The match had just begun when I joined. We were playing as the Criminals, running toward the bank vault to set up the drill. Before we could finish, the Police had thrown in an incendiary grenade into the room, killing most of us. How did they get to the bank before we had even opened the vault?
Some could theorize that there was a group that went in ahead before the match actually starts, but the beginning of a heist is one of the most immersive parts of the job; it doesn’t make sense to cut something like that out of a game. Maybe I set my expectations too high for the latest addition to the Battlefield series. Maybe I shouldn’t have expected Battlefield Hardline to be a game about cops and robbers; it felt more like a cops and robbers-themed Battlefield game.
It’s important to note that since I’m a fan of the old Battlefield games that came before Bad Company, I’m not very appreciative of the direction they have taken. I miss the days where teams communicated and coordinated plans for taking positions. Sadly, it seems that the recent Battlefield Hardline becomes a mosh pit of people surrounding the objectives. There is a clear lack of combined arms tactics in Battlefield Hardline that was evident in previous entries in the franchise, even in the Bad Company offshoots. So it’s hard to even consider Battlefield Hardline as a true Battlefield game. The only things that Hardline has in common with Battlefield is in it’s game modes, team structure and general gameplay.
Hardline handles a lot like Battlefield 4; it’s shooting mechanics feel solid and the player’s movement is comfortable. For those who are familiar with Battlefield 4, Hardline’s classes aren’t very different in that it includes the Commander, Medic, Engineer, Support, and Recon but under new names. The newer game modes like Bank Heist and Hotwire are fun and interesting. Bank Heist is a capture the flag type game mode where the Criminals take money from the vault and then deliver the money to the escape points while the Police defend the vault and try to stop them.
Hotwire is similar to conquest, but instead of stationary capture points, the flags are actually vehicles. To maintain a captured point, players must continue driving the vehicle around the map. There were a lot of cool moments where cars would chase each other trying to take down a capture point in Hotwire. However, a lot of the maps feel small compared to what Battlefield fans are used to. To chase cars in such a confined area makes me feel like I’m racing in a monster truck rally. Conquest makes a return in Hardline, but it feels misplaced. It’s true to the Battlefield style, but the way the maps are designed doesn’t encourage strategy amongst players. Instead, everyone ends up running from one place to another on their own without support.
On High settings, Battlefield Hardline’s performance stayed around 47 to 50 FPS with a resolution of 1600×900. I found Battlefield Hardline’s performance to be very similar to Battlefield 4’s, which makes sense being developed on the same engine, Frostbite 3. The one exception was in the Hacker (Commander) mode, where I experienced a lot of texture pop-in while panning the map. Although, this may just be a result of the limited VRAM I have available in my Radeon 6870.
Battlefield Hardline could’ve been much more interesting if it had not been wrapped up in the Battlefield franchise. I had hoped that Battlefield Hardline was designed in a way that incorporated the strategy of carrying out heists in a similar fashion to Payday 2. Instead it tried to stick to its Battlefield roots and went in a direction that made the experience feel very out of place and awkward. It feels like a Battlefield game because of the way the controls and weapons handle, but it lacks the key elements like combined arms that exist in previous entries of the franchise. If anything, Battlefield Hardline feels like a stripped-down, cops and robbers version of Battlefield 4 with a few new and interesting game modes.