Many of you will have heard about EA and Visceral Games‘ latest foray into the first person shooter domain, Battlefield Hardline, and quite a number of you will have experienced it first hand as part of its beta over the last few days. While the beta is still going to be open for a few days more, I thought I’d stop amongst all the chaos and lay down a few of my thoughts on the game at this early stage.Before I get into my nitty, gritty, and opinionated views, I’d like the preface these impressions by saying that I have been a huge fan of the Battlefield series ever since I got into Battlefield 2. Battlefield Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 are just some of the medals that I have worn on my chest through the years, and it’s with those war-wearied eyes that I turn my attention to Battlefield Hardline, the first time the series has really turned away from honest-to-good past or present war scenarios (bar the absolutely chaotic future setting in Battlefield 2142). If you haven’t heard, Battlefield Hardline takes the series to city streets and injects the age-old adversaries, cops and robbers. You might think that the explosions and the over-the-top violence might have been toned down somewhat to accommodate for the setting, however you will have access to pretty well any weapon that you had available to you in the last Battlefield game, Battlefield 4. This makes for some pretty intense gunfights in what could be any old city center, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had fun playing it so far. The beta was released with only 2 game modes available, Heist and Blood Money. Heist features a capture the flag type scenario except that both flags, or ‘packages’, are the target of the robbers; the cops are then tasked with the job of eliminating the package carriers until the robber’s tickets run out. Blood Money is slightly different in that there is a single cache of money stranded in the city, and it is both team’s prerogative to get as much of the cash back to their own headquarters as soon as possible, but there is a twist; the opposing team is also able to steal from your headquarter’s stash, meaning you have to simultaneously play offence and defense. Presumably there will be more modes in the final product, and undoubtedly some fine tuning of the gameplay, however you get the overwhelming sense that Battlefield Hardline is having a real identity crisis. A hallmark of the Battlefield series has been relatively realistic scenarios; I’m not going to claim that Battlefield depicts even mildly what actual warfare is like, however to the no-pants-wearing mug like myself sitting at home in a dark room, this is as close as it gets to ‘actual’ war. World War 2, a conflict between China and the U.S.A; featured in past Battlefield games, these are all things that have either happened or we can feasibly imagine might happen in the future, even if they may never actually come to pass. And that’s where Hardline jumps the ropes of what I call “exaggerated realism”. While it bears the “Battlefield” series title, it also takes that same hardcore, war-time gameplay that we have come to love and puts it into a city setting. Now that in itself is not the issue because as I’ve said, I’ve had a ball playing it so far. No, the issue is that now the battlefield is so much closer to home, and that level of exaggerated realism that we expect from a Battlefield game is suddenly a little too exaggerated. So much so that the conflict starts to seem a little contrived, unnecessary, something that I have often associated with Call of Duty games. Now, before you Call of Duty fans start making comments, let me say that I also love Call of Duty games, however the gameplay in those games often lends itself to much faster pace run-and-gun tactics with a bombastic nature (excuse the pun). That is what I have felt that Hardline is pushing with this new setting, and I can’t say that I like it from that perspective as exaggerated realism has always served as Battlefield’s differentiating characteristic. A lot of that feeling comes from the fact that this is just the beta, and it’s true that we shouldn’t be judging the entire game on just what is available now. Visceral Games is sure to bring in an enthralling single player campaign which will do wonders for appropriating the game for such a familiar setting. I’m not going to deny that I had fun playing Hardline for these few weeks, however I’m struggling to love it as a game that carries the name “Battlefield”. However, hopefully I will be forced to change my mind when the full game comes out later this year.
I think that’s enough from this ol’ fruit loop; what did you think about Battlefield Hardline, and what’s your favorite thing about it?