Battlefield 4 Beta - First Impressions

Oh not doing much... just cruising around Shanghai... in a T-99 tank...

So, originally I wasn't planning on playing the Battlefield 4 Beta, even though I pre-ordered the game (which meant I even had access to the now passed exclusive beta) - but thanks to some "encouragement" from friends (thanks Luke B) I decided to give it a shot - at least the open beta which apparently ends 15 October. Why am I not usually keen on betas? Sure you get to brag that you were there from the start but betas are usually filled with bugs and depending on how poorly coded a game is, that can be quite a few bugs leading to a really frustrating experience.

You're only able to play one map in the beta which is the Siege of Shanghai - it's the one that featured prominently at E3 (the Siege of Shanghai trailer is below):

On the map you get to play as either the USA or China while attempting to take control of an area where one of the flags is situated on a really tall skyscraper. Thanks to one of the newly touted features, "Levolution", you're able to take down the building and the point comes crashing down with it. Not only that but the subsequent dust cloud and debris actually changes visibility on the map somewhat. Definitely one of the awesome ways that the game helps immerse the player into the world. You're also able to call elevators and activate bollards, another nice touch which is seemingly small but means the maps are more interactive as a result. You're now also able to peek around corners although whether this offers a tactical advantage or it's simply just aesthetics is anybody's guess. I'm leaning towards the latter at the moment.

Sadly there is no Commander Mode featured in the beta so I haven't had a chance to see how that works in action. There were also no jets on the map so it remains to be seen if they dominate the battlefield as much as they did in BF3 (I hate jets - they should just get rid of them IMHO - or bring back limited ammo - anyway, that's a rant for another day). I also had some minor frame-rate drops during the most inconvenient moments e.g. going up the elevator to be greeted by three enemies - I was given no opportunity to retaliate. I remember I had a similar issue in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in its early days which was really frustrating - however I believe they eventually patched it so I'm hoping that will happen here too. I also get this error whenever I try to alt+tab from the game:

ZOMG something about 2D textures? Radeon HD 7800 series not good enough?

Again, hopefully something that will be fixed since what's the point of running Battlelog in a browser window when you can't alt+tab to view it? Apparently this is quite an old build of the game though (the most recent "stable" build) so the "experimental" build or "development" build hopefully has ironed out a lot of bugs already.

I also have some minor pet peeves. In the beta, it seems everyone starts off with the same weapons - i.e. they're not faction-specific meaning there are US riflemen running around with AKs (AK-47s FOR EVERYONE!), which isn't terribly realistic - I'm hoping this is just a result of the beta and not what will actually happen when the game is finally released. A second pet peeve of mine is the fact that they've decided to adopt the Battlefield 3 style of voice acting where soldiers speak their native tongue (good) half of the time and English with a really bad accent (bad) the other half of the time. I preferred the BF2 style where each side would just speak entirely in their native language. Made it more authentic and you didn't need to listen to native English speakers pretend they were Chinese or Russian. I mean the Chinese side almost sound as bad as these guys:

So to summarise:

The Good:

  • It's similar to Battlefield 3
  • Graphics seem pretty awesome - even better than BF3 when it comes to the animations
  • No apparent issues with lag so game's netcode is probably pretty good

The Bad:

  • It's similar to Battlefield 3
  • Some occasional graphical glitches and clipping
  • Bad frame-rate drops every so often that can adversely affect gameplay.
  • Game crashes when alt+tabbing out.
  • Both sides have the same starting equipment
  • Once again, bad voice acting when the non-US side speaks English

Remains to be seen:

  • How badly jets dominate the battlefield
  • Commander Mode


  1. Come on... If they are going to put in poor voice acting, instead of just using the native languages, at least balance it out... I'm sure it'll be just as funny to hear some US Marine run around speaking Chinglish instead... or some German accented English... maybe hire Arnie... I'm sure it'll be also to press 'Q' on your friendly chopper to hear the classic "Get to da choppa!"


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