The addition of Commander Mode may not be enough to justify the blockbuster price tag.
By Patrick Stafford 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.