With both Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts making the jump to the next-gen, both franchises will need to work even harder to set themselves apart from each other. Yes, graphics boosts can deliver that initial appeal, but it’s what is underneath that glossy sheen that will keep players playing well into the New Year.

For Battlefield 4, keeping players invested means a deeper multiplayer ranking system, which includes dozens of ribbons, medals, rewards, and many other incentives. There are so many minute changes to the leveling systems in Battlefield 4 that DICE saw fit to write a lengthy post detailing each one for new and veteran players.

While a lot of the post reveals features Battlefield veterans will be well familiar with — ribbons for completing objectives, medals for collecting a certain number of ribbons, and the 1 to 100 ranking system — there are a few elements that are completely new for Battlefield 4. For example, players will now be rewarded with Battlepacks at specific level intervals.

Battlepacks come in three flavors — bronze, silver, and gold — and include any of a number of customization items (weapon accessories, weapon paints, vehicle paints, soldier camos, dog tags, and unique knife designs). As DICE points out, many Battlefield 4 beta participants are now familiar with the Battlepack, as the first one is awarded at level 3.

Battlefield 4 MP Modes Reveal Header

Another new feature for Battlefield 4 is the ‘Field Upgrades’ system, which rewards in-game squads for completing objectives and racking up points. As the squad does so, they will earn special field upgrades — like faster sprint, more grenades, and better cover from enemy spotting — to share as a group. The only caveat is that one member from the squad must be alive at all times, or else the Field Upgrades are reset.

The rewards post is a worthwhile read for those Battlefield 4 newcomers, as it outlines specific ranking differences — kill assists count as kills, for example — between other military shooters out there. As well, it details how best to earn points to improve one’s rank, and how DICE has tweaked those systems. But rest assured, those gamers who have been playing Battlefield for years, or even those who came on board for Battlefield 3, will find themselves in familiar territory.

To that point, DICE Executive Producer Patrick Bach said in an interview with VG24/7 that, despite some new changes to the formula, Battlefield 4 will not alienate fans. DICE’s goal is to help bring in new gamers without disturbing the core of the game.

“So for us, it’s about creating the best Battlefield game that we can ever create. Staying true to our core values; staying true to what we feel is best for the franchise. With Battlefield 3, we set quite a high bar and we know it’s hard to beat that especially since BF3 was in development for such a long time. There were things we wanted to introduce to the game and to the franchise without disturbing the core of the game — you don’t want people to feel alienated by crazy features and crazy changes.”

Thus far, it appears that DICE is sticking to the formula that made Battlefield 3 a success, almost to a fault. There is talk of revamping the single player campaign, but our time with the game’s multiplayer didn’t showcase anything that fundamentally changed the experience. That could be a good thing for the franchise, which is slowly creeping up on Call of Duty, or it could hurt its appeal. We will have to wait until a little later this month so see.

What do you think of the improvements DICE is making to the ranking system? What keeps you playing a multiplayer shooter like Battlefield 4?

Battlefield 4 releases October 29, 2013 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360; November 12th for the PS4; and on November 19th for the Xbox One.

Source: DICE, VG24/7