Battlefield 4 had previously been previewed at E3, showcasing the titanic scope of the gameplay and how they’ve taken the already huge maps to new insurmountable heights in an attempt to create a truly immersive warfare experience.
The Beta includes one map, Siege of Shanghai, and up to 64 player lobbies with a modest range of equipment which can be unlocked and used in game, more of which is greyed out for the full release. Including only one map may seem strange, as one might expect to tire of it fairly quickly, however this simply does not happen. The map is huge and expansive; featuring a multitude of locations for fire fights, giant airspace for aerial combat and plenty of vehicles to facilitate travel that one can play the level a dozen times and never have the same experience. Players will go from close quarters shootouts one minute, to controlling areas with aerial bombardment the next, then sniping enemies from atop a skyscraper, then bailing out of a building as it begins to collapse into the river below. There are so many different scenarios that it is impossible to ever become bored with the scenery.
The most interesting and ground breaking feature of the E3 demo was Levolution, which allows huge events to take place during the game with cataclysmic consequences. This map includes a huge Shanghai skyscraper collapsing, transforming the battlefield and forcing players to adapt to this. This is certainly a spectacle and players will find themselves gaping in awe more than once, provided they are not parachuting away from it. However it does feel like a set piece which changes the battlefield in only a fairly localised area. The rest of the map has no such events and remains unchanged for the rest of the game. Wider reaching consequences of such a collapse might serve to improve Levolution, but for now it does not change a great deal.
The gameplay itself is very much Battlefield and seems somewhat indistinguishable from Battlefield 3. This is not a problem however, as it does work very well. Although the rifles do feel as if they have no recoil, meaning players can achieve long range kills with assault rifles. However, with the epic scale such compromises must be made.
The promise held within the Beta is extraordinary; the game already seems completely polished. One can only hope that the full release can build on this and create more quality maps and Levolution scenarios to keep the game fresh every time.