I’ve had DICE’s Battlefield 4 beta sitting in my Origin gamelist for a while now. This past weekend I got a notice letting me know that I could preload the game in order to play the beta on October 1st. Naturally, I was ready on beta release day. Launching the game brings up a reworked Battlefield 4 Battlelog webpage. As a fresh player for BF4 there’s not a whole lot to set up weapon-wise so there’s no dawdling to be had as you get ready to fire up the game.
There are only two game modes in the beta right now: “Domination” and “Conquest”. There’s only one game map available. I’m a fan of Conquest mode so I pick a server running it and was immediately greeted with a retooled user interface. It’s now easier to select kits and loadouts with the new BF4 interface. A friends menu is now available at the top of the screen that lets a player access an in-game friends list. The most immediate change I noticed is the minimap displayed before you deploy. It’s now easier to select where to spawn, and you now get to see a squadmate’s camera view when selecting them. This is super handy as before you could select a squadmate only to deploy beside them in the middle of a firefight where you’d die instantly. You can now see what’s happening and make sure the coast is clear before jumping in. Ammo and health kits act differently now, instead of dropping a box on the ground for everyone in the area to benefit from you have to drop a kit for each person who wants something. Items are consumed once someone walks over it. I understand the change as it gives a medic and assault player more of an active role with dropped items rather than just plopping down a box, running off, and getting loads of points for it.
The game feels mostly the same as its predecessor. BF4 plays like an updated version of Battlefield 3, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. DICE has updated user interfaces, improved graphics, and added a system that tries to autobalance teams so you can actually play with your squadmates when launching. What has changed dramatically is the sense of vertical scale. Siege of Shanghai is the BF4 promotional map at the moment and it’s easy to see why, there’s a feeling of actually being in a real city while playing it. You feel dwarfed by the skyscrapers as helicopters fly in between buildings rather than over them. There’s a surreal moment that happens as your team is rushing to capture one of these skyscrapers. Running through a lobby you reach elevators and cram in, a teammate presses a button and upwards you go. That brief lull in the frenzy lets you stop and look at what’s really going on. There you are playing a game with 63 other players. In my experience, five of us are crammed into this elevator riding it to the top of a building impatiently waiting for the doors to open and hoping that the enemy isn’t waiting for us.
Sadly, in my experience, the building collapses as we get to the top and everyone is killed. We all got to the top of the building and it simply blew up. As I redeployed I was able to watch the aftermath as the building finished falling to the ground covering the area in a thick cloud of dust. Destructible buildings are not new for the Battlefield series, however, they have never been more than two stories high. I remember the sense of awe I had when I first played Battlefield 3 as I looked out across the Caspian Border map and saw how expansive it was with fields of green grass and hills as far as I could see. Caspian Border had so much room for activities. Siege of Shanghai gave me that same sense again but this time I was caught looking up at the sky.
Battlefield 4 is set to release on October 29th, 2013 on the Origin gaming platform.