The Battlefield series has always stood by their formula of realistic military shooter that brings bullet physics and strategy to light unlike any other first person shooter out on the market. This year, EA and Visceral Games decided to switch it up. This year, it is placed in a non-military setting. Series originator DICE sat in the background as Visceral took the wheel instead of helping out. Visceral is known for their Dead Space games, and has helped out on the campaign and maps in the last 2 Battlefield games.
This switch isn’t a bad thing or very surprising. Battlefield 4 flopped not due to lack of content or gameplay, it was due to lack of reliability. Constant server malfunctions, loss of progress, and bugs littered multiplayer. It seemed as if every day there was a new issue. This year, Hardline switched it up. Battlefield has always thrived on its multiplayer, and it is mostly because the campaign was short and underwhelming. Hardline’s cop and robbers multiplayer is a breath of fresh air. With that being said, I felt that multiplayer wasn’t the main focus in this game. The campaign gave this game not many shooters have, which is replay-ability.
Hardline’s biggest asset is in the campaign, which puts you in the life of Nick Mendoza, who is a Miami vice detective. He is put in the beginning of a turf war between drug gangs in the city. This is the beginning of the game, but the whole campaign takes place over multiple years. It’s held together by an episodic timeline that is told through 10 episodes that takes you from Miami to Los Angeles, then Nevada and back. I like the episodic feel as it has strong CSI influences, and gives you good stop and go points if you need a break. Every episode starts with “last time on Hardline…” so you know what happened before if you gave the game a break.
The biggest addition to the game is non-lethal takedowns. While this can include weapons, as you can strike an enemy from behind by pistol whipping them or using a taser, Hardline adds in an arrest option. Since you are an officer, this makes sense, but the way it works is very fluid. You can sneak up on enemies, flash your badge, and they will drop their weapons and put their hands up. This then gives you a limited time to cuff them and permanently disable them.
This provides some stealth and options to the game. If you try to arrest more than one person at once, you will need to take cover somewhere, or else you risk someone resisting, and if another person sees you arresting another, your cover is blown and you will start to see bullets flying. There are also enemies with warrants, and if you arrest them you will get “expert points”, which will unlock new gear to use in the campaign.
The arrest system offers a new mechanic of depth to the game, and I liked having the option to arrest rather than always having to go out in a blaze of glory. Some parts of the game actually had me stop and think which way I wanted to go, and added the opportunity to be stealthy and be strategic in my thinking. I felt like I was actually a cop and had to be smart, and the smart way wasn’t boring and dumbed down. There are pros and cons to being stealthy, and it was fun to try and weigh them out. Hardline also added multiple ways to get to an objective by adding in grappling hooks and zip lines. This got rid of the boring “press X” configuration of several different shooters.
You can’t finish Hardline without shooting, though. There are several points in the game where shooting is mandatory, and without shooting you would have been dead anyway. These moments work to challenge the chastised story that Hardline wants, but only when it is unlocking new weapons for you.
There are some other issues, like when you are arresting an enemy they often fall through the game world, leaving them hanging half way out of a counter or a pair of steps. Later, when you shouldn’t be able to arrest somebody, you still can, and the game fittingly doesn’t discourse it.
One of the main things I loved about the campaign, was that the campaign maps are easily identical to the multiplayer maps. You can easily play a game of conquest and see the similarities. A lot of times in shooters, you play the campaign and hop into multiplayer, and wonder where the map came from. Developers often go off the rails and make their own maps. Hardline, however, keeps it true to the campaign.
Now multiplayer has gotten a bit of an upgrade, in the sense of smoother and shorter load times, working squad joins, better gun options and much more balanced maps. The core gameplay mechanics are untouched, standard first person shooter tactics apply; if you played Battlefield 4 then you will be perfectly fine. What has changed is the way one unlocks weapons and other equipment. Hardline uses a money system which you earn by simply just playing online. Assists, kills, objectives and more increase your money gain which you then use to purchase the weapons. No longer will you be outgunned by the Level 50 AR when you’re just a Level 5. All players can now be on the same level. Weapon attachments are unlocked by using the specific weapon and completing the required objectives; and trust me there are a ton of attachments, which makes figuring out your perfect setup even that much sweeter.
The maps have been some of my favorite. Very well balanced and evenly distributed between small, medium and large. Vehicles are fun to drive around in and driving mechanic is even better this year. Overall, the multiplayer has launched without any major flaws and is the best Squad joining build in recent games. Besides some new ways to unlock weapons and accessories, gameplay stays the way it’s always been.
- Clean Multiplayer
- Stunning Visuals and Sounds
- Very poor writing in single player story