Battlefield 4 First Impressions


I took part in the Battlefield 4 Open Beta and even though the performance was decent, I wasn’t very impressed with the state the game was in. The game was an absolute memory hog, hit registration was all over the place, and the servers often lagged, turning an awesome helicopter flight through the skies into an awesome helicopter flight through buildings.

Eventually the game was released and unfortunately, it seemed the situation hadn’t changed much. People were complaining that the game was crashing fairly often, a lot of other bugs from the beta hadn’t been squashed, and despite promising to improve things, EA had managed to maintain it’s position as the most hated corporation in America for rushing Battlefield 4 out the door.

So Rowan, you’ve just told me that the game is essentially a steaming pile. What made you change your mind and buy it? Two things:

  • a massive patch that fixed most (unfortunately not all) of the major game bugs, and
  • a sale that discounted the game down to R333 (approximately $30)

So is it worth it? Keep on reading to find out.

Firstly, let me say that the performance in the retail game (post patch) is pretty damn good. I’m still running my old Core i3 530, 8 gigs of ram, and HD7770, and the game usually sits between 35 and 50 fps at mostly medium settings. This is a minor boost from the Open Beta, which rarely ever crept above 35 fps. The game still sometimes drops to 25 fps, but that’s not too often.

Battlefield 4 is still playable, and not too shabby looking, on an older machine.
Battlefield 4 is still playable, and not too shabby looking, on an older machine.
Battlefield 4 is still playable, and not too shabby looking, on an older machine.
Battlefield 4 is still playable, and not too shabby looking, on an older machine.

But, and this is a big one, the game is still a huge memory hog. When I first fired up the game for the first time this morning, every few seconds my hard drive would go a little bit nuts. This was the same problem I had in the Open Beta where my RAM was being fully utilised, so data was being stored in the page file on my hard drive, which is super slow. I had solved this problem in the Open Beta by upgrading my ram to 8 gigs. Why the hell was I having this problem again?

The retail release of Battlefield 4 will easily use three gigs of ram, and will generally use at least a gig more, depending on the complexity of the map. When I fired the game up this morning, my PC had been running all weekend and I had a ton of stuff open, so before I even started the game my PC was using 4.5 gigs of my 8 gigs of ram. Battlefield was filling up the last 3.5 gigs, and it wanted more. I fixed this by rebooting my PC, closing everything but Origin and a couple of tabs in my browser, and boom, problem gone. At this point, with just Battlefield and a few other programs running, the reported resources was sitting at about 5 gigs.

BF4 Performance
Here’s an example of my PC’s performance while playing BF4.

Secondly, the game still crashes, but it’s very rare now. I’ve played maybe 6 hours today (I’m going to pretend that all those hours were going towards this piece) and it crashed twice during the map changes. Mildly annoying, but a much needed improvement.

Thirdly, the game also has fairly long load times, but this seems to just be how the game works. The only users who aren’t having this issue are SSD hard drive users, who pay a much higher premium for the extra load speed. Me? I don’t mind the wait (at least not too much). I’ll usually go grab a snack or take a bathroom break while the game loads.

And finally, was it worth the money?

At the discounted price, I’d say yes. At the full price? Hell no. A lot of people have been complaining that this is Battlefield 3.5, and essentially it is (yes, a lot of the annoying gameplay “issues” from Battlefield 3 remain). Apart from some graphical improvements, some class tweaks, the new dynamic level changes, and the commander mode from Battlefield 2, this is essentially the same game.

There’s too much on offer for a DLC pack, but if people still made expansion packs (like Starcraft’s Broodwar or Carmageddon’s Splat Pack) this could have very easily been sold as one. Unfortunately for us, no one does that these days, so this game has been put together and released as a stand alone title.

If you like any of the previous Battlefield games, it’s well worth it at a discounted price. If you miss the sale (which ends on the 3rd of December), it’s probably best to hold off until it gets another price drop.


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