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Battlefield 4 multiplayer hands-on impressions: The Siege of Shanghai

BF Multi

Battlefield 4 was one of the most anticipated titles at E3. The lines just for the Battle Pass was ever-growing, snaking around EA’s myriad of booths–even right as the Convention Center opened. To get a pass was a great opportunity, and each one had different times. During DICE’s “Angry Sea” demonstration, a DICE rep told us that they had over 1600 passes and they ran out in a span of forty five minutes.

In any case, we had the opportunity to go hands-on with Battlefield 4’s multiplayer in a massive team-orientated conquest match, pitting two teams (USA vs. China) in a capture & defend type gametype known as the Siege of Shanghai.

During the demo, plays could switch between both an Xbox One controller or traditional PC keyboards. The gametype afforded an immense playing field that encompasses Downtown Shanghai, with tons of buildings and interconnected streets that build a layered and dynamic metropolitan environment.

Right off the bat players can pick their in-game class, each of which has their own loadouts and proficiency in combat. When your class is selected, you then get to pick your deployment points on the map. Choosing a good point is quite important, as you can select an area by your teammates to give them back up, or jump right into the fray near a compromised zone. You can even deploy into a vehicle as long a teammate is driving, giving players even more strategic capability.

After we were deployed into the streets of Shanghai, we joined up with our squadmates to unleash some good old-fashioned bullet hell. There are plenty of nearby vehicles like tanks, helicopters, and even attack boats/jet skis to maneuver the waterways, giving players the opportunity to provide fast and lethal strikes and close the distances between conquest zones.

Building Crumble

One of the most impressive things about Battlefield 4’s multiplayer (besides the frenetic and explosive action) is the game’s full range of destructible environments. Each of the conquest zones are fully destructible–for example, if Checkpoint Alpha is in danger of being taken over by an enemy, players can launch a fusillade of attacks on the building’s foundations with vehicles to bring it crashing down.

The converse side is also true for the destructible environments, meaning that cover can be limited and destroyed, making players scramble and move about rather than sitting safely behind a wall.

Downtown Shanghai is a massive level that’s complete with photorealistic additions to bring such realism to the in-game level. Everything from signs to trees to nearby shops are brought to life with such stunning detail. The actual hugeness of the level was somewhat intimidating for lone players as it was sometimes hard to come across enemies–and when you did, they often were in alleyways or on roofs, or even behind you, so the expansiveness could work against you at times.

Experimenting with Battlefield 4’s in-game vehicles proved to be incredibly rewarding as well. The attack helicopters were somewhat difficult to control with classic keyboard layouts, and the placards that displayed the controls didn’t go into much detail about how to maneuver with the aircraft. The gunner seat, however, was immensely fun and proved to be an extremely effective way to cut down enemies, vehicles, and even buildings.

Gunner Seat

The combination of all these different strategic elements–including the vehicles and different classes–affords massive tactical potential for hardcore tight-knit groups of gamers. Players who compliment one another and work well together in clans will find Battlefield 4’s multiplayer to be an incredible leap forward that encompasses a new level of teamwork opportunities and specific tactical maneuverability.

There are so many ways that you can combine the vehicles, classes, and specific weapon types together that every gamer will find his or her niche and be able to take advantage of the title’s myriad of in-game possibilities.

While Downtown Shanghai was a huge level, the firefights were just as enjoyable and rewarding as any Battlefield game–and just as frenetic. In a FPS like this anything can happen–that’s part of the magic–and every single firefight gets you pumped up for more.

Nothing is scripted–everything is chaotic and random, and Battlefield 4’s multiplayer brought that sense of true action-packed gameplay to the table.

As a console gamer, I preferred the Xbox One controller over the classic keyboard controls–however I did try them both. The XB1 controller was more attuned with my personal preferences and I was able to score more kills and maneuver much better, however the mouse and keyboard combo afforded more accuracy, and I was able to snipe better with the mouse.


The controls are nice and fluid and are basically the same as many FPS’s out there–dual-axis control/aiming schemes with your classic face buttons for reload, sprint, etc. Using the peek function was nice as well, but in a huge level like this it wasn’t always necessary. I tried to mark enemies, but sometimes they appeared so quickly that you were forced to react or die.

The classes were balanced quite well, and offered pre-defined loadouts and specific weapon equips that basically afforded every type of gamer with their own character type. Personally I preferred the Assault or Engineer class, as sniping was a bit finicky–you had to take the time to tweak your sensitivities and find the right balance–so I usually stayed away from the Recon class.

Each class had a primary weapon and a secondary sidearm, with an “equipment” weapon that varied from class to class. The equipment weapons were mostly useful against vehicles, as some of them had rocket launchers–quite advantageous when turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a Chinese-controller tank–and other high-tech weaponry.

As it was the first time playing Battlefield 4, paying attention to each of the different functions was a bit tough. Your first instinct was to pick a class that fits you, and try to study the overhead pre-deployment interface that mapped the conquest points and the entire level, so that you could jump into a point and get right into the action.

The gameplay was filled to the brim with adrenaline-pumping action, and your senses were heightened during every minute of gameplay–especially when you’re exchanging gunfire with enemies. Mowing down multiple baddies was even more rewarding in this game, especially if you were able to sneak up and assassinate them and pick up their dog tags for a special bonus.

Helicopter Warfare

Overall Battlefield 4’s multiplayer has evolved even further to bring even more insane and addicting action to the world of next-gen (and current) consoles, introducing a greater variety of weapons and vehicles to expand the series further. Multiplayer has kept that distinct chaotic feel to it, and every match brings a plethora of untold possibilities. The graphics were amazing, the Downtown Shanghai map was incredibly defined, and the combat was excellently executed and fluid and refined.

Battlefield 4 has brought a new age of first-person action to the realm of gaming, introducing a whole new chapter of engaging multiplayer that satisfies and pumps your adrenaline up during those crazy firefights. Exchanging missiles in tanks and spraying endless bullets above with a helicopter’s mini-gun is extremely rewarding, and watching an entire building crumble from a combination of team-fire is proof that BF4 ushers in a new era of FPS multiplayer.

DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine pushes the game to new heights, and evidence of the engine’s incredible power is visible in every second of gameplay. From the massive array of realistic in-game features like trees, buildings and real-time weather, to the explosions and volleys of gunfire, DICE has really redefined the graphical limits of the franchise with the Frostbite 3 engine.

In BF4’s multiplayer there’s something for everyone, and rather than taking things out, DICE has injected even more explosive elements, creating a truly dynamic and incredibly defined experience that every Battlefield fan will fall in love with.

Battlefield 4 is slated for release on Oct. 29, 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC–and is also coming to next-gen via Xbox One and PS4. For more information please visit the game’s official website.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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