While the single-player campaign offers a great story and plenty of memorable moments, it’s only one part of Battlefield 4. The multiplayer experience is the other part. Playing against others and working together as a team with members of your squad adds an entirely new dimension of intensity and fun. Plus, earning new ranks and unlocks is incredibly addictive, making hours melt away. So before jumping into a multiplayer match, make sure you’ve set aside plenty of free time. After all, who needs sleep?
If you’re a grizzled Battlefield veteran, you can jump online now and feel right at home among the whizzing bullets and exploding shells. But before rushing into action, here’s a quick summary of the some of the new features and gameplay mechanics. Battlefield 4 builds on the successes of past installments while introducing entirely new features like Levolution, battle pickups, and Spectator Mode. These new features blend seamlessly with the tried and proven rock-paper-scissors balance fans have come to love, making Battlefield 4 the deepest and most ambitious entry in the franchise’s history.
One of the most exciting and revolutionary features in Battlefield 4 is Levolution, allowing players to alter their environment to gain a tactical advantage. Offering greater destructibility across the board, all maps have been designed from the ground up to feature epic-scale events, like a toppling skyscraper or crumbling dam. But Levolution offers much more than these memorable large-scale set pieces. Interacting with the environment goes even deeper, giving players the chance to perform smaller but equally effective actions—raise bollards, preventing enemy vehicles from passing, or cut power to a building, effectively blacking out rooms prior to an assault. The maps are no longer static, requiring a greater degree of flexibility on behalf of your squad and teammates. So before triggering an event, take into account the consequences of your actions—will it benefit your team?
While Commander Mode isn’t new, it’s back and better than ever. When playing Conquest, Rush, or the new Obliteration mode, each team can benefit from the leadership of an attentive commander. In addition to issuing orders to squads, the commander has an array of assets at their fingertips, potentially shifting the balance of power and helping their team achieve victory. Need to locate enemies for your team? Deploy a UAV over a heated firefight to give your squads the upper hand. If a team is successful, the commander gains even more power, capable of deploying a Gunship overhead or calling in devastating Cruise Missile strikes. What’s better, Commander Mode can be accessed from tablets, allowing you to connect to live games and lead your team to victory even when you’re not in front of your PC or console.
While it may seem like a subtle change, increasing squad capacity from four to five players has a big impact, particularly during close matches. Obviously, five-player squads bring much more firepower into any battle, making squads a more effective fighting unit. Experiment with different squad compositions depending on the tactical situation. Facing tons of enemy armor? Go with three engineers, one support, and one assault. Need to clear a building? Go with three assault, one support, and one recon. With five players, squads are much more effective at converting control points during Conquest too—the more players in the capture radius, the quicker the control point is converted. But since every squad member serves as a spawn point, having five players on the field greatly increases the survivability of the squad as whole, making it tougher for squads to be wiped.
Remember the Field Upgrades from Battlefield 2142? Well, the concept has returned in Battlefield 4, providing individual rewards for squad-based teamplay. Field upgrades replace the specialization system from Battlefield 3, putting more emphasis on working together as a squad to gain unique perks, such as the ability to sprint faster or carry more grenades. Each class can select from four different Field Upgrade paths, each offering four upgrade levels. By default, each class has access to the Defensive and Shadow upgrade paths. But each class also has two other unique upgrade paths as well, like the assault class’ Combat Medic and Grenadier upgrade paths. So go out of your way to heal, revive, repair, and resupply your squad members to progress through your chosen upgrade path. The more squad-based actions you perform, the faster you’ll advance—if you reach the fourth level, you maintain all the upgrades in the path! However, if your squad is eliminated, you’ll lose progress, potentially losing upgrades.
Lean and Peek
Now when you approach cover with a compact weapon, you have the ability to lean around corners or peek over low cover. Simply move toward a corner and watch how your weapon is tilted, indicating you can lean out. Aim down sights to automatically lean out and aim around the corner. This allows you to engage targets while keeping the majority of your body behind cover, making you more difficult for opponents to hit. This mechanic works similar when crouching behind low objects—aim down sights to pop over the cover to take a shot. Both of these improvements make it easier (and safer) to engage opponents while utilizing cover. However, you can only lean or peek when using an assault rifle, PDW, carbine, shotgun, or pistol.
Battle pickups are unique, powerful weapons scattered across each map, like the one-shot kill M82A3 sniper rifle or the devastating M32 MGL semi-auto grenade launcher. These weapons can be equipped by any player lucky enough to grab one. But they’re not necessarily hidden—look for the pistol icon on the HUD or minimap to find their spawn locations. Battle pickups function similar to vehicles—they spawn at predesignated spots on the map, allowing any player to pick them up. Due to their power, these weapons have very limited ammo, and they can’t be replenished with an Ammo Box. So make each shot count. Don’t be surprised if players flock around battle pickup spawn points, eager to grab a weapon or ambush those running for it.
Naval combat has been part of the Battlefield franchise since Battlefield 1942, when destroyers, submarines, battleships, and even aircraft carriers roamed the seas of maps like Midway and Guadalcanal. Seaborne combat has returned in a big way with the introduction of attack boats in Battlefield 4. The new attacks boats perform like IFVs on the water, armed to the teeth with an array of weapons making them effective against virtually any threat, including aircraft. But the addition of attack boats isn’t the only new feature. The physics of the water has received a major overhaul, producing real-time rolling waves, making for choppy seas. So when a storm rolls in, be prepared to be tossed around amidst the dynamic dune-like seascape while attempting to stay on course and on target. The game’s netcode ensures the waves you encounter are the same exact ones seen by other players, allowing for balanced yet challenging engagements on the water. Don’t get seasick.
Battlefield 4 features a total of eight game modes per map, bringing back favorites like Conquest Large/Small, Rush, Squad Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch. Along with these classic game modes, DICE is featuring three new game modes. Obliteration is a unique tug-of-war style mode requiring teams to retrieve a randomly spawned bomb on the map and deliver it to an enemy bomb site—the first team to destroy all three of the opposing team’s bomb sites wins the match. Domination is a small-scale infantry only Conquest-like match featuring three flags—you’ll be familiar with this game mode if you played the Close Quarters expansion from Battlefield 3. Finally, Defuse is another infantry-only game mode requiring an attacking team to deliver a bomb to one of two bomb sites on the map. There are no respawns in Defuse, making it even more critical to clear corners and work together as a team.
With the introduction of Spectator Mode, players can now watch a live battle from virtually any angle or perspective. Whether watching from the Commander Mode-like table top view, first person, third person, or free cam, Spectator Mode presents a myriad of opportunities for casual and hardcore fans alike. The smooth camera movements and customizable interface are ideal for creating exciting, cinematic videos. Or if you’re new to a particular map or game mode, enter Spectator Mode to get a better idea of how to play. Scouting a rival squad or team? Use Spectator Mode to study their tendencies and tactics before an upcoming match. This mode opens a world of possibilities for the Battlefield community, including the option of streaming matches online with broadcast-quality visuals.