One of the best new features coming in Battlefield 4 isn’t new at all. The commander mode, last seen in Battlefield 2, is seeing a welcome return. It’s been updated since then to give the player in the command chair access to a great many powers. Powers that can tip a fight in your team’s favour. One such ability is the power to highlight a single player for your entire team to hunt down and kill.
DICE have spilled the beans on a whole host of features besides.
“In Battlefield 4, one of Lead Multiplayer Designer Thomas Andersson’s main goals was to create more Commander vs. Commander gameplay (similar to what can be seen in RTS games) than we’ve had before in the series,” DICE write in a blog post detailing the mode. “We also decided to make the very important change of making the role of Commander a full-time job. There is no possibility of going between 1st person and Commander Mode like in BF2. We wanted to ensure the Commander is dedicated to supporting the whole team, not just themselves. We all remembered the BF2 “Commander supporting himself while in a tank ignoring his team” worst case scenario, and that’s something we wanted to avoid happening again.”
Now, those powers. Commander’s can call in UAVs to scan areas for the enemy. They can also use EMP blasts to take out the enemy commander’s own UAVs. The commander can also give a warning as to where an enemy commander’s cruise missile is due to land.
The really cool trick is the commander’s ability to designate high value targets. “An enemy on a kill streak of six or more will appear on the Commander’s screen as a selectable unit, DICE write. “This player’s location can be relayed to the entire team for a period of time (45 seconds at the moment). The Commander can add this aspect to a game where most players will shift focus for a while and hunt/protect this HVT player, as both teams are alerted about this Commander “promotion” when it happens. The attackers will receive additional bonuses when taking out said target, while the target will receive bonuses when performing kills while being HVT – thus both parties have something to gain from this. GTA’s classic “wanted stars” system is what we used as an inspiration for this, we think the highly skilled players will accept this challenge as the ultimate proof of becoming a lethal threat on the battlefield.”
The commander’s best toys need to be captured and deployed by the team on the ground before they become available. Cruise missile launch pads need to be captured before they can be fired. They’re low-flying missiles that will destroy pretty much everything in a small area, so well worth the effort. They can also scan the map for infantry or vehicles, providing intel that can be fed back to the troops. Also, DICE have handed the keys of the AC-130 gunship over to the commander. It works as a mobile spawn point and ground-pounding weapons platform.
DICE are also tying the commander into squads by giving them powers to boost squads. The commander can promote a squad, pushing their upgrade bars towards their next unlock. Quad bikes and boats can be parachuted in. A squad’s respawn time can be halved for a short time. Finally, and this could cause quite a stink if used well by a team, the commander can airdrop a supply crate which, as well as healing and rearming troops, can be used to switch between classes. Whole squads can change their class in the thick of the fight.
It really does look like commander mode will provide the biggest change between Battlefield 3 and 4’s multiplayer.