At long last, we have a clear visual on the next major Battlefield title, with developer DICE unleashing a full wave of Battlefield 4 details last week in its whopping 17-minute Fishing in Baku trailer. Visually, this extended cut of in-game footage succeeds in its mission to dazzle like few other games can, and crucially it shows us what results the latest Frostbite 3 engine can achieve on both high-end PCs and, presumably, next-gen consoles. This isn't just about first-person shooters, however: with Bioware also keen to chip in that this technology forms the basis of follow-ups to its Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, its advances represent much more as we look to the future.
But what exactly has changed since the second Frostbite engine, unveiled in 2011's Battlefield 3? Its roots in DirectX 11 are once again extended to allow for improved tessellation tech on characters and geometry, new rain and fog effects, plus a revised destruction engine. The trailer also makes a big point of demonstrating a breadth to the campaign's level design that the third-entry notoriously lacked. Battles now play out across vast expanses of terrain, with an emphasis on carving out your own route by blasting through walls, riding vehicles or calling in air-strikes. Set-pieces and chases down tight corridors are still fixed into the game-flow to funnel players through its story, but even so, Battlefield 4 sets out to throw you back into the sandbox wherever possible, bringing it much closer to the multiplayer side of the experience.
The trailer itself runs at 1080p (though DICE reckons it's downscaled from a 3K rendering resolution), running at 60FPS, tracking the Tombstone squad's journey through flooded, graffiti-spoiled corridors to swampy jungle pathways, before emerging to a horizon of developing skyscrapers. As a technical declaration of intent, it's a bold one, and aesthetically comparable to the Operation Swordbreaker mission used to break the ice at Battlefield 3's reveal - only this time pushing past the focus on rooftops, stairwells and market-stall alleys.