Tonight EA debuted a lengthy section of the Battlefield 4 single-player campaign. You can watch the video here, but if you'd rather read a rundown of what we learned about the game, read on.

  • Most of the single-player campaign is set in China, but the game demo, "Fishing in Baku," takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan, a peninsula city on the Caspian Sea. During this mission a U.S. Special Forces team that goes by the radio ID Tombstone recovers a valuable piece of intel and then tries to get out of the city as Russians give chase. 
  • Tombstone's primary goal in the game is to rescue some VIPs in Shanghai. Tensions are very high between the Russians, Chinese, and Americans, so this won't be easy. Their efforts eventually spark a global conflict.
  • DICE knows not many people warmed up to the characters in Battlefield 3, so one of its primary focuses in Battlefield 4 is character development. Though a huge geopolitical conflict drives the campaign, the story is really about the relationship of these characters caught in this untenable situation.
  • Players assume the role of a soldier named Recker. The other soldiers in his squad are Sgt. Dunn, Irish, Pac, and Ruger. Irish is played by Michael K. Williams, the actor who played the unforgettable Robin Hood gangster Omar Little in The Wire.
  • The end of the demo also showed a female character of Chinese descent. We're not sure if she cooperates with your fireteam or if she's on the other side of the conflict.
  • To make the characters more believable, DICE doubled down on its facial animation, skin shaders, and full body animations.
  • Judging from the demo, it looks like DICE is integrating signature elements of the Battlefield multiplayer experience into the campaign, like leaderboards and stat tracking.
  • Similar to the Autolog challenges in Need For Speed, it looks like social challenges appear during the campaign that you can engage in for bragging rights with your friends. This could include anything from collecting the most dog tags in a mission or completing a sequence faster than your friends. This should help increase the replay value of the campaign.
  • Battlefield 3's campaign was criticized for its painful linearity. For the follow-up, DICE is sticking more to its expertise, introducing open micro-sandboxes that incorporate vehicles and allow players to engage the enemy in whatever manner they choose. You could hop in a jeep to get to the hot zone, or move carefully on foot from cover to cover. You could take out all the tangos yourself, or call in a support strike from a helicopter. You could hang back and take out enemies with a sniper rifle, or equip a shotgun and get up close and personal. These action bubbles will often be book-ended by cinematic set piece moments.
  • You don't have full control over your squadmates, but you can order them to engage enemies or offer suppressing fire, which would allow you to flank the enemy while they are pinned down.
  • Battlefield 3's co-op mode was a mess, so DICE is scrapping it altogether to focus on the campaign and multiplayer.
  • Battlefield 4 is being built on the third iteration of DICE's Frostbite engine, which runs at 60 frames per second (at least on PC). Other new Frostbite 3 features include particle effects, a cinematic Bokeh effect, reflective surfaces, and impressive water technology that allows them to approximate the violent waves of the open seas.
  • Battlefield 4 is coming to PC, PS3, Xbox 360. Given the power of the engine, we also believe this game is a slam dunk to come to the PlayStation 4, and next Xbox as well, though EA wouldn't confirm.
  • The new version of Battlelog is better incorporated into consoles. DICE says it should be equally good on these systems as it is on PC.
  • The Premium subscription service is returning for Battlefield 4. EA says it will offer more details later, but if you pre-order, you will get a premium expansion pack similar to Back to Karkand when the game launches.
  • If the demo is any indication, destruction looks to be coming back in a major way. Micro-destruction found in the Battlefield 3: Close Quarters expansion pack seems to be integrated into Battlefield 4, as well as bigger set piece moments like the collapsing interior of the building. During the demo, Recker uses a shotgun to blow throw a wooden fence, blows through a concrete wall with a grenade launcher to flank enemies, and during a chase sequence an attack chopper rips through concrete and window panes.
  • The sandboxes are also more dynamic and interactive than the static ones in previous Battlefield games. If you walk to close to a parked car, you may set off a car alarm and alert nearby enemies to your presence. If you move too quickly through a forest, a flock of birds make fly away en masse, signaling to enemies that they should go investigate the area.
  • A quick clip at the end of the demo indicates that Battlefield 4 is going to have amphibious assaults with both large ships and smaller PT boats.

DICE is saving the multiplayer information for a later date. Look for more intel as we move closer toward E3.