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Battlefield 4 PS3 and PS4 multiplayer review: Warfare excellence…when it works

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Our Battlefield 4 multiplayer review is finally here! Now, if you were wondering why it took us this long, the reason is simple: we want to give ample time to a game that’s main selling point is its multiplayer. We wanted to review it playing against “regular” players and not those chosen by EA or any other company; and what’s written below is what you’ll experience when you play the game now once you’ve applied the necessary updates.

Before you read on, the title mentions this is a review of the multiplayer for both current and next-gen console versions and we’ve separated each since BF4 for PS3 and PS4 has significant differences.

In saying that, this will be judged based on its merits and comparisons between the current-gen and next-gen versions. So, PC enthusiasts, you already know that if you have a powerful enough gaming rig, then you have the best version of BF4 multiplayer possible. Needless to say, if you have a powerful enough rig, you should be playing this on PC.

But for those who are more comfortable playing using a controller or have most of their friends playing on consoles, read up, solider!

You can check what we thought of the single-player campaign right here, since the review below focuses solely on the multiplayer aspects of both versions.

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Current-gen review:

Let’s get this out of the way, if you’ve played Battlefield 3’s multiplayer, BF4’s iteration is better – but not without a few hitches which we’ll get to in a bit.

Now, if you’re entering DICE’s shooter series for the first time, expect vehicles, different classes that offer different playing styles and all out mayhem across objective-based matches with 24 players.

Probably the biggest change DICE has made to the core gameplay is re-arranging the controls from BF3. Now, melee is done by pressing the right analog stick instead of R2, and spotting is now done via tapping the R1 button instead of Select. DICE has also included a once PC-exclusive feature, the Commo Rose, which is a wheel where you can choose to give orders, ask for help, ammo and the like.

Granted, at face value these seem like minor changes, but they do take some getting used and is what you’ll notice first.

One other thing DICE has re-introduced to BF4 is Bad Company 2-level destruction! Yes, you read right. Now, more structures and cover can be blown to bits – a feature sorely missed in BF3.

Aside from that though, you still take your soldier, rank him up, unlock gear and so on. One facet that might annoy some people is that leveling and unlocking stuff seems to take longer now. Sure, there are more camos, knife variants, dog tags and more to unlock, but for those who want to get everything and just play the game their own way? You need to tough it up for a few hours, hombre.

Taking that out of the equation, though, and BF4’s gunplay and vehicle warfare is a refined version of BF3. Guns feel better; there are more attachments that let you mow down enemies more efficiently and the way you want to.

This also applies to vehicles. It’s now easier to take out choppers and jets, which will anger or elate most people depending on their preferences. DICE has also added proper sea vehicles this time. While there’s no submarine, the Attack Boats are more than capable in holding their own against tanks and air vehicles. This alone makes traveling by sea a viable option now.

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Graphically, the current-gen version looks relatively the same as BF3 – which is no surprise since DICE seems to have pushed current-gen consoles to their limits. However, it comes at a price though. Whenever there are explosions going on, or the action’s too frenetic, the frame-rate drops to almost unplayable levels. I’ve seen this happen many times and in repeated instances. Most notable is in Operation Locker when a lot of people lob grenades, shoot rpgs and whatnot. Once the explosions and effects die down, the game reverts back to “normal” but the technical limitations are plainly there.

Overall, BF4 might not be the best-looking game, but it’s not ugly, either. And once again, I attribute this to current-gen consoles’ limitations rather than on DICE’s tech/development aptitude.

For the actual game, matches are once again capped at 24 players, which is problem when playing Battlefield’s bread-and-butter mode, Conquest.

Not going to beat around the bush. Conquest on current-gen consoles is slow. So slow, in fact, that it might even bore some players who are used to faster shooters. Simply put, there’s not enough boots on the ground to make the maps feel alive. Add in vehicles and their multi-seat capacity into the mix, and well, you’re left with less people to shoot.

Fortunately, DICE has included Domination into BF4’s vanilla version. This plays out exactly like Conquest, except there’s no vehicles, flags can be capped way faster and the action is focused on a smaller area of each level.

If you have to play BF4 on current-gen, I suggest going with Domination or Rush for a faster pace and more per-the-second action.

Ultimately, BF4 is, in my opinion, the best Battlefield game to date, and ranks high up there with the best multiplayer shooters for current-gen consoles.

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Next-gen

Let me just say it: Battlefield 4 on next-gen is leaps and bounds better than current-gen. It’s not just the visuals, but the overall pace and feel of the game is affected, too.

Battlefield 4 on the PS4 looks superb running at a crisp 60 frames-per-second on 900p resolution. The added frames aren’t just a bulletpoint, as it makes moving, aiming and whatnot much smoother. The resolution is a big improvement, too. It allows you to spot enemy infantry at greater distances and with much clarity.

In addition to the graphical upheaval, probably the most significant change next-gen consoles can offer to current-gen Battlefield players is 64-player Conquest. Yes, it’s no secret by now that BF4 on next-gen can run Conquest Large – just like its big brother PC version. When it works – meaning you have proper squads and it’s literally working on a technical level – it’s nothing short of glorious. Playing this will make the BF4 current-gen experience pale very much in comparison.

Even without the 64-player count, the fact that every mode in BF4 for next-gen has more players means there are more enemies for you to shoot at, more people to heal, and resupply you – and probably the most important part: people squatting on vehicles won’t bog down a match to molasses.

There are other differences that come into play that might not seem like much, but are an added benefit. First is the implementation of Battlelog. On the PS3, pressing Select will bring up Battlelog or a barebones version of it. On the PS4, clicking the Touchpad will bring a more robust version of Battlelog, which is akin to what you’d see when browsing it on your PC, laptop or tablet.

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On top of that, the PS4 has a built-in “Battlecorder” that can be easily accessed by hitting the “Share” button on the DualShock 4, Pressing it will upload your last 15-minutes of gameplay ready to be uploaded to Facebook or Twitch.

Just killed an entire squad, took out a chopper and then captured an objective? Just hit Share and you can literally share your “Battlefield Moment” online within minutes to friends. For a franchise that prides itself on these types of “anything goes” warfare, this is a boon that I’m sure will be used by a lot of players.

Unfortunately, things are all not roses and unicorns when it comes to BF4 on the PS4. There are odd occurrences of frame-rate drops, which seems to be triggered by too stuff much happening on screen. Based on my playtime, it happened during Conquest Large where there were lots of players on-screen at once, and a map’s Levolution element kicking in.

Is this a hardware limitation or DICE simply not having enough time to optimize BF4 for the PS4? Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

Another small but annoying niggle is characters seemingly glitching in and out of the floor and walls. I ran into this issue a few times, but it gets sorted out once you respawn. But when it does happen and you’re on a streak? It’s very, very infuriating.

But the most annoying and nasty issue that lots of players have been harping on about – and with good reason – is the game just not working as intended. By this, I mean, the big “CE-34878-0” crash that will boot you out of the game completely. Another issue related to this is not letting players join Conquest Large games, booting you out of matches for no good reason, and the occasional rubber-banding.

Fortunately, at the time of this writing, DICE has implemented a server-side update, and released a patch that for the most part fixed the Conquest Large and CE-34878-0 crash issue – at least based on the time I had with the game.

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At the end of the day, though. Is it worth it to pick BF4 up? Assuming this patch solves most of the crashes, then I’d say yes. Of course, given DICE’s reputation, this won’t be the only technical issue that you’ll see; but as a whole, DICE has been known to be generous with patches and I expect it will be the same with BF4.

When the game works and is not hampered by technical dilemmas, it’s just an amazing experience that first-person shooter fans shouldn’t miss.

(Note: At the time of publication, I’ve downloaded the latest patch for the PS4 which alleviated the crashing issues significantly)

Battlefield 4 (PS3)                        Battlefield 4 (PS4)
Pros:
The best Battlefield experience on current-gen 64-player Conquest is fantastic
Almost a 100% improvement over BF3 Almost parity with PC version
Destruction is back in a big way 60fps adds to the gameplay
DualShock 4 works very well
Cons:
12 vs. 12 Conquest lacks action Crashing/errors are never fun
Graphics are dated, textures take time to load Sound sometimes cut out
Freezing means having to restart the console Rubber-banding happens  and glitching in and out of floors
Final Verdict (PS3): 8/10 (Possibly the best shooter on current-gen, but be warned, there are niggles and issues that might frustrate you) Final Verdict (PS4): 9/10 (When it works, it’s simply glorious. However, if it still crashes and other issues persist, feel free to dock 1-3 points from the score depending on what the issue is – yes, it’s that annoying)

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EA sent us a PS3 and PS4 version of Battlefield 4 for review purposes, I played multiplayer until Rank 42, destroyed lots of vehicles, and even got the Spotting Medal for trying to spot everyone.

  • omer nahum

    i definitely prefer the ps4 version
    64 players
    60 fps

  • James Wells

    Sorry…. BF4 on the PS4 is not a large Clan or Platoon friendly game. BF3 is still a far better experience for large groups of friends that want to use real Teamwork/Tactics in a Battlefield game. With no “Squad-Up” option as we had in BF3…. and with a broken mic comm system between Squads… BF4 has a long way to go to come up to reach the level of BF3!

    If DICE takes 5 months to repair BF4 and add the features it’s customers want like DICE did with BF3 back in 2011…. many BF players will leave BF4/DICE/EA for good!!

    And if DICE/EA/SONY does not offer BF4 PRIVATE SERVERS for Clans and Platoons to have as a home base… Our Clan will be done with Battlefield for good.

  • mike

    Love the Ps4 version and no stupid eleitist Clans