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E3 2013: Battlefield 4 (Hands-On)

Posted by: Chuck at 6/14/2013 1:56 PM
At first blush Battlefield 4 looks like a lot like Battlefield 3.  The user interface and graphics are almost identical and from about 10 feet away you would be hard pressed to notice a difference between the two games.  However once you get closer and dive in you start to notice all of the improvements that DICE has made to the game.
 
The already spectacular graphics of Battlefield 3 have gotten a touching up as bit as there's a lot more detail in the textures and the complexity of the maps has been upped significantly.  If you saw the demo footage from the EA press conference you know what I'm talking about. 
 

DICE hasn't touched the four classes for this iteration of the game although the customization screen has been tweaked to flow a bit better.  The unlockable class abilities have been tweaked a bit and grouped into offensive and defensive skills with various levels for each.  Again, it's nothing new but a refinement of how the system worked. 
 
The level EA had us playing was the city level featured in the footage above.  It's one thing to see the footage but it's another to actually play through it.  The number of nooks and crannies in the map was almost overwhelming.  It seemed like everywhere I went there were a dozen places to explore and hide.  The level also contained a shocking amount of vertical space to play with.  Most of the capture points on the maps had spaces either above or below, forcing you to think intelligently about where to find cover while capturing a point.  DICE has also added small tick marks inside the capture indicator which gives you a much better feel for how long you have to wait to capture a point. 
 
I'm still a bit iffy on the commander mode right now but it's more of a gameplay thing as there are times where you are killed out of nowhere from an artillery strike.  My audio was constantly drowned out by the giant video board behind the stations so I'm hoping there's an audio cue when a strike is inbound in the final game. 
 
The implementation of the commander mode is kind of cool though as you can either command from within the game or by downloading an app to your Android or iOS device and using a touchscreen.  You do have to buy a copy of the game and associate it with your Battlelog account but once you do you'll be able to command troops while you are at work, on the bus, or sitting on the porcelain throne.  
 
The big moment from the EA video was the destruction of the big building at the center of the map.  In talking to one of the reps in the game it's something that is determined by damage done to the building in the game.  It's not a scripted even but rather something that can happen in the game if users decide to do so.  The rest of the buildings in the game can take damage but the big one in the middle is the only one that will collapse. 
 
As a Battlefield 3 fan I was pleasantly surprised with what I played at the show and I'm looking forward to playing the game a bit more.  It's more than just a graphical update as you've got a significant increase in the complexity of the maps and new gameplay tactics that are added by the ability to blow up the world around you.