I don't want to give the final, damning word on Battlefield: Hardline yet. We haven't had a chance to touch or even take an extended look at the singleplayer campaign, and considering it's done by Visceral (of Dead Space fame) I'm holding out hope there's something redeeming.
What we do have access to is this week's Battlefield: Hardline multiplayer beta. I'm not super impressed so far.
Cops and robbers
Battlefield: Hardline feels like Battlefield 4. Full stop.
Forget everything they've said about delaying Hardline to make it feel more like cops and robbers or whatever. This isn't Payday. This isn'tSWAT or Rainbow Six or any other police game I've ever played. It is, quite simply, Battlefield. At any given moment you could most likely take a screenshot of Hardline and tell someone it was of Battlefield 4. It wouldn't take much convincing.
The single map I've played (over and over and over again) is given some thin police-action context--"We're raiding a meth compound!"--and then it turns into any other Battlefield game. Military-style weapons. Grenades. Hell, attack choppers firing chain guns.
I'm not going to claim that Battlefield is a particularly realistic series. It's not. We've got Arma and Red Orchestra for that. But my typical suspension of disbelief is suspension-bridge-sized at this point.
To make a comparison that some percentage of you might understand: Battlefield: Hardline multiplayer is more like standard Battlefield than DayZ is like Arma. And DayZ didn't even start as a standalone game! It was an Arma mod.
Again, this is just multiplayer and there's a chance that Hardline's campaign is a rollicking good time. What we have here though is pretty thin. The entire time I was playing I just felt like I'd rather shut off the beta, boot up Battlefield 4 (with its boatload of existing multiplayer content), and play that instead.
The one piece that holds any interest is Hotwire mode. It's similar to Titan mode from Battlefield: 2142--or, for more recent fans, Battlefield 4's Naval Strike expansion with its Carrier Assault mode--in that all the objectives are mobile. In Titan/Carrier Assault, "mobile" was a bit of a stretch, considering the Titan or aircraft carrier in question moved with all the grace of a beached whale.
Hotwire mode is a bit faster-paced. Here, your objectives are cars. Capturing an objective requires stealing a car and driving it around at high speeds, racking up points the longer you drive.
It's an interesting idea, even if it doesn't really make any logical sense. The main problem is the car physics. Or lack thereof. I've always thought Battlefield's vehicle handling was pretty decent, if a bit floaty, but cars in Hardline have no weight at all. Think of the worst Jeep-like vehicle in Battlefield and then imagine driving it on ice.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.