Battlefield 4 review

  • Multiplayer is genre-leading, again
  • Levolution and destruction is amazing
  • Single-player is much improved...
  • ...but the story is nonsense
  • Defuse mode falls flat

The Battlefield series has built its reputation on memorable moments. Some epic, some intimate, some barely believable--YouTube is filled with clips of people far better at Battlefield than you, doing amazing things (to people like you). Battlefield 4 wants you--yes, you--to experience even more thrilling, more epic moments than ever before with a beefed up single-player story and the addition of map-changing levolution events and show-stopping destruction online. That’s the aim… and in this respect, the game is a roaring success.

Battlefield 4 is a significant step forward from number 3, both on and offline. The change is more marked in single-player, where the story strikes a more intimate note, echoing the buddy-banter from the Bad Company games. Your squad mates Irish and Pac have more developed personalities, and there are some memorable little moments in between all the shooting and shouting. At one point, Pac starts subtly dancing to some lift music in a rare pocket of silence sandwiched between some intense gunplay. “What?” he asks baffled-looking squad-mates, “I love this song. It’s a great freaking song.”

Sadly, despite the increased likeability of the characters, Battlefield 4’s overarching story blunders from one set-piece to another, ignoring the gaping holes torn in its plot and taking little care to explain what the hell is actually going on (that's war, I guess?). At one point, right near the end of the game, I leaned over to a fellow reviewer to ask about the identity of a character in a cut-scene. Turned out he was the entire reason I’d been shooting the teeth out of Chinese and Russian soldiers for the last six hours (the length of the solo campaign).

It’s a real shame, because great efforts have been made to capture the magic of multiplayer during the solo mode. One huge criticism of BF3’s story was that it’s totally divorced from multiplayer. Not so here. There are epic moments to behold, like dams bursting and frenzied tank battles inside savage tropical storms. You unlock kit, and accrue points for kills--just like you do in multiplayer. It’s like a beautiful-looking training mission, with chatting. And on that note…

Multiplayer has evolved, too. I’m sure DICE would like me to write that it has ‘levolved’, but I’m not going to. All joking aside, levolution makes a huge difference to online play, as does the reintroduction of ‘proper’ destruction. While bringing down the skyscraper in the Siege of Shanghai map is a visual novelty, it genuinely changes the shape of the map. Other stages alter more dramatically, really forcing you to shift the way you play. The typhoon that starts to rage half-way through the Paracel Storm map looks incredible, and ups the importance of naval combat. Meanwhile, when you flood the whole city in Flood Zone, it significantly intensifies the conflict on the rooftops and small patches of dry land.

Next-gen destruction

PC players will notice some step forward in terms of visuals and destruction, it’s console players that get the biggest leap. The PS3/360 versions only support 24 players, which makes a vast difference in bigger modes. Maps scale to fit current-gen counts, so games still feel balanced, but there’s a lack of detail in the current-gen versions. Maps contain fewer objects, destruction is more simplified, and the draw distance is shorter.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the frame-rate, though, as current-gen is still locked to 30fps. As such, that slick, well polished gameplay enjoyed by next-gen is sacrificed. Our advice? Make this a next-gen purchase, if you can.

The fact that levolution is such a success is testament to the incredible level design in BF4. Most maps have multiple layers and areas, which means you’re often mixing up land, sea, and air combat with close-quarters firefights. In other words, the majority of maps will suit any playstyle, and allow you to get creative with the destruction. Yes, I drove a tank through a house, and collapsed it. Yes, I beached a jetski to roadkill a man. Yes, I sat on a tower with a sniper-rifle and shot a man out of a helicopter. Moments. Memorable moments.

There are some sour notes. Defuse, a new 5v5, one-life-per-round mode, designed to draw in the Counter-Strike crowd, falls flat because it puts tense twitch-shooting ahead of smart tactics and specialised warfare. Seriously, if you want to camp in the corner of a room for 10 minutes a) fuck off--that’s not how Battlefield works, and b) you could always play Call of Duty for that kind of nonsense--I’ll be enjoying Conquest, thanks. Commander mode is… a little dull. It’s a novelty to tactically influence the battle from a bird’s eye view, but when I sat there tapping away at my iPad, I was desperately wishing to be part of the battle down below.

Another new mode, Obliteration, is a fun single-bomb game type that feels different enough from Rush and Conquest to justify inclusion. Amusingly, everyone seems to chase the guy with the bomb like school-kids running after the ball in a game of playground football. All maps scale to fit each game mode, adapting to accommodate differing team sizes and objectives; another triumph of smart design.

Overall, multiplayer feels quicker and more aggressive, although--don’t worry--Battlefield 4 hasn’t turned into a COD-style twitch shooter. Classes are well balanced, and as far as I could see (and I played for hours with everything unlocked), there was no super-gun / kit that lets you murder everyone. And again, there’s no single class that dominates any single map--there’s room for everyone during each session.

Now, a bit of tech-talk. Don’t be scared. The game’s quickness is largely thanks to the fact that the PS4 and PC versions are locked to 60 frames per second, making both the single- and multiplayer modes feel smooth and lethal. Even when firefights get intense on smaller maps like Operation Locker, or huge levolution moments rock an entire map, like the dam breaking in Lancang Dam, the game stays slick and beautiful. I’m no tech nerd, but I can appreciate what a polished marvel BF4 is on PS4 and PC.

As a package, this is the best Battlefield ever created. While the single-player is far from perfect, it bottles enough multiplayer lightning to garner my rather faint praise of ‘worth a quick play through’. As ever, though, it’s online where BF4 shines brightest. You may not appreciate just how brilliantly designed the maps, modes, and classes are until you experience those trademark moments. Like when you’re charging around an abandoned factory on Golmund Railway, trying to fend off three tanks at once, mortar fire raining down on you from above, shaking your screen and creating unbelievable mayhem. Then--and only then--will you truly fall in love with this game like I have.

More Info

Release date: Nov 12 2013 - PS4
Oct 29 2013 - PC, PS3
Nov 19 2013 - Xbox One
Oct 29 2013 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, PC, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: DICE
Franchise: Battlefield
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Multiplayer shooters don't get better than Battlefield 4. Incredible destruction, smart map design, and solid tech combine to produce a true showcase for PS4 and PC. While solo play still lags behind, it's a big step up from BF3.

This game was reviewed primarily on PS4 and PC and was conducted at a review event.

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  • Xmyass - December 18, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    Great game. Law enforcement poor. Chunts take the mick when you can't kill them with three accurate shots from the most powerful sniper rifle and they one shot you with a handgun, sometimes as you spawn.
  • pissedgamer - October 4, 2014 9:44 p.m.

    This game is nonsense, it works just fine for me no glitches or nothing, but between the auto spawn traps, the fact you can flank someone, empty a clip in there back, and then while reloading the turn around and one shot you, well lmao I spent two years in Iraq and never saw that happen, not once game developers!!!! My 6 year old can reload an assault rifle faster than this what spec ops guy! ridiculous. The spawning is crap, ok first of all they will pop you right in front of the enemy team where your dead before the screen loads, then the 5 min spawn delay is gay, and then after you make a hot pocket, use the bathroom, go have a smoke and then sit back down cause now you can play again........that's right, spawned in another trap and dead....well guess I could go smoke again until it's time to respawn. Then buildings dropping that's cool, all the vehicles yep that's cool, graphics are great, but you tell me how a sniper can hit a moving target 1,000 meters away and then shoot you through two buildings and a pile of sand bags??? Come on Chris Kyle wasn't that good, so why is some little 20 year old virgin playing ps4 in his moms house cause he can't pull himself away to get a job going to pull that off, not to mention in the real world small arms fire can't penetrate anything more than 20 cm thick, (that's up to a 50 caliber). My biggest problem though is that I am not in a clan, I play by myself against the world, so take your CLANS and stick them where the sun don't shine, I DO NOT WANT TO PLAY AGAINST CLANS (you know the five gay guys on a team that can communicate a strategize while the random team I am on just runs around and dies doing there own thing, its ridiculous, make clans play clans, not dominate the mode they are in making it miserable to play your game. Then when I do find that I am playing an unfair match and I leave the game, put me in a different server, NOT THE GAME I JUST LEFT.....OBVIOUSLY I DON'T WANT TO BE THERE OR I WOULD STAY BATTLEFIELD MORONS. I don't know who develops these games, or what line of thinking goes into it, but as many people that would love that job, be a little more picky on who makes these FPS. I have been playing video games since Nintendo and the new games just get more and more ridiculous. MAKE THE F***ING GAME FAIR. I ALSO DON'T WANT TO PLAY A GAME WHEN I AM A LEVEL 20 PLAYING AGAINST SOMEONE A LEVEL 242, EITHER MAKE ALL THE GUNS AVAILABLE OR DON'T, BUT STOP THE BS OF BONUSES TO PEOPLE WITH NO LIFE. MAKE A G**D*** GAME THAT IS REALISTIC AND FAIR TO ALL THAT PLAY. I will be taking this back, this is a 20 dollar game for something to do in the winter and that is it, if you just rate your games on the graphics than yep this is a good one, but if your looking for a fun competitive FPS Multiplayer than this is NOT it. It will make you want to go collapse there building for making such an unfair biased games toward people new to it. I wish I had all my time in life to sit around and level up in Battlefield so that it would be somewhat fair, but I have a life. On a side note this generation graduating is going to be the fall of this country, they are the most lost, worthless, lazy, indegent generation the world has ever seen, if they are the future than God help us all.
  • reyah - September 28, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    Hello, I just got this game cheap from here: . They have a very good delivery time and I am fully satisfied! Do check it out!
  • whereswildo - June 18, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    idk how this game received 4 1/2 stars i am a huge battle field fan and play no other shooter game but this battle field is ridiculously messed up i hope the problem is fixed soon (if fixable) my machine freezes literally every single time i play i hate to say it but i mite have to stop playing on line of fear that my system may become corrupt PLEASE FIX PROBLEMS SOON!!!!!!!! Sincerely, "WHERESWILDO74"
  • sean-koontz - March 6, 2014 4:11 a.m.

    YOU CAN NOT PLAY THIS GAME ON AN XBOX 360 with only 4gb. Which is bullshit# I am returning the game. My gf bought this for my birthday. I was excited deleted all my stuff to make space. Still did not work. I am disappointed and my woman is sad and butthurt.
  • Cwf2008 - December 23, 2013 6:59 p.m.

    Nowhere near worth $60. The game's multiplayer is completely broken to the point that it freezes my 360
  • xnxoxlxaxnx - December 15, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    Multiplayer is fun if you play by yourself given that there is NO PARTY SYSTEM and no way to join games as a group, so we have to play as if it's 2005 and join friend's games, but most of the time their lobby is full so then you just have to keep trying for half an hour (not an exaggeration) until you join there game just so it can eventually crash, forcing you to restart the whole process. I know of atleast 10 friends who have gotten this TEAM BASED game, and returned it due to the fact that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAY TOGETHER. They say they wouldn't be so mad if it wasn't EA's and DICE's 8th or 9th battlefield game! COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!! I should be able to expect such a high budget and seasoned game such as battlefield to move forward with their games and not take steps back. I wish there was an upper-upper case font so I could express my immense frustration at the fact that these companies deliberately want to steal your money and piss you off with a game that is much rougher and worse than the last. But these companies dont give two s**** what their consumers think, they just falsely hype up their game, make their money, and let the consumer deal with the slop that they produce.
  • dougd - February 25, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    I could not agree more!!!! UPPER UPPER CASE NEEDED! I have been a long time supporter of BF games, even before the ps3 started with Battle Field Bad Company. And I have to say the fact that there is no PREGAME squad up is just a sure miss on this game. Back when Dice/EA put out BF3 everyone on their forum complained and Dice/EA came through and got the feature into the game. So now they push out BF4 and take it back out again telling customers that they will like this way better. NO ONE LIKES THIS WAY BETTER THIS WAY COMPLETELY BLOWS. I know this I will not preorder or buy another BF game from them until they fix this feature. A complete miss, I guess it was more important to put in that you can post you battle results to FB, How stupid...
  • alan-moore - December 9, 2013 7:48 p.m.

    Dont buy this game for a long time. Since I have started playing it. I have been fucked out of probably 15,000 to 20,000 XP. Which at this point in the game would be another 1.5 lvls. They released two in updates in the week and a half that I have had it and both updates haven't done a damn thing. Also your lucky to connect to the server your wanting to connect to within an hour of clicking on the button. They are always crashing or disconnecting you and saying that it couldn't join the server after you have been playing for twenty minutes.
  • Inthedistrict - November 5, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    Are there any levels in bf4 similar to the jet or tank level in BF3?
  • BlueLolz - October 30, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    I have the Xbox 360 version of BF4 and for some reason my game seems to crash when I'm getting back to the valkyrie in the South China Sea mission. This really blows, because i can't even continue the game.
  • hester2 - October 29, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    I went with the PS3 version this time around instead of PC (planning on using the $10 voucher for the PS4 version at launch), and I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's definitely nowhere near the experience BF3 was on PC or BF4 would be on PC and next-gen, but for what it is, it's still a pretty functional MP shooter. Either that or I just haven't landed on any of the "empty" maps yet. I definitely wouldn't want this to be the version I permanently play, but for a 15 day placeholder, it's not bad.
  • ObliqueZombie - October 29, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    Ahhh, Dice... the Mozart of the battlefield, as PCG put it. I'll probably pick this up if a few of my friends do. I didn't put too much time into BF3, so this looks like a worthy upgrade.
  • slimjim441 - October 29, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    '...if you want to camp in the corner of a room for 10 minutes a) fuck off--that’s not how Battlefield works, and b) you could always play Call of Duty for that kind of nonsense' Love it. If PS4 ends up getting keyboard/mouse support, I'll definitely have to get this.
  • ObliqueZombie - October 29, 2013 10:16 a.m.

    As far as I'm concerned, no. If, like FFXIV, they'll support keyboards for chatting but not much else. I would love to see that, too, though.
  • db1331 - October 29, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    There will probably be some adapter like there was for the 360/PS3 that lets you use a M+KB. There's plenty of hilarious videos on YT of people playing CoD with M+KB on console and absolutely destroying them. Not only do they get the M+KB, but they get aim assist as well. It's just plain ridiculous.
  • CitizenWolfie - October 29, 2013 6:41 a.m.

    Sounds very intriguing and I'm tempted to buy it to bump up my PS4 launch day. I'm glad the story mode is an improvement (I'm a fan of SP in general) and I don't mind the plot being silly. But I'm still unsure so maybe you can help: I bought Battlefield 3 and couldn't get on with it. I mean, at all. The MP battles were too chaotic for my tastes and I felt completely overwhelmed with the different class options. I felt like there was no "entry level" - you had to either be a perfect player or else you were a "CoD fag." I thought the amazing graphics came at the expense of being able to actually see anyone further than a few metres away in exterior areas and the bloom effect had me running blind most of the time. Add onto all this the fact that unless you play all day every day and unlock everything, the guys who paid extra for the equipment unlocks were the ones dominating. Obviously CoD gets a lot of grief but I do like the fact that you're never too late in a match to turn the game around, whereas if you're losing in BF it's a looooong, drawn out, miserable loss. With all this in mind, is BF4 worth buying as a self-confessed noob like myself? Or should I just call time on FPS games for good? I haven't truly enjoyed CoD since Black Ops 1 and I want to love BF as much as a lot of people on here seem to.
  • GR_AndyHartup - October 30, 2013 1:14 a.m.

    I think you'll be fine if you're playing this on PS4 (or XO). The PC version is definitely more competitive, and the hardcore really dominate that. I totally understand why you feel intimidated. My advice would be to learn how to play modes like Conquest and Rush - to understand the tactics behind them - and you'll be far more competitive. I'm by no means the quickest or most accurate player, but I'm usually in the top 3-5 per session because I support my team and do stuff like spotting enemies and capturing objectives. This is the best time to get back into BF because the next-gen version is bringing 64 player battles and 60FPS - something PC players have enjoyed for a while. So, you get the 'full Battlefield experience' but without having to dive straight into the bloodbath on PC. Oh, and yes, BF3 was pretty underwhelming. The SP was dire, and the destruction was poor. BF4 addresses those issues.
  • john-manukyan - October 29, 2013 6:30 a.m.

  • ivan-osorio - October 29, 2013 6:21 a.m.

    As a "single-player only" kind of gamer, I have to wonder why these guys still stick to a campaign. Sounds like an absolutely waste of resources... I doubt people like me will buy this game for the SP, and I doubt the MP-focused crowd will enjoy the campaign. Nobody wins... Alas.