Taking the time to watch the entire Battlefield 4 demo posted by Electronic Arts and DICE does take diligence; and while there are some impressive feats within the trailer, it leaves much to desire from a title that is being so heavily publicized as a next generation game. Of course, the video is running at an impressive 60 frames per second and shows off much of what the Frostbite Engine 3 can do. Still, several rumors surrounding the next generation of consoles not having as large a leap forward from what its predecessors have been capable of seem accurate, which can be a tough pill to swallow.
While many assumed that the PlayStation 4 would see a release of the game, DICE confirmed that the title would be destined for Sony’s next gen console. With the type of hardware the game is running on, many might expect to be blown away. Though some of the texturing and lighting are captivating, the rest of the visuals make you question whether this is the next step in the franchise or just another expansion for a game that has been out for a few years. The demo for Killzone: Shadow Fall feels like more of a technical achievement. How can Battlefield 4 overcome the hurdle of being a game just about raw power?
The fear is that EA and DICE are resting on the laurels of an established franchise and are content with showing off the first big “next gen” FPS. The Battlefield games have managed to differentiate themselves from the Call of Duty juggernaut but have also never managed to come close in sales. Instead of offering something that pushes military shooters in a unique direction will Battlefield 4 be just another bi-annual release with a few upgrades and new enemies to kill?
The one part of the demo that felt new was the strides the game has taken with storytelling. As far as the single player went, Battlefield 3 wasn’t bad, but the dynamic story in the fourth game looks to be something that DICE has put some care into. The question is can they get players to care about the individuals in the squad? It’s not an easy feat in military shooters and is rarely done well. Spec Ops: The Line was within the same genre was able to elevate the story and emotional impact that previous games lacked. If DICE can develop their characters much like 2K did with their title, then they will have already accomplished a great deal.
In the end, it’s tough to watch something for seventeen minutes when during that time the footage doesn’t portray anything particularly revolutionary. Instead, DICE and EA focused on Battlefield 4 as a graphics showcase. Still, the demo wasn’t that revolutionary of a jump from games like Crysis 3 or even Battlefield 3. There is some hope that the company is finally figuring out how to create a worthwhile single player campaign instead of putting all their efforts into multiplayer. Is this what the next generation has in store for the shooter genre? Hopefully DICE has something hidden up their sleeve to prove that Battlefield 4 won’t be just another run-of-the-mill shooter.