GDC 2013: EA and DICE unveil the very, very pretty ‘Battlefield 4’

Battlefield 4Over the last few years, EA has taken advantage of the scarcity of major AAA game reveals at GDC and used the event to unveil one of its biggest games of the year. Last year was Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Battlefield 3 was the year before, Medal of Honor the year before that. Call it a theme.

This year EA didn’t fail to disappoint. Earlier tonight it took the stage in San Francisco, alongside developer DICE, to unveil Battlefield 4.

The game looks much as you would expect the sequel in this series to look – i.e. it looks insanely gorgeous. Battlefield 3 pushed the graphical potential of the current gen to its limits, and with the next gen systems looming DICE has the chance to leave jaws on the floor. So far we’ve only seen PC though, which looks amazing regardless of what the console generations are doing – assuming your system is running the top hardware available. 

Battlefield_4As with Battlefield 3 when it was unveiled, there is going to be a great deal of talk regarding the graphics running on the brand new Frostbite 3 engine. It is hard to imagine a better looking game, shy of true photo realism. There will, of course, be games in the future that inevitably make that statement seem naïve, but Battlefield 4 will likely carry the mantle of best looking game for a while at least – much like Crysis did a few years ago. 

The facial animations are impressive, but there is still room to improve there. Where it really hits you how good this game looks is in the environmental details. Walls have missing flakes of paint and floors are covered in tiny pieces of rubble; graffiti is written on textured surfaces showing elemental pitting; doors are a touch uneven, having been warped by time and the elements. Lighting is a major factor as well, and rays of light can catch and blind you. It is incredible. When the biggest complaint you can level at a game’s environmental interaction is that the footsteps of your AI companions in mud don’t leave an impression, we have reached a point in graphical prowess where the improvements can only come by inches from now on.

Particle physics have been refined as well. Smoke moves realistically, and explosions cause authentic looking fireballs. Being a DICE game, there are plenty of destructible environments, and that has been improved as well. 

The game will once again have a heavy emphasis on the multiplayer, of course, but the campaign will offer the best look at the technical potential of the game leading up to its release, as there will be plenty of set-pieces designed to leave your jaw hanging. The demo shown tonight confirms that, as you go from escaping a city to fighting in a construction to riding a building down as it falls to pieces. That all leads to a fairly grotesque choice, as one of your teammate’s leg is pinned under piece of rubble and you and your knife are left to make a difficult decision.

Tonight the emphasis was entirely on the single player. Expect more on the multiplayer aspect in the coming months, probably at E3. 

Battlefield 4 - Fishing in Baku screen 5The single player offering in Battlefield 3 was a bit of a mess, to be generous. It looked great, but the gameplay and story were deeply flawed, not to mention the suspect AI. That wasn’t all that surprising for a series famed for its multiplayer, but hopefully this outing will address that and balance the two sides of the game. Friendly AI will now be able to receive basic commands, so hopefully DICE will spend the months leading up to release polishing this aspect of the game. 

No mention was made of a release date, but rumors (as well as pictures of a promo poster) peg the window as “Fall 2013.” That isn’t surprising given EA’s history with this series and the Medal of Honor franchise, and the timing once again reflects EA’s desire to steal a piece of Call of Duty’s pie. Activision’s annual shooter will almost certainly release sometime around early November, and if EA continues its pattern it will put out its competitor just a bit earlier, meaning an October release is likely.

Sales results aside, the rivalry between the games is mostly an invention of publishers. Despite both being military first-person shooters with an emphasis on multiplayer (like many, many other games), the similarities really do end there. Battlefield’s multiplayer looks and plays significantly differently than Call of Duty, which means both games attract a different set of fans, with relatively minimal crossover. That won’t stop the comparisons from coming though, and it is almost impossible to imagine that fans, press, and even the publishers won’t feed the rivalry.

Putting that aside though, Battlefield 4 does not look like a Call of Duty killer. It looks like its own game: beautiful and fluid, with plenty of destructible environments. PC fans may not notice a huge jump in technology, but console fans playing on the next-gen will be blown away.

Don’t just take our word for it though. Check out the complete demo below for a look a the amazingly pretty Battlefield 4


Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Movies & TV

From premiere date to footage: Here's all we have on 'Game of Thrones' season 8

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.

The Note 8 and S8 range now have access to the Android Pie beta

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

Blizzard’s latest hiring spree is likely for the unannounced ‘Diablo 4’

Activision Blizzard is hiring for more than a dozen positions on unannounced Diablo projects. Some of the roles are likely for the unannounced Diablo 4, the next mainline entry in the series.

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.

Fortnite V-Bucks being used by criminals for money laundering on dark web

Criminals are using Fortnite's V-Bucks for money laundering schemes on the dark web. Epic Games, apparently, is not doing enough to prevent the game from being used for the illegal activity.

Relive the 8-bit gaming era with the best NES emulators for Android and PC

For years prior to the release of the NES Classic, emulators have offered a means to every NES game ever created without needing the console. Here are the best NES emulators for Android and PC.

Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector’s Edition comes with a life-size Scorpion mask

The Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector's Edition will come with a human-sized replica of the mask of Scorpion, one of the most iconic fighters of the series. NetherRealm Studios has also announced the game's preorder bonuses.

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.