Battlefield 4 preview
Battlefield is back and now comes with added bass in its teaser trailers. So much bass in fact, that sitting waiting for the Battlefield 4 reveal in a theatre in Stockholm, we were almost knocked off our seat the moment that classic Battlefield theme tune kicked in.
Battlefield 3 was a game we loved and one we still play. Only recently, the final add-on for the game - End Game - was released. So when EA asked us to come take a peek at a new game for DICE, we were worried things might have been rushed. Battlefield games take time to get right.
Thankfully, initial impressions have us thinking otherwise. Although we saw only a 17 minute gameplay demo and didn't get to go "hands-on" with the game itself, it was certainly enough to give us a good impression of what to expect. It opened in such an incredible manner, it was the first time we genuinely have had our jaws drop to the floor and start to get really excited for what the next generation of consoles will be able to do.
Admittedly, DICE never mentioned the words PS4 or Xbox 720 throughout our time with them, but given the game is due to be released this year, we can't see it not arriving on Sony and Microsoft's new consoles. For this demo however, things were shown on PC.
So what had us so excited? The demo starts with a prologue to the game's main single-player story. In the background a tinny sounding radio is playing Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. We giggle, expecting some Battlefield Bad Company style tomfoolery, but oh how we were wrong.
The screen fades from black and you realise that the tinny music is playing on a car radio. A car you're stuck in, underwater, alongside the rest of your rather stressed out squad of soldiers. Panic builds and it is then you notice actor Michael K. Williams - or Omar from the Wire and Albert White from Boardwalk Empire - is playing a part in the game.
The detail on his face, plus the lifelike facial expressions and detailed car interior, make it very obvious this is a big step up from Battlefield 3's already stunning graphics.
You shoot out the car window and the screen fades again. The gameplay demo then starts 15 minutes before the scene in the car. DICE is clearly aware of the lack of engagement Battlefield 3's single-player campaign offered compared to its multiplayer modes. This time around, however, BF4's story had us hooked from the word go.
The developer is hoping to bring the best of its multiplayer experience into the single-player campaign. This means huge maps, plenty of vehicles and a more open approach to gameplay which should create for more distinctive multiplayer-style moments.
This is very apparent in the gameplay demo we saw, entitled Fishing in Baku and set in Azerbaijan. Despite starting in intense room-to-room firefights, the level then changed to jungle, before ending in a huge open environment complete with tall buildings, cars, cover and everything else you might see in a multiplayer map.
You can now also direct your squad around, making negotiating these larger fighting arenas slightly easier. Directing fire on a group of enemies is possible, so you can flank them from the side and do damage up close.
Your squad's animations have been given an overhaul, with them now moving fluidly from cover to cover and interacting with the environment in a very realistic way. In fact, the whole look of the game just ramps it up a notch. DICE is saying it runs on Frostbite 3, as opposed to BF3's Frostbite 2. The new engine is intended to be an evolution of the last and it very much looks that way.
Destruction makes a return, shown off in spectacular fashion in the single-player demo we saw. Towards the end of the level, the squad is tasked with making it to a pick-up point, in order to escape. A helicopter that has been helping you get through waves of bad guys, lands on the roof of a derelict building. You take the quick route to the top, jump in an elevator and are immediately attacked by an enemy chopper.
The lift explodes, you fall to the ground and then the whole building starts coming to pieces around you. You run to the top, expecting a quick getaway and then your helicopter takes a hit form the enemy. It tilts and you scramble to get out of the way of the rotor blades, as they chop the building to pieces in front of you. It looks spectacular and puts even the best moments of Call of Duty to shame.
If DICE can keep up this level of action in the single player, along with adding the open-ended bit of Battlefield fun, it could have quite a game on its hands. Of course, it's early days yet and naturally any gameplay reveal will play to a title's strengths. Still, it's hard not to be excited about a game with Omar from the Wire in it.
Just a note on Omar, or Irish as he is known in the game. At the moment DICE is keeping very quiet on the ins and outs of Battlefield 4's squad and story, which is why we haven't mentioned that much of it yet. You follow the story of Dunn, Pac, Irish and Recker, who you play as. That is pretty much all we know, and that you're fighting Russians.
So how do you end up underwater in a car? Post helicopter crash and building collapse, Dunn from your squad ends up with his leg trapped under a piece of wreckage. You then cut said leg off with a combat knife. Just to repeat that, you cut his leg off. It looks horrible.
The four of you get into a car and try to make your escape, but are shot to pieces by another pursuing helicopter. Hanging out the side of the car, you shoot the chopper with a grenade launcher. The resultant explosion combined with some rather bad driving then sees you crash the car into the sea.
DICE was pretty hard on itself speaking to journalists after the reveal trailer. It made it very clear that lessons had been learnt about BF3's slightly lacking single-player campaign. Hopefully this game should rectify that. We haven't been given any details about multiplayer yet, so who knows what that has in store.
We do wonder how experiences will differ between console and PC. Clearly this is a graphical powerhouse of a title, but fingers crossed that the PS4 and Xbox 720 will get the same. We also hope the full 64-player large-scale multiplayer maps will translate across.
Check back soon on Pocket-lint to read more about Battlefield 4. DICE promised much more exciting information on the game to be released soon. For the moment, sit back and enjoy the screens, it's looking like a stunner.