So it’s here, and I’ve had a chance to play it. Let me just say, first of all, it’s a beta. There’s a lot of negative blather on forums out there, but this is not a full release of the game. It’s also a stress test on the servers. Add to that, Nvidia’s broken 320 driver series, and there are a few issues. I’m confident they will be resolved with the full release or shortly after. So, instead of focusing on the negative that is sure to be changed, let’s focus on the positive.
The first thing that hit me about BF4 is the sound. It has so much more depth than its predecessor. Explosions are heavier, and the report of gunfire can almost be felt. It was certainly more immersive than BF3’s sound ever was. Vehicle sounds are also much better, and I think it is due to an overall change in pitch. I have not adjusted anything in regards to my 5.1 speakers, but everything just seems to have a little more kick to it; a much deeper roar.
The interface in Battlelog is different, and so far I like it. It’s much cleaner, and easier to navigate. We’ve seen these changes slowly with the BF3 interface, but this one took it all in leaps and bounds. The menus are much nicer, and each page is easier to navigate. I know many people were upset with Battlelog the first time around, some for very legitimate reasons, and others for completely asinine ones, but I think for the most part people will be happy with the new BL.
Terrain and Detail
At least on Siege of Shanghai, the map holds quite a bit more detail than previous ones. There’s more clutter, for example clothing shops with racks, sales counter, register, mannequins and glass, all for you to wreck in the coming battle. I took a helicopter up just this morning and it looks like they have raised the ceiling, which is good, but what I liked most was the detail even inside the chopper. The terrain from above was nice, buildings rendered well, and on this map there are quite a few elevated positions. Siege is going to be a sniper’s heaven. Anyway, when I got out of the chopper I noticed things I didn’t see when I first walked up. Fire extinguisher between the seats, first aid kit, and generally more detail in the design of everything.
Those are the things that were most noticeable on my first couple of times playing. There were a couple of things I could do without, and hopefully it’s just the difference between Normal and Hardcore. Currently all of the servers I’ve found were Normal and I think that’s just how it is in Beta. Too much on the HUD for me, and the cross hairs on the screen were a distraction, but that’s just the mode. What I really didn’t care for was the bullet contrails. I remember those being in the single player version of BF3 but unless I just stopped noticing them I don’t think they are in the multiplayer hardcore. I hope that’s something we can turn off, or just gets turned off in the full release. It looks pretty, but it’s too much Hollywood for me and just adds to the strain on an already strained graphics system. Other than that I can’t think of anything I didn’t like.
General thoughts about map design, so far. Right now we just have the one map, but I like it. It has quite a bit of elevation, from basement parking areas to the top of skyscrapers. I haven’t been inside the ‘tower’ yet but from the videos it looks like it should be a fun part of the battlefield. There is a great mix of cover, choke points, open areas, and dead ends that will make the maps interesting. This map, like I said above, is going to be sniper heaven, but it’s large enough that cross map shots will be difficult, and there’s quite a bit of cover. This is a much better beta map than the one released on BF3, and I think it will beat out many of its predecessor’s maps as far as level of fun to play on.
So that’s all for now. I’ll try to get down to the nitty gritty this weekend and explore some of the new features in BF4. There are a lot but I’ve been so caught up in just enjoying the view I haven’t really spent a lot of time picking things apart. See you on the battlefield.