E3 2013: Joining In the Siege of Shanghai With Battlefield 4
One of the highlights at Electronic Arts' E3 booth this year was Battlefield 4. But EA wasn't just intent on housing the game in a big show theater. Nope, for the game's setup, they first had a briefing room where an announcer walked us through the mission at hand – in this case, taking control or bringing down a TV station in the middle of Shanghai – and then led us to one of 64 open units for gameplay. Of course, we were happy to oblige, and we took part in an epic battle that first-person shooter fans won't be able to get enough of.
The map for Siege of Shanghai is a doozy. We're talking a few square miles of distance here, with five focal points that need to be fought for on the map. It is Conquest Mode, after all, and the goal is to dominate as many control points as possible before securing or destroying the big building in the center.
32 soldiers were assigned to the U.S. side (invading and destroying the building), while the other 32 were put onto China's team (guarding the building and avoiding its destruction). Both sides have four classes to choose from – Recon, Assault, Engineer and Support. Obviously, action gamers will feel right at home with Assault, while those who prefer a technical approach to their combat will want to give the other classes a try. If one doesn't work, you can switch to another one before respawning back onto the map.
The way you can bring down a building in Battlefield 4 is quite tactical. You can either sabotage from the top (after taking an elevator), eliminate the forces and take control of the point, or you can go the old-fashioned way and take out its support beams on the bottom, though a whole gaggle of soldiers await you if you choose to take this approach. It's great having an advantage either way, and the battles that unfold are quite fun – especially if you've got skilled soldiers going up against one another.
A word of warning – the map is HUGE. In fact, the first time we were playing through it, we found ourselves running a few miles to get back into the fight before realizing that we could actually respawn closer next to a soldier that was near a control point. This is a helpful system, though you might want to be aware that you could be respawning right in the middle of an ambush or firefight. Best be prepared when you get back into the game.
That said, the action is pretty nonstop in Battlefield 4's multiplayer, and watching some of the weapon effects, like the skyscraper tumbling down into the sea or a tomahawk missile come flying in to where the commander directs it, is wild stuff. However, the game never gets so out of hand that you can't tell what you're doing – it's nice to keep a focus on things.
Going on foot has its moments in multiplayer, but the real action is in the vehicles. The tank is quite cool when it comes to blasting things apart (like enemy perimeters), and the helicopter is good fun, whether you're blasting away in the driver's seat or riding in a turret on the side, mowing down anything that's in front of you. Sure, there's risk in being shot down – but you'll reap the rewards with a bunch of kills lined up.
Finally, with Battlefield 4, you'll have a player that can keep an eye on the action through a tablet connected with the game. This is the Commander, someone who keeps watch over everything occurring during the fight and sets up attacks with particular ground troops to call in earned missile strikes or other strategies. We only saw a bit of this in action, but it's a promising addition for those who prefer the tactical approach.
EA and DICE could have their biggest Battlefield to date with part 4, especially if the multiplayer we've seen is any indication. We'll find out when it hits PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 29th, and soon after on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.