We live in a time where multiplayer is tacked on to every other new release whether or not it makes sense, is fun, or is even wanted by players, but Battlefield is one of the rare examples of a multiplayer game that doesn’t need a single-player mode. It is all about that winning multiplayer formula. Everyone knows that. Babies are born knowing that. Granted, Bad Company and its sequel were a good laugh, so players that were actually looking for a decent story to settle in to from Battlefield 3 probably weren’t as misguided as they seemed at first glance. It was awful, though. Just awful. Restrictive, and dull, with a feeling that you weren’t really interacting with the game, as if what you pressed only mattered in tedious quick time events.
Battlefield 4’s campaign is less waiting for your team to catch up wondering if it’ll be yours or their turn to open the door this time, and more smooth, flowing gameplay. There’s none of that ‘return to the battlefield’ bullshit when you stray slightly off the path and the QTE fights are gone. Ten minutes in and I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had during Battlefield 3’s campaign. But maybe that’s just because I’m getting points for every kill, headshot, or killstreak earned. My efforts are being recognised on screen right in front of me. It feels more like multiplayer; like what Battlefield does best.
I’m Recker, a Sergeant in charge of Tombstone squad. My team is made up of people I’m clearly close to, who have real human conversations and reactions. They’re scared, they’re tired, they’re half starved, and the stress shows on their faces. The intro flings you face first into the carnage of war and death and barely lets up apart from in-between missions when you get to hang out on a fully staffed battleship. It’s not Metro 2033 atmospheric and alive but it’s nice enough.
Shooting is easier this time around. You’ll decide whether that’s good or bad. Guns barely recoil, bullet drop only needs to be compensated for a few times throughout, and the sights are sticky during a kill. It works. It fits in with the pace of the game. It does keep that need to be careful and thorough, though – you still can’t charge, or push forward until a wave is cleared, and one missed enemy soldier behind you can easily send you right back to the last checkpoint.
I definitely remember some Bonnie Tyler.
To say that Battlefield 4 doesn’t outstay its welcome is a sugar-coated way of saying it’s short but also an accurate way of saying it. You won’t be pining for more. It’ll last you maybe 7-8 hours, depending on how many times you forget to be careful and die. As murderise everything that moves games go it’s alright. Your weapons and gadgets are standard Battlefield offerings, the graphics are nice enough, and I’m sure there was a soundtrack – I definitely remember some Bonnie Tyler. It’s all playable enough but nothing stands out apart from the fact that it’s better than 3’s campaign. There are no great moments. No one will be quoting the characters this time next year, or wearing T-shirts with their faces on. It’s definitely not worth a full price purchase on its own.
Despite 3’s multiplayer still standing strong, despite the fact that barely anything has changed apart from a few tweaks, Battlefield 4’s multiplayer deserves your time and money. Too many changes, even innovative ones, could upset the Battlefield that players know and love. It feels the same. The same, but new. Those first steps onto unfamiliar maps soon become confident sprints to the vehicle spawns, objective markers, and best sniping spots. And these maps are Battlefield huge, of course, good-looking, and contain a few new tactical options like shutters and bollards that raise or lower with a button press.
You’ve got your Assault, Engineer, Support, and Recon classes as usual and will play in a five-person squad. Medkits are now pickups and you’ll need to aim your throws so they hit close enough to your teammates. You can throw as many as you like out but can only have two on the ground at once. Spotting is now done by hitting RB but holding it down brings up a list of callouts you can use if you’re not speaking, but it’s likely no one’s gonna listen to your request for a lift when they’re speeding down a dirt road on a quadbike. You’ll need friends, communication, and a focused head to get the most out of this game.
There are tons of weapons to unlock, attachments and upgrades, ribbons to earn and stats to compare with your friends on Battlelog. There’s Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch and their variants. Drive tanks, fly jets, and ride jet-skis. Play aggressively, defensively, or stealthily, and paint your guns all the pretty colours of the rainbow. You’ll run, shoot, throw C4 at tanks, and possibly get flattened by a crashing helicopter. There’s an absolute blast to be had here for veterans and newcomers if playing soldiers is your thing.