Now that EA closed the Battlefield Hardline beta, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my experience with it. I’ve been a fan of the Battlefield series since back in the days of Battlefield 1942 (released in 2002) and played every iteration since: with the possible exception of the console-only Battlefield Bad Company in 2008. After the fiasco that was the Battlefield 4 launch, my confidence in the series was seriously shaken. So when Battlefield Hardline was announced last June at E3, I was decidedly annoyed that the development of the next installment was well underway before Battlefield 4 was even fully completed with the fall patch of 2014. Launch for Hardline was initially set for October of 2014, but has since moved to March 2015.
At retail launch, the previous Battlefield games cost $60 with an additional $50 for the Premium DLC which adds all of the expansion packs. The same can be expected of Hardline, but fans of the series are expected to shell out that money earlier than before. Battlefield 3 had 2 years before the introduction of Battlefield 4, which was a fair amount of time for the community to develop around the new game before next installment for that price.
With these issues, I was more than prepared to shit on Hardline. After the June beta I felt justified in voicing my opposition to the game. Performance was similar to that of Battlefield 4: not up to par with a AAA title. Both Stephen and I have extensively played this February’s beta, however, so that criticism is no longer warranted. Battlefield Hardline is actually not terrible. Instead, it’s a lot of fun thanks to new, fast paced game modes like Hotwire and Heist that are some of the most interesting additions to the series in a while. I might even say they justify the release of Battlefield Hardline as a separate game instead of an expansion.
Unlike the Battlefield 4 Beta, this Beta feels tight and responsive. Hit detection is vastly improved from that of Battlefield 4 and weapons are more dangerous with a faster time-to-kill ratio. Helicopters can be damaged with small arms, giving every player a way to fight back against chopper whores dominating the maps. Weapon unlocks are also based on a system where you use in-game cash to purchase the weapons you want instead of grinding through arbitrary kill counts: a welcome departure.
That being said, the timing of this beta is somewhat suspicious. The official release date is set for March 17, 2015, and the beta closed in mid February. If the purpose of the beta is for meaningful feedback from the community to make it into the final release of the game, the developers have one month to use that feedback for the final product. Given the time required for console certification, we can expect that timeline to be significantly shorter, or a day-1 patch. As YouYuber darthveda observed, what we played feels more like a demo than a beta. I would not be at all surprised if the version of Hardline we’ve been playing is very close to the final product.
With that being said, should you go out and buy Hardline on launch? If you loved the beta and want to play more as soon as possible, sure. It’s not a must-have on launch day in my books, but I can’t fault anyone for getting it either. I’ll be waiting for the promised last Battlefield 4 expansion. Just be sure not to pre-order Hardline. Pre-orders are evil.