Battlefield 4 PC review
The sour exception to the well-designed map pool is Operation Locker, a flat, bottlenecky industrial bunker. If you enjoyed BF3’s Operation Métro you’ll love it, but it’s my belief that Battlefield doesn’t play well in compact spaces. Even with just 28 players, an Obliteration round on Locker that I played devolved into an embarrassing 40-minute meat-grinder. Small crowds would gather at meter-wide tunnels, with players blocking each other and dying in piles. Both teams were groaning in text chat up until the end.
BF4’s campaign is a better appetizer than BF3’s dismally generic offering, although it’s still a single-player-by-numbers execution. You’re a Marine, leading an elite team of tactical experts who all continually need your help to open heavy doors. Amid political strife in China, you’re sent to extract a VIP. When it goes predictably awry, it sparks an open conflict between the US and China.
It’s the same Americans-versus-communists plot pulled from Michael Bay’s diary that we’ve played plenty of in the past few years. The action is straightforward, never deviating from the whack-a-mole game of plunking down pop-up targets in the form of guards, punctuated by cutscenes and the occasional helicopter or tank kill. It’s bland, mildly exciting, and so tropey that it includes a level where you lead a prison breakout alongside a Russian inmate, as seen previously in Call of Duty: Black Ops. DICE does gets a good performance out of Michael K. Williams, who played Omar on The Wire.
On the technical side, it was frustrating that I couldn’t widen the campaign’s narrow FOV, which is inexplicably locked at around 70. I also found the inclusion of kill counters--points that tally to Battlelog for headshots and combos--in single-player to be strange, and even stranger that I couldn’t disable them despite there being a menu option (it only applied to multiplayer).
DICE is certainly guilty of taking an “if it ain’t broke” attitude to creating BF4, but its modest multiplayer refinements alongside excellent maps are enough to make it one of our favorite current FPSes. A cynic would call BF4 a deluxe map pack in sequel’s clothing. If that’s your predisposition, know that it’s at least a wonderful map pack, one with enough variety, depth, and quality to survive a year of intense play.
Note: In reviewing Battlefield 4, we played using the same version of Battlelog present in the final build. However, in order to publish our review at the time that it's most useful to you--at launch--we weren't able to test Battlelog in the context of high usage that is typical of a launch week. We didn't encounter any issues with Battlelog, but you may recall that the system wasn't perfect at launch for Battlefield 3. We consider it part of our role to suffer through launch issues so you don't have to, and we'll report on any significant issues with Battlelog at launch and throughout Battlefield 4's lifespan.
Although familiar to BF3, but BF4 remains a visually and sonically satisfying, reliably intense FPS. Improved by Commander Mode and a terrific and diverse map set.