Oct 2, 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta Impressions

I expected absolutely nothing from BF4, and yet I'm somehow still disappointed!

Awful (and somewhat strange) performance issues? Eh, I suppose that'll probably be fixed out of beta. I could actually believe that. I'll give the apologists that one.

But the netcode somehow being even worse than in BF3? That's just downright impressive. I'd let that slide too, since... beta... but it NEVER got fixed in BF3, so... I'm not exactly hopeful. Not only is getting shot a full second around corners even with a low ping still a thing (when it's not in any other online FPS I've ever played), but now you also have this fun effect where it feels like it takes 12 bullets to kill anyone, but you die in 2. BF3 didn't have that one, so thanks for adding it!

The map in the beta is an absolutely awful clusterf- in both modes. I guess maybe the other 9 will be better, but this isn't exactly a good impression if this is the direction you're going for map design.

The gameplay is even more focused on hyper-ADD-sprinting around shotting fast than BF3, which is... pretty impressive considering BF3 was already pretty damn braindead.

The UI is improved in some ways, but other aspects are even less functional than BF3, so I guess... I guess a pass there, overall?

The worst part is that I can't name a single feature or addition that significantly increases the value or enjoyment of the product that isn't something that was CUT from the series for BF3. Adding back in features that you cut for no good reason doesn't really count as new.

So, commander mode and spectator mode? In-game VOIP? Naval combat that isn't pointless and terrible? Thanks for adding back in the features you stripped out of the series for no other reason but being too lazy to include them.

Levolution? Levolution is a gimmick. Yes, it changes the levels, but it doesn't actually add much to the replayability of the game. You're kidding yourself if you think it's going to be used to get much of an actual advantage over the other team, and the novelty of the cool visual effects will wear out pretty fast, and since you can guarantee 100% that everything that can be altered will be in every single match, it's not like you're going to actually have matches play out differently because of it.

There is a minor graphical improvement over BF3, so that's good I guess. The colour palette is much better and there is slightly less crap flying everywhere blinding me for no reason, so that's also good, but I'm not sure how many points you get for not repeating awful decisions that the community at large hated.

I loved this franchise for years. When the BF3 beta landed, I defended the game because it was just a beta (feel kinda stupid now considering how few of the problems in the beta were ever actually addressed WELL). I bought premium because I still believed in the series despite the mediocrity of BF3. I've tried to stay cautiously optimistic about BF4. I figured "This'll be the one. This'll be the game that is what BF3 should have been. It probably won't revolutionise the series, but it'll fix the glaring problems with BF3 and make the game fun again."

But it's not that game. It's another shallow modern military shooter with the pacing and longevity of an over-excited 15 year old losing his virginity. It's MW3 with tanks. My expectations were so low. Just a mild improvement over the previous game, fixing the major flaws. Nothing major. And it seems like DICE are determined to undershoot them.

I'll keep an eye on the game. Maybe I'll even buy it if DICE seems to have fixed some of the actual, plain-as-day technical problems and reversed some of the terrible design decisions (I only scratched the surface, this post was already too long...) If not, eh, I guess it's just one more franchise that used to be great but then sunk into an abyss of mediocrity so deep mankind cannot reckon its limits.

Guess I'll go back to playing CS:GO, ArmA 3, Tribes, or, hell, even BC2, BF2, BF:V or BF1942. I'd rather play something that's actually new and fresh than any of those games, but it seems like the only thing that's fresh in the shooter genre these days is the stench of the turds pushed out by the major studios, and without some big changes, BF4 is shaping up to be a ripe one.

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