Battlefield Hardline is struck between a rock and a hard place. Hardcore Battlefield fans will probably not like the fact that this isn’t your standard Battlefield title and those that don’t like Battlefield will pass it up just simply because the name is attached. Weirdly enough though, Battlefield Hardline offers some great fast-paced gameplay with a stealthy single-player campaign.
It really feels as though two different teams worked on Battlefield Hardline. The bombastic multiplayer is in stark contrast to the much slower-paced, stealth action game that the campaign is. While both have some great positives, they also feature some questionable additions and features that leaves the game feeling uneven but enjoyable nonetheless.
The single-player campaign is everything clichéd about your prime time American crime drama, even down to the cheesy intro. You play as Nick Mendoza, a cop that is embroiled in a cover up with dirty cops. The campaign states that it allows you to play as both sides of the law with twists and turns along the way.
Almost everything in the campaign is from “Crime Drama 101” so much in fact that it almost feels like a parody of the TV structure. Throughout the ten episodes, it goes through the tabulations that you’ll expect from the genre of TV and it’ll never surprise you. That isn’t to say that its terrible but it’s quite hard to take seriously either.
The gameplay is not what you may expect from a game with “Battlefield” attached to it. Essentially, for the most part of the campaign, you are playing a stealth game. As bizarre as that is, it’s actually a decent stealth game at that.
In the mini-map, the enemies are shown with visions cones and you must check and take note of their paths in order to get by. The best thing for you to do though is arrest or take them down. You will earn XP for doing these two things with more being rewarded should you flash you badge at them first. It’s a unique feature that kind of comes off as goofy. You could walk up to two or three guys wielding shotguns and flash the badge to see all three of them drop their weapons as you arrest them. Should you not keep your gun targeted on them, a meter will fill and if it does, they will become aggressive and shoot you. It looks silly, sure, but at least it works and is fun when doing it.
The jarring thing is the unlocks you get from doing the stealthy, non-lethal approach: Bigger and better weapons. The non-violent route earns more XP but it also then gives you weapons to entice you to play differently. On top of that, should you opt to play stealthily, you will reach max rank and unlock everything about half way through the game meaning there’s no reason to take your time and be careful after that point. Chances are you will change your style and return to classic shooter play then.
The campaign isn’t that long but the episodic approach is well done. Should you leave the game, it will bring up a small trailer prefaced with “Next Time on Battlefield Hardline” Each episode ends on a screen that is very much like Netflix shows showing that the next episode will start in a few seconds. It’s a small touch but a pretty cool one at that.
The multiplayer is where you will spend most of your time and despite being more streamlined, it’s really hard to find much fault with it. The faster pace to the game is well implemented with the staples of the series. However, the environments don’t feel like series staples at all and that’s where fans may switch away.
Hardline offers a great alternative to Battlefield 4 with alternative being the key word. Hardline won’t replace Battlefield 4 for a lot of players as enough aspects are different to make it play and feel like something different. Gameplay is faster, unlocks are faster, and modes entice a different style of play.
As a whole, it doesn’t quite feel as grandiose as the core series does online. Maps feel more closed in due to the urban nature of some of the maps. None really feel that standout even if the location may be a bit different.
Modes though are a different story with things usually being frantic, fast, and fun. Modes like heist can last dozens of minutes or honestly just a couple depending on what the teams are doing and if they know what to do.
Hotwire is what got a lot of attention from the beta and essentially it’s just conquest with mobile capture points. It’s incredibly fun but can lead to players just capturing a vehicle and driving around the perimeter of the map while everyone else just shoots each other. It’s a mode that’s excellent when everyone plays for the objectives.
The mode that really impressed me however was the Rescue mode that sees a 5 v 5 scenario with everyone only having one life. The defending team must hold on to the hostages while the other team must try rescue them. In the end though, the round usually ends with one team dying rather than the hostage being rescued. It doesn’t detract from the fact that the mode is tense and well-designed. The one real downside to the online modes is the team deathmatch that, as it currently is, is far too frantic to be fun. It’s 64 players and usually ends up being a cluster of players moving to one or two parts of the map and dying and moving there again in a cycle of life and death.
Unlocks are usually a massive grind in the Battlefield games but the unlocks move as quickly as the gameplay. Rather than earn new unlocks through grinding kills, you earn money from doing anything throughout the matches. The money is used to unlock what you want rather than move along a progress line to get what you really want. The streamlined unlock is a welcomed change to help you get the loadout that you want.
Battlefield Hardline doesn’t really have an audience but the game itself is pretty good. It’s not as good as a core game but it is a surprise to see everything as a whole come together so well to create a game that feels a bit different than other games with Battlefield attached to it. Despite some awkward and uninspired moments, Hardline is still a great game online and that might just be enough for a lot of people to enjoy.