Battlefield 4 has the distinction of being one of the best-looking games out there, next-gen or otherwise. Without question, it’s simply gorgeous. If you’re looking to put your brand new PlayStation 4 or Xbox One through its paces, this is what you’ll pull out, especially this early in the console cycle. Barring the superior PC version, this is the best the game looks on a home console. But looks aren’t everything, of course. You’ve got to have a reason to stay glued to the screen so you can appreciate the graphics, right? Battlefield 4 delivers, in both terms of content and aesthetics.
Unfortunately, that’s about all I could say for it in all honesty. It bored me to tears at times, but it looked fantastic. Is that what we want to say about next-gen games? This is quite worrisome.
If you’re looking for a multiplayer experience to rival that of Call of Duty’s (the other heavy hitter in this class) Battlefield 4 is of course a great choice. But if you’re looking for a campaign that hits all the high notes and allows for an interesting interactive experience that truly feels as though it’s covering next-gen territory, you’re going to look elsewhere. All the set pieces are in place for it to be great: an oldie at the beginning of the game, soldiers in peril, limb amputation, and other wartime gems that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Having completed the campaign, I’m fuzzy as to what exactly did happen since it was a mishmash of glamorous explosions, cursing, and Adult Action Sequences, but my squad sure did find themselves in plenty of life or death situations. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anything they did. I admired the crashing waves or how realistic that guy looked when he fell off a cliff. And just like that, in a matter of hours, the campaign was complete. I’m not sure who I killed or why I was killing them. It felt very much like going through the motions, like I’ve been training to become completely indifferent to the action unfolding on-screen. And that’s where you know you have a problem.
Flitting right from the campaign and trampolining right into the multiplayer was perhaps the best thing I could have done, as that’s where Battlefield 4 truly comes alive. Once you get past the scripted events of the campaign and can delve into the multiplayer (or you just do that first because you’re that kind of gamer) you’ll find a game that was obviously built for the type of online warfare forum flamers live for. Battlefield 4’s multiplayer is heavily reliant on vehicular combat, and it is quite fun to hop into a tank or plane and zoom across the map, flying high above your teammates as you rain death on them from above or flatten them, as it were.
Game types are plentiful and varied. There’s no shortage of people to play with. Scoring points in each match is addictive and you’ll rapidly accumulate them – but despite the overt arcade feel to online matches, there’s a definite air of strategy within your online combatants. Sure, some of them just want to call you ugly and slur expletives into your ear, but there’s a definite difference from this crowd and the Call of Duty players. Rush is particularly exhilarating, and I took a lot of pleasure in the fact that there were plenty more options available to me to customize and make myself stand out from the crowd than simple loadouts or just different types of soldiers, like within Call of Duty.
But in the end, Battlefield 4 is just another typical war game. It puts the next-gen hardware through their paces excellently, and it’s a great game to pop in and show off if you want your friends and family to see how efficiently your new console can install content and how shiny guns can really be. Technically, mechanically, and objectively, it’s great. So why did I end up feeling so soulless after I played the campaign mode? We’ve run into an unfortunate issue of the next-gen era – hopefully this will not be the norm.