Editor's note: Click here to read the current-generation review of Battlefield 4.
'Levolution' may've made it onto the list of history's most appalling buzzwords, but after sending a skyscraper tumbling, blowing up a nuclear warhead and submerging an entire Chinese village underwater, you've got to admit, maybe DICE was onto something after all.
The significance of each scenario doesn't truly start to sink in until you appreciate that these are dynamic multiplayer moments rather than scripted single-player events, with up to 63 other players also engaged in their own skirmishes, all playing at a rock-solid 60FPS on a £350 console. DICE's technical achievements here will frankly leave console gamers in awe.
But scale isn't the only thing that's been enhanced. While there's no escaping the sense that it's little more than Battlefield 3.5, the refined persistence system and excellent variety of maps offer a far better balanced - and more exciting - online experience than before.
Multiplayer unlocks are still tuned for the long game, but early balancing issues are sidestepped by providing newcomers with an appropriately powered armoury. Amateur jet fighters are no longer sitting ducks, now equipped with the necessary means to immediately go on the offensive, while weapon unlocks are drip-fed based on the player's preferred weaponry type, rather than their favoured class.
The campaign is one of Battlefield's best, too, and though DICE continues to stray a little too far into 'loud and dumb' COD territory rather than make the most of its large-scale, all-out war heritage, the explosive set pieces offer just enough to keep players entertained throughout the 5 hour experience. In many respects, then, Battlefield 4 is the perfect game to usher in the new generation.
It's eye-gogglingly beautiful, laced with breathtaking lighting and particle effects, and offers a significant visual and mechanical step up over the current-gen version. The campaign isn't without its faults, but it's a near technically flawless launch title that finally brings Battlefield to consoles the way it should be. If you're looking to pick up a multiplayer shooter alongside your new console, Battlefield 4 is essential.
This review was written after spending approximately 20 hours with the next-gen console and PC versions of Battlefield 4. In order to play the next-gen versions, VideoGamer.com attended a three-day review event hosted by EA in Stockholm, Sweden. Travel and accommodation was provided by EA.