I’m a sucker for the Battlefield franchise. I genuinely consider Battlefield 4 to be essential gaming, despite all the issues that game has had. In fact, Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2 before it were also fantastic experiences and my go-to titles for online gaming with my friends. DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront game will probably be just as glitchy and broken on day one as all their other games, yet I will likely be there suffering through every issue because the game at the heart of it is so damn fun.
Despite that, there’s one game I might let slip through the cracks, and that’s Battlefield: Hardline. Sorry Visceral, sorry DICE, not-so-sorry EA, but I’ll probably sit this one out, here’s why:
Battlefield 4 isn’t “done” yet
I mean that on two levels. Yes, DICE hasn’t gotten their game into tip-top shape despite it being released almost nine months ago. And yes, that means EA probably doesn’t deserve your money for a new Battlefield product so soon. There’s a bad precedent being set to be sure.
Beyond the issues, though, the great game at the heart of BF4 is worth more than a year. The expensive game is worth more than a year. If you bought BF4 with Premium at full price, you’re talking about a $110 video game. The year’s worth of DLC that still has two major expansions on the way just cements the idea that BF4 as a multiplayer game is far from over.
Now we have Battlefield: Hardline, a brand new product with its own multiplayer servers, its own $60 price tag, and likely its own set of expansion packs. Are you ready for that? Because I’m not. I could actually go for some more BF4 right now, and I’d hate to see what remains of the community being divided between two very similar products.
Hardline feels like a mod or total conversion
Hardline’s beta was not nearly as exciting as the E3 stage demo may have made it seem. Yeah it has its moments, but they aren’t anything you can’t already enjoy in BF4. The cops and robbers premise and the city setting are just veneers placed over another modern war game, and they’re not fooling anyone.
Has anyone ever wanted to rob a bank so badly that they’d wage an all-out 32 person war in a city street? It doesn’t help that the city map still feels like a Battlefield map, and not a city. There are no pedestrians, there’s no room for epic car chases, and games like GTAV do this kind of thing a million times better.
Visceral could be making something else
On the 6/17/2014 episode of the Giant Bombcast, Jeff Gerstmann talks about his time at an event for Battlefield: Hardline. In the story, one of the developers from Visceral explains the birth of the game, which Gerstmann could only describe as “a cry for help.”
The gist of the story, which you can find at around the 59 minute mark of the podcast, is that this lead at Visceral was working up a design document for a new IP, brought it to their boss at EA, and were given Battlefield: Hardline instead.
While Hardline’s single-player could be great, thanks to the talent at Visceral, this whole story is still super-disappointing. The team that made Dead Space is being forced to make a Battlefield game when they were in the process of crafting an entirely new game.
If it stinks, it puts the Battlefield brand on life support
Battlefield was on its way up towards becoming the new champion of the FPS space after BF3. DICE and EA were riding high on that game and it was looking like they had the momentum to top Call of Duty eventually. But after the rocky release of BF4 and all the bad press that game got, I have to imagine the franchise is a bit wounded right now.
It’s nothing they can’t recover from, but an additional failure from Battlefield: Hardline could be the one-two punch Battlefield doesn’t need. It would be a harsh lesson to EA regarding annualization, but if there’s anything we’ve learned about this industry, it’s that it’s rarely the publishers who suffer when something fails. If Hardline doesn’t catch on, I hate to think what could potentially happen to the team at Visceral, or the Battlefield series in general.
I don’t want or care about Hardline, and I love Battlefield. I imagine a lot of people feel the same, and if fans of the franchise aren’t looking forward to the next game that’s a huge problem. It’s too late now, but if the game were to suddenly disappear into the ether, I feel like it would help everyone — the fans, Battlefield, DICE, Visceral, maybe even EA — in the long run.
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