Under the Radar

'Battlefield 4': New Game or Big Expansion?



by Daniel Reeder

That's the official  multiplayer launch trailer for Battlefield 4. It was just released here in the US and already tens of thousands of gamers have tuned out of the real world to get their war on.

You'd have to been living under a rock not to know about BF4, which is out now. EA and DICE did it again. Another entry into the ongoing series of explosion-causing, vehicle-driving, bullet-shooting, frag-tossing, building-destroying goodness. Initial reviews are good, though I hate to admit it. I'm a little predisposed to being negative toward EA's products. They have openly admitted and demonstrated time and time again they are "in it for the money'. That's not a Bad Thing for a business, unless it ruins a game (like when they make multiple bad sequels to a movie, or jump a shark). I'm also still harboring a grudge over the the SimCity fiasco and their attempt to push Steam out.

I'm not the only one who doesn't like EA Games. They've won Consumerist's Worst Company in America twice in a row.

Running and gunning in BF4

Battlefield 4 looks suspiciously like Battlefield 3, lacking the the infamous "Blue Filter" and adding just a few new things (the Blue Filter was a literal filter over the entire game so it "looked like a real war movie"; they even went so far as to ban modders who took it off). The question I had was, did they add enough new content to make it a legitimately new game? I'm tentatively, hesitantly impressed by the content we've seen so far, but the jury is still debating whether it actually constitutes a whole game or is just a really big update. It seems like the same game with some new maps, new vehicles and new explosions - not exactly groundbreaking. Either way it's going to sell a lot.

In its favor - they've returned to their roots and just about everything in the game can be destroyed (in Battlefield Bad Company 2 you could destroy most everything -not so much in Battlefield 3). You can level skyscrapers and knock out the subway support system to drop the road above, which is about the most revolutionary thing about the "new" game. Now, BF4's maps are by almost all accounts far superior to what we saw in BF3. Those things must not be all they're doing right. BF4 won 8 awards at Gamescom 2013, including Best PC Game, 3 x Editor's Choice Awards, Best Graphics, Best FPS and Game of Show. It also received another 16 nominations, including one for Best Action Game.

NOT in their favor? The amount of reused content and the content of various types of memberships vs. the amount they're charging (particularly for those who preordered). Digital Deluxe was $69.99, standard PC or console "base game" download was $59.00, a Premium Membership was $49.99 on top of owning the base game - that basically gets you the map packs early, access to double XP weekends, server queue priority so you can get on before the poor, ramen-eating kids and a few other things.

Basically you're paying money for content other publishers offer for free. The only serious benefit of Premium is the ability to transfer your game from Xbox 360 and PS3 to Xbox One and PS4 (the next gen consoles) when they go loud. If you do that, you keep all your stats but you've spent from $120 to $140 for a game that's arguably a large mechanical upgrade and large map expansion pack. If you're planning on playing Xbox One or PS4 you'd be better to wait a bit and buy the game then, but that's going to be hard for a lot of gamers to do. People don't want to wait.

Remember the running joke about the Battlefield 3 Premium knife?

You see, I'm an admitted hypocrite. It is sad but true. I should vote with my money and not buy BF4, but I'm probably going to anyway. Ultimately I like blowing things up with my friends and since they're all going to be doing it, so will I. I would rather spend my money on Indie games who are really working hard to make new games that are really cool, but I also want to play with my friends and they'll be on BF4.

BF4 has been released for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. In a few weeks they'll be releasing the versions for next-gen consoles.  Battlefield 4 will be available for PS4 starting November 12 in North America and November 29 in Europe; Xbox One availability will start November 19 in North America and November 22 in Europe. I'll be playing in a group that includes players like me as well as those who've done the real thing overseas - you'll see a review soon.

Driving a tank through a building

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