I have to admit to being a bit of a cheat here- in addition to the brief 15 mins spent playing BF4 at Eurogamer, I have enjoyed the opportunity to play the early access open beta at home for a couple of evenings too.
As a huge fan of the Battlefield multiplayer experience, I was confident that DICE would get it right and I am pleased to say that I am mostly happy with what I’ve seen so far. Things are generally the same but there are some gameplay tweaks, mainly associated with class load outs, new weapons and vehicles but there one or two innovative functions added also. Ammo and health packs for example seemed to have been substantially nerfed, the ammo pack seems to act more like a traditional pick-up, bequeathing a modest amount of bullets (not explosives!) to the recipient, and health packs linger only for a short while. I actually quite like this- forcing players to be a little more thoughtful or conservative in the use of RPG’s, C4, etc or ensuring a ‘medic’ responds to an injured teammate quickly, rather than just dumping health in common fight areas.
For some reason, they default keyset has been massively changed for the Xbox and presumably for the PS3/4 too. Thankfully, most of the controls can be returned to the original (or ‘veteran’) keyset – although the critical ‘spot’ function has been permanently reassigned, which still catches me out after a few hours of gameplay. But that is a minor gripe, but I had to find something to moan about.
Many of the new features are locked out for the beta- notably the interesting ‘commander’ feature and of course the purchasable battle packs- kit bags that unlock items, tags, etc. I can’t judge until I’ve played around with this feature, but I generally prefer unlocks to happen because of accomplishments that happen in game, rather than randomised purchasable (through XP or microtransaction) ‘packs’. But I lived with it in Mass Effect 3, so I shan’t be too downbeat about it.
Anyway, the game plays well- seeing a skyscraper come crashing down on the enemy is something I’ve never experienced before- the ‘levolution’ mechanic show plenty of promise- I look forward to seeing what else can happen on other maps. I literally cannot wait to get my teeth into the full game…