Battlefield Hardline’s beta is over and even though things in the game can still change drastically, there are several things any Battlefield fan can conclude. There’s one thing that can be said for certain, Battlefield Hardline won’t be a Battlefield game as we’ve come to know them. Even though EA and Visceral Games clearly sell Hardline as a part of the legendary Battlefield series, there are way too many reasons to state the opposite. Forget about labels and get to the actual game.
First things first, there’s the obvious issue of the setting. Battlefield games have always been about war. Not war on drugs nor crime, but huge-scale battles involving countries and factions. Whether based on real wars or invented conflicts, it was all about territory domination and the uncomfortable relativity of good and evil. On this line, Hardline’s multiplayer mode is way off. Killing cops and robbing banks isn’t relative at all, much in the same way that having police officers using extreme violence is scarily real-life-like. When you think about it Battlefield Hardline’s setting is quite messy, even when compared to war.
In multiplayer modes, there’s no deep background nor relativization of crime and violence. There’s no story behind those actions, which makes them as raw as can be, in the line of games such as Payday and Counter Strike. Not a really big deal, but quite tricky when separated from a fully detailed story. This is greatly noticeable when taking into account that Battlefield Hardline does have an elaborate Campaign mode, which will make Hardline the first Battlefield game to have such a heavy single-player focus.
Even though most games in the series have had single-player modes, they never felt really important. In Battlefield 1942, single-player was the very same multiplayer experience but with bots governed by some pretty bad AI. In Battlefield 3 and 4, campaigns were more a way of showing everything in the game than a proper story. The fact that Battlefield Hardline will actually have a long and important story isn’t bad, it’s just not part of the whole series’ spirit.
If you look back to Battlefield Hardline’s beta, you will see that there were a few other things that deepened how different this new game feels. One of the big deals about the Battlefield series was the great array of vehicles, which really made a difference in the battleground. It’s one of the central features that put this popular series at the top of the war FPS genre.
Even though Battlefield Hardline has its own vehicles, there’s no place for heavy tanks, heavy artillery, jets, and attack choppers in such urban settings. Now, this isn’t a complaint, since it would make absolutely no sense to see city policemen or swat members using an M1 Abrams tank or a LAV-25 APC. The thing is it’s a huge change. Hardline’s vehicles are adequate to the game’s setting: most of them can be shot with normal weapons and they are, in most cases, limited to transportation duty. Even when equipped with guns and missiles, vehicles are no longer a force to be reckoned, nor a key strategic resource.