Battlefield 4 – Review - XboxOne

Here we go again. Another drab, by-the-book military shooter. Honestly, the world must be tired with this rinse-and-repeat formula that developers use these days. Is anyone stepping up to change how games are played? Perhaps lower down the echelons they are, but up at the top with the likes of Call of Duty the train has been stuck at the same station for some time.

Battlefield 4 is one such game; it revisits the same old generic conventions in its incredibly boring and formulaic single player mode that is probably best avoided unless… unless… actually, I can’t come up with a reason why you should participate in this joke of a mode. The good chaps at DICE have never managed to pull off a great campaign in a Battlefield game, at least not in this writer’s experience, so I wasn’t expecting too much greatness when I first booted it up. Predictably, my low expectations were met with flying colours. Ooh rah!

There’s a tired old plot about China trying to take on the world, or something like that anyway. I wasn’t really paying attention; it only earned a playthrough because I felt like I had to from a reviewing standpoint. Everything that transpires is exactly as you’d imagine; shallow, unimaginative and just a bit dull.

Action-heavy set pieces run amok, but you only ever witness them once the game has relieved you of control. Maybe it’ll be generous once in a while and give you a few QTEs to try out during a particularly dramatic segment. Other than that it’s a corridor shooter with cardboard characters and predictable plot that tries so hard to give you moral decisions, but they feel tacked on – as if they were included simply because they’re the ‘in’ thing at the moment.

Pish of the highest order. This is a Battlefield game. We don’t need a single player mode, we just want to get online and experience warfare with our mates. And in quite possibly my worst ever review segue, the multiplayer section of this game is definitely where you should be spending most, if not all, of your time. Forget that squalid piece of storytelling; Battlefield 4 excels in the department that the series has always been known for. Thank God. There’s so much to talk about so in the effort of saving time I’ll try my best to squeeze it all into one manageable fanboy dribble fest.

The biggest change facing console gamers is the improved player count. Gone are the days of 24 soldiers fighting it out, we’re in 64 player territory now. And it’s made everything bigger, louder and more explosive than ever before. It’s like an actual Battlefield. Every match you enter will be incredibly dramatic, but despite this the shiny new framerate (60fps, oh yeah!) never falters. The sound may cut out every once in a while (as it did in Battlefield 3) but your gameplay will never be interrupted. This is slick warfare of the highest calibre.

Every sound is deafening and remarkably realistic, so too are the visuals which, though not being class-leading by any stretch, are the best the series has ever seen. Thank you, next-gen!

DICE didn’t really need to shake things up too wildly. Battlefield 3’s online suite was great as it was, but refinements such as making climbing up ladders and leaping over walls much more seamless are welcome additions. As are the new ‘levolution’ game changers – seriously enormous player-triggered set pieces that cause a huge change in the map. Mostly. Some are a little dull and don’t do too much, but others like the tower collapse on the Siege of Shanghai map force you to tackle the match in new ways. This is one feature that will hopefully be increased and improved exponentially as the series progresses. Who knows what players will be capable of doing in a few years?

It’s a shame that partying up with your mates has been made so infuriatingly difficult, which is one thing Battlefield 3 managed perfectly. They clearly ignored the ‘if it ain’t broke…’ motif and replaced the system with… nothing? I’ll get back to you on that, but at the time of writing I have failed to join up with my buddies almost all of the time. And even when I did I was usually put on the opposing team. Step it up, DICE! And why the hell did you remove the ‘press select to view the scoreboard’ option? Huh? I know the buttons on the controller have changed but even so…

Minor quibbles aside, this is an online experience you won’t want to miss. It’s fun, dramatic and totally massive in scale. There’s every chance you’ll beat Michael Bay for explosions every time you load up match, and that’s saying something. Make sure you spend all your time here and don’t waste your precious hours fighting the Chinese offline. It sucks.

You’ll find plenty of value in the multiplayer, and it’ll doubtlessly tide you over until the release of Titanfall next year. Stay frosty…

Words by Matt Gammond