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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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