Battlefield 4 Hands On Preview: Incremental Upgrades

Battlefield 4 Hands On Preview: Incremental Upgrades

battlefield 4 next gen upgrade

Fans of the series will appreciate the incremental upgrades, but don't go expecting anything groundbreaking.

The "main" series of Battlefield games have always brought big, sweeping changes with them. From Battlefield 1942 to Battlefield 2 to Battlefield 3, each game felt substantially different from the title it followed. Battlefield 4 on the other hand, feels way too similar to Battlefield 3. Fans of the series will appreciate the incremental upgrades it brings to the table, but I couldn't shake this feeling that it felt more like a Battlefield 3 expansion pack than a whole new game.

EA went all out with its Tokyo Game Show demo of the game, going so far as to actually set up 36 PS4 units, so players could try out a full 16 v 16 player round. I played the new "obliteration" game mode, which is an odd mix of capture-the-flag and domination, and a round lasted about 20 minutes.

This may be because of how used to the PC controls I am, but Battlefield 4 just felt wrong on the PS4 controller. Unlike Titanfall, which felt very natural on the Xbox One controller, with BF4 i felt like I was constantly fighting it. In particular, mapping all of your weapons to the D-pad felt awkward, and having crouch and prone as the same button quickly got annoying.

It may sound like i'm heaping a lot of negativity on this game, but I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Hardcore Battlefield fans will appreciate a lot of the "quality of life" changes introduced in BF4. Vehicles feel a lot smoother - helicopters in particular are a lot easier to control - and the map overview screen has vastly improved. In BF3, it's sometimes difficult to tell where your squadmates are when choosing to spawn on them, but in BF4 it is immediately made obvious.

Classes have been streamlined even further, and each class has a whole suite of new weapons and gadgets to play with. I particularly liked that you could customize both slots of the gadget loadout, IE: as an engineer, you can choose to have a repair torch and mines, whereas previously choosing mines would lock you out of the repair torch.

But probably the biggest change to the game comes from the actual engine. Battlefield 3 already looked pretty nice but BF4 is beautiful. I got to see "leveloution" in action by bringing down a full skyscraper in the Shanghai map we were playing on. The water effects are just gorgeous - waves sweep across the shores and the water reacts to objects that enter it.

The bottom line is, if you still play Battlefield 3 every day and are hungry for more, you're going to thoroughly enjoy BF4, but if you played BF3 rather casually and are expecting as big of an upgrade as the jump from BF2 to BF3, you won't see it here.

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Steven Bogos:

But probably the biggest change to the game comes from the actual engine. Battlefield 3 already looked pretty nice but BF4 is beautiful. I got to see "leveloution" in action by bringing down a full skyscraper in the Hong Kong map we were playing on.

Did the author of this article just mistake the Siege of Shanghai map with a map set in Hong Kong?

Because if he didn't, I'll be squealing in joy.

Ldude893:

Steven Bogos:

But probably the biggest change to the game comes from the actual engine. Battlefield 3 already looked pretty nice but BF4 is beautiful. I got to see "leveloution" in action by bringing down a full skyscraper in the Hong Kong map we were playing on.

Did the author of this article just mistake the Siege of Shanghai map with a map set in Hong Kong?

Because if he didn't, I'll be squealing in joy.

Sorry to let your hopes down, but I did make a mistake! I would say Shanghai and Hong Kong are more or less the same thing, but I have plenty of friends from Hong Kong who would jump down my throat if i did :P

Steven Bogos:

Sorry to let your hopes down, but I did make a mistake! I would say Shanghai and Hong Kong are more or less the same thing, but I have plenty of friends from Hong Kong who would jump down my throat if i did :P

Not a problem; mistakes happen. I'm keeping an eye for this game and might buy it if EA makes it just attractive enough.

Necessity is the mother of all change, don't fix what isn't broke, make improvements where improvements are needed, etc. When I ask those BF3.5 people "what would make it BF4 for you?" they are hard-pressed to give a definitive answer besides "just change stuff moar, moar change!".

As a long-time BF3 player I can truly appreciate the scope and impact of all the little changes that will be coming together to form BF4. There's simply no goddamn way DICE could've pulled off the staggeringly huge list of "incremental changes" in BF4 off as BF3 DLC. Simply no way.

Just some of the stuff coming in based on bits of info we've gathered so far:
> Naval combat, fully customizable attack boats with massive offensive capabilities
> Spectator mode/camera
> Integrated Battlelog
> Squad VOIP
> 5-man squads, revamped squad perk system (field upgrades)
> 3rd faction (China)
> Revamped gun mechanics and handling (suppression completely changed)
> Levolution, overall destruction ramped-up closer to Bad Company 2 levels
> Commander mode
> New maps n' modes
> Number of attachments available for each weapon quite literally doubled if not more, huge number of camos
> Huge list of new vehicle models coming in, more vehicle classes, far more vehicle customization
> All kits re-balanced with new capabilities (especially Recon), weapon classes broadened and made more available to all > kits
> Small leaps forward with the engine, vastly more dynamic weather changes, better lighting, water/sea mechanics greatly enhanced

Yuuki:
Necessity is the mother of all change, don't fix what isn't broke, make improvements where improvements are needed, etc. When I ask those BF3.5 people "what would make it BF4 for you?" they are hard-pressed to give a definitive answer besides "just change stuff moar, moar change!".

As a long-time BF3 player I can truly appreciate the scope and impact of all the little changes that will be coming together to form BF4. There's simply no goddamn way DICE could've pulled off the staggeringly huge list of "incremental changes" in BF4 off as BF3 DLC. Simply no way.

Just some of the stuff coming in based on bits of info we've gathered so far:
> Naval combat, fully customizable attack boats with massive offensive capabilities
> Spectator mode/camera
> Integrated Battlelog
> Squad VOIP
> 5-man squads, revamped squad perk system (field upgrades)
> 3rd faction (China)
> Revamped gun mechanics and handling (suppression completely changed)
> Levolution, overall destruction ramped-up closer to Bad Company 2 levels
> Commander mode
> Number of attachments available for each weapon quite literally doubled if not more
> Huge list of new vehicle models coming in, more vehicle classes
> All kits re-balanced with new capabilities (especially Recon), weapon classes broadened and made more available to all > kits
> Small leaps forward with the engine, vastly more dynamic weather changes, better lighting, water/sea mechanics greatly enhanced

I understand and I agree with you. I'm an avid BF fan and this is a day one purchase for me, mostly because of the reasons you listed.

However, it doesn't change the fact that the game still feels too similar. Like I said, if you go back and play BF2 you'll noticed an absolutely massive difference between that and BF3. To a casual observer who doesn't really know about the changes you listed, it will look and feel almost identical to BF3.

Steven Bogos:
To a casual observer who doesn't really know about the changes you listed, it will look and feel almost identical to BF3.

As a casual observer (played like 20 hours of BF3 & BF2 and none of the others) I disagree, saw and understood all those changes watching a couple of gameplay vids. That said I can see the point you are trying to make.

Guess it's time to start building a new PC to be able to get all that eye candy.

Steven Bogos:

I understand and I agree with you. I'm an avid BF fan and this is a day one purchase for me, mostly because of the reasons you listed.

However, it doesn't change the fact that the game still feels too similar. Like I said, if you go back and play BF2 you'll noticed an absolutely massive difference between that and BF3. To a casual observer who doesn't really know about the changes you listed, it will look and feel almost identical to BF3.

I agree, as someone who got BF3 on day one but plays it casually I don't see any difference, and small adjustments don't constitute a new game to me. I may get it when its in the $10-20 basket, but it's defiantly not day 1 for me.

As for the question of what would be good, well a new setting, units etc? Battlefield 2143 for example would be good, or even one set in modern times but a different war, say China vs Japan? I don't know, but less of the same old thing and more "here's a different game", it doesn't have to be graphically better (heck BF4 looks like its spent all its time wasted on silly graphical upgrades rather than a new game).

Personally, I'm cracking up about it only bringing incremental changes, as that is exactly what so many BF fanboys criticize CoD for doing.

To be fair to Battlefield 4, though, it did take them six years to release BF3 after BF2, and there were a few iterations of the series in between, most notably Bad Company 2, that they had inspiration to draw from. Personally, I found the leap between BF2 and BF3 to be less impressive when you consider that most of BF3 was a matter of merging the main series with the Bad Company series while adding very little new to the franchise as a whole.

Still, reading that the classes have been streamlined even more sort of kills me inside. One thing I loved about the older games is that the classes weren't that streamlined, and it encouraged much more teamwork as a result. Streamlined classes generally, from my experience, just make it easier to lone wolf. Still, it isn't a deal breaker for me. Hopefully the rest of the game has enough to make up for any streamlining that occurred.

I'm still hoping for improved hit detection, BF3's is iffy at its best. Five person squads, squad VOIP, and the return of the Commander was enough for me to preorder. Hopefully the maps are designed for PS4 and Xbone so they don't suck on PC. Sounds like the maps might actually be more tactically dynamic with capture points granting commander abilities. I myself am looking forward to dramatic improvements in gameplay, I don't care if it looks the same.

octafish:
I'm still hoping for improved hit detection, BF3's is iffy at its best. Five person squads, squad VOIP, and the return of the Commander was enough for me to preorder. Hopefully the maps are designed for PS4 and Xbone so they don't suck on PC. Sounds like the maps might actually be more tactically dynamic with capture points granting commander abilities. I myself am looking forward to dramatic improvements in gameplay, I don't care if it looks the same.

I've heard they're putting a lot of effort into cleaning up the netcode. The only way we'll know for sure if they have managed to make progress on that is when the beta hits, though.

All my gripes with BF3 were relatively minor, but the number of them stacked and made the experience frustrating at times. Could chalk this down to a new engine and all, but I'm hoping they iron out a lot of that. Either way, I'm really looking forward to BF4 (even though I wasn't at first), and it's kinda shaping up to be the game that BF3 fell a little short of.

My biggest gripe about BF3 was that the maps didn't feel designed for 64 players. Apart from Wake Island, Strike at Karkand, and Sharqi Peninsula, every map felt narrow and broken up into 3 main areas. And they even found ways to make 2 of the maps I just mentioned by 1-2 flags smaller. Even Gulf of Oman in comparison to BF2 is insulting. I'm going to sound like a PC elitest, but BF3's maps feel hindered by condensing them for Consoles 24 player cap. Yeah, I said it. Prove me wrong.

Now since the PS4/X1/PC releases are all going to be the same, we shouldn't have that problem. I fully expect BF4 to be what BF3 SHOULD'VE BEEN.

Sadly if this game is anything like BF3, I'm not getting it. Got BF3 as a day one purchase, loving the Battlefield series, and I can't think of anything I really liked about the game outside of graphics.
The maps, outside of a few of the older BF2 classic maps, were terrible. Utterly crap. The maps consisted of a small area with buildings, a massive, empty, completely open area, then another small area with buildings, then the same big, massive, empty completely open area - that's just how big it was - and repeat that between 3 and 5 times and you were done. Oh, well, I guess there was Metro too - which was a Tunnel, then an area with a few buildings. Yeah, tonnes better -.-
Destruction was gimped as all hell, first because they'd made it exploitable in the beta where you could dig under the map and snipe everyone from there, and then after the destructibility patch it was still gimped, assumedly due to consoles not being able to handle buildings falling apart properly.
Most classes didn't really feel that distinct. The sniper did, and the Support somewhat, but Engineer and Assault were basically the same class, but one had a medpack and one had a welder. Get one set of weapons on a support and it was basically the same, but with a ammo kit, and another set and it was close to a sniper with an ammo kit - the difference being its gun was rapid fire 4 hit kills, rather than slow fire 2 hit kills. Some more class diversity would have been nice, making it so Engineer wasn't the go-to class if you didn't care about resurrecting dead squadmates [Seeing as it had excellent anti-personnel, anti-tank and anti-air weapons, whilst every other class was basically anti-personnel with a little bit of anti tank on the side if you were lucky].
Vehicles were... Broken. OP as hell, and if you hadn't been levelling some of them since the start of the game, you were screwed. Flares being the major example on aircraft, but tanks were broken once they got the proximity scan and reactive armour too. Support able to C4 a tank? Lolnope, saw you coming and ran you down instantly [3rd person view was amazing for this if you didn't have proximity scanner]. Hiding in the bushes to ambush a tank with RPGs? Nope, it knows you're there. You hit it? No damage, reactive armour saved it. Yeah, seems legit.

Balance vehicles, fix the maps, and make the classes more unique and defined, and then I might be interested. Would like more changes to make it more like BF2 as well, but those are the major ones.
Also, ammo packs don't restock grenades. Make that happen. Please.

Hope its more open and epic like BF2.
Still, I am waiting for a complete Battlefield experience, I want the European Union as a faction :P !

Steven Bogos:
helicopters in particular are a lot easier to control

Ok, this has be worried. They weren't difficult to use in BF3, just took a bit of practice, what do they mean by making it easier to control? Does it fly like a UFO now? What has been changed in comparison to to the flight mechanics of BF3?

still enjoy BF3 but i wait until a premium version is out as they did with Bf3. not worth my money if i have to pay again 50$ for premium when i can pay later on the same price for the premium version of the game that has the whole lot. thats why i canceled my pre order.

no dog companion = no sale.

good day to you, EA!

Steven Bogos:

The bottom line is, if you still play Battlefield 3 every day and are hungry for more, you're going to thoroughly enjoy BF4, but if you played BF3 rather casually and are expecting as big of an upgrade as the jump from BF2 to BF3, you won't see it here.

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So... If you played a little BF3 and then went back to BF2 then skip this one?

Skops:
Now since the PS4/X1/PC releases are all going to be the same, we shouldn't have that problem. I fully expect BF4 to be what BF3 SHOULD'VE BEEN.

I have to agree with you there. Finding that the last two points on Karkhand and all the water/bridges/terrain were gone from Oman was slightly horrifying, like meeting an old friend and finding he's chopped his fingers off at some point. Sharki has a load of little things missing too, but it's not as bad as Karkhand.

It's pretty safe to say that going to the consoles shoved Battlefield's scale and gameplay backwards and that it's taken it's sweet time closing the gap back up. BF3 was promising, but when the old maps came out it became impossible to ignore how they'd cheated to get the scale back (like making small maps with the spawns being miles from anything), Armoured Kill improved things slightly, but compared to some of the BF2 maps (like say, Kubra Dam or Dragon Valley) the maps are very empty and flat.

Maybe BF4 will finally come out as the 'proper' successor to 2/2142. Regardless, BF2 still has plenty of players, for all it's unforgiving quirks it's still my favourite.

It is not exactly unprecedented. Despite the '4' in the title, it still seems to be in the same 'generation' as BF3. Despite changes in Setting, Vietnam wasn't all that different from 1942, 2142 wasn't a huge jump from BF2(but that didn't stop it from becoming my favorite PC BF game), BC2 wasn't a big jump from BC1.

That said everything I have seen an heard about BF4 really seems to make it more of a grab bag of previous BF games. Naval Combat, Commander, the class setup, etc. I played a lot of BF3 and BF4 seems to have addressed a lot the issues I had with 3. We will have to see how it all pans out though.

The issue with the modern shooter genre is largely due to the nature of the setting itself. There isn't a whole lot someone can do to make weapons interesting to use after a certain point: Especially when the weapons pretty much act the same and simply have different range and damage values. Adding vehicles was a solution for a few numbered entries since it threw in weapons that acted differently than just plain rifles and pistols, and then they threw up squad based gameplay to try and combat the sameness.

Now they are finally on the destructible terrain bus that Red Faction is famous for, only attempting to refine it so that it makes a bit more sense in the context of a military shooter. Why no one can make a shooter that takes itself seriously, yet can still throw in interesting weapons, is just beyond me. Dead Space is the most recent that I can think of, and that was more of a horror / over the shoulder game with shooter elements... at least before DS3.

I thought on the next gen consoles (ps4 and xbox one), you are able to have 64 players in multiplayer? Does the Obliteration game mode limit the player cap to 16 v 16?

How are classes being streamlined a good thing again? How is that an "incremental upgrade?" If anything, it seems like a downgrade.

Even easier to control helicopters? Not necessary at all.

 

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