Battlefield Hardline is an attempt to move the first-person shooter series away from a military setting by shifting the action to downtown Miami and the fight against crime. Developed by Visceral Games, known for Dead Space, Hardline is pushing a better story with deeper characters than have previously been in the franchise.
New destination, same gameplay
Instead of going overseas again, Battlefield Hardline takes place in Miami, Florida. This new setting shows off locations not seen before in the franchise. With a single player campaign that plays out like a TV mini-series, Hardline creates characters with more depth than the usual shooter stereotypes. This is helped by a cast of recognizable actors who play the various main roles. Over ten episodes, you live as Nicholas Mendoza, Miami Police detective. Each episode varies in length, but the overall feel of the single player campaign is much more cohesive than previous Battlefield titles.
The multiplayer also got a big change. Rather than the massive 64-a-side skirmishes of Battlefield 4, Hardline has new modes like Heists, Hotwire, and Blood Money. These matches feature small groups of teams with different objectives like robbing a bank, stealing cars, or collecting money. Conquest and team deathmatch modes are still available, but these have much smaller maps than Battlefield 4, leading to more close quarter battles.
Slightly different, but still the same
One of the big additions to the single player mode is the ability to arrest enemies. This focus on realistic policing does mean that you don't have access to grenades at any point through the campaign. There is a leveling system that unlocks new weapon attachments. Mendoza also has a scanner that can find evidence throughout the campaign which allows you to unlock new weapons. It is possible to unlock weapons by picking them up, but the best ones are found using this evidence collection mechanic.
Battlefield Hardlines' story is good. Some episodes are stronger or weaker than others and it takes a few episodes before the game really ramps up. The end is open, leaving room for a sequel.
The changes to multiplayer with new modes make it more team-based than before. Heists are a cops versus criminals affair, where cops are trying to protect two vaults and criminals are attempting to steal packages and deliver them to a drop point. Other new modes like Hotwire are fun, but a little unbalanced. Each team has to get different cars and then drive as fast as possible. If you don't have a car, then it can get a little boring. The classic conquest and deathmatch modes are still available and provide a decent break.
The leveling system is different from other Battlefield titles because you earn both money and experience. Money is used to buy new class-specific weapons. Cops and criminals each have different weapons. Weapon upgrades are based off kills, so unlocking attachments requires you to reach different thresholds. Gadgets like grenades or grappling hooks have to be bought. The good thing is that once you buy something, it's open for all the different classes.
All the usual first person shooter problems exist in Hardline’s multiplayer. Spawn point campers, weapon unbalance, and annoying hit detection all exist. The different maps allow for a lot of exploits too. Multiplayer is fun when people are working together, but frustrating when other players are in it just to chase kills instead of completing objectives.
A good Battlefield tangent
Battlefield Hardline is a good game. It focuses a lot on its entertaining single player campaign and changes the multiplayer to add more variety. Not everything is successful, but the overall game is solid. You will need to spend a lot of time in multiplayer to get a handle on the different modes, but it certainly is fun with the right players. If anything, Hardline shows that even with the series’ brand, it can go in different directions and still feel like a Battlefield game.