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E3 2013: Battlefield 4 multiplayer hands-on

BattlefieldE3 2013

Much like the E3 show floor, Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer is loud, brash and disorientating. Everyone is around you, but no-one seems to know where they should be going or what they should be doing. Instead, they revert to their animal instincts and try to kill everyone (ok, that last part is where the comparison ends).


On the surface, Battlefield 4 is a very simple proposition: 64 players (even on Xbox One and PS4), guns, tanks, helicopters, explosions, explosions, explosions. Everything is blowing up, falling down or being horrifically murdered.

“Explosions, explosions, explosions”But underneath this mess, DICE is trying to solve one of those most difficult problems in gaming: how do you get all of these strangers to work together as a team in the chaos of battle? On the evidence of a 15 minute preview, I’m not sure they’ve cracked it.

The elements are all there. One player per side gets to play in a commander mode (also available on a tablet), issuing orders and deploying weapons and supplies using a map view. Each side is divided into squads, who appear differently on the HUD and whom you can respawn next to. Incentives are in place to get you to work together.

But when everything around you is on fire, noticing the directions of another player and then following them is easier said than done. I’m sure that it’ll be easier once players are accustomed to the game and fully understand the bonus and command structure, as well as not being on a show floor, but it’ll still be a challenge.


Either way, Battlefield 4 is a lot of fun. Although the match was chaotic, rumbling around the streets of Shanghai in an M1 Abrams, chasing enemy tanks and providing covering fire for teammates was enormous fun. I just hope that like E3, it makes more sense in the light of day.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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