E3 2013 – Battlefield 4 Multiplayer: First Impressions

I’m a happy camper. Why? Because DICE is doing some really awesome things with Battlefield 4 multiplayer and I just got to play it on the E3 2013 show floor along with 65 other players on the PC. (Yes, that’s 65 players. I’ll explain later.)

There are a lot of really exciting things I want to tell you right away, but let’s start with the basics.

BF4-1

Improvements to the user interface are very noticeable and very appreciated. Menus are simply better and much easier to use, but carry over the same visual stylings of Battlefield 3 with that blue/white color scheme. The character customization menu – probably one of the more cumbersome aspects of Battlefield 3′s UI – now neatly organizes items in list-form, rather than having multiple pages of different customization options. Going down the list, you’ll be able to tweaks your primary weapon, secondary weapon, gadget 1, gadget 2, grenades, knife, specialization, and appearance.

Of course, only a few weapons were made available in the E3 demo, two per weapon class. Each soldier (Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon) could select their class-specific weaponry but also had the option of using multi-class weapons like carbines and shotguns, as in Battlefield 3. However, weapons did have a number of paint options right off the bat, roughly 10 or so. Also different from Battlefield 3 is that gadgets are shared between both gadget slots, meaning you’re completely free to customize your gadget loadout as preferred.

Update

One item I forgot to mention is that secondary weapons can now be customized with attachments.

Speaking of gadgets, the thing that had me really jumping for joy is that the Recon class now has the ability to equip C4 (UPDATE: and the motion mine), greatly enhancing their effectiveness on the Battlefield. Being my personal favorite kit, I am extremely happy to be able to deal with vehicular threats in a greater capacity, similar to the Recon class in the Battlefield: Bad Company series. Weapons also seem to have a greater number of attachment options. For example, not only can you equip a sight, but you can also equip a magnification option or another iron sight, providing you with two options, instead of one.

BF4-2

New grenade types are also introduced. Players now have the option to equip incendiary grenades or flash bangs, along with the standard fragmentation grenades. The knife could also be replaced with a shank and there is probably room to unlock different melee weapons on top of that. The opportunity never arose in my play time, but yes, you can reverse melee attacks in Battlefield 4.

Commander mode is back. I didn’t get to play around with it, but I did get killed by the commander on a number of occasions, so I can tell you it’s definitely effective in that sense. The commanders – other members of the DICE/EA, team in this scenario – had their own stations, one on each team, bringing up the number of players up to 66 total, two of which are not active on the actual battlefield. UPDATE: It’s still not 100% clear how commander mode works, but your commander’s abilities are directly tied to the performance of the team. The more capture points a team holds, the more abilities the commander has at his/her disposal. Look forward to more details on Commander later this week.

BF4-5

Since my time was very limited, I wasn’t able to explore the nuances of gameplay, but in general, it seemed very similar to Battlefield 3, with the exception of a greater focus on sea warfare. We played on the “Siege of Shanghai” map teased in Battlefield 4′s multiplayer trailer, which provided opportunity for all gameplay styles, land, sea and air. Jets were not present in this particular map and, no, I couldn’t explore the entire city-scape, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. DICE was really able to capture the feeling of battling in a towering mega-city like Shanghai, though it may be a bit devoid of any sort of actual civilian population.

Update

A few points I did not experience but will mention anyways is that players can swim and “sprint” underwater. Suppression is also slightly “nerfed,” though it was hard to make out its effectiveness in-game. They way vehicles are disabled has also been tweaked, though it’s not clear exactly how.

You might be happy to know that that tower you saw crash to the ground in the multiplayer trailer is completely player-controlled and is not a timed event, meaning it won’t just crumble once one of the two teams has depleted a certain amount of tickets. It can be taken out by destroying the support beams at its base – not an easy task, however. Taking it out also creates an entirely new landscape in the center of the map. Where the tower once was, now lies ruins and piles of rubble. The flag that was situated at the top of the tower is still there, but at ground level now, taking away the height avantage of any team that owned that flag before hand.

BF4-4

It’s still a bit early, so a number of the things I touched upon in this preview could change before release, so definitely keep that in mind.

Look forward to our interview with DICE general manager and vice president, Karl-Magnus Troedsson, later this week where we’ll learn more about Commander mode and some of Battlefield 4 multiplayer’s other exciting features.

You’ll be able to get your hands on Battlefield 4 multiplayer this October 29 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, earlier if you participate in the game’s Beta and later on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Additional Details

Through a second shot at Battlefield 4′s multiplayer, I am able to confirm a few additional details.

Though it’s not exactly clear how they stack, additional specializations can be unlocked, in-game, via a progress bar that appears next to the mini-map.

On the subject of weapons and customization, I can clarify that primary weapons will, in fact, have four attachment slots, three of which are the sights, barrel, and under-barrel, just as in Battlefield 3. The fourth acts as an “Auxiliary” slot. This is where your additional iron sights and magnification options come in. I experimented with a few new attachments, one of them being the green laser dot attachment as well as the laser+tactical light and various sight attachments for the pistols. So far, the green laser seems to have the same effect as the red laser, but it’s just a lot cooler, in my opinion.

Making the Recon class even more awesome, I can confirm that motion sensor grenades are returning as well. Oddly I was unable to equip any sort of defibrillator for the Assault class as I had trouble finding it in the loadout screens. I was hoping to test out the revive mechanics. The Assault kid did, however, have access to a different type of health pack that I didn’t notice before, on that had effects unknown to me. This is in addition to the regular health pack we’re all used to.

I threw a couple flash bangs and incendiary grenades around and even set fire to one soldier. I assume it has a damage-over-time effect and might even hinder vision. Unfortunately, I was never on the receiving end. The flash bang is fairly standard, turning your screen bright white for a short period.

Very interestingly, I noticed that I ran out of ammo very quickly. Speaking to others, I can confirm that it is because bullets in an expended magazine are completely discarded and forever lost, making the Support kit all the more important. UPDATE: Others also say this belongs to the “Hardcore” mode only and was simply thrown into the E3 2013 multiplayer demo for testing purposes.

Flying a helicopter for the first time, it felt as if they had a bit more drag to them and were ever-so-slightly more difficult to control. I was even using an Xbox One controller, which I am much more used to. I can’t confirm choppers are actually harder to control as of yet, but it did appear that way to me. Also, reloading tank shells took much longer.

Lastly, there is a spectator mode, but I didn’t get a chance to play around with it.

Got questions? Feel free to follow @Mister_Veselka on Twitter and ask away!

  • MegaMan3k

    CAn you explain what that bar is with squad support icons that fills as players get ‘score’? I noticed it in the alpha leak and the gameplay trailer.

    Also – How is the gunplay in this? Is it tighter than BF3? Does the 60FPS bring it more in line with the tightness and snappiness that players have come to expect from COD?

    • WSTCDE

      You pretty much explained it yourself

      • MegaMan3k

        It’d be nice to have my speculation confirmed. I’m assuming that squad support ‘perks’ have now become passive scorestreaks.

        But there are still unanswered things. For instance, it could be that the squadleader sets the bonuses and the order and then the bonuses are for the *squad’s* performance. Which would be a much cooler implementation.

        • WSTCDE

          yeah that seems like a pretty cool idea

    • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

      Honestly, I didn’t even notice that. HOWEVER, I’d bet you that it unlocks abilities for your COMMANDER. It has been confirmed that squad performance on the ground is directly tied to the abilities that your commander will have at his/her disposal. That’s a great question though and I’ll make sure to check it out.

      60 FPS is by far more fluid than 30 FPS. The gunplay felt great, but still like Battlefield, not Call of Duty, if that makes sense.

      • MegaMan3k

        Thanks for the reply.

      • paulinacio

        I’m guessing if the Commander does well he can call in strikes like he did to take out the tanks

      • Hot-Wire

        From what I’ve heard from someone else who played the game, the commander gains abilities through his team taking the middle 3 flags. Flag B, C, and D will give commanders different abilities such as tomahawk missiles, artillery strikes, or gunships. Flag A and D, which are typically closest to the spawning teams do not give the commander any abilities.

        • PuddingAuxRais1ns

          Most likely to counter spawn killing. Pretty near if true.

        • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

          Yes that is also true.

        • AtheistMason

          *E

    • Jackson

      Well its only been played on the PC so far so of course it can run at higher than 60 fps. BF3 would run at over 100 with a decent pc and this game isn’t that much of a step up

      • Hot-Wire

        It was running on an Xbox One emulator. At least that was what they announced.

    • Nop

      It’s a bar that you fill up by using squad teamwork and following commander orders. Fill it up and you get acces to specializations you do not have equipeed yourself.

      For example you have “sprint” equipped yourself, you can also get extra ammo by working with your squad and following commander orders.

    • SamRock

      I think that bar is tied to Squad getting special packs/perks like AMMO, medikit etc. Could be the new Bronze Silver and Gold packs we saw earlier

  • Hol_Up

    Did you get to try out the new swimming features like diving and shooting your pistol from the water? also, how are the vehicles?

    • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

      Didn’t swim around! Will try next time. Vehicles seemed to play as normal, as far as I could tell.

  • ROCKMONEY

    I’m a Battlefield nut all day but to be honest those trailers really didn’t prove anything. In 2011 Dice hit us with the same razzle-dazzle and the game didn’t really play right until that famous “Febuary Patch” was released. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed until the new year rolls around and the community gets a chance to dig into the retail game code.

    • http://www.facebook.com/datkidfromawendaw Clay Johnson

      To be honest Battlfield games have never been perfect at launch and probably never will be. If you are for example a Bad Company vet, you wouldn’t have known Battlefield 2 took 4 whole years before it was deemed “perfect” by DICE and the BF2 community. Patch after patch of experimentation, fixing, breaking, and with the exception of BF2142 no other Battlefield game made us feel the way we did for BF2 and I think those long 4 years of DICE working on the game made us appreciate BF2 even more after it was all said and done. And while BF4 has that potential to be that “true successor” we have to see some more action and then play the actual game. I’m not basing anything from Beta gameplay as in BF3 they cut half the stuff out

      • MegaMan3k

        I’d be so much happier if this game were called Battlefield 3: Something Something Subtitle. Looking back at 1942 -> 2 -> 3, this game is not worthy of that evolutionary jump. If it were presented as a minor iteration of BF3, then I could forgive it for all of its faults – including recycled animations and looking like it’s hardly more than a map pack with a new lighting engine.

        Also, Bad Company 2 > BF3. Battlefield 3 did a lot of things well, but it did a lot of things really poorly. Suppression being one of them. Great idea that faltered in execution.

        And I hate that I am so petty to think something like that matters to me.

        • pot51e

          But some of the “faults” weren’t faults were they? Some were subjective opinion – such as suppression. Others were more profound (sound breaking, screen tears (until Feb patch)).

        • eBunny

          About the recycling, I think and hope that a lot of the recycled animations and some assets will be replaced. I think they have said that some things like the enemy character models in the Fishing in Baku trailer were placeholders for example and we’ve also only seen pre-alpha footage of the multiplayer.
          I know that’s a bad arguments because often there doesn’t change a whole lot from the alpha when it comes to the core gameplay, at least for the better, but they’ve still got quite a bit to show, of which some things might surprise you, or not.

          Anyway I feel you, to me it also feels more like a BF3 iteration or BF3.5, it definitely feels more like an evolution than a revolution, which a lot of people find just fine, though some people don’t. But what can you really expect, especially with such a short development time, when it’s not BC3 or 2143.
          I just like to stay positive and trust DICE a bit.

    • Asmitty56

      The new consoles should make things easier to patch, shouldn’t they?

  • born2expire

    footseps, for the love of god, can you hear footsteps?

    • Bengalsfan9595

      you can alrdy in BF3

  • DestinyMaker101

    Watch this video, one of the DICE producers talks about Commander Mode http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUC-iE-rwfY

  • Blaine Reinsma

    The toppling Skyscraper was pretty cool, but I’ll only be truly impressed if we can do that to ANY building on the map. Because if it’s only that particular building that can be toppled, then it’s not a destruction engine – it’s one big scripted animation and it will crumble the same way every time.

    While I am excited to play the game, I still think it’s too similar to BF3 in too many ways… It’s more of a branch-off from BF3 than a whole new game.

    • MegaMan3k

      It’ll be nice if destruction can compliment the gameplay as opposed to something that four squads will ignore the entire game to accomplish at the beginning of every round…

    • http://www.facebook.com/datkidfromawendaw Clay Johnson

      I didn’t know sequel to every game were supposed to be a whole new game. Otherwise it wouldn’t be Battlefield if it were a “whole new game”

    • Paul

      i completely agree with you, it looks like more of an expansion pack to me than a full fledged sequel.

      most of the improvements are just things that should have been in bf3 and i’m not sure that it will provide a fresh experience for players who are bored with bf3.

      sadly, the destruction looks like it will be just like in bf3.
      sure, you can destroy that skyscraper, but from what i’ve seen on the livestream, you can’t do it to anything else.

      i’ll wait for the beta to decide, but right now it’s a no buy.

  • Cole.

    Were the PC’s locked to 60 fps or were you getting like 120?

  • http://www.showtimeforfree.com/ miDnIghtEr20C

    Have to admit, bummed me out a bit to see this was played on the PC. I want to know X1/PS4 info.. how did it play on that.

  • Jamie Marques

    will this game be running at 60 FPS with 64 players on next gen consoles????

    • KillzoneVII

      Yup, and I can’t wait as I’ve only played the 360 version which of course runs at 30fps with only 24p matches.

  • Tyler Dominick

    Again, no comments needed… fapin’

  • http://www.facebook.com/ThaFallen5oulja Alex Melendez
  • nitro

    are those skyscrapers completely accessible or only a few levels?

    • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

      Only the bottom and top level. That WOULD be awesome, except that no one would be able to find each other if it were the case, lol.

      • oofy

        “Enemy spotted on the 53rd floor!”

        Oh Lord…all those steps…

        • http://www.facebook.com/datkidfromawendaw Clay Johnson

          I’m sure if these guys can sprint through waist level watch with ease, they can climb thousands of stairs no problem :)

          • oofy

            What would’ve been hilarious is you get to the 52nd floor and your commander notifies you that the 53rd is now clear.

            “You’re needed back on the 1st floor soldier!”

      • Cillian Greene

        What happens if you are in the elevator when it collapses?

        • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

          I was wondering exactly this. I’d love to test it out, but not sure It’s gonna happen.

        • SubXero

          Probably safe to say you’re boned. Or were your wondering more about how it was going to look and if we’d plummet to our deaths?

  • BF4_Fan

    Here is a 5 hour video of BF3 live game play and interviews with the development crew at E3, confirms a lot of details.

    http://www.twitch.tv/battlefield/b/415662298

    We should get a list going and turn it into an mp1st story or something

  • James Mulhall

    Anyone know how the Assault kit is now? Does it still have the launchers? Is the reviving the same as before? Along with the med kit.

  • kill0311

    If you buy BF4 for the 360/PS3, then later for the XBox1/PS4… will your stats move over or are you starting from scratch?

    • B_Boss

      I am betting they get xferred over because your stats are tied to your XBL or PSN account and both services will virtually remain the same as far as people’s username, trophies, etc, are concerned. There is no direct confirmation on this from an official source but I am betting the stats will move over.

  • ItzsOmega

    I just have some question for you guys.
    What about cinema mode?
    The other question i ask to myself is, what about game modes? All the game modes that came from the bf3 expansions like scavenger or conquest domination will be on the basic bf4 game, there only will be those that came with the simple bf3 game, they will add more game modes?
    And the last question, how many people there will be playing on ps4 and Xbox One?
    I don’t know if those questions were answered yet, but if someone could reply that would be great.

  • B_Boss

    Just so you guys know? The E3 MP Demo? Those were being run on XB1 Devkits!!!…….that is shocking to me lol….way to go XB1 in terms of its power potential, that was a beautiful display of the system handling such a massive game.

    (source: http://www.gamespot.com/e3/battlefield-4-completely-re-balances-the-multiplayer-classes-6409934/)

  • B_Boss

    Just learned this: In BF4 MP, when in the water, you can now sprint/swim, duck under or draw a sidearm!! thank you DICE!…sheesh you were good as dead in BF3 sitting/swimming there in the water like a bullet magnet….

    (source: http://www.gamespot.com/e3/battlefield-4-e3-2013-stage-demo-6409902/)

    (Jump to 3:55 mark)

    • Asmitty56

      Not sure how exactly you can fire a gun in the water.. They should have “some” main weapons not work correctly after coming out of the water. Just something little like having to prime your gun again like after an empty reload.

      • GreggD

        Pretty sure you can only fire it from floating. As in, not underwater.

        • Asmitty56

          well I’d hope so lol. The way they talked about it, it got a bit confusing

  • eBunny

    Don’t forget the great looking Spectator-mode :D I’m not sure about a battlerecorder though but that might be in there as well, otherwise on the next gen consoles you’ll still be able to record or even livestream it, but a battlerecorder would be nice.’

    Also I think the specs, or perks as most people call them, on the bottom left might be unlocked by gaining points with your squad by capturing flags and stuff and perhaps also killing enemies. So instead of selecting the perks in your loadout, you can unlock them in the game so that every squad, no matter how many players in it can still get all of them. And this could promote a bit more PTFO’ing and teamplay.

    I have a feeling only those 4 perks will be in there, but you might be able to change them for things like FLAK and of course it’s still farily early on. The built at E3 is pre-alpha and there will definitely be a lot more stuff revealed.

    Can’t wait to see new maps in the future though, some good variety would be nice. On the other hand I don’t want to see too much of this before the launch, because I don’t want to spoil the fun and surprises. I mean by the time I finally played Operation Swordbreaker back when BF3 was released I was pretty sick of it already and atm. it’s pretty much the same for Fishing in Baku.

  • Asmitty56

    Wow no more early reloads either. If you reload a half mag you lose what was left in your mag decreasing you ammo count. This will likely change how people reload, no more putting in a fresh mag when its clear after finishing off one player. That means players will have to keep in their mind that they may only have a half a mag when coming up against a group of enemies.

    • SAM0A

      Someone please confirm this. I have always wanted this mechanic in battlefield.

  • MC-ARNIE

    This is all well and good, i’ll buy it (PS4) ((of course)), but there’s still current-gen hardware holding them back to release anywhere near full potential of the series yet…. Bad company 3? PS4/SkyboX1/PC only? Now thats what i’m talking about!!!

  • Brian Anthony

    Can you find out how many boats there are? Kind of weapons upgrades for the boats? The reverse Melee , can you counter the reverse Melee? How is a reverse invoked? But pressing one button as you get grabbed or a sequence of buttons?
    The customizations for the guns(sights,grips,muzzles,paints,etc.) is this load out screen like Medal of Honor showing it visually on the screen? The grenades? Can you cook them? Do the light up as orange on screen? Let us battlefield freaks know more as soon as you play it again…

  • blondbassist

    Is this amount of Awesome legal?

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  • nitro

    will there be jets?

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  • roland0811

    From what I’ve watched it still seems like it’s mostly run ‘n gun twitcher over slower paced tactical gameplay. Maybe it’s still the unlimited sprint making it seem like that.

  • marco

    RUMOR HAS IT THAT EA LOST THE NAMING RIGHTS FOR EACH WEAPON, AND THEY WERE GIVING DIFFERENT NAMES. IS THIS TRUE AND IF IT IS THAT SUCKS

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  • William Adama

    Everything that’s wrong with BF3 has been addressed in BF4

    There will be VOIP on the PC (!)

    There isn’t noob weapons like the M16 present
    The flash bang needs a buff but the incendiary is cool
    Tanks are tough to take down from the front but as in RL easy from the rear
    No medic trains, there’s a significant pause between rezzing attempts

    BF4 looks good from what I have experienced with it

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