Hands-on with Battlefield 4 multiplayer: New coat of paint, same old Battlefield

Battlefield 4 Multiplayer

By on June 13, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Battlefield fans are not going to be happy.

The six-year wait between Battlefield 2 and 3 brought with it an entirely new set of gaming options. Naturally, two years of development isn’t going to result in anything completely new – Battlefield 4 is merely an upgraded version of BF3 slapped with a premium price tag.

However, the ability to use the Command Mode while on a tablet and take part in either a PC or console game is a nice feature for those on the move.

In a hands-on demonstration played by games.on.net on the show floor today, we were able to play the 64-player map “Siege of Shanghai”, shown during the EA press conference earlier this week.

The size was what you would expect of a typical Battlefield map. Imagine some of the bigger of BF3’s maps, and you’d have an accurate picture.

The map is built around a skyscraper, with other control points as secondary targets. Whichever team controls this huge building has the tactical advantage, as players can jump down onto the surrounding bases and dominate from the air.

Of course, the opposing team also has options – they can just knock the skyscraper down completely. If they get enough firepower to destroy the bases of the building itself, it will come crashing down in a glorious display of physics and debris. It was actually quite impressive stuff, and provided another aspect of action to the already hectic map.

However, most of the differences here are purely cosmetic. The user interface has changed up a little, although the HUD is mostly the same. The squad screen has been given an overhaul, with players now able to select their squad members on a real-time map instead of from a list. The older version was a little clearer – the new iteration feels slightly more complicated than it’s worth.

Unfortunately, the major new change in the BF4 multiplayer – Commander Mode – wasn’t able to be tested by us. Unfortunately, the person playing as Commander in our game also wasn’t particularly talented at telling squads where to go, and what points to capture.

While plenty of players will be happy to see the return of Commander Mode, it raises the same problems it did back in 2005 when it was originally announced — when you’re with a great player, it goes extremely well. With someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, it’s chaos.

There are some good new additions to the Commander Mode, however – including the fact that the Commander is no longer a playable character. The design for the mode has been given an overhaul, and Commanders are able to call in artillery or defensive vehicles for flags using a fun new user interface.

This ties into the companion app for the game. Using a tablet device, users can act as the Commander for a game they’re not even a part of on their computer or console. All they need to do is log in to the app, and they can control the battlefield from there – just as if they were logged in to their main gaming device of choice as usual. The interface appears exactly the same.

This is actually pretty cool, and for people on the move, a great way to pass the time. It’s essentially creating a mini-strategy game. Of course, its success depends on how it plays, and you’ll want a stable internet connection to give it a whirl.

But all in all, that’s not enough to make Battlefield 4 a huge step forward. There are some fine updates here, but this is mostly the same game. Aside from the new engine, it’s nothing that couldn’t have been added with some DLC.

Commander Mode is a welcome addition, but that along with some new maps and weapons is not a package for which long-term fans might not be willing to pay a blockbuster price.

33 comments (Leave your own)

Presumably the new consoles will be supporting 64 players on the bigger maps this time around? That’s probably a big enough change for a lot of the player base to let Dice get away with quite a bit of laziness.


Have EA/Dice mentioned anything about the product support aspect for the game? ie. Since the consoles and PC’s are on the same architecture now, will they be easily able to patch the game when the need arises? Or is the Microsoft/Sony cost to deploy a patch still a determining factor on this?

Thanks for the review.


Dare I ask about the trollisms? With increased popularity in the BF space I can only imagine the amount of wankers that will log in, disrupt/destroy a game then just bugger off 5 minutes later…

Yes, I don’t doubt you’ll be able to vote-kick a commander, but this could be very annoying.


TL:dr – We disagree. BF4 is actually a sequel, not just bf3.5

I disagree with “Battlefield fans are not going to be happy.” and all that. The clan that I am a part of has a large battlefield division primarily made up of people from the bf2, 2142 days (and earlier even). Everyone seems quite chuffed with all of the improvements, and the general consensus is that we really have got a sequel, and not just battlefield 3.5. The big advertised changes, at face value, seem small enough. However from their stream it was made apparent that DICE have addressed almost every concern anyone had about bf3 (leaving us only worried about hit-reg – yet to find out if that’s fixed).

For those interested, here is a full list of new features, changes, and other cool stuff gleaned from interviews in the 5 hour long bf4 live stream from yesterday.

•Dive under water in bf4. Suppress is focused on support class over range. Sit in cover and character leans up and over like red orchestra.
•If you get knifed in the front you can counter. Cant counter being snuck up on. So impressed with DICE. Its evident from this stream that they are doing good by the community. In the first 15 minutes Karl has hit on every hot topic bar hit reg.
•Spectator mode is in.
•Commander mode works on pc or tablet. Pick either.
•Dice are behind exports and competitive play. To what extent, we shall see.
•Skyscraper falling is player controlled – not scripted like the tower on Caspian. Destroy the 4 main supports and it’s down.
•Interjection >> This shit is a proper sequel guys. Not only amazing, but miraculous.
•Destructible vs non-destructive still seems inconsistent.
•Looks like vehicle can’t be disabled. Or at least, regen from disabled. Helicopter that was on fire and looked disabled kept flying (possibly struggling, not sure) and regenerated very very slowly back to not burning
•Spectator mode let’s you go to “table top” mode. See battle from commander perspective, double click units to spectate them. Choose first person, third person or free cam. Free cam looks like pre set cam locations. Not sure if you can fly.
•Various knives.
•Building collapse covers the level in dust on surfaces. Pumps it into the air.
•Medic carries medpack like bf3 and med kit? Does this replace defib?
•Free cam is totally untethered. Can save camera pre set locations.
•Water looks tessellated. Subsurface scattering.
•New guided rocket launchers for engi. Water geometrically ripples behind players and vehicles.
•Top down spectator has preview at minimal location of selected player’s perspective (thought: Does pc based commander get a live feed helmet cam style?? That would be cool.)
•Raise/lower bollards around the map to restrict vehicle access. Watch Dogs style.
•All player info – k/d, weps, attachments on player card in spectate. Health and ammo count too.
•Q and E to swap players in spectator. Double click on player’s name on the scoreboard to spectate player when in spectator mode.
•Press conference was totally live. Including commander mode from the tablet.
•Can alter speed of free cam
•Place one cam and leave it for another camera using q or e can swap back to it later in the same position you left it
•Squad mates of selected player in table top view are visible in green.
•Those stupid cubes of concrete are now fully destructible. Thank f***
•More informative UI coming for spectator later.
•Can toggle spectator hud for machinima. Complete clean screen possible.
•Spectator mode may not be available on consoles. Is a maybe at this stage
•Commander isn’t a physical character on the map
•Tracers are on crack. I think they took some of the energy drained from the lens flare that is the sun.
•Oh yeah! The sun has been nerfed. Less lens flare – just a nice anamorphic streak by the look of it with post process light rays ala crysis etc – silhouettes >blindess.
•A fair system is/will be in place for who gets commander. In the spirit of the old system
•Can customise Sidearms
•Waves are networked. BIG waves in multiplayer.
•Can use sidearm while swimming
•Looks like flashbangs or stun grenades or something. Multiple grenade types.
•Tower can be taken down by destrying the 4 main pillars. These 4 each need to be hit with two big explosions (ie, tank shells) to be destroyed


Was gonna write a comment but Elliot basically covered what I was going to say and more. The improvements aren’t immediately noticeable because the “ooh, shiny” factor is essentially the same as in BF3. Some of the assets seem to be a straight port from BF3. BUT, the destruction seems to be greatly improved, and many gameplay elements that pissed me off in BF3 seem to have been changed for the better.
I’m way more likely to buy if not pre-order this after seeing the multiplayer live stream, I may be swayed even more if a certain website *GMG* had a discount code for BF4 pre-orders available to Aussies *hint hint*


Sounds like an interesting way to set it up, would be amazing for clan wars.


Over BF. I still find BC2 way more fun then BF3.

The Dedicated Server system needs to be more like BF1942/BFV/BF2 instead of the crappy software they use in BC2/BF3

LAN offline unranked mode needs to be re added back into the series.

Game needs to come out on Steam

Game needs to remove battlelog browser and bring back standard in game server browser without quiting out.

Nice to see they have re added 40m nade lancher gun again. I missed that in BF3 but the trailer looks like some elements from BF1942/BFV and BC2 all thrown into a slightly updated BF3 engine


I’m hoping we’re able to record ingame demos while in spectator mode (not video files) to aid in getting rid of hackers.


Improvements over BF3 sound good!
I’m all for destructable enviroments so it’ll be nice to see that scraper come down. I wonder if there’s stuff like this in the other maps that’s as impressive. Here’s hoping! :D

Gunna pre-order this for $55 from ozgameshop! Pi$$off to the $90 wallet rape on Origin…


No word on hit-rego. No buy.


When I saw the rihanna trailer a while back I thought yeah… bf3.5… After seeing twitch streams, I think Mr Stafford is on crack.

This is pretty much everything we wanted fixed from bf3.


I’m hoping we’re able to record ingame demos while in spectator mode (not video files) to aid in getting rid of hackers.

YES I haven’t seen anything regarding a battlerecorder / theatre mode for BF4. This needs to happen.

Also any solid confirmations of VOIP on PC?


Just imagine if DICE gave us LAN play. Wishful thinking level over 9000, I know, but just imagine.


Nothing more than the flimsy one on reddit that I assume you’ve seen. (if you havn’t a dice dev confirmed voip would be a thing, but didn’t mention a platform specifically).



Eww in-game VOIP. In every game I’ve ever owned that has VOIP, as soon as the first person talks, I immediately turn it off. If it can’t be disabled, I stop playing. Looking at you RO2 on release. If I want to hear mouthbreathing neckbearded armchair generals attempt to organise a team that has no intention of working together I’d join a clan that has a TS/Vent server.

As for BF4 it looks like a mild improvement over BF3, unfortunately it needs a massive improvement to be enjoyable. Keeping a close eye on it, but I don’t really have high hopes. More BF1942 less rubbish.



This is pretty much everything we wanted fixed from bf3.

Who saw that happening. Not me. I’m very glad. LAN and fixed hit-reg are the only other two things I can think of wanting. Others want theatre, but I don’t personally care. SO close to the perfect battlefield.


Eww in-game VOIP. In every game I’ve ever owned that has VOIP, as soon as the first person talks, I immediately turn it off. If it can’t be disabled, I stop playing. Looking at you RO2 on release. If I want to hear mouthbreathing neckbearded armchair generals attempt to organise a team that has no intention of working together I’d join a clan that has a TS/Vent server.

Squad based VOIP I mean, when it’s only 5 people it’s fine, always liked it in BF2. And yeah, option to turn of off is an absolute must. You’d think that would be a given, then you play NFS: Most Wanted multiplayer and realise just how bonkers some devs can be.

As for BF4 it looks like a mild improvement over BF3, unfortunately it needs a massive improvement to be enjoyable.

In your humble opinion. I’ve had some bloody amazing BF3 games with my mates over the past 2 years.


Squad VOIP would be awesome, otherwise I really enjoy BF3, it’s the only game that I’ve actually played longer than any other game in my 25 or so years of gaming! Maybe that’s because I’ve got three mates who I often play in a squad with and we all have fun together. BF4 can only extend upon that, surely…


@elliotENGi – thanks for that list, some things on there I hadn’t come across yet.

Not particularly sold on the Commander mode – I imagine you could get some average people using the iPad to troll.

Hit rego will be the same as BF3 since it’s the same engine with more features enabled. I don’t expect this too be fixed anytime soon as they won’t be re-writing the Frostbite engine from ground up for a while so client side hit detection will remain.

They have addressed quite a few of the issues from BF3, can’t wait to try it out.


No sqaud VOIP, no purchase.

One of the reasons I didnt get BF3 either.


Wonder if it will have some sort of voting system for the commander like BF2. A list of commanders appear wanting to join that particular server/game, players on the team vote for that commander. That way you’d have a fighting chance of having a friend play as a commander on a public server.

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