Battlefield 4 Review: Multiplayer At Its Finest
Since we first started riding on the wings of fighter planes in 1942, the Battlefield franchise has been front and center in the online shooter genre. From the Road to Rome and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, to the streets of Karkand and the Titan-filled skies above Minsk, Battlefield has always been the home for those who crave vehicle combat, big team play, and a combat/team dynamic not found in other FPS titles.
With a firm foothold in the online shooter space, Electronic Arts and DICE have invested heavily to bring the single-player component of Battlefield to the fore. Starting with the Battlefield: Bad Company subset in 2008, some sort of solo campaign has accompanied the regular multiplayer experience ever since. These campaigns have consistently been less than perfect, but playing Battlefield games for the single-player campaign is, as the cliché line goes, like buying Playboy “to read the articles.”
Despite playing second fiddle, the single-player component of Battlefield has improved, if only slightly, from game to game, even if the campaign is a sheep in Call of Duty’s clothing (not that I love the CoD campaigns, either, but we must give credit where it’s due). Does Battlefield 4 continue this trend? How does the six-hour campaign compliment the multiplayer experience that we’re all here for, if it compliments it at all?
Game: Battlefield 4
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: October 29th, 2013
The nicest thing I can say about the campaign in Battlefield 4 is that it’s better than the campaign in Battlefield 3. The single-player experience in BF4 manages to check the “better than the last” box, but just barely, as a promising plot, initially solid cast, and interesting set pieces are quickly wasted on awkward dialogue and confrontation, a phoned-in villain, and a lackluster conclusion.
The Fishing in Baku video that made the rounds earlier this year is where BF4’s single-player campaign kicks off. Baku is the first of six missions that put China center stage, with the campaign’s premise built upon political strife. The assassination of a Chinese politician, a progressive who wants to take China further from its Communist roots, sparks a civil war in the country. General Chang plays the villainous Iron Man of China attempting to take over the torn region, while you play as Recker, one of Tombstone Squad’s four members. Pac, Dunn and the instantly-recognizable Irish (played by Michael K. Williams of “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire”) round out the squad. Tombstone calls the U.S.S. Valkryie home, and the carrier plays an integral role throughout the campaign. Other characters such as Garrison (the Valkryie’s skipper) and Hannah (a Chinese agent looking to end the pending global conflict) compliment the initial Tombstone quartet.
Tombstone serves as the linchpin in a burgeoning conflict between the world’s two greatest superpowers, as the squad is constantly found in the brewing war’s greatest battles. It’s a tired device, isn’t it? The only unit in the history of the world that’s been involved in back-to-back-to-back-to-infinity conflicts is the Hollywood-whitewashed Easy Company, circa World War II. Despite the aging foundation, Tombstone does offer up a few interesting moments, like firefights on the South China Sea, and prison breaks deep in the Kunlun Mountains. Being on board a carrier that’s being ripped apart by missiles and the rough seas makes for some inspiring visuals, too, even if the device that leads us to those visuals is a bit long in the tooth.