The game feels great. Everything from the infantry combat, to tanks, to air, its all fun. I have been playing FPS games for almost 10 years, and this has to been one of the best. The last game I remember that was this good, was Battlefield 2. I have played countless hours of the game already, and I am one of the top ranked players in Massachusetts. This game is spectacular and I truly feel like I am in the game and out there on the “battlefield.”
The Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises are so well established at this point that you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Fragging, “tactical” shooting, a ton of racist 12-year-olds on voice chat, fun stunts with vehicles and knives appearing on YouTube, people complaining about vehicles and knives on forums, and perhaps the best video game glitch in the history of code… you know you love every minute of it.
Even though you know what you’re getting with either franchise, you’re going to be sinking a bunch of time into whichever one you choose, so in order to help you make this pivotal decision in your life, we’ve compiled some things you perhaps didn’t know about the two series and their newest installments.
On the next-gen consoles, Battlefield 4 will run at 720p on the Xbox One, and 900p on the PlayStation 4. Both will be upscaled to 1080p. As a result, the Xbox One version will have noticeable aliasing, but will look a little more crisp. The PS4 version will have a slightly higher frame rate, and will be able to recover from dips in the frame rate a little more quickly.
On the next-gen consoles, Call of Duty: Ghosts will run at 720p on the Xbox One, and 1080p on the PlayStation. Both versions will run at 60fps.
BF4 will feature multiplayer matches up to 64 players in size, whereas Call of Duty: Ghosts has a max size of 18 (on next-gen consoles and PC). However, the multiplayer modes are different, so the player-size isn’t entirely accurate for the quality of the matches.
Call of Duty: Ghosts requires 50GB of hard drive space to install on the PC, while Battlefield 4 requires 30GB.
Altogether, there have been 24 Battlefield iterations and expansions, and 21 Call of Duty iterations and expansions. Surprising that CoD has churned out less titles.
During E3 this year, Battlefield 4 heavily focused on boat combat, while Call of Duty: Ghosts focused heavily on a new dog character.
Battlefield 2 has an expansion called Modern Combat, which is similar enough to Call of Duty’s breakout sequel, Modern Warfare. We suppose warfare is on a larger scale than combat.
Fox is developing an hour-long Battlefield: Bad Company action comedy TV show, whereas Call of Duty had a collectable card game in development that never went to production.
Before Battlefield 4, the series has sold around 60 million units, while Call of Duty — pre-Ghosts — has sold twice that.
Both games are published by the two companies that are seen as the most evil in the gaming industry, Electronic Arts and Activision, so good job not supporting them, you guys.
In all, you likely know by now that Battlefield is the more tactical game of the pair, while Call of Duty is the more first-person-shootery. Battlefield multiplayer always has the most amusing stunts, but Call of Duty: Ghosts has that dog, and something will surely happen to it that’ll break your heart into so many pieces that you’ll end up venting your emotions by insulting some preteen’s mom over voice chat the second you load up multiplayer.
Battlefield 4 is currently out on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. It will release for PS4 on November 12, and on Xbox One on November 19 — both a few days before each console’s release. Call of Duty: Ghosts released on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on November 5, while the PS4 version will release on November 15, and the Xbox One version will release on November 22.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is the best evidence in years of a franchise going through the motions.
The long-running joke about Call of Duty — generally espoused by non-fans — goes like this: Each year’s installment of Call of Duty is only slightly different from the previous year’s entry. It’s not one of those ha-ha jokes, and similar bon mots have been lobbed at games like Madden for years.
But Call of Duty: Ghosts demonstrates an unwillingness to change much and presents a real shortage of new ideas. Ghosts is a step backwards from 2012’s Black Ops 2 — and the weakest game in the series since 2009’s Modern Warfare 2.
Multiplayer has long been Call of Duty’s linchpin. Black Ops 2 took some innovative steps to reinvent the formula, especially on the character creation front. Call of Duty: Ghosts appears at first glance to take similar strides. It introduces the ability to fully customize the look of your multiplayer avatar, letting players pick from dozens of head and uniform options. It even introduces the ability to play as a female character for the first time in the franchise. But these customization options have zero impact on the gameplay. Instead, Call of Duty: Ghosts relies on a modified version of Black Ops 2‘s Pick 10 create-a-class system.
With Pick 10, players could spend up to 10 points, each point allocated to a gun, attachment or perk. Pick 10 was incredibly easy to understand, but it also allowed for a remarkable amount of customization. This has been replaced by an unnecessarily complex Perk Points system, where certain perks are given certain values. For example, you can either select five perks worth one point each or one perk worth five points each. You can also earn additional points by leaving secondary weapons or grenades behind.
It’s a functional system, but it’s a step down from the simplicity of Pick 10, which made character creation more digestible and enjoyable. This new system doesn’t have any obvious upsides, and I can see it overwhelming newcomers.
Primary testing for this review was on a PlayStation 4, though I was able to test the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. Xbox One impressions are embargoed until Nov. 12. The difference between current- and next-gen should be noticeable to anyone who has played a Call of Duty game before. There’s an added sharpness on PS4, and the textures are of a higher resolution, but the most obvious improvements were on the lighting side.
On current-gen, certain scenes, like an underwater level and a nighttime skyscraper assault, felt drab and flat. The improved lighting effects on PS4 brought these same scenes to life. It should also be noted that I’ve never much enjoyed playing a first-person shooter on a PS3 controller, but the PS4 controller was a vast improvement, putting it easily on par with the Xbox 360 controller.
Much has been said about the fact that the PlayStation 4 version of the game runs at a native 1080p, and while that may be true, the game did struggle to maintain a steady frame rate, especially in hectic multiplayer matches. The PS3 version of the game ran into similar problems, whereas the Xbox 360 version maintained a steady 60 frames per second.
Call of Duty: Ghosts makes more positive contributions to the series with a shift to ground-based kill streaks. Since the original Modern Warfare, players have needed to keep their eyes on the skies. UAVs and deadly helicopters, called in by successive kills, were often a frustrating nuisance, distracting players from the task at hand.
In Ghosts, the vast majority of kill streaks have migrated to the ground. UAVs are now SatComs that are more effective when placed in multiple locations. Players can also earn an attack dog to protect them at close range. In both cases, these kill streaks can be negated by standard weapons fire, without the need for special equipment like a ground-to-air launcher. There are still a few high-level, air-based kill streaks, but they lack the overpowering effectiveness of past years and are easily avoided or taken down with machine-gun fire.
Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces a handful of new multiplayer modes (joining classics like Kill Confirmed and Domination), with varying degrees of success. None of them feel dramatically different — instead, they feel more like modified versions of existing modes.
Search and Rescue: A modification of Search and Destroy. Players are still given just one life per round, but if their teammate collects their dog tag before the enemy does, they’ll be revived. A great way to encourage teams to work together more while punishing lone-wolf sniping.
Infected: A shameless lift from the Halo franchise, Infected has a team of survivors with shotguns who are turned into melee-only zombies as each one is picked off. Enjoyable, but far from original.
Hunted: This deathmatch equips two opposing teams with pistols, but every few minutes crates with better weapons will drop around the map. Silly fun, but not especially competitive or strategic.
Grind: A modification of Kill Confirmed where collected dog tags need to be deposited at two “banks” around the map. This game type encourages more teamwork than standard Kill Confirmed.
Blitz: Like Capture the Flag without the need to return the flag. Run into your enemy’s base to score, and instantly teleport you back to your own base. A strange, frustrating mode that could use some tweaking.
Cranked: A modified version of Team Deathmatch where a kill gives the killer a 30-second speed boost. But if those 30 seconds run out before getting another kill, the player explodes. Jason Statham, call your lawyer.
This change takes the most frustrating moments of Call of Duty multiplayer — when you’re being constantly obliterated by an unseen force — out of the equation. It’s a smart decision that I hope carries through to future games.
The ability to unlock just about anything you want at just about any level is sure to be more controversial. Leveling up earns Squad Points, which can be spent to unlock guns, equipment, attachments and perks. None of the guns or equipment have level requirements, so they can be unlocked in any order so long as you have enough points to spend. Perks, on the other hand, do have level requirements, but you can pay a tariff of Squad Points to unlock perks early if you’re so inclined.
If you know exactly what you want, you can have everything unlocked by level 20. This amount of freedom is good, though it does take some of the satisfaction and drive from leveling up, with only new badges and prestige icons to keep you moving through the levels.
Despite these changes to the multiplayer, Call of Duty: Ghosts too often feels like a me-too product, never breaking entirely new ground. Meanwhile, Infinity Ward has stripped out some much-loved features from Black Ops 2, including League Play, replay recording and player-created emblems. These elements were extremely popular with the Call of Duty and eSports communities, and it’s hard to see their removal as anything but an overall step in the wrong direction.
As players progress through multiplayer, they’ll be able to create up to 10 different soldiers (each with their own ranks and loadouts). They can then bring these soldiers into a mode called Squads, where they can be used in bot matches that pit you and your AI-controlled team against a friend and his or her AI-controlled team. Or you can take on AI-controlled squads from around the world, if you so choose.
Unfortunately, the bulk of Squads ends up feeling like glorified bot matches (previously called Combat Training). The lone bright spot: a modified version of Spec Ops Survival from Modern Warfare 3, where you take on waves of enemies with three other players while upgrading your weapons and kill streaks.
Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer feels undercooked, but the campaign feels like it’s frozen.
With the end of the Modern Warfare series in 2011 and the dawn of a new console generation on the horizon, Ghosts could start from scratch, with no backstory to hold it back. A new storyline and new characters in a new setting seemed like a great opportunity.
That freedom nonetheless results in one of the sloppiest storylines in Call of Duty history. In the near future, South America has unified as “The Federation” and become a major military player on the world stage. After some unseen conflict between The Federation and the United States, the two sign a peace treaty. This is quickly broken as The Feds invade a U.S.-controlled weaponized space station and use it to wipe every major U.S. city off the map.
This all happens in the first level.
Riley, made famous in Ghosts‘ first reveal, is a surprising boon. He’ll join you on a few of the campaign missions and you can essentially order him to attack enemies with the touch of a button. He can make short work of enemies behind cover, and his incredibly lifelike animations actually make him the most likable character in the game. But Riley is massively underutilized, appearing in just a small handful of levels.
The bulk of Call of Duty: Ghosts is set several years after the attack, with remaining U.S. forces attempting to hold off an all-out Federation invasion. The nation’s only hope for survival rests with The Ghosts, a small group of highly trained soldiers that use guerrilla tactics against overwhelming odds. You play as Logan, who, paired with his brother Hesh, seeks to join the Ghosts and fight off the Federation menace.
Logan is mercifully mute, but Hesh… well, Hesh talks a lot. He’s voiced by Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame, and I couldn’t help but pity him for having to read the lines he was given. Ghosts also introduces an antagonist so underdeveloped and uninteresting that I hoped that both he and Hesh would bite it by the end — all so we wouldn’t be stuck with this pair for more games.
Ignoring the story, there are a few bright spots throughout the campaign. A nighttime infiltration mission on a skyscraper was well-paced and tense, as was an undercover mission set in a snowy mountain region. But these bits were far outnumbered by standard Call of Duty levels involving battleships being attacked by waves of enemies and dull assaults on research facilities.
Ghosts flails as it tries to find new and interesting ways for missions to play out. Throughout the game’s climax, I often asked myself, “Why am I here? What is this even accomplishing?” By the end of the campaign, I was still scratching my head.
If there’s one area that Call of Duty: Ghosts really nails, it’s the brand-new Extinction mode. Extinction is a four-player cooperative mode — akin to Zombies in previous games but with new mechanics that make the experience far more rewarding. Unlike Zombies, which revels in its opaque, mysterious nature, Extinction provides a very clear objective: You and your squad must annihilate an alien horde scattered throughout a small Midwestern town. To do this, one of you must carry a drill to several alien hives and use it to destroy these hives as waves of aliens pour in. This all takes place in one giant map, and you can often choose which hives to destroy first, slowly making your way to the central hive in the middle of downtown.
Extinction is so enjoyable because of its focus on actual cooperation. Before starting an Extinction map, players can select skill loadouts, choosing from options like Medic to Assault to Body Armor to Exploding Ammo. As you progress through a match of Extinction, you’ll earn skill points to spend in that session to increase these skills even further.
Ideally you’ll have four players specced out with completely different abilities, and that variety will be what wins the day. Within two matches of Extinction, my squad and I were planning tactics and shouting for ammo refills. It’s an obvious shift in intent, and Zombies fans may be discouraged by the lack of mystery. But for players just looking to have fun with friends, Extinction is the highlight of Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Ghosts never goes beyond the barest requirements for a sequel
Call of Duty: Ghosts is mired in a distinct lack of ambition. Outside of the stellar Extinction mode, Ghosts follows more often than it leads, bringing with it familiar missions, modes and experiences. Ghosts feels like an accountant’s sequel, with just enough content to justify a new installment. It just never goes beyond that.
Call of Duty: Ghosts was reviewed at an event held in Southern California in late October by Activision and Infinity Ward. Ghosts was played on debug PS3s and Xbox 360s; time was also provided on PS4 and Xbox One development hardware. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.
After Battlefield 3’s iconic synth soundtrack, that this most eagerly awaited of the next-gen launch titles should fade from black to the strains of Bonnie Tyler’s cheese-tastic Total Eclipse of the Heart is more than a little incongruous. Naturally, it’s just a slick slice of sleight of hand from devs DICE – setting the scene for a bombastic opening that also serves as a thunderous showcase for the next-generation powers of PS4 and Xbox One.
If there’s an indisputable star of the show here, it’s plainly the all-new, all-singing, all-shooting Frostbite 3 engine that blazes out at 900p on PS4 (and at 720p on Xbox One). Both versions looked stunning, though the consensus was that the PS4 version definitely shaded it. More than just a pretty face though, DICE’s baby does some frankly insane things that tangibly affect gameplay – or at least alter your perception of it – as well as destroying ear drums and melting eyeballs.
Wait until you see a tropical storm roll on in, the wind so fierce it blurs the vision and affects locomotion… or gasp as an aircraft carrier’s hull is torn asunder girder by twisted girder – all in-engine. Plus the shift to 60fps on next-gen consoles has definitely given the gunplay a rocket up the jacksie, too. Scale and speed equals a compelling combo.
In the decidedly brief (six hours tops) but pulsating single-player campaign, you play as Sergeant Daniel Recker, silent cipher, one man ‘Recking-ball’ *cough* and team leader of Tombstone, your usual spec ops-style, rag-tag posse breaking both rules and necks alike to stop a nefarious Chinaman (and some Russians) from killing a somewhat nicer Chinaman who wants to get into bed (figuratively) with the West.
Yep, if BF4 flops in any one particular department, it’s definitely exposition. The painfully signposted pathos regularly rings hollow, the Chinese-US love-in and cultural exchanges (chiefly between supporting characters Irish and Hannah) stagger between cheesy and plain heavy-handed.
We’re not sure whether it’s the acting, the writing… but something just doesn’t ring true. Maybe we were just too jaded by the game’s sky high gaming bodycounts to care about a few screaming all-American NPCs trapped in a brig and destined to drown. Maybe we’re just horrible people. Or maybe the plot is just a bit too safe, generic, confusing and – ultimately – bland for its own good.
Thankfully the impressive action – and a handful of genuinely jaw-dropping next-gen style set plays – more than redeems any perceived narrative missteps. There’s a seamless flow now between single and multiplayer, the incongruity of BF3’s not-so twin halves consigned to history. The understated rewards system feels both fluid and holistic – rack up the carnage through skilful kill-combos, special takedowns etc. and you can earn bronze, silver and gold weapon unlocks for each of the campaign levels.
Similarly, plunder hitherto unused weaponry from downed foes and it’ll be added to your wonder-crate, a bottomless cache of juicy military hardware that’s accessible at regular intervals during missions. Realistic? Absolutely not, but it constantly makes you reassess (and re-equip) your mission loadout, and basically lets you mess around with the best guns relatively early doors rather than after beating the game a dozen times.
“Thankfully the impressive action more than redeems any perceived narrative missteps.”
Lest we forget, Battlefield’s single-player campaign has always been something of a bonus – the undoubted meat of the title is to be found in its corpulent, oh-so scrumptious multiplayer, and BF4 is the strongest online incarnation yet.
The jump to 60fps has had an undoubted effect on the action; up close it’s fierce and frenetic, with some of the more claustrophobic Deathmatch maps (like Operation Locker) arguably even besting COD for sheer twitch-blasting, charnel-house ferocity. Spawn, kill, die, respawn. That said, attempting to go toe-to-arcadey toe with Infinity Ward/Treyarch arguably results in BF4’s grand vision faltering somewhat, even if the actual pace certainly doesn’t.
Nevertheless, there’s a breadth to the game now that was possibly missing before – BF4 patently wants to go steady with you, be your one-stop shooter, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The series’ hardcore fans absolutely need not fret though, because although we don’t blame DICE for attempting to have a cheeky gobble on the swollen COD pie, Battlefield 4 feels more assured in its regular guise. In fact it feels amazing. We’re talking mega maps, 64 players fighting and dying per session, more time (and room) to breathe and the chance to inject more strategy into the mass murder.
The larger environments are quite beautifully designed and realised. Standout maps include Lancang Dam, Flood Zone, Zavod 311, Siege of Shanghai, Rogue Transmission and – particularly – Paracel Storm, all of which feature in one shape or another gobsmacking central destructive set-pieces.
Demolition looms large on both local and bigger-scale levels, and it’s a great feeling when you know a sneaky foe is lurking behind a wall so, cackling evilly, you proceed to bring down half a building atop their bonces and claim the kill.
Frostbite 3 positively purrs here, smashing stuff up with unprecedented élan and driving the gameplay to new levels. At times, it honestly feels like your world is – quite literally – crashing down about you. It’s staggering, progressive stuff.
Game modes old and new continue to deliver the goods, with classics like Conquest and Team Deathmatch combining well with fresher favourites like Rush. A few brand new configurations pop up too – primarily centred on the delivery, planting and/or defusal of bombs – in Obliteration and Defuse.
We found the former a bit chaotic, the latter (5 vs. 5, no respawns, over in minutes) enjoyably tense. Some larger-scale scraps, meanwhile, endured for a good half an hour, being insanely chaotic set-tos that left participants alternatively gasping for breath, pumping fists or high-fiving and weeping quietly when the score screen finally flashed up. As we said, there’s more variety to BF4 than ever – from the micro to the macro level and everything in-between.
At its best then, there’s nothing to touch Battlefield 4’s multiplayer for all-encompassing war. Take Paracel Storm, packed with 64 players, all waging their own mini wars on their own bits of the huge map. Gunboats are mowing stragglers down like ripe corn on the beach, supersonic jets are dropping death from above, buildings are disintegrating in hails of blood and dust and the sound design is blowing your mind.
“At its best, there’s nothing to touch Battlefield 4’s multiplayer for all-encompassing war”
Then, when you think it couldn’t possibly get any more enthralling, any more goddamn immersive, a gigantic tropical storm thunders in and the carnage really commences.
A triumph on a multitude of levels, Battlefield 4 is the series’ most compelling package to date, a delightfully slick introduction to the next-generation of consoles and more than a good enough reason on its lonesome to pick up a PS4 or Xbox One to see what high-end PC-owning players have been banging on about for years.
Kudos to the dog-punching fans at DICE – it’s fantastic to see the next-gen kicking off with such a convincing wallop. COD, over to you…
A bombastic start to the next generation of shooters, especially in multiplayer.
An incredible next-gen game engine
Stellar map design
One of the best team shooters ever
Single-player campaign is short and narratively nonsensical.