My Impressions of the Battlefield 4 Beta on X-Box 360

I really wasn’t looking forward to the Battlefield 4 beta. I stopped caring about Battlefield 3 midway through the DLC cycle despite purchasing a premium membership. The non-existent games on official DICE servers and the absolutely ridiculous game rules found on custom servers made it nearly impossible to find a game that could be finished in a reasonable time. The Armored Kill DLC was the final straw for me. You could literally drive from one end of the map to the other and never run into another player. That map pack should have never been released on consoles. Enough time has passed where I am willing to give the series another shot and to be honest I’m glad I did.

I’ve really enjoyed the Battlefield 4 Beta so far. The movement speed seems to have been slowed down a hair which makes the infantry action a little less frantic which fits the more deliberate and tactical gameplay of the series better.

I also liked that the fact that vehicles are far more vulnerable in Battlefield 4 then they were in Battlefield 3. I managed to take down a tank with two rockets to the front and one to the side. It took between four-to-six rockets to take down a tank in Battlefield 3. Choppers also seemed more vulnerable to the surface to air rockets the engineers carry. Helicopter flares seem to regenerate at a slower pace which makes the use of such rockets a viable option in the beta. In Battlefield 3 it seemed as though helicopter pilots could spam flares as often as they needed which prevented you from ever getting a lock on aircraft. All of these changes are for the better. It heightens the tension and keeps the game moving.

I enjoyed the destructibility of the environments. Watching the tower in the center of the Siege of Shanghai map fall during a Conquest game never got old. There seems to be more micro destruction as well. There seemed to be a lot more places where you could punch holes in walls or destroy cover in Battlefield 4 then there ever was in Battlefield 3. There are also other ways to interact with the environment. You can now do things like lower gates to bar access points to certain parts of a building you are defending or raise roadblocks on a bridge to slow down advancing armor. Those are nice touches and added more to the tactical nature of the combat then I thought they would. If you don’t have any explosives and somebody closes the security gate on a building you have to find another way in. If you have some C4 or a rocket you can punch a hole in the gate and walk on through. It makes class selection important.

I generally enjoyed the classes themselves. Assault and Engineer are the way to go in the beta. Support and Recon classes aren’t nearly as effective right now. The Support class in particular highlights a problem that seems to be a holdover from Battlefield 3. The hit detection simply can’t match the rate of fire found on the LMG’s in the game. On several occasions I would fire the LMG at somebody and watch all of the bullets go through my opponents torso but the hit markers only counted half of the shots. It’s a problem and renders using the class nearly useless. The Recon kit is useful for supporting the team but the sniper rifles aren’t very powerful or terribly useful. I’m surprised that the Recon class is still in the game to be honest. In a game that encourages players to move and take objectives I still struggle to see what good comes from having a class that specializes in sitting still out in the middle of nowhere. It’s an odd fit but the motion sensor grenades and device that locks on to vehicles for your entire team is very useful. The only way I would use the Recon class is to use a gun from another class which is now an option. I could see where a Recon character with a Carbine or a PDW could be very effective. Maybe that is how DICE wants you to use the class.

The Assault class and the Engineer class by far have the best guns in the beta. The AK 12 assault rifle is available to the Assault class from the second you start the beta and is the best gun I've used by far. The AK 12 has very little recoil and a decent sized clip. It is deadly at close to medium range but if you have the skill dropping snipers at long range also isn’t a problem. If the options on what class to use confuse you my advice is to use the Assault kit.

I also like how DICE retooled the knifing mechanic. If an enemy tries to knife you from the front you can now reverse it and kill them instead. It’s a brilliant move aimed at eliminating panic knifing from the equation. The window to reverse is rather substantial so I would recommend only attempting to use your knife if you are completely behind an opponent.

Finally I love how DICE has incorporated Conquest Domination (now just called Domination) into the main game. Conquest Domination was last seen in the enjoyable Close Quarters map pack for Battlefield 3. It is a 10-on-10 infantry only mode with three flags. Capturing flags goes much quicker then in regular Conquest. It’s fast paced and a ton of fun. I quickly moved away from the regular Conquest mode to Domination mode full time in the beta. I look forward to seeing the mode on all of the maps next month.

The beta does have some glitches but overall I’ve had a great time. This went from something I tentatively pre-ordered to something I now want to own. The game looks great even on the nearly eight year old hardware found on the X-Box 360. I can’t imagine how good it will look on next gen consoles. If you enjoy shooters I recommend downloading and trying the beta. It is free and will run through the middle of next week. If you are in the least bit curious you should try it. Now if someone could only convince DICE to bring back the lighthearted fun of the Bad Company series to go with this great gameplay.