In what was expected to be one of the year’s biggest releases, Battlefield 4 entered the market with a roar, but that roar has petered out to a whimper. Plagued with network errors, both with the single player campaign and the online multiplayer, EA has struggled to keep fans happy. After having the game for more than a month, I wanted to give them ample opportunity to address issues, but at this juncture it would be a disservice to you, the reader, if I delayed my review any longer.
To be fair Battlefield 4, when it’s working, is a solid shooter mechanically. On PC (my review platform) and on console, there is nothing unexpected or awkward implemented that would make players feel that uneasy about taking a dive in, even if it’s your first experience with the franchise. The single player campaign itself can be a little confusing though, at least in the first few chapters. You see, I’ve been unable to finish the game due to a persistent little bug that crashed the game to desktop any time I try to load my save. From what I’ve gathered so far, the US has been attacked by China, who executed the attack on the basis that the US assassinated one of China’s presidential nominees. This triggers a flurry of attacks by China against United States and sets in motion the events of the campaign overall. Strangely though, the campaign isn’t as solid as the storyline would lead you to believe. It’s not bad or confusing, but it seems a bit empty, as if the missions your squad is tapped for are forced, rather than events that would actually flow with the tides of war. Granted, EA had to orchestrate suspense to manufacture a feeling of heroism for sake of the narrative, but the it seems that it’s there only as a set piece for running and gunning.
The multiplayer fares far better, particularly on PC where the advanced visuals shine. With a souped up gaming PC, a requirement if you want to run this at ultra-high settings, players are staring into a screen of realism. The Frostbite 3 engine creates destructible environments on a scale we’ve not seen before. Maps are bigger, so the potential for destruction is also bigger. How the game handles 64 players on one map, some flying jets or driving tanks, others moving cover to cover, and it still implements destruction similar to what real grenades or bullets can do is amazing. For you Battlefield enthusiasts, it does come at a cost though. Plagued by server instability, gaining access to a multiplayer game is a constant hit-or-miss affair. Though a patch has been promised in the next week for PC players (sorry console owners, you’ll have to wait), the fact that the game has been hobbled since release is enough to dwindle the community down to a point where you’re only playing with hardcore Battlefield fans, and once the servers eventually have stability, those looking to learn the ins-and-outs of the multiplayer will be busy having their asses handed to them for countless matches.
With the campaign freezing/crashing and the multiplayer woes that have plagued the players, it’s hard to get a read on what the game is supposed to be. It’s like watching the Sixth Sense 3/4 of the way through, then having the DVD player spit in your face. You’re left feeling befuddled and insulted at the same time. And it’s because of that feeling that I’m not able to rate the game appropriately. Having not been able to play the multiplayer consistently and dealing with troublesome campaign issues, all I can say is that you should wait until the game is fixed before you buy. If the game is fixed.