Battlefield 4 Review

The Good
Obliteration mode sets an exciting new pace
Great maps set the stage beautifully
Tons of ways to make an impact
Destruction is empowering
The Bad
Campaign doesn't embrace series strengths
There's something evergreen about Battlefield's brand of online warfare. The combination of breakneck infantry fighting and explosive vehicular warfare breeds conflicts that are exciting, tense, and, perhaps most importantly, diverse. With weapons, gadgets, and upgrades tailored to create a wealth of combat roles, it can often seem like there's no end to the gratifying ways you can contribute to the war effort. This variety has enticed players into Battlefield games for years, and in Battlefield 4, it's alive and well. The online multiplayer is an absolute blast.

But Battlefield is about more than just multiplayer these days, and the single-player campaign in BF4 also has some exciting moments. These are sequences that channel the freedom and variety of multiplayer; the levels spent mostly in corridors and in close-quarters combat are more frequent, however, and not nearly as enjoyable. The characters that drive the story show flashes of appealing personality, but these are drowned out by cliche relationships and boilerplate dialogue. Though BF4 outdoes its predecessor, the series has a long way to go before the campaign is more than a sideshow diversion.

No landlubber is safe from my naval wrath!

Fortunately, the online stage is expertly set for some exhilarating moments. One of the best new things about BF4 is Obliteration mode, in which two teams fight to gain control of a bomb and use it to blow up three enemy positions. Unlike returning standby Conquest mode, in which the battle ebbs and flows between a handful of set positions, Obliteration boasts conflict zones that can change in a flash with the timely use of land, air, and sea vehicles. Motorized transport has always been a pillar of combat in the Battlefield series, and Obliteration mode makes mobility more important than ever. (Thank goodness for the new test range that allows you to practice piloting every vehicle!) A skilled helicopter pilot can swoop in to pick up the bomb carrier and then zip off to an objective point, leaving enemy infantry in the dust. Escaping the chaos to grab a personal watercraft can turn the tide, but perhaps it's better to blow it up so your enemies don't grab it for themselves. Plotting your own dramatic maneuvers while defending against the enemies' is a lively challenge that takes on new urgency in Obliteration.

Matches without vehicles, however, have a different pace. Victory comes from solid squad support and sharp shooting. Battling for bomb possession in winding prison tunnels is a brutal close-quarters affair, and well-balanced matches run the risk of devolving into lengthy scrums in which neither team can make headway. Keeping your squad alive is crucial here, not just as mobile spawn points but also to preserve your field upgrades. These are new attribute bonuses that you gain through squad-related actions, bestowing you with resistance to suppressing fire or better flak protection, for example.

Being able to shoot a little straighter or survive a nearby grenade blast can make a difference in these fast-paced, infantry-heavy matches of Obliteration, as well as in small, speedy matches of Domination (small-scale Conquest) and Team Deathmatch. The other new mode also involves bomb-carrying, but because it has bite-size maps and no respawning, Defuse demands a more careful kind of infantry combat. Weapon choice and enemy detection are key in these short, fraught encounters, and while the heightened tension can result in some very satisfying wins, smaller arenas are not where Battlefield 4 is at its best.

The standout action comes in large-scale conflicts that take advantage of the 10 large, well-designed maps. Richer color saturation makes them a pleasure to look at, from the lush alpine fields surrounding a massive satellite dish to the sparkling neon lights of a coastal city. Buildings frequently have stairs or elevators that allow access to upper stories, giving snipers long sight lines and providing parachutists with jumping-off points to better traverse the map. This increased verticality adds some strategic options, but the bigger change is the greater prevalence of water. Marine combat is a much bigger factor in Battlefield 4, whether you're zipping down the narrow canals of a seaside resort while your passenger mows down infantry or patrolling the lanes of a small archipelago and shooting helicopters out of the sky with a fully crewed attack boat.

Naval dominance can help you control a match, but water-based mobility is another huge consideration, as anyone who has trudged across a large empty field instead of hitching a ride knows. Swimming leaves you vulnerable, though you can at least pull out your sidearm, so it's best to secure transport when you can. This much is obvious when fighting in a stormy island chain, but until someone blows the levee on the slightly waterlogged urban map, you can do just fine scurrying around on foot. When the water does rush in, the whole place gets submerged beneath ten feet of water and things change significantly. If you don't stick to the rooftops or hop in one of the newly spawned boats, you're in trouble.

This deluge is the most drastic of the marquee environmental events that you can trigger on each map. Some of these occurrences bring significant change, like the destruction of a skyscraper, while others are more subtle, like closing jail doors to shut off a hallway or raising bollards to block a road. These special events are complemented by the wide range of destructible structures and deformable terrain. Blown-out walls and collapsed buildings have a hard time hiding enemies, and roads pitted by bomb craters are more difficult to navigate smoothly. Destructibility has been amped up from Battlefield 3, and being able to blast your way through certain obstructions is a liberating and empowering experience.

In most cases, you must supply the ordnance to take advantage of this destructibility (some maps have large triggered bombs that do the job on their own). Among the weapons and gadgets for each class are a number of explosive options tailored to take down threats on land, at sea, and in the sky. There are also items that support your allies in a variety of ways, from keeping them alive to alerting them to nearby enemies. Thanks to some loadout shuffling and the presence of weapon classes that unlock for every soldier type, there are more ways than ever to customize the four basic archetypes to fill a multitude of combat roles. Of particular note is the new ability to zero your scope, a trick that lets you quickly set the distance at which your bullet will hit the center of your sight, providing a valuable aid for long-range sniping.

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

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