Battlefield 4 gameplay: war never looked so lovely

By Stephany Nunneley
27 March 2013 06:00 GMT

Battlefield 4 is big. So big, in fact, that EA had to rent out the Metreon Theater in San Francisco to show it on a massive movie screen. What Steph Nunneley saw played out like a short film.

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Bullets. Sweat. Toppling buildings. Blood. An amputation. Death. This, sir, is Battlefield 4.

Frostbite 3 is gorgeous. Faces are more realistic, the lighting is more natural. Destruction is more devastating. Water is more fluid. Dust particles look better running in the engine than in real-life. DICE looks to be shooting for photo-realism this time out – that was certainly the impression I got from watching BF4 being played on the big screen in San Francisco tonight.

But it was still Battlefield at its core. Other than the impressive graphics, rendering and “shiny” -nothing truly new was shown tonight. That’s how EA wanted it. Multiplayer wasn’t shown, with DICE focusing on single-player.

We were shown the gameplay demo you see above, played on PC with an Xbox 360 controller. It didn’t look scripted, as we caught a glitch or two in there – but it was obviously a well practiced demo. You can’t rightly die on a movie screen in a theater packed with journalists.

Still, it was an interesting presentation, as was the one I saw of Battlefield 3 in 2011.

According to EA Games vice-president Patrick Soderlund, Battlefield 4 signals a new era in interactive entertainment.

“We helped define multiplayer for the FPS genre, and today, we are still passionate about what defining gaming really is,” he said after the presentation was over.

“With a new class of technology at our fingertips, it is never a better time to be a game developer. We build Frostbite 3 to be state of the art – a world class engine that is more powerful than anything we have every created for. It is apiece of technology that really challenges us to use new ideas, iterated and create new ways to entertain people.

“The power of Frostbite leaves us with no excuses. There is really nothing holding us back any more. As you all know, the best games out there are not about polygons or shaders – it is the emotional connections we make with players.

“Technology has helped us become better storytellers. With BF4 we are creating experiences which are dramatic, believable. The stress of the moment, the feel of imminent danger. The connection you have to the characters. It is all real, and very human.”

Executive producer for Battlefield 4, Patrick Bach, said you’ll play what you see. The story is not about the tech, but the concept of human interaction – something more human, dramatic and believable that combines elements from the multiplayer. Tonight was just a slice of what is coming with the single-player.

Yes, the game is about war – but it is also about the people inside it and the drama arising from the player’s experiences. For the first time in the series, it will also contain elements of social persistence to increase re-play value – again, with dramatic moments and making you “feel” as though you are in a warzone.

“We are asking you, as a player to participate in these dramatic movements,” said Bach. “Movies always create believable scenes. We too want you to feel you are really there.

“BF4 is a seminal moment for the series. We will be bringing more of the dynamic moments from the multiplayer into the single-player. It is a directed gaming experience, but it much more open – just like our multiplayer.

“We also increased the depth by being able to direct your squad mates, use vehicles and destruction, and huge environments that give you more tactical choice. We will have a lot more to tell you and show you as the year goes on.”

So, there it is. Battlefield 4. Prettier. More explosions. Destructible environments. Shooting. Driving. Trying to survive a barrage of bullets to the chest. Drama. And a security man in the wrong place at the right time.

I really do hope we get a mini-game involving his fate.

Battlefield 4 is out this fall on Origin, PC, PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360. You can pre-order here for current-gen offerings.

Stephany attended the BF4 cocktail party after the viewing for approximately 15 minutes. There were plenty of delicious looking finger food and libations on offer, but she did not partake.

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