Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Call of the Battlefield... 4 - with Gameplay Vids

Battlefield - especially Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 - has become such a huge event-franchise, that some people - me included - have had a hard time lately remembering why we left Call of Duty in the first place. There's no denying that back in the days of Bad Company and Bad Company 2, Battlefield was a completely different animal.

From the charismatic and enjoyable single-player campaign (where Bad Company 1's many open sandbox levels clearly outshone BC2's more linear approach), to the almost legendary multiplayer maps (where it was the BC2 maps that undoubtedly had found the perfect balance between open, vehicle-dominated spaces, and tight, sub-urban infantry warfare). To this day, the amount of environmental destructibility in BC2 multiplayer, and all the different tactical approaches it offered, has never been matched. Oh, and did I mention that new maps came for free back then?

Thinking back to those days, it does seem weird, how Battlefield 3 could have turned out so horrible. As a good friend of mine once said, "It plays like CoD, but it looks like Shit!" Maps like Seine Crossing, Operation Metro or Grand Bazaar seemed taken straight out of Modern Warfare 3 - albeit with a less intricate map design and hugely inferior graphics. Battlefield Premium introduced a "Pay-for-Maps" approach - that I detest, but understand - and the beginnings of a class-divide between regular and premium players through early map access and exclusive servers . Funny thing in BF3, the much-maligned "Close Quarters"-Expansion was almost enough to balance the scales, as most BF veterans were scratching their heads as to why exactly they paid, in advance, for something nobody wanted: the most blithe and obvious attempt to lure Call of Duty Players onto another Battlefield.

Now, BF4 is here, and I'm afraid it's once more a lot more like BF3 than Bad Company 2. There are a few great, open maps, with destructible environments reminiscent of Arica Harbor, or Heavy Metal, but there`s also... well, it's called "Operation Locker", but it's really "Operation Metro" in some kind of high-up in the mountains detention facility. And playing it with 64 people on Conquest Large is just a sad, sad, joke. And the real "Operation Metro" will actually make an appearance as part of the (timed Xbox One Exclusive) Expansion "Second Assault", a map pack consisting of BF3 remakes, along with "Gulf of Oman", "Operation Firestorm" and "Caspian Border". Apparently, those were all "fan favorites" - but there is hope that the new "Levolution" and increased destructibility might bring some fresh air into those subway tunnels, but looking at the almost non-existent environmental destruction of "Operation Locker", hopes are not that high.

Why would DICE include these maps? Well, on one hand, of course, it's about preserving the player base from BF3, many of which hailed from Call of Duty and do expect tight-spaced, twitch-based infantry game-play. Then there's always the attempt to convert even more of the CoD crowd with small, simple, linear maps. Personally, I think their strategy is even bigger than that, as the only way to NOT have to suffer through the occasional CoD-like maps is to rent your own server and choose your own maps, as the official servers all have the same playlists. Basically, they make you hate something so much that you'll pay extra to get around it. It works, too. After only two matches on Operation Locker I was willing to pay anything (reasonable) to never have to play it again.

Sadly, those are not the only problems, as the game's launch has been plagued by an almost ridiculous amount of bugs, from constant crashes to one bullet doing twice the damage. And launching a game on five different platforms is only a partial excuse. At least DICE has now halted development on all their other titles and BF4 expansions until the bugs are gone. Which might take a while.

Still, it has its moments, and on the good maps, when it works it's fun. As such, I have included here some game play taken via the PS4's share function. The Clips don't look as good as the real thing - and I don't play as well as I'd like to - but it's a lot better than BF3. So don't judge. But you may laugh...

Also, I will keep adding more gameplay vids here, so visit back to laugh some more!

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