In the Siege of Shanghai map, a massive downtown location of skycrapers and bridges forming ample choke points across a bay that cuts the city in half, players can bring down a massive building by destroying pillars at its base. While destroying the environment is central to the Battlefield experience, destroying this building will cover the entire map in a thick coating of dust, hampering visibility.
This is where the helicopter became the bane of my existence. "We have this concept we call 'levolution,'" DICE producer Aleksander Grondal told Joystiq. "We want you to feel that the environment is changing and you have to adapt to the changes. It's kind of like a give-and-take situation for both teams." Grondal added that smaller instances of this idea, like players triggering store alarms when walking through doorways that may notify other players in the vicinity, can be seen throughout Battlefield 4.
"The idea is you can affect things around you. It's many small things that we tie together, including destruction of course. It can be multiple facets to how you're changing the environment and how you react to it – or how you may be using it, which is probably the most interesting thing to the player."
Vehicles in the Battlefield series have often had a figurative bullseye painted on their back. When a helicopter or gun ship is in the sky, somebody is bound to point a rocket launcher at it and let loose. With the thick dust of the recently downed skycraper choking all of Shanghai, this feat became more difficult. I couldn't target the helicopter; I couldn't do anything but move from building to building, hoping to escape the chopper's purview.
And it was this sense of caution and fear that combined to create a new experience for me in Battlefield 4. A simple change to the landscape irrevocably altered the natural order of battle, upsetting the balance of power and inspiring a sense of bravado within the helicopter pilot. Who could possibly gun that heli down if it's practically invisible?
Fitting, then, that the helicopter was brought down by its own hand – er, propeller. Within the thick choke of dust, the seemingly invincible whirlybird must not have been able to see well, as it collided with a wall, struck the ground and exploded. It's not uncommon to see horrible pilots meet their end in this manner (that's putting it lightly) but this pilot was aware enough to eject before exploding.
And as he gently floated to the street below, emerging through the smoke and fire of the wreckage, I felt a strong sense of karmic justice as I looked down my sights and fired. This individual player may have killed me four times in the match while in that helicopter, but I certainly felt like I got even.