EA’s first-strike in the biannual showdown of the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises is being embraced by critics, but perhaps not quite as lovingly as the publisher might have hoped.
Battlefield 4 is currently earning scores ranging from 81-88 on Metacritic — an unusually large range for a major release, and one that seems very split by platform.
Reviewers who played the game on the Xbox 360 are at the low end of that scale, while the PS3 version is enjoying the best scores. Interestingly, the PC version — which EA pushed to critics as the preferred platform at this time — lands squarely in the middle with an 86.
While averaging in the mid-80s is nothing to sneeze at, the question is: Will it be enough to make a dent in Call of Duty’s armor?
The reviews highlight the critical confusion. PC Gamer‘s Evan Lahti is impressed with the game’s changes — even if there aren’t a great deal of them.
“DICE is certainly guilty of taking an “if it ain’t broke” attitude to creating BF4, but its modest multiplayer refinements alongside excellent maps are enough to make it one of our favorite current FPSes,” he writes in an 84/100 review.
Shacknews, on the other hand, says current generation console versions of the game will disappoint players who have been wooed with next-gen graphics in the commercials.
“Battlefield 4 will not be remembered as a graphical showcase,” says writer Shane Satterfield, who gives it a 7/10. “The improved destruction comes at the price of an overall murky display that can make spotting enemies difficult — particularly in multiplayer. Textures lack definition and LOD issues are prevalent as plant life constantly pops into view. It’s a shadow of the glorious PC iteration.”
It’s worth noting that the visuals from the PC version (which is closer to what most people expect from the still-to-come Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions) are getting high marks. If you’re looking for a big step forward in gameplay, though, you might be upset.
Game Informer’s Matt Bertz notes that “Battlefield 4 doesn’t advance the series in any significant way, but the subtle improvements provide enough incentive for multiplayer fans to invest heavily in the land, air, and sea battles.” He awards it a strong 8.75/10.
He also isn’t alone in lauding the multiplayer. While the single-player campaign is being called “disappointing” by IGN (8.5/10), EGM(8.5/10) and Polygon (7.5/10) the game’s multiplayer mode (which supports up to 64 players) is earning high marks. In a genre where multiplayer is often considered the most important part of the game, that’s excellent news for EA.
“Each of Battlefield 4’s ten levels feel massive – especially on PC,” says Joystiq’s David Hinkle in a 4.5/5/ review. “Not only are these maps truly beautiful – Battlefield 4 has some of the best lighting I’ve ever seen – but they’re also far more destructible than the war zones of Battlefield 3. Taking part in a 64-player match across the sprawling Hainan Resort, watching jets strafe and battle in the skies while boats assault beaches and tanks level condos is awe-inspiring.”
Will that sort of praise help the shooter upend Call of Duty: Ghosts? We’ll get a better shape of the battlefield when Activision’s ace rolls into stores on November 5.