Two days ago I purchased Battlefield 4 for Xbox 360. That whole day I was planning my entire evening around it. Myself and some friends all picked it up with the assumption that we would get on Xbox Live and slay the crap out of some noobs, because, after all, in today’s gaming world most of the fun is getting online with friends and kicking some ass. Well, there was a whole lot of ass involved, and it came from the game itself!
Something was wrong… we couldn’t figure out how to start a squad. We’re all seasoned gamers, but we felt like idiots. Well, after some searching online my fears were confirmed. No, my friends and I weren’t (completely) stupid… DICE, the studio that made Battlefield 4, decided to give the game a much more archaic and un-intuitive multiplayer system than every other modern FPS war game has used for nearly a decade!
As with previous Battlefield games, and like most multiplayer FPS’s, you create a squad with your friends, join a game together, and have fun. But no, not in Battlefield 4… Instead you have to choose an individual server, choose a game that has enough room for you and your friends to join, send out a party invite, and then everyone has to to join the game.
I know this may sound minor, but in an age when gaming with your friends is essentially the expected norm, why would you take away functionality? If your not seasoned in using this style of multiplayer matchmaking you’re going to bash your head into the wall trying to make sense of it. Is it terribly complicated? No, but it is unnecessarily long-winded. Why make it less simple? Why, like most games nowadays, can’t you just create a squad with your friends, push one button, and have the system put you in a game?
After searching around online my concerns were met with a rather ominous answer… basically, the people at DICE have lost their damn minds. Whoever is in charge of that studio, and especially whoever was in charge of making decisions involving Battlefield 4’s multiplayer, should be put to the question! They not only got rid of the ability to create squads with your friends because they didn’t think it was a necessary function, but they have no plans to include the feature in any updates.
Back when Call of Duty 3 came out, playing an FPS war game with my friends was literally a revelation in gaming, and since then the process has been streamlined so that it takes very little effort to squad-up and play. But Battlefield has gone back to a system that is exactly like Call of Duty 3, and that game came out in 2007… 2007!!! Now, in 2013, DICE has decided that a system which has basically become industry standard for nearly a decade isn’t something people want anymore. How ignorant can they be?
As it stands, the game itself is exceptional. The graphics are great and the gameplay is awesome. The customization through experience that is expected in Battlefield games is there, and is as thorough as ever. My only real complaint with the game besides the squad nonsense, is that in the long run, it isn’t so drastically better than previous incarnations of Battlefield. I’m sure if you look at the small details you can make a list to contradict that statement, but really, how much farther can these games go? In the end they’ve become just like all sports games in that they basically just update the graphics and build new maps, otherwise, there’s absolutely no innovation. It’s the same game over and over again.
I’m sure DICE is making lots of money from Battlefield 4, but I’ll tell you want… I’m actually amazed at why I bought the game. Am I having fun with my friends? Yes. Is it a great game? Yes. Is it absolutely beautiful? Yes. But how many times do I need to buy the same game over and over again? Just because the graphics are better? And in Battlefield 4’s case, just so it can be more of a pain in the ass to squad-up with my friends? I feel duped. Not because of the quality of the game itself, but because there’s nothing about it that makes it fundamentally new. Basically, I have nothing to say about this game because it’s too familiar. As soon as you start playing the game it’s like picking up a book you’ve read too many times. You know what to expect, and each time its a little less enjoyable than the time before. That’s how I feel about Battlefield 4.
Perhaps its just my growing sense of deja vu with FPS’s in general, but I’m looking for more, and until Star Wars Battlefront 3 comes out it’s certainly not going to come from the usual franchises. If you are ecstatic about FPS’s, and love the Battlefield series, you’re already going to get the game no matter what. And maybe that’s a problem.