Battlefield 4, Powered By DICE's Frostbite 3 Engine
PC gamers who love great-looking first-person shooters have more than a few big-name franchises to choose from. But if you're particularly enchanted with large-scale multiplayer battles that include a wide array of player-piloted vehicles, one series stands above the rest. The Battlefield games weren't the first to focus on that style, but they certainly had a hand defining the genre.
The imminent release of Battlefield 4 is, therefore, a big deal to PC gamers. We spent some time with the public multiplayer beta to see what's new and check out pre-release performance on a wide array of graphics cards and processors.
Of course, this means our analysis is limited to online play for now (though that tends to be what makes the series so long-lasting). The basics haven't changed: the four player roles are still assault, support, engineer, and recon. The beta offers the staple conquest-style game with large vehicle-populated maps, along with an infantry-focused domination option on a smaller map and void of mechanical transportation. The new obliteration and defuse games are not available yet. Neither are competition favorites like team deathmatch, rush, or squad deathmatch. There's only one map in the beta test: Seige of Shanghai. Like Battlefield 3, the game servers are selected via a Web browser.
The sense of scale is much larger than any Battlefield game I've played before, thanks to the sprawling city and large buildings. The new Frostbite 3 game engine facilitates gorgeous visuals that remind me a lot of Crysis 3. There are other changes, like improved water dynamics, the commander mode (also available from Battlefield: 2142), and the new "levolution" feature that gives you the ability to destroy large-scale map features, such as buildings, to move the location of objectives. While levolution sounds cool, it appears to be hard-coded into specific structures. My understanding was that only one building in the Seige of Shanghai could be destroyed. It was already down in every server I joined, though, so I never saw this feature in action.
I would have liked to see fully-destructible terrain, though of course that introduces logistical issues. We're hoping, then, that the final version of Battlefield 4 includes at least one map with more "levolvable" structures.
Otherwise, the beta's environment is fairly standard, perhaps a bit more interactive than prior titles in the franchise. There's a lot of glass and architectural detail that demonstrates abuse from gunfire and explosions, and much of the concrete cover is destructible. Most of the buildings are static above the first floor, though.
Thus far, Battlefield 4 looks like it's shaping up to be a polished, better-looking version of its predecessor with even more interesting environments to play in.
We all know we're going to be busy playing Battlefield 4 when it comes out, so let's take a moment during the beta period to discuss DICE's Frostbite 3 engine.
****EDIT BY TOM'S HARDWARE****
Sorry, corvetteguy, you're the first so I'm going to hijack your post to answer some common questions:
- Why didn't you mention mantle?I probably *should* have mentioned it, but at this point it seems a little early. We don't know that much about it and we don't even know exactly when it arrives. Rest assured, when Mantle is rolled out we will cover it!
- Why did you use a Titan in the CPU tests instead of the dual-GPU 690 or 7990?Dual-GPU performance can be tricky, and without FCAT working, I didn't want to report potential pie-in-the-sky FRAPS performance that is difficult to verify. Titan is the fastest single GPU card we have.
- Why no FX-6000 CPU?We benched the FX-4170 and FX-8350. The FX-6000 will be in between, there wasn't a colossal spread so it seems pretty straightforward.
- For the love of everything good and pure, why did you use IE?Haha! Lots of comments on this. I used it because it was there - remember, we clean install for our benchmarks, so unless the test involves browsers we don't bother investing time installing anything else. For the record I feel dirty and violated having opened the software, but you should all know that my personal PC has both Firefox and Chrome installed. :)
Hope that clarifies things!
- Don Woligroski
****END OF EDIT BY TOM'S HARDWARE****
In 64 man conquest games, doing a FRAPS benchmark of an entire 30 minute round, I got a minimum framerate of 42, average of 74, and max of 118 on my rig (4.8 GHz 2600k || 780 SLI @ 1100/1500 || 16GB DDR3 2133c11) at 1440p with all settings maxed and 120 fov.
Also interesting to see 2GB cards struggling at high res on this game. I really didn't think we'd see that so soon, given that the 780/Titan/7950/7970 are the only cards yet released with >2GB standard memory.
But not matter what, each time that main building is blown up I loss at least 5 fps for the rest of the round and have big time fps/lag spikes.
Imo you want an 7970/280x and a quad core to be able to play smooth.
Also, I hear a lot about vram...what is the feed back on 2 gigs vs 3 ?
I also wish they tested a Radeon and Geforce card that would be considered equal to see how it performs by brand.
Considering that mantle wont be available until December, why would it be mentioned? Especially considering the fact that none of the "new" AMD GPUs were included in the benchmarks...