10 years later, Battlefield 4 feels just like the final sport DICE actually, really cared about

Kath Santarin
12 Min Read

In some ways, Battlefield 4 ended up setting the next bar for the sequence than anybody may have anticipated. This was the pre-GAAS period, however DICE unknowingly created a blueprint for the way effectively you may keep participant curiosity over the lengthy haul.

On the sport’s 10-year anniversary, it’s arduous to look again and never examine it to modern-day Battlefield video games. Their state at launch, content material at launch, and, crucially, how a lot help they continued to get pleasure from months after launch.

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Let’s begin with some details. Battlefield 4 was the second sport to undertake the Premium season cross mannequin launched with BF3. And similar to that sport, DICE offered a $50 cross that promised 5 expansions. Whereas particulars on the content material of every have been hardly ever shared when the cross went on sale, the usual set by its predecessor meant that you may anticipate a number of maps, new modes, autos, and some new weapons with every DLC. You might additionally safely depend on a sure cadence of launch, which looks as if a rarity nowadays.

Lower than two months after Battlefield 4’s launch, China Rising – the primary growth, arrived. It introduced 4 new maps themed round mainland China, and the standard assortment of weapons and autos. Second Assault adopted in February, 2014 – although it did have a a lot earlier November launch on Xbox One to coincide with the launch of the brand new console.

Xbox gamers bought two huge expansions in fast succession, whereas everybody else nonetheless bought new content material about once they anticipated it. Second Assault was made up totally of 4 map remakes, and a bunch of latest weapons.

DICE has all the time leaned arduous into anchoring every Battlefield growth round a single theme, which contextualised each bit of latest content material, and made it simpler to get enthusiastic about extra than simply limitless, meaningless new content material.

There's a few of China, rising up within the distance. | Picture credit score: DICE

Naval Strike got here out in March, and it was designed to essentially leverage Battlefield 4’s wonderful naval fight. All 4 maps have been set within the South China Sea, and have been nearly totally islands, peninsulas and archipelagos. The large new mode was Service Assault, which, whereas promising to be the return of BF2142’s basic Titan mode, ended up falling fairly quick. Nonetheless, it was one thing new that delivered on the promise of mounting an air and naval assault on an plane service, a fantasy no different Battlefield sport supplied (save for 1942).

July was Dragon’s Enamel’s flip, and whereas that was a return to the China mainland theme, the main target of the DLC’s 4 new maps was on close-quarters fight, significantly with verticality and street-to-street skirmishes. The brand new mode, Chain Hyperlink, was likewise designed to reap the benefits of that truth.

The ultimate piece to spherical out Premium was the aptly named Last Stand. That growth introduced again a give attention to large-scale fight, and an emphasis on snow environments. It additionally served as one other cheeky callback to BF2142, with extra futuristic weaponry, and map components that set the scene for the struggle of BF2142. Last Stand wrapped up the BF4 paid content material slate in November, 2014.

A soldier runs from an explosion in Battlefield 4's Final Stand DLC.
Extra like ‘Last Barely-Falling-Down'. | Picture credit score: DICE

Everybody assumed that may be the tip of it; nonetheless a wholesome dose of latest content material. However DICE returned in March, 2015 to announce that it was engaged on extra new content material for the sport, which might come to all gamers. Without cost. Remember the fact that whereas BF4 had its type of microtransactions (loot containers with cosmetics and level-up shortcuts), it didn't have a battle cross, or actually any type of recurring, FOMO-driven solution to compel gamers to return every week/month.

This was later known as the Weapons Crate DLC, and it arrived shortly after on take a look at servers (which was a factor), earlier than it made it out to all gamers in Could alongside a serious patch. Because the identify would possibly recommend, the replace was meant to introduce new weapons, so 5 of them have been added. That was additionally the replace that added Gun Grasp to BF4, successfully a model of the basic Gun Sport mode.

However, wouldn’t you realize it, this was not, in truth, the final little bit of content material within the works for Battlefield 4 – not even shut. Evening Operations got here out in the summertime, and although it was initially set to ship three nighttime variations of present maps, solely one in every of them made it out of the Neighborhood Take a look at Atmosphere, that being Zavod: Graveyard Shift.

Everybody’s sights rapidly turned to Neighborhood Operations, which launched Operation Outbreak to BF4 in October, a return to the jungle fight of China Rising, with a give attention to floor mixed arms motion. The final piece of free content material for Battlefield 4 was December’s Legacy Operations, which launched a remake of BF2’s Dragon Valley, alongside yet one more main patch.

All in all, that’s three free maps, a number of new weapons, new modes, up to date mechanics, main stability passes – all effectively after DICE was obligated to ship any new content material. By the tip of it, Battlefield 4 had an unmatched package deal of content material past what shipped on day one.
This was the final time DICE would do something of the kind.

A sport larger than this skybox.

We’ll skip Battlefield Hardline as a result of it wasn’t developed by DICE, and isn’t a mainline sport anyway. DICE’s subsequent huge sport was Battlefield 1, whose Premium cross price the identical $50, however promised one fewer growth. The variety of new maps ended up being comparable, nevertheless, as some expansions had greater than others. However, it was seen as a deterioration of the worth of Premium.

Sadly, we didn’t know the way good we had it. Battlefield 5 was the primary sport to eliminate the season cross mannequin, providing all post-launch content material for everybody – which instantly signalled that you just shouldn’t anticipate as a lot of it after launch anymore. BF5 had its personal battle cross system, and a chapter method to common content material releases.

Overture was the primary, introducing one new map. Then Lightning Strikes, with no new maps. Trial by Hearth but once more added a single map. Defying the Odds was the primary to drop 4 maps, although their releases have been staggered. Struggle within the Pacific was nearly a throwback to how expansions used to comply with sure themes and introduce new factions/areas. In that case, in fact, that was The Japanese Empire and three Pacific-based maps. Lastly, BF5’s final hurrah got here with Into the Jungle, with one new map to its identify.

Issues bought quite a bit worse with Battlefield 2042, as that sport’s post-launch content material pales compared to even BF5. BF2042 obtained solely six new maps throughout six seasons, with every season additionally transforming a number of of the sport’s launch maps. The lately launched sixth season was already greater than gamers anticipated, and it’s doubtless going to be the sport’s final.

An explosion in a theatre of conflict with a giant mushroom cloud, in Battlefield 4.
Up in smoke. | Picture credit score: DICE

So that is the place we're, 10 years on from Battlefield 4. Some issues haven’t modified a lot: Battlefield video games proceed to be damaged (to various levels) at launch, DICE vows to repair them, they usually find yourself at a significantly better place when all is alleged and completed.

However the quantity of content material you may anticipate at the moment, particularly contemplating how far more monetised trendy Battlefield video games are, is so staggeringly decrease than in 2013. Each the annual season cross and the quarterly battle passes are components of their respective instances. Everybody hated how locking new content material behind a paywall break up the neighborhood, and left house owners with a smaller participant pool, and non-owners with no new content material.

That will effectively have been true, however you can't deny simply how a lot new content material Premium promised – and delivered – for each sport it was a part of. Bear in mind, that was a one-time $50 buy that granted you entry to all of that additional content material. Right now, a single BF2042 battle cross prices $10, and everybody solely will get a single new map.

Key art of Battlefield 4, with a soldier running over rain-slicked ground, tanks and ground vehicles behind him.
Now-iconic artwork. | Picture credit score: DICE

It’s clear DICE’s greatest days are behind it, however It’s additionally embarrassing to see EA proceed to run Battlefield reside providers so terribly. If something, the writer not treats the “service” a part of GAAS as one thing that provides worth to gamers. It has gotten fairly snug placing out a damaged sport, and utilizing the reside service to complete it. Anticipating a pat on the again for “lastly making X good.”

All the pieces outdated is new once more, so I wouldn’t rule out a return of season passes. The idea of the battle cross is already operating out of steam, and publishers operating GAAS might want to determine a substitute eventually. I simply hope that, no matter it's, it will probably not less than ship as a lot content material as we used to anticipate, a mere 10 years in the past.

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