My VERY First Impressions of Battlefield 4

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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So for those that do not know, the Battlefield 4 Beta has started for those that have the early three day access. Full access for everyone else starts Saturday. Having purchased Premium for Battlefield 3, that allowed yours truly to play the PC beta during this early period.

So yesterday I was able to play for two hours on the beta and decided, like many thousands of others, to post my take on the game. So you may be thinking to yourself; “If thousands are posting their take on this, what is so special about your take, Cptain?” Well, in truth, perhaps nothing! I do like to think though that my years of Battlefield playing and beta testing will give me a bit of a more truthful look at the game. I am able to separate my feelings about a topic and come to decisions outside the fact of “what a battlefield game should be”. I also understand that this is a beta and even though changes before release are slim, they can still happen. I also understand that even though the Alpha footage was impressive, that it was all in a controlled environment and that games do not normally look like that once released.

I did not do anything special to get ready for the beta. I pre-downloaded BF4 on Sunday and updated my video card drivers Monday evening. That was it. Everything else has been the same on my system. I have a first gen i7 CPU, NVidia 660 GTX card, Windows 7 64bit, Asus motherboard, 12GB RAM, 22″ LCD Samsung monitor. Not the newest stuff by any means, but nothing to sneeze at either. I loaded into an empty server to configure my video settings and adjust my key bindings. Also to get a feel for the interfaces a bit and do some shooting and running around a little. OK, so now I am ready to go!

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Below I break down my thoughts on certain topics about the game:

Teamwork:

I played two matches that night, one win one loss, and could easily tell that Battlefield 4 is more team oriented. Went right into a squad of my clanmates and our squad leader did not give orders. Because of that it took FOREVER to unlock our squad perks. Also capturing flags by yourself took longer vs. two or more people. The commo rose worked very well and much more reliable than in BF3. VoIP worked well for those it worked for. What I mean is when I was testing VoIP on the empty server the other person in my squad could hear me just fine, but when I went in-game no one heard me. I did hear some of my squad mates though and they came in clear and very nice. So the only conclusion I have is that VoIP wasnt working for me OR my clanmates tuned me out, which isn’t impossible.

Graphics:

The graphics looked great. The sun isn’t overpowering, the waves are rolling, the sky looks good, the details around the map are nice. Shadows and rendering were well for me. I had just about everything set to medium in my video options and it all looked very nice. I did not have any FPS counters on because I wanted the experience of the game with as little interruption as possible. Details on vehicles and soldiers were great as well. The explosion, flashing lights, and smoke effects were very nicely done. The best part about all this is that it will only get better with better drivers and the fine tuning DICE continues to make.

The only downside, and this is kinda minor, is when I was in the heli and flying by a building that was reflecting the sky and water that my own reflection was not there. I know it’s just a game and a beta, but I don’t think real-time reflection will be in the game. I would think that would be very hard to do anyway, but it did take away a bit of the immersion. As a game designer I am sure you have to balance those things with performance as well.

Audio:

Again, sound was great. Gun fire and explosions were echoing around the place and you can tell where it was coming from. Breaking glass, car alarms, elevator noises, all very good. I could tell different weapons were firing as well as what vehicles were moving where. I don’t know if there is more they could do on this. I think it is pretty much spot on.

VoIP:

Here is the thing about VoIP; It is very complicated and needs resources to work correctly. Two things a rented gaming server usually doesn’t have. That is why VoIP sucks 93% of the time. When VoIP was working in BF4, it was doing a good job. I really don’t expect this to improve. I know how VoIP systems work as well as how game server providers try to run a business, so it is what it is. I think BF4 has a great VoIP system but it will be case-by-case, as it is in every game with VoIP.

Character Movement:

FPS games have a certain “feel” when looking around and walking/running/diving. The Battlefield 4 movement felt “clunky” to me. That isn’t a bad thing, but I like more smooth movements like in BF2 and BF3. The soldier movements in the beta reminded me of BF2142 and Bad Company 2. The character felt heavy and slow. Again, its not a big deal and my mind will adjust with it, as well yours. Soon it will seem normal and when you jump into Battlefield 3 you will think it is lightning fast paced.

Handling firearms and kits were well done. Prone and sliding worked well. There is a lean/peak feature in BF4 and I really liked it and think its a great addition to the game, but it was a bit hard to line up your soldier correctly for it to happen. I think that could use a little more tweaking. Now ducking behind cover and peaking over worked VERY well. So the UP/DOWN peaking worked great and the LEFT/RIGHT could use a little adjusting.

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Vehicle Movement:

Vehicle movement was a bit strange as it has this new feel of momentum. I liked it and thought it was well done though. Vehicles seem to be more responsive as well and you can “feel” turns and changes. Vehicles have four perk selection categories making them a lot more tough as well. I guess we will see if that is good or bad. Water vehicles actually felt like they were on water and that is a nice feature you don’t see that well done in most games.

This is more shooting, but, I feel the bullet drop on tank and LAV cannons are too small. You really need to lead your target when it is close. It has very low distance before the canon shell starts dropping. I liked it better in BF3. Another thing that is not a big deal because people will adjust and forget its an issue, but I think its too close.

Water:

I added this because the water is VERY different from ANY game I have played. DICE did a good job with the sound of the water and being able to go underwater. Throwing a vehicle into the drink makes some neat sounds and waves. The water is nicely done as well as the effects of climbing out of it and when its on your virtual goggles.

One downside I saw though was when the tower was falling into the water, it didn’t really make any splashes or real waves. Maybe that is Hollywood working on me, but when that piece of Levolution happens and the skyscraper falls, the water seems more like Jello than water. I think that should be adjusted a bit. Make the water more fluid than it is at its “Jello” state.

Destruction:

OK, so remember this is my FIRST impressions. Two total hours in on beta software on one map. I feel the destruction to be lacking. Not Levolution, but destruction. There is some great stuff and you can drive tanks through buildings and walls and broken glass and the fire effects and smashed cars and all that is awesome. The problem is its inconsistent. There are billboards all over this city and some can be destroyed and some can’t. There is this one area of billboards where they actually absorbed my tank round. There are stop lights with flashing red lights and you can shoot the lights, but they still flash with a bullet mark over the light. Also, some cars leak gas/oil that you can catch on fire, but only certain ways and I haven’t been able to figure out what makes a car leak gas. They just do it. Buildings are getting hit with tank shells and only leaving scorch marks.

This is just my opinion, but I feel the BF3 destruction was more complete and consistent than in BF4. Maybe that will be adjusted better later on as well as other maps.

Damage:

In my first impressions I feel that weapons do not damage enough. I LOVED the BF3 Alpha damage and it has been increasing ever since. I have not done any tests on this and do not know how many bullets do what, but it seems to take a lot more to take someone down. I shot and killed people at different ranges and none of them felt like a quick take down. I was afraid this was the case looking at the alpha footage and it seems true. I actually took 2 semi direct (at my feet) RPG hits as infantry and still survived. Took several hits to take down infantry with the coaxial machine gun on the tank. It’s weak for my tastes. Hopefully that will get adjusted as well, but looking at the Battlelog forums, I don’t think so.

Battlelog and Load Screens:

Very good design and layout. Quite a few changes with the previous layouts, but once you learn where things are, they make sense and easy to navigate. Again, it will just improve as time goes by.

Customization:

There is so much to setup and customize. I love it. A lot of features and gadget slots for both infantry and vehicles. You can even move your gadgets to match the BF3 layout, which is nice. All the features and options of the customization can be overwhelming, but you end up with, what I feel, is a more complete layout. You don’t have to make so many sacrifices in weapon options or vehicle accessories.

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Server Performance/Net-code:

Battlefield 4 Beta is probably the most anticipated beta in a long time. This is the first time there are “real world” variables hitting the game. Because of that, it can be very laggy and stuttery. My hits seemed to be responsive and all seemed to register. There were no crazy “run around the corner and then die” moments either. Maybe that will change as the user count increases, but so far so good considering it is a beta.

Conclusion:

Overall the game is a lot of fun and is going to improve over time. DICE already said there were going to be adjustments and fixes. Let us also not forget patches and updates as well. Some may disagree with what I put. Feel free to comment why. Overall I think BF4 is going to be a very good, fun game.

So there you have it. This will be my one and only first impressions, as it should be. After I do some tweaking and adjusting I will probably record some game-play and get it on YouTube “as-is” so you can see actual game-play and the things I see. The game is fun and should continue to improve.

Comments
  1. A very well written, and objective first look at this beta. I my self like the beta. The guns feel good, but slightly weak. The movement is amazing. It feels so right. The days of 180 degree back flip no scope kills may be over in this game. You will have to play as a team to be competitive. The VOIP how ever crappy it may be is still a means to communicate with your new founded team mates. The game is still laggy which is understandable since well IT IS A BETA!!! One thing that I do hate about this game is 3d spotting. I know its there for a reason, but maybe Dice can tweak it to only work for spotting enemy more than 150 -250 yards away I.E. roof top campers, and such. This is the main reason I like hard core from BF3. I really hope that the E-Sport thing takes off for BF4!!!!

    • CptainCrunch says:

      Hello Decker! Thank you for the comments. I also agree with yours and I think BF4 is a good step forward for not only FPS games, but Battlefield. You’re also exactly right that it is a beta and it gets tiring hearing the people complain about the issues. Report the problems the best you can and continue to enjoy the game. When I play regular mode I dont even pay attention to the 3d spotting other than on the mini-map. It does get a bit annoying that you can be “given away” by spamming Q.

      So anyway, thanks again!

  2. jimykx says:

    Thanks for writing this! In this moment I can’t get through the loading part of maps, but I’m just already expecting for the game not to run at all on my computer :P. How do you compare it in terms of performance to bf3?

    • CptainCrunch says:

      Hello Jimy!

      Thats hard to say on the performance. Compared to the BF3 beta it is better. Compared to BF3 today, it is much worse.

      Though DICE has said a few times that the game is not optimized right now. With my GTX 660 I am getting 40 – 60 FPS and the game is running very well for me. Of course BF3 ran very well for me as well.

      I think you will be able to run BF4, just not the beta 😀

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