LOS ANGELES — It sure feels like Battlefield — even if the soldiers are cops and thieves.
I just got a chance to play a full match (and a half) of Battlefield: Hardline, the (finally) officially announced next installment in Electronic Art’s popular multiplayer shooter series, at EA’s Electronic Entertainment Expo press event today
While previous Battlefields focused on military battles, Hardline is all about cops-versus-robbers. In the map I played, the police and the crooks fought in a dense city. Each side had to take cash from a storage area in the middle of the map and then take it back to their vault. You can also steal directly from the enemy vault, which is obviously more risky. However, this has strategic value — you’d be taking from the enemy’s score as you added to your team’s.
It was definitely fun, but despite the new direction and developer (Visceral, who previously worked on the survival-horror Dead Space series), Hardline still feels like Battlefield. Large teams can use a variety of vehicles and play around with destructive environments, and all of that jazz.
It was a familiar experience. I was riding elevators up to the tops of a tall building, spawning on top of teammates in the middle of a firefight, and crashing helicopters a minute after taking off. Maybe it was too familiar. Hey, I like Battlefield, but nothing I played today (which admittedly wasn’t much) convinced me that Hardline is taking the series to an exciting place.
It was fun, but it could have been an extra mode and map for Battlefield 4. Graphically, Hardline doesn’t look like a notable upgrade on the PlayStation 4. Of course, we don’t know how much more new content Hardline will give us (or how good it’ll look when it comes out this fall). Maybe other modes will feel a bit fresher, but the one I played, Blood Money, was essentially a variation on Capture the Flag, albeit a neat one. We also haven’t heard about a single-player mode, although these have felt like an afterthought in recent Battlefields.
Maybe Hardline’s similarities wouldn’t stick out so much if Battlefield 4 hadn’t come out just last fall. Now that EA seems intent on making this an annual franchise, I’m worried this once innovative series will soon feel tired. Gamers can judge for themselves when it comes out on Oct. 21 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.