If I could use one word to describe “Battlefield 4,” it would be polarizing. It has a near perfect multiplayer component, but a horrible single-player one. The incredible visuals and fantastic audio can’t always be enjoyed due to a number of game-breaking bugs. My time with “Battlefield 4” ranged from pure joy and excitement to frustration and anger. Still, despite its problems, I enjoyed “Battlefield 4” a great deal, and look forward to sinking hundreds more hours into it.
The multiplayer game play in “Battlefield 4” is nothing less than incredible. It is well-designed and the game constantly reminds you of that. The user interface is easily one of the best I’ve ever seen. Small conveniences like a camera showing you what a team member is doing helps alleviate some of the frustrations that were always prevalent in past “Battlefield” titles, like spawning on a teammate in a firefight, only to be gunned down as soon as your digital boots hit the ground.
The maps in “Battlefield 4” are incredibly well designed. Each one feels distinctly different, but rather than making “Battlefield 4” feel disjointed or inconsistent, they serve to encompass different strategies and types of play.
Heavy chokepoints and intense firefights can be found in the “Operation Locker” map, which takes place in a mountain prison. The wide open plains of “Golmud Railway” are home to intense tank duels and a lot of vehicular combat. Those who control the sea in the island filled map “Paracel Storm” stand a good chance of winning the match. Every map has a distinct feel to how it plays.
In addition to this, every map in the game has an event tied to it that alters the way the map is played. These set pieces are known as “Levolution.” They provide some of the most cinematic and cool moments I’ve experienced in a multiplayer game. Storms that create massive waves and heavy rain cause a decrease in visibility. Skyscrapers fall to the ground. Dams break and flood the map. “Levolution” forces players to switch up their tactics and can help a losing team turn the tables.
Distinct maps and features like “Levolution” would be much less impressive if “Battlefield 4” wasn’t such a visual and aural tour de force. Environments range from lush jungles and islands to massive cities.
Water is especially amazing, with storms creating massive waves that throw water vehicles around like toys, and jet skis leaving a rippling wake when they speed by. Soldier animations are insanely detailed and really add to the immersion.
The audio design compliments the gorgeous visuals excellently. Guns sound powerful and dangerous and hearing a bullet whiz by overhead and embed into the concrete next to you with a thud makes you feel like you’re in an extremely deadly place. Unfortunately, having such a visually and aurally impressive game gives home to a lot of bugs. The sound cuts out on occasion, maps won’t load right and soldier animations sometimes screw up – often too hilarious but immersion breaking results. The game also crashes quite often on PC, which was rage inducing.
A part from bugs, “Battlefield 4” also suffers from an awful single-player campaign. The writing is weak, characters are boring and it’s so riddled with inconsistencies, it begins to look like Swiss cheese. At one point, a character goes from complete distrust and hatred of another character to total friendship and acceptance in the span of a few sentences. Another character’s entire existence seems to be built around his constant spewing of dramatic irony. The game tries so desperately to get you to care for these characters and their plight, but it consistently fails at every turn.
The single-player mode does have some impressive visuals not found in the multiplayer. Character’s faces are really detailed and expressive, which would have been even more incredible if the characters attached to them weren’t so boring.
“Battlefield 4” is one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve had. However, a plethora of bugs and an awful single-player campaign hold the title back from perfection. I give “Battlefield 4” a strong four out of five stars.