previews\ Mar 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

Battlefield 4 reveal stuns with next-gen visuals and explosive gameplay


Electronic Arts and DICE jettisoned into the next generation last night during a private presentation for Battlefield 4 during GDC in San Francisco. Though the idea of waiting 45 minutes to get into a 17-minute presentation may be far-fetched for some, there’s no question that the dedication the developer is showing for detail is pure, through and through.

Though platforms weren’t specified, the game was running on a high-end PC, and is obviously destined for next-gen consoles, such as the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s next Xbox console. The details strewn throughout were nothing short of magnificent, especially midway through the demo, when you find yourself in the middle of a collapsing building, shooting at soldiers as you slide down crumbling walls and stopping to save a comrade from the spinning blades of a crashing helicopter. Moments like this made the demo truly intense.

The footage begins with your team trapped within a vehicle underwater. One of the members finds themselves pinned on a seat, handing your soldier a gun and ordering you to shoot the window out so you can escape – though he’d be sacrificing himself in the process. The rest of the demo is then told through flashbacks, with your team of four eventually meeting up in an enemy-laden building, including a rescue of a fellow soldier trying to get through the street in one piece, then your crew eventually reaching what appears to be an abandoned oil refuge in the desert, before coming face to face with a heavily armed helicopter (while trying to be extracted) and, yep, ending up underwater.

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Pacing is somewhat questionable with the demo, as the first few minutes focused on wandering through the somewhat abandoned building before meeting up with your teammates. However, this was a key opportunity to see DICE’s Frostbite 3 technology in action, including the ability to break apart walls with the help of your shotgun (also handy for close encounters) and explosions that look as realistic as they get, especially when they’re up close and leave a settling dust cloud in their wake. This is truly DICE’s finest engine to date, even with the brief footage we’ve seen.

There were plenty of tense moments throughout, including firefights with soldiers that discover you, situations where you need to call upon team members to shoot while you get to a better position in order to take them out, the collapsing building scenario we described earlier, and a wild chase between a cab and a helicopter that went all over the place, before ending up in the water with Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing in the background. (Yes, we’re serious.)

battlefield 4

A couple of moments played heavily on dramatics, especially one sequence where you had to free a teammate, whose leg is pinned underneath heavy concrete. You’re called upon to sever it right then and there, and it’s really quite hard to watch if you aren’t prepared for it. (No blood gushing, just his blood-curdling scream when you get it done.) But in general, when it came to action, the footage truly delivered.

DICE really went all out with the visual side of Battlefield 4, especially when you were on the run from an enemy chopper, dodging gunfire while running like crazy through an enclosed space. And there’s plenty of switching between on-foot action and riding in a vehicle, complete with a turret in the back if you feel like mowing down enemy forces.

Some gameplay elements were revealed, like Medal of Honor: Warfighter’s twin scope system, as well as plenty of aiming mechanisms to use with your weapon. But it’s all about the traditional run-and-gun, which looks just about right.

battlefield 4

There were some unanswered questions after watching the footage – mainly with the lack of mention for the game’s multiplayer, which is no doubt a huge draw – but EA and DICE have effectively lit the fuse for what could be a huge first-person shooter war for next-gen, between them and Activision’s Call of Duty franchise. Battlefield 4 has the potential to be something quite huge, and if the multiplayer can live up to the strength of what we’ve seen in single player thus far, we’re in for something spectacular.

Look for more details on the game in the months ahead.

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