and Chinese Type 98 tank
  • The Chinese J-20 Jet. If this is in the game, then (noting it hasn’t been revealed or rumoured) there's good odds of the F-22 making it in as well.

Beyond this, the multiplayer is rumoured to be 24 players on PS3 and Xbox 360, and 64 players on PS4, the next-generation Xbox and PC. We also have Karl Troedsson (DICE’s general studio manager) on record as saying that they’re very interested in eSports, although we have no information on what that might translate into (the full interview is available here on Youtube).

We do know, however, that coop won’t be in the game (at least at launch – who knows what DLC may bring down the line). We do know that pre-orders of Battlefield 4 are likely to receive the ‘Drone Strike’ expansion pack (but know nothing about what it contains, although we’d wager drones are involved).

Anticipation rising…

While it could have been argued that the reveal trailer was a little on the long side (17 minutes!), there’s a lot to like about what we know so far. However, there are also a lot of question marks, about both the multiplayer and the single player. It’s great to hear that the single-player will be returning (if you consider the Bad Company part of the Battlefield series of games) to more open encounters, and eschewing the corrider-shooter approach. On the other hand, we have no idea whether they’ve mixed up the multiplayer at all, or stuck to the model in Battlefield 3. Either way, we’re itching to find out, eagerly awaiting more news on the game, and will keep you updated on its progress.

Author: Axe99, I_live_4_fun




8 Comments


I_live_4_fun
Apr 12 2013 03:38 AM
I'm really excited for this game :D. I liked the ability to spot and direct the squad mates to attack from that single player trailer, and the open sandbox type of gameplay looks really refreshing too.

Hope they reveal more about the Multiplayer component soon.
well they killed the medal of honor series, going 30fps on console again will probably kill BF on those platforms.

as with the last MoH, i'll be giving BF a miss this time around.  too many more polished FPS games more worthy of my coin & time.  still regret getting BF3 & not returning it to EB games within a week (which is what i did with MoH:T1).

View PostGraphicX, on 12 April 2013 - 04:43 AM, said:

well they killed the medal of honor series, going 30fps on console again will probably kill BF on those platforms.

as with the last MoH, i'll be giving BF a miss this time around.  too many more polished FPS games more worthy of my coin & time.  still regret getting BF3 & not returning it to EB games within a week (which is what i did with MoH:T1).

Different games for different people I reckon - I thought BF3 was good for what it was, and while it was a bit rough around the edges, I actually enjoyed MoH:W's online more than either BF3 or any of the recent CoDs.  BF4'd be 30 fps on PS3, but we might get higher frame rates on next-gen, you never know (just depends what they want to prioritise really).  I'm not in the 60 fps or its rubbish camp though - 60 fps is always better than 30 fps, even for a turn-based strategy game, but I've enjoyed shooters in the PS1 and PS2 era that ran at 20-25 FPS, and often less when the action heated up.
Excited for this :)

The whole 30 FPS and 60 FPS talk is just silly - sure 60FPS is smoother but a stable 30 FPS is more than enough to enjoy a shooter. If a game doesn't have a good animation engine then 30FPS won't perform miracles - for example CoD has some of the shittiest animations in a game, blocky animation with running and walking, and even when you standing still and doing a 360 your character in game is sliding on the ground. Killzone 2 and 3 was 30 FPS and both played great (except Killzone 3 gameplay was shit!)

Like Axe said, different games for different people - BF3 still the best shooter available on consoles, it maybe not be the most polished game but still better than anything else available currently.

View PostOutlaw213, on 12 April 2013 - 10:51 AM, said:

Like Axe said, different games for different people - BF3 still the best shooter available on consoles, it maybe not be the most polished game but still better than anything else available currently.

Point of order - BIRDS OF STEEL!  OK, now I'm just being silly ;).
i couldn't get used to the 30fps, the pace of the game didn't suit it.

View PostGraphicX, on 15 April 2013 - 12:57 AM, said:

i couldn't get used to the 30fps, the pace of the game didn't suit it.

Fair enough - probably harder for people that play a lot of CoD as well (I know you play other things, not saying you only play CoD, and nothing wrong it that was the case B)).
not taking your CoD bait here fggt, but i'd say BF3 is one of the only games i've played on PS3 that has been 30fps.