Battlefield Hardline is the latest installment in the Battlefield series that sheds the tank fueled mayhem of BF4 and introduces a new cops versus robbers setting. Having been a big fan of BF3 and BF4 I was actually not that excited for the release of Battlefield Hardline.
On the surface the game looked very different to any previous Battlefield game however, in reality what DICE and Visceral Games have done is to mix a beautiful blend on new and old. Introducing the war on crime theme has given the game some freshness but how does that affect the gameplay that Battlefield fans have enjoyed for years?
Single Player Campaign
The single player campaign unfolds in a TV series format with episodes instead of missions and a lot of story telling to set the scenes. Every time you return to start a new episode you get a TV style recap “last time on Battlefield Hardline” and similarly when you quit you will get a 20 second preview of the next episode. While the storyline is not particularly complicated, making the recaps not really that necessary, I liked the TV style presentation.
The story follows a couple of dirty cops investigating a drug empire, filled with explosions and firefights. The story is a lot more Bad Boys than True Detective, with a wide variety of characters and locations filled with explosions, tornadoes and even an alligator fight. The gameplay is quite different to any Battlefield game before with a strong focus on stealth. At the start of a mission you will be able to check out the scene and use your police scanner to check and mark the locations of bad guys – similar to the way you do in Far Cry. You then have the option of bursting in with guns blazing, or to sneak around and thin the heard using stealth. Slipping up behind a group of three bad guys and the flashing your badge results in them freezing in shock, while you can quickly cuff them and move on.
The game rewards the stealth combat with higher points for takedowns and arrests, however this doesn’t show in the reward unlocks. As your progress you unlock more weapons and gear but very little that helps you with the stealth combat. It feels a bit disappointing to successful complete a mission silently without firing a single bullet and to be rewarded with a rocket launcher. The single player campaign is a fresh approach for Battlefield and a move in the right direction, while not perfect, it was an enjoyable experience.
The multiplayer is the bread and butter of the Battlefield series and existing fans will be glad to know that the core gameplay returns with large maps, 32 or 64 player maps and the famous Team Deathmatch and Conquest modes are all available. The new police versus criminals theme carries through to the multiplayer replacing tanks and jets with fast cars and oil trucks. This has a major impact on the gameplay by speeding up the action dramatically and shifting the focus towards infantry combat. In Hardline it is much easier to get into the action quickly and you will regularly find yourself in one on one skirmishes across all parts of the map. The experience is undoubtably Battlefield, veterans will feel at home straight away, but it does have a strong new flavour that adds excitement to every match.
Battlefield Hardline also introduces a range of new multiplayer game modes, namely Heist, Hardwire, Rescue, Crosshair and Blood Money. These are all centred around the cops versus robbers theme and inject some much needed life into the multiplayer experience. I particularly like the Hardwire mode, where you earn points by stealing and driving specific vehicles around the map at top speed for as long as possible. Driving a van at high speed with music blaring and your team mates hanging out the windows armed to the teeth provides a heart pumping experience that can result in instant death from an enemy rocket if you aren’t careful.
The loadout systems works similar to previous games where unlocks come from using a specific weapon and notching up a required number of kills, however Hardline introduces a currency that is earned by achieving objectives in game that needs to be spent on the kit that you unlock. Initially this is very annoying – why must I unlock the weapons and then have to still pay for them? As you level up and get better at the game the money starts to roll in pretty easily so this becomes less of an issue.
Hardline also delivers some new gadgets including Ziplines (allowing you to quickly move from a building to another location) and Grapple hooks (allowing you to quickly scale a building). The weapons and gadgets are class specific and also faction specific (police or criminals) although racking up 1,250 kills with a weapon grants you a weapon license allowing you to use your favourite weapon across both factions.
Battlefield Hardline manages to deliver an interesting story mode with fresh perspective as well as a compelling multiplayer mode that perfectly blends the best from previous games with new modes and environments. The game is undeniably fun to play and is a must for any Battlefield fan. If have not been a fan of Battlefield before maybe this one is worth looking at, the changes to the pace of gameplay and focus on infantry combat gives it a different feel and ramps up the action.
Battlefield Hardline was developed by Visceral Games in partnership with DICE and published by Electronic Arts. We reviewed the game on a Playstation 4, it is also available on PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.