DICE’s upcoming Battlefield 4 has captured the attention of military shooter enthusiasts for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the game’s promise of 64-player multiplayer warfare running at a smooth 60 frames per second on PS4. At Gamescom, I got some hands-on time with the first PS4 build of the game — we were among the first group to play the PS4 build outside of DICE. Here’s a quick after-action report.
For starters, the game runs at fluid 60 fps and its benefits were instantly noticeable on PS4. This translates to a decidedly smoother, much more responsive feel compared to Battlefield 3 on PS3. The speedy framerate means that the game simply controls better, whether you’re quickly sweeping your aiming reticule to ward off a surprise close-range attack or making smaller aiming adjustments to nail a precise headshot. Sprinting and vaulting over low cover also feels much more responsive and gives you an edge in the game’s sprawling battle zones, where death lurks around every corner and peers out of every window.
BF4 also benefits hugely from the many refinements of DualShock 4. The overhauled L2 and R2 triggers wrap snugly around your index fingers and respond crisply to every input, giving a satisfyingly precise and tactile feel as you fire your weapons. In the build I played, L1 and R1 handled grenades and a radial command menu, respectively. Tapping down on the PS4’s refined directional pad cycled through weapon firing modes (semi-auto, burst fire, and fully automatic fire), while tapping left deployed class-specific equipment such as the Engineer’s RPG.
Though the PS4 build was in a pre-release state, it provided a window into the game’s visual strengths. The environments shimmer with eye-catching details, from billowing flames and smoke to grit blowing in the wind. Palm trees swayed dramatically, casting intricate shadows while rocket strikes lit up the surroundings. The audio was also noteworthy, surrounding the player in a symphony of shrieking mortars, whizzing bullets, and the eerie ping of nearby ricochets.
Developer DICE has confirmed that the PS4 version will support a full 64 players per match via PSN, plus an additional two slots reserved for Commander players. But more on that in a minute. BF4’s 64 player count means that the PS4 version is in full parity with the game’s PC counterpart, and the game’s large-scale matches will span the land, sea and air as battles rage between infantry, aircraft, tanks and APCs and amphibious vehicles. DICE promises that amphibious combat will be a major highlight in BF4, after having been largely minimized in the past few Battlefield titles, and that players will have to negotiate heaving waves while attempting to outmaneuver enemy ships.
On the Domination level I played, a tropical battleground dubbed Paracel Storm, I clashed with enemy forces while locking down strategic points. The environments feel more interactive: you can open and close doors in order to avoid detection or trap enemies. And the new “Levelution” environment destruction feature figured prominently into the battle, as C4 charges and grenades gradually whittled down hardened checkpoints and exposed flag defenders to enemy fire. BF4 also marks the return of the Commander class, which is no longer a physical presence in the battle but can support his team by ordering supply drops, issuing squad orders, and foiling his enemy counterpart with EMP blasts and UAV deployments. In the final version of the game, BF4 will enable Commander players to guide their squads via a tablet application.
I was only able to play two matches on PS4, but I’ll definitely be diving back in when Battlefield 4 hits PS4 this holiday. Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below!