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Battlefield 4: The first week

Experience has taught us that nearly every DICE game released over the past decade is crippled at launch by trivial as well as serious issues. Battlefield 4 is no different. Launched last Friday, Battlefield 4 has turned out to be one of the most, if not the most broken PC launches in recent times. Every issue you could think of has cropped up for PC users across the board.

Now, I know with a game of this magnitude, issues are to be expected, but Battlefield 4 isn’t a free-to-play game. It’s something most of us have paid Rs 3,499 for, which by Indian standards is the price of roughly three PC games. So excuse me if I sound pissed off when I can’t play the game.

I wouldn’t have felt half as bad if Battlefield 4 had a decent single-player campaign I could bide my time with, but alas, that isn’t the case here. The campaign in Battlefield 4 is just awful and there’s no nice way of saying that. Not only is it utterly nonsensical and boring, but it suffers from a bunch of jarring bugs and glitches as well. Allow me to elaborate.

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A clichéd plot is fine as long as it can be backed by enjoyable gameplay and decent voice acting. This game has neither.

In Battlefield 4, you step into the boots of Tombstone squad, an elite group of special operatives who are ushered from one location to another in order to prevent a Chinese dictator from unleashing war upon the United States of America. A clichéd plot is fine as long as it can be backed by enjoyable gameplay and decent voice acting. This game has neither. Voice acting in Battlefield 4 is probably the single-player campaign’s worst offender. It’s ham fisted, over-the-top (in a bad way), and feels extremely forced most of the time.

Friendly as well as enemy AI is utterly devoid of any form of awareness. Most of the time, enemy soldiers will run into a position and just sit there, waiting for you to take them out. Other times, they’ll lob a hundred grenades super accurately at your feet, and then sit in one place waiting for you to take them out. Your squad exists in the same realm of stupidity, as they’ll run around aimlessly barking orders, not doing a damn thing, while you kill everyone in a level. If that doesn’t sound boring enough, be prepared to reload your last checkpoint multiple times as key events fail to trigger, forbidding you from progressing through the campaign.

Gameplay in Battlefield 4’s campaign is as generic as it gets in a military shooter, devoid of any form of tension, immersion or entertainment. The only reason I slogged through the campaign was to unlock some of the weapons I could use in multiplayer, and because the game looks freaking gorgeous. Visually, I’d say Battlefield 4 is one of the best looking first-person games out there right now. You’ll be hard pressed to find something that looks or sounds better than this game.

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Your game will crash either every ten minutes, or every half an hour, depending on your faith in God.

After the campaign, it’s straight into multiplayer since this game has no co-operative play like Battlefield 3. Sadly, that’s where all the serious issues crop up. No matter which operating system or card you run, you’ll most likely run into micro-stuttering or unplayable stuttering, depending on your luck. Your game will crash either every ten minutes, or every half an hour, depending on your faith in God. Your statistics will get wiped out, and you’ll have to work towards those unlocks all over again. You’ll lose sound in certain maps, and that sound looping will invariably cause your game to crash.

But you know what, when all the stars align, and you can play the game for more than ten minutes at a time, it’s a whole lot of fun. There’s no denying that fact. DICE has tightened up infantry gameplay, and significantly reduced weapon recoil, making Battlefield 4 feel more fast-paced than previous iterations. That thought may not resonate well with Battlefield veterans, but then again, Battlefield never was a simulator like Arma.

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You’ll be playing Battlefield 4 for fast-paced, large-scale urban warfare with crazy Battlefield moments. DICE delivers these in spades.

You’ll be playing Battlefield 4 for fast-paced, large-scale urban warfare with crazy moments (Battlefield moments) like shooting down a chopper while parachuting down from a crumbling skyscraper. DICE delivers these moments in spades, and now, thanks to their new Levolution mechanic, destruction and chaos are taken to the next level.

Levolution events basically mean massive calamities that occur during a level, which in turn change the way you play and navigate through that level. For example, in a map called Flood Zone, once a dam gets destroyed, water floods the entire level, forcing players to quickly adapt to naval warfare or get vertical on the dry rooftops above. This definitely adds a whole new way to play Battlefield, and gimmicky name aside, Levolution is definitely a welcome addition.

There’s a lot more to touch upon in multiplayer, but sadly, the game’s issues have prevented us from sinking some solid time into it. We will be reviewing the game as and when all the issues are ironed out, as it wouldn’t feel right to review this game in its current form.

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All in all, a satisfactory launch experience for BF4’s multiplayer experience, at least on the PC.

Second opinion – Vikram Subramaniam

Batllefield 4 on the PC is the full-fat, superlative version of this cross platform title, boasting 64-player matches, a much improved and refined Battlelog, and maxed out visuals. Despite the various complaints of crashes and bugs on other platforms, I have yet to experience a single crash while playing this game on the PC. Battlelog is quick to refresh game lists and joining a game is a much faster experience than in Battlefield 3.

Given my location in the Middle East, lag used to be a constant companion in Battlefield 3. Much to my surprise, lag is far less of a problem in Battlefield 4 and I’ve even had the long absent privilege of playing the occasional game with sub 100ms ping. There are rare issues, mostly pertaining to inconsistent lag and background sound dropping off intermittently, but all in all, a satisfactory launch experience for BF4’s multiplayer experience, at least on the PC.

PS3 impressions – Rishi Alwani

Battlefield 4’s multiplayer on the PS3 is a strange beast. On one hand, the visuals are a definite downgrade from the single-player campaign and textures load well into the first ten to fifteen seconds of getting into a game. But after that, it’s smooth sailing. Or at least as smooth as it can be in the launch week of one of the year’s most anticipated online shooters. It crashed on me a couple of times and there is a fair bit of framing as well in busier situations. There’s nothing that a patch or two can’t fix, or so I hope.

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If eye candy is your barometer for Battlefield 4 multiplayer, then you might want to give the PS3 version a miss.

Getting into a game is equally perplexing. The quick match mode is godly and I found myself from the menu screen into being knee-deep in rubble in under a minute. Yes, even on my paltry 1 Mbps connection. Browse the servers, however, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a game, any game. Quite odd. In terms of game modes, I found Team Death Match and the series staple Conquest the best of the bunch. If eye candy is your barometer for Battlefield 4 multiplayer, then you might want to give the PS3 version a miss or wait for it on the PS4 or play it on the PC. That aside, there shouldn’t be anything to keep you away from it, once it’s patched up nice and proper, of course.

The above article includes contributions from multiple writers from the IVG editorial team.

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