The term “next-generation” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Typically, the most recognized improvements between generations are the graphical abilities of any given console against its predecessor. But there is much more to the term than pretty visuals and dazzling effects. Namely, the abilities that powerful new hardware provides to developers in terms of gameplay and multiplayer architecture.
In a recent post on Battlefield’s official blog, DICE posted some interesting multiplayer features that will bring Battlefield 4 into the next-generation of console and PC gaming. Many features were revealed, such as the class system and a squad-based perk system that rewards you for accomplishing commands given by your chain of command. But the biggest announcement was something called “Levolution.”
“Levolution is an overarching design concept incorporating a lot of features both big and small, that all affect gameplay in some way. You’ve probably already seen what it can do to skyscrapers but it also includes features like changing weather conditions that affects visibility, car alarms and metal detectors alerting players of enemy presence, or the ability to completely shroud a building in darkness and take out the enemies within using your IRNV scopes. Much more than just massive feats of destruction or pretty graphics, the exciting thing about Levolution is how it affects gameplay. From bringing down a skyscraper to securing a zone from enemy vehicles by raising bollards to block entry, Levolution will let you dynamically shape every game. And like so many other elements in Battlefield 4, Levolution also ties into the team play aspect of the game.”
Destructible environments are nothing new to the Battlefield franchise. In fact, it is one of the features that truly sets it apart from other games in its genre. But this is a step beyond anything we have seen thus far in the series, and it’s only made possible by the horsepower of the next generation of consoles and PCs. These player-activated instances can and will change the course of any round of play completely. In essence, players will be changing the map in real time.
“For example, depending on your team strengths, collapsing the skyscraper on our E3 map “Siege of Shanghai” can be either a positive or a negative. When you’ve knocked out its four main pillars, the skyscraper will fall in a massive cloud of dust and debris, killing all players unfortunate to be trapped inside. The base that used to be capture point C at the very top of the skyscraper will now be found at ground level, amidst the jarring blocks of concrete and rubble. This new infantry battleground will be clouded by dust, making navigation hard and often seeing players switch to infrared night vision scopes or FLIR. What used to be sniper heaven and the ideal paradrop base has suddenly turned into a low-visibility close quarters combat arena. This is great if you’re all about infantry combat, but if you have a team of great pilots, you will probably want the skyscraper to stay intact.”
These dynamic changes in gameplay will have a major affect on how players approach objectives in the game. While team play is encouraged, it is not required. However, it seems the rewards of team play will far outweigh the benefits of playing as a “lone wolf.” But ultimately, as the player, you will determine how you play on the battlefield.
It is unknown if all Battlefield 4 maps will include these features, but the ability to literally change the battlefield as you play is a quantum leap forward in online multiplayer gaming. It looks like the hectic, fast-paced gameplay of Battlefield just got a little crazier. The camping snipers on top of the Shanghai skyscraper won’t stand a chance.