Dice and EA have been teasing one of the worst kept secrets in gaming for a few weeks now. So in the small hours of last night we finally got a glimpse of Battlefield 4 in all its single player glory. The game was being played on pc, judging by the on-screen commands and to say it looked impressive is an understatement.
However games need more than looks to make it in this world and here are some of my thoughts on what I watched.
As I turned the video on at I first I was a little confused, the use of the UK’s entrant into this year’s Eurovision song contest seemed odd. Bonnie Tylers Total eclipse of the heart is not a song I would associate with an intense gaming experience but it’s use makes sense at the end of the trailer. It also maintains the use of environmental music as opposed to a dedicated soundtrack whilst in-game. This helps add to the realism and keeps Battlefield true to itself. As the sound goes the plethora of explosions and gunfire still have an authentic feel which is important especially when it comes to sound whoring in the multiplayer.
Visually the character models were very impressive from the facial detail to the way the characters actually moved. One of my hopes for the next gen is that developers start paying more attention to the biomechanics of human movement giving us more believable characters on-screen. As usual the vistas in the trailer were up to Battlefield standard but do we expect any less. The detail on the sky scrapers was amazing but its easy to paint a picture in the background where you are not going to get the chance to interact with the structure. However as they walk through the safe house at the beginning of the game you get the sense of attention to detail from the light coming in through the partially obscured windows to the graining effect on the wood of the doors. Again Dice try to go for real world environments grounding the game in reality as much as possible.
The building collapse scene showed the seemless movement between actual gameplay and cinematic slow motion gameplay. The way the building collapsed shows how the Frostbite 3 engine can handle visually demanding video. Unfortunately the destructible environments were not really shown off in gameplay. Apart from the use of a launcher on a few parapets on top of a building we did not see the kind of destructability that was missing from BF3. Only time will tell if this will feature in the full game and especially the multiplayer but at this time I can not get to excited.
Speaking of slightly underwhelming features the whole chopper scene gave me cause for concern. Why did Irish wait until you were almost dead driving down a road to hand you a grenade launcher to take your attackers down. This reeks of prescribed gameplay with only one pathway. This is common in games of all types but I would love the ideas that Naughty Dog are (hopefully) going to implement with The Last of Us in terms of multiple pathways to become more universal in games. For instance if you take out the chopper earlier in the scene it could still crash into the building and take out your evacuating helo. This would mean multiple videos and increase cost but for me this is the evolution I want to see in games. I would love my decisions to matter as opposed to playing out a prescribed story.
The end of this breakdown seems quite negative but please don’t think that I’m not excited for this game. However the single player does not do anything for me. In my opinion its the implementation of the Frostbite 3 engine in the multiplayer that will make or break this game but my hopes are high.
I would also love to see the game being shown on a next gen console as well as the PC. It’s obvious that DICE create games for the PC format, but the way these games perform on all platforms will ensure the numbers of players they need to gain a bigger market share and ensure the longevity of the franchise. Hopefully the videos for the consoles will come but for now we have to be content with this opening salvo in to the vision Dice has for its first next gen title.
With the confirmation of a Fall 2013 release date I doubt, I’ll be getting a little bit lonely that it’s never coming round (sorry had to throw some song lyrics in at some point). So here’s to seeing you on a new Battlefield by the end of the year.
Images from EA/Dice
Link to the BF4 Website