Battlefield 4 is one of the best worst designed games I’ve ever seen. It strikes on all cylinders when the game is working well but that doesn’t happen for long without some ridiculous ineptitude popping up in the form of horrendous programming.
Upon release of this game, Electronic Arts stock took a dive. Reports of the game being glitchy and too buggy to play were true – I was initially unable to play the game without it crashing on the PS4, almost each time. Then, another update comes along and the game stops crashing at the menu each time. It then only crashes every time I play a game! But that eventually gets a little better, too, and the game stops crashing except once or twice per session (too much). At this point, the game was actually playable enough for me to sit down and attempt to enjoy.
Two months into ownership.
The game presents a vast war zone full of semi-destructible objects. For fans of Call of Duty, the idea of blowing up a wall with C4 is unimaginable! But you can do that and more with Battlefield 4. Some buildings can even be completely destroyed! But the fact that I said “some” is what hurts this title. It makes no sense for some buildings to be destructible but others to be invincible. I wish this was my only complaint but if it were, we’d be looking at game of the year. And Apple autocorrected “year” to “yet er” because Tim Cook is a lazy fuck unconcerned with quality, like stinky Steve Jobs obsessed with.
The following are design choices that were made:
- There is no way to party up with friends before joining a match.
- There is no guaranteed way to even play on the same team as your friends. (Mid January 2014, the ability to switch teams was added – but it doesn’t function for no evident reason! Even as both teams are equal, at the start of a match, you can’t switch teams sometimes for some stupid reason.)
- With ammo packs, it is easy to have infinite grenades. Although not necessarily a problem on larger levels, small enclosed levels end up a noob bomb throwing contest. Operation Locker on Conquest needs only be played one time for my point to be proven, here. Not fun.
- You can’t edit weapons, load outs or vehicle options outside of a game. So by design, the game encourages and necessitates AFK/zombie players.
- Players can sit and wait for vehicle a to spawn and often do, instead of playing the game and trying to win. This can fuck your team up entirely, to lose access to the only air support you have when the other team had an ace pilot tearing you a new chode with 25 mm guns or laser guided missiles.
- The menus are some of the worst designed, most complicated messes I’ve seen on a console. I’ve had expert gamers sit and share new discoveries they found in these messes. How to use an XP boost might surprise some players (not load out, Battlelog or the main menu. The options menu, in the lower right corner, almost hidden).There is no reason load outs should not be included in Battlelog. Except…
- Battlelog sucks. It may take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes to load up. It is embarrassingly bad. Also, it is essentially useless to most players, in part because of that and in part because it’s full of more useless junk than I thought possible.
- If players leave and rejoin, switch teams and basically, get lucky enough to get an organized group on one team – fuck you. You’re toast.
- Operation Locker, conquest, is a grenade/noob tube mess. Horrible level design. And one side has a clear spawn advantage over the other, winning easily 500-0 in some matches I’ve seen. This is poor ass design and I quit the map as soon as it loads (sometimes, I scream into my mic first).
- The battle pack system can fuck you completely with useless scopes for guns you don’t use or lame avatar shit. There is no choice in how you progress with unlocks. Just get lucky. However, after you spend a few months on a certain gun, you’ll unlock everything for it (that you needed a few months ago).
- Missiles can do about 25% damage against a tank, direct hit, for shoulder fire. That includes a Javelin missile. Can you imagine if missiles sucked this much for real?
- It takes two or three direct missile hits to bring down an aircraft. Based on how many missile hits it took to bring down TWA Flight 800, though, we can assume this is accurate.
- Tanks bounce around like they have no weight. They roll forward or back like the air could move them. Makes shooting especially awful.
Now, these are just design complaints. Here are some actual bugs (off the top of my head).
- You can be killed by someone at zero health, thanks to the January 2014 update. We’ve explored what happens when inept programmers try to fix their mistakes (they make it worse. Batman Arkham Origins).
- You can reload some guns several times. If you’re saying “but that makes sense,” then think of the way it doesn’t make sense. It’s that way,
- You can fire some missiles and watch them glitch by going in circles around the target endlessly. You can also fire two at the same time.
- You can press the button to knife attack and watch as nothing occurs. In fact, even when it works right, there is a clear second delay between pressing to melee attack and it happening. Plus, you’ll sometimes swipe at a guy in front of you and nothing happens.
- The camera jerks hard sometimes, especially during deaths. It can be intense enough to make me nauseous.
- The matches begin with no audio, at all. The map looks about as bad as Lawnmower Man virtual reality. After 15 seconds or so, things start to level out. By the time you’re getting killed/killing someone.
- Sometimes, the IR scope doesn’t have infrared! It is just a regular scope! I will aim several times and then the stuff will load up! And at times, it’s various colors.
- The game still randomly crashes but it seems like it’s mostly when you’re doing exceptionally well.
- There is now a bug that crashes the game if you jump in a tank with someone. It happens a lot. DICE is testing a fix – but if they tested their updates on test servers before releasing them, they could avoid this.
You’re probably thinking that I did some level of research while writing all of this. Or at least kept a log of the bugs. Nope. This was all off the top of my head, written while I watched True Detective. I probably left some stuff out but fact is, this many issues alone should warrant firings, lawsuits and a few ass whippings.
The redeeming factor if there is one is that this game is very fun when one of a billion bugs isn’t hitting you. I’ve put in 45 hours on the game and plan to platinum it. But what should be a memorable, amazing experience is tarnished by one simple thing:
I have heard reports that Electronic Arts pushed DICE to finish the game before they were ready. I have also heard reports that in business, deadlines have to be met whether you like it or not. So there clearly may be fault to spread around. There is still the looming question: Who is to blame? Well, when you’re not sure, the safe bet is to blame everyone.
Electronic Arts – I hate this company. They’re the epitome of greed. Recently, I bought Sim City with a friend. We picked it up and returned it a day later, for a full refund, because it was UNPLAYABLE. You could not get a match started unless you were as lucky as someone who looted a pink tail on Final Fantasy IV.
So I don’t doubt that this money hungry powerhouse pushed the game out too soon. But that was a mistake, even if it was done to compete with Call of Duty. It was not ready, which destroyed the image of the game from day one to non-fans who heard of the problems. But more importantly, Call of Duty Ghosts sucked too. Battlefield could have came out after everyone knew that with a solid product. Instead, they let greed dictate policy.
DICE – It is impossible to not place enormous blame on the makers of the game, though. DICE not only brought us an incredibly buggy product, but it added more bugs as it fixed others! Remember who else did that? Batman: Arkham Origins developer WB Montreal, which could find a way to fuck up a steel ball. And I get the picture that DICE doesn’t like deadlines, or care what it’s fans think:
Whoever you choose to blame, if you are like me and bought the game, we inevitably must blame ourselves. We shouldn’t support companies who do this to consumers. And we can fix that by not buying the next title. Let’s boycott these fuckers until they give us something that wasn’t rushed out. Or just cut yourself for buying this game.
If you’re looking for context as to why EA executives would make a decision to push a game like this out before it was complete, I would invite you to check out this class action lawsuit, which alleges that EA deliberately misled investors. If they said Battlefield 4 was going to be ready in 2013, it’s hard to disagree.