The idea of transferring Battlefield’s grand scale warfare to a more urban and subdued setting like the streets of a major city definitely turned heads, for many different reasons. Leaving aside the bad timing of the game’s initial announcement aside (which was a sticking point for many), it felt like such a strange and jarring concept for the series. While Hardline is far from a bad game, it’s not the greatest the series could be.
On the multiplayer side of things, the series definitely holds up, though not without some problems. It turns out that cops and crooks works very well for this series, because the Heist and Blood Money modes are incredibly fun. Thankfully, the launch was much more stable than Battlefield 4’s, and as cringey as the term “Levolution” is and continues to be, it’s just awesome to watch a crane explode and cause a bunch of chaos during a match. Single player is much more of a mixed bag. Previous games in the series have been about soldiers and vaguely topical wars, and this shows why they’re best suited to that format. While the episodic structure actually ends up working in its favor, the stealth and handcuffing stuff detract from it all and feel like they belong in a different game.
Still, those reload animations are pretty funny.
A sequel (of sorts) to the first game, Battlefield 1943 took players to the Pacific Theater of WWII. There’s honestly not much to say about the downloadable title, because frankly, there’s not a whole lot there to be dissected. It’s a fun interim title between the Bad Company titles, and an entertaining console experience, but with only four maps to go off of, it’s hardly the best thing to come out of the series. Even though it’d be ludicrous to expect a full blown title for $15, it still feels really slimmed down, from the classes to the maps to everything.
What fun there is to be had is primarily for console players who missed out on grabbing 1942 back in the day, or for those who feel like the larger scale games are a bit too much for their liking. It’ll appease them, but for diehard fans, it’s just another title in the series.
8) Battlefield 4
It’s no secret that Battlefield 4 was plagued by huge problems at launch. Couldn’t connect, numerous bugs and glitches for all versions of the game, and it was especially damning for the series’ debut to the PS4 and Xbox One. Things were so bad that EA and DICE had to put other projects on hold exclusively to bring the game into a working state, and they had to flat out say they would give out betas for their games on an earlier timeframe.
It was a bad situation that has still soured fans of the franchise to this day, which is a shame, because once all the bugs and problems were ironed it, it became a halfway fun game. Boosting the player count to 64 on consoles helps give it the epic scope the series has always wanted on non-PC platforms, but it’s still a crazy good time. It’s not the series’ best, not by a long shot, but if it just took some extra time in the kitchen and had a much better single player experience, it would’ve taken the series to new heights.
7) Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 stands out as being a bit of a middle child for the series. As always, the multiplayer is the highlight of the game, no doubt about it. But when compared to the all out craziness of Bad Company 2 before it, it feels like the series took a bit of a step back. Destruction and widespread action has always been a selling point for the franchise and here, they feel more perfunctory than anything else. Fortunately, the team play and rewards were top notch, so it wasn’t a complete wash…even if controlling the planes were all kinds of not fun.
Campaign wise, it could be worse, but again, it feels like the series has indeed done better and comes off more as a step back. The graphics certainly are pretty, and the sound design is impeccable, but it’s a real slog to get through a good amount of those encounters. One would think the addition of a co-op mode would help alleviate some of this, but even that stumbles because the game doesn’t give you much to want to do those scenarios. The series has done worse, but this just goes to show that the third time isn’t always the charm.
6) Bad Company
No one really knew what to expect when Battlefield: Bad Company rolled into stores. Instead of just the classic multiplayer formula, the thing that was getting built up the most was the single player, a story about Preston Marlowe and his squad on a quest to steal gold while the US and Russian Federation were at war. Most surprising of all is how much of a hit that the campaign turned out to be; it may have been too open and sometimes threw you a bad hand in enemy encounters, but the characters were funny and destroying buildings never lost its charm. The Frostbite engine’s debut title has come a long way since then, but even today it still looks great.
Even the multiplayer gets a new breath of fresh air from this, most notably of all through the Gold Rush mode the game initially launched with. It’s definitely more fun to attack than defend; the limited lives system means that communication with your other teammates is key so you don’t all waste away the lives you have, and it’s pretty satisfying when more of the map open up when destroying the crates. Not perfect by any means, but definitely one of the most fun multiplayer experiences you can have on consoles.
The very first installment for the Battlefield series holds up as one of the best shooters to exist and one of the best in the series. Its approach to WWII veers slightly into the silly, but it makes up for that in fun gameplay and really good sound design. (And also a mediocre single player, but it helps you get into the groove of the multiplayer, so it gets a free pass, somewhat.)
While the mod community definitely helped increase its shelf life, the base game as it stands is home to some great modes and maps; here’s to you, Wake Island. The expansions were nothing new now or back then in terms of what to expect from post release content, but they were all consistently engaging in their own rights. Plus, it’s hard to fault a game when it’s set in WWII and one of the expansions gives you a jet pack.
After previous games were set in the past or relative modern day, 2142 decided to jump into the far future and take the series in a more sci-fi direction. Certainly weird, but the fact that it’s so fun shows that the series can handle going way ahead or way back in time. There’s definite vibes of Star Wars in this title, most notably in the excellent Titan mode, wherein players have to destroy the other team’s flying warship by either destroying the reactor or using anti-Titan missiles. It’s a fun time, and when paired with the series’ Conquest mode, can be one of the best games out there.
Or rather, it would be, if the servers hadn’t shut down years ago. The community has brought it back (kind of), but honestly, it’d be great if DICE decided to give us a sequel in the series. It’s not like people haven’t been asking for it, after all.
3) Battlefield 1
Nothing was more odd than learning that the next entry in the series would go backwards in time to the first World War. The series has played loose with the concept of time before, but no one was expecting a game set an entire century in the past. As it turns out, that oddness actually worked in DICE’s favor, because Battlefield 1 is pretty damn good.
WWI is an inspired setting for a game, and DICE definitely makes it feel authentic through the atmosphere and weaponry. It just feels right to go around slicing at enemies with a sword while riding on horseback or gunning down your foes in a biplane. The 64-player count has never felt more appropriate, and the multiplayer the series has always prided itself on definitely feels more vital than ever. Combined with the surprisingly gripping single player stories and great power vehicles, BF1 shows that the series can conquer any time period that it wants.
2) Battlefield 2
Okay yeah, we’ll get to the good stuff in a bit, but it first has to be brought up that the best way to play the game is if you met the high end requirements. At the time, they were nothing to scoff at, because not meeting them means that you’re at a severe disadvantage. The load times were painfully long, and crashing was a frequent experience that nearly detracted from the experience. Nearly.
There was nowhere to go but up for the franchise after the first game released, and the second entry in the series is testament to that. Simply put, it’s the first game but better, which is already saying something. When playing it the right away– as in, with a headset, voice chat, and proper team cohesion– it just becomes a damn good time that eats up your entire night and makes you feel like a champion when you finally decide to shut it off. Still, as awesome as it is, there’s a special spot in our hearts for…
1) Bad Company 2
It’s been out for a little over half a decade, and Bad Company 2 is still the best Battlefield game, though its competition is still pretty good in that regard. It’s a top to bottom complete experience on every level, from the finely tuned multiplayer to the surprisingly fun single player campaign. Or at least, the latter is good for what it needs to be; it regrettably changed the tone of the series from the first game, but the banter between the four characters is still rock solid and the set pieces hit the right note between grounded and more than a little silly.
Multiplayer wise, Bad Company 2 has probably the best level design consistently all around, even when taking the destructible environments into account. The maps all reward fooling around with the different classes, and all of them are useful! The weapons are all fun and varied, and each mode eats up hours and hours of time, with the standout going to the classic Conquest mode. Is it possible we can get a sequel to this sometime in the near future? It deserves one.