It's odd that that EA DICE choose to tease Battlefield games with singleplayer footage. Then again, Battlefield has become EA's answer to Call of Duty, and they'll want to try and match the competition feature-for-feature. For veteran Battlefield fans the campaign is pretty much a tech demo for multiplayer. Whatever DICE show at E3 2013, we’ll be combing it for little features and innovations that can update the multiplayer experience, and set this sequel apart from Battlefield 3.
Two years seems like a swift turnaround for a series that's sells itself on its ambitiously large, detailed battle scenes, but there's much to be improved upon, as resident clan leader John Strike indicated in What We Want from Battlefield 4. Spawn protection, lag compensation and a consistent plan for regular patches rather than the huge change-all updates are a few small but significant steps, but what we're really looking for is a glimmer of something new, something that can leverage that powerful engine and produce something allows us to say "Battlefield 3 couldn't do that."
The series is quite well positioned, thanks to the varied Battlefield 3 expansions, as as a platform capable of supporting lots of different flavours of shooter. DICE's current technology lead over its competitors can easily erode with time, but the flexibility they've shown over the past two years is a precious asset. Battlefield 4 could become a catch-all sim that does close-range 15 minute team deathmatch scraps as well as it does 64-player territory wars.
The worry is that this will erode those elements that make Battlefield special, the scale, battlefields that encourage a wealth of anecdotes, the comedy that comes out of all that chaos.
Luckily, DICE seem to be drawing from the past. At the EA conference, they revealed what every Battlefield player wants to see: the multiplayer. The focus was on the return of Commander mode, with barked orders and tactical artillery suggesting a strategic focus that's been missing from the series' recent history.
Not that the old dog doesn't have some new tricks. As they walked us through an impressively vertical level, DICE finished on a Frostbite 3 powered showstopper. Now giant skyscrapers can fall over in multiplayer, too. Battlefield 3 definitely couldn't do that.
Also: sinking ships confirmed!
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