Preview: Battlefield 4 Commander Mode

Through some sheer luck on my part (well frankly I just asked and they had no objection to it) I was able to try out the commander mode for Battlefield 4 on the awesome setup available at E3. The developer next to me guided me through what all I could do, and before I knew it, I was leading my entire team to a landslide victory. I am ecstatic that this mode is back!

• Developer: DICE
• Publisher: EA
• Previewed on: PC
• Also Available On: 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One
• Release Date: Oct 29, 2013 (US) / 1 Nov 2013 (Europe)

For those who haven’t played the Battlefield series when it was just on PC, being a commander was a critical part of the game. They were the only person that could call in support, such as bombardments or aerial recon, to aid their team. They also could direct where each squad should attack or defend, providing valuable teamwork needed in the large 32v32 battles. This power had two compromises. First, as the commander, you had to take yourself out of the battle to do so. This meant that your body was a sitting duck for any enemy that found you. Most commanders stayed in their spawn zone so this didn’t cause issues. Secondly, in order to use the more powerful support items, your team had to actually keep the physical representations operational. Enemies could easily sneak to one of the support installments and destroy it, rendering it useless until a friendly engineer repaired it.

Battlefield 4 simplifies both of these from what I was shown, and eliminates one of the compromises being a commander had. For starters, the commanders on each team no longer are a soldier in battle. They will always be an extra 2 people on top of the number of players per match. This is the most beneficial portion of the revival of the mode as there’s no squad having a man short due to one guy being commander. For the second part, from what I could tell, there were no physical locations designated simply to the support commands the commander could use. The more powerful support items like the missile or the jumbo jet that doubled as a spawn beacon were both tied to a control point. Whoever had control of the point were able to use the bonus.

Awesome E3 setup

Awesome E3 setup

This change is both positive and negative. The good is that the battles are much more focused because both teams will be fighting extensively to control said points. The downside to this is that whoever is controlling locations at the moment has a distinct advantage. Even though it was my first time trying the new commander mode, I was racking up multiple counts of 4-8 kills with my missile because enemies would be crowding around a control point trying to capture it. This probably was also compounded by the fact that the missile had a ridiculously short cool down timer. I was told that number would be tweaked for the release.

The defensive abilities like the UAV and counter UAVs did not appear to be tied to anything, so those were juts a constant battle back and forth on placing them around the map. It was always best to save the counter UAV until the enemy placed their UAV because you could always place it at the same location, nullifying their effect.

One cool new feature that I don’t think was in the previous games was the ability to mark enemy targets. Once a player has racked up a certain number of kills, the commander is able to mark said person as a “high value target.” This highlighted that player on the map for a short duration while also providing a higher points reward for killing the target. This was an interesting way to deal with the powerhouse players on each team by practically painting their location on the map for all the enemies to see.

The one gripe I had with the commander mode was the way it was setup. To be able to tell what abilities were on cool down, everything was neatly lined up vertically on the left hand side of the screen. And that meant that I wanted to click on an ability each time I could use it. Unfortunately those were not click-able, only a visual indicator. The developer coaching me through the mode kept noticing my issue and mentioned that they would probably allow those to be click-able at the final build because other people kept on doing the same thing.

The commander mode was a blast, especially considering we slaughtered the other team. I like to think it was due to my awesome leadership skills combined with taking out numerous enemies on my own. I’m fairly certain I managed to get over 20 kills easily as the commander. I can’t wait until the game releases so I can try my hand at that mode again.

Official Game Site

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  1. Henry

    Great to hear the mode is well implemented. About the targeting of enemies, you could also do it in the old games and it was a lot of fun!

    • Ah. good to know. I wasn’t commander very often in the old games, so I couldn’t remember if you could do that.

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