It’s now a tradition four years running; every fall or winter, I grab a new, blockbuster military shooter to immerse myself in for hours on end. For the past three years, I made my purchases as a teen highly uneducated in the world of gaming, and Call of Duty always ended up on my pre-order list (not to say COD is terrible, but as I’m getting older, I’m realizing its style and pace doesn’t suit me like Battlefield). This year, I’m jumping ship; Battlefield 4 is where it’s at, in my opinion, and I can’t wait until launch day so I can go pick up my copy. I’ve been able to download the Battlefield 4 Beta for the PS3 this week, and although it is still a very rough draft, it’s getting me very excited to see what the polished, finished product will look like in all its glory.
When the Beta is first downloaded, you’re prompted to give your account information and do some general setup, but before long, you can head into the match. The main point of the BF4 Beta is to try one of two game modes: Conquest and Domination. Only one map is available, and this is Siege of Shanghai; the map shown in most of the promo videos and ads for BF4. Conquest is the main game type, and it drops you in Shanghai and tasks you with securing the three positions and dropping the other team’s ticket levels through kills and captures. Domination is basically Mini-Conquest; section off a portion of Siege of Shanghai that’s only a percentage of the actual map size, eliminate vehicles, and make a deadly arena out of the city. Long story short, Domination is basically Battlefield’s take on the Call of Duty play style.
First off, I played Conquest, and I noticed that the graphics are not up to par with current standards. This is intentional, as this is still a Beta, and the graphics look quite dated, but I do realize they will be much better at release. The graphics aren’t terrible, however, and I quickly got used to them. Conquest on Siege of Shanghai is everything I hoped it would be, in a nutshell. There are tanks, choppers, explosives, destructible environments, strategic points, and so many other aspects that combine to create a truly fun and new experience for me. To show some of the extreme action found in BF4, here is one moment I was able to create within my first match during the Beta:
On this occasion, I ran into the reception area of the TV broadcast tower, which is the centerpiece of the map (AKA, the big building that can be blown up). I press the elevator button, and up I go to the top of the skyscraper. Atop the building, I find some teammates securing the flag, and I assist in the effort. When the flag is secured, I leap off the building, and plummet toward the ground below, pulling my parachute cord at just the right time to land on the roof of what looks like a small shopping center. I’m standing on the glass ceiling, and I see an enemy below attempting to take the position. He’s engaged in a shootout with one of my comrades below, and it looks like my ally is losing the battle. Quickly and desperately, I shoot out the glass below my feet and fall to the floor below in a flurry of debris and broken shards. As soon as I drop, I’m up again, shooting madly at my opponent. He soon slumps to the ground, and his ally, who I had not noticed to this point, attempts to stab a knife into me. Very agile, I counter the move and swiftly dispatch him as well. Low on ammo, I switch to my secondary weapon and come to find that yet another enemy has yet to be taken care of. Alas, I am not able to take him out as well, and he avenges the loss of his teammates with my own death.
The rush I felt from leaping off the skyscraper was amazing, and I’ll be honest, I got a bit disoriented, as I’m not keen on heights. Even better, I felt as though I was actually being strategic in my madness, as I was able to help capture two positions and dispatch multiple enemies in the process; teamwork is important in Battlefield. This teamwork and strategy is what caused me to try Battlefield 4 this year rather than COD Ghosts; I’m ready for a change.
The huge map is a real bonus. Siege of Shanghai is so immense, I’m convinced that Nuketown 2025, Standoff, Hijacked, and Carrier from Black Ops II could all be fit into a third of this map. Am I saying that BF4 is better than COD? Not necessarily; if you enjoy killstreaks, fast paced, small spaced, arena type action, then COD is better for you than BF. Somebody looking for more space and strategy is better off with Battlefield, however, with the inclusion of the small-scale Domination, COD is more closely replicated in this game mode as well.
The main caveats of the Beta are to be expected however, and they’re forgivable. As I already mentioned, the graphics are quite dated, but this is more of an inconvenience than anything. There are only four classes available, and I haven’t unlocked any weapons yet, although I’m not sure if it’s possible to do so in the Beta. Switching between weapons and equipment confuses me a little, but I suppose I’ll get used to it; I’m sure there’s a pattern of some sort on the D-Pad that I’m missing, and it’ll click and make sense later.
My only major concern is that when BF4 releases, I hope that the maps are not so similar to one another. I played a few of the maps on BF3 when I borrowed it from a friend, and many of the maps felt too similar; there was a lack of color and design involved. The upper hand has to be given to COD here, as they use jungle settings, shantytowns, military bases, futuristic cities, movie sets, and cruise ships for some of their maps; it’s a nice change of pace, even if each map is bite-sized,
Overall, I’m looking forward to playing the polished, complete version of Battlefield 4, and I can’t wait to try the new Commander mode when it releases as well. The news that has me most excited: 64-person multiplayer on Next-gen systems and PC. This is a 40 person jump from current consoles, so I’m incredibly stoked to see how these massive duels will play out in my living room, assuming I can snatch a PS4 before they sell out in my area.
Has anyone out there participated in the Beta? Let me know what your thoughts are on the demo so far, and tell me how you think it can be improved before release. Then, check out the Let’s Play channels that my friends have in my “Links” tab.