I don't know if I can let Battlefield into my heart again. BF3 was a mixed bag of ecstatic moments punctuated with technical hitches, imbalanced gameplay, and a handful of maps that would take fun outside, curb stomp into unconsciousness, and then drown it in a muddy puddle. BF4 has been an utter fiasco, more than 6 months since launch and it's still barely playable. Routine server crashes, basic squad features nowhere to be found, elastic band lag, and hit detection code that makes the "magic bullet" theory seem plausible. Gamers are prone to hyperbolic complaining, but in this case the outrage is justified. They shipped a $60 broken product, and then had the nerve to ask you to pony up for a season pass of dubious map packs and expansions, and to buy into their Battlefield Premium service on top of that. You could easily drop over a $100 on a game that only sort-of-kinda works.
In short, Battlefield is a bad bet right now.
But sweet Jesus Christ do I want to play cops and robbers in the BF world.
Hardline is a super interesting move for the BF series. WW2 has been played out for years now, Vietnam is hard to do right, and I don't think I'm alone in becoming increasingly uncomfortable with shooters set in a "realistic modern reflection" of our own world. It's spooky, and awkward, and potentially problematic in a lot of ways. Not to mention it's been COMPLETELY DONE by now.
But cops and robbers? I can get down with that. I can be comfortable playing fictional super criminals against the most over-funded SWAT team of all time. I think there is probably some interesting gameplay elements to weave in from that setting, and I sure as hell believe you have a better shot at making an interesting single player campaign with a police protagonist than you'd have with another walking buzzcut. I would much rather play around in big urban areas and shit-kicker towns that trudge through yet another sand-swept desert. I think it's better fantasy and better gameplay.
Switching from soldiers and terrorists to cops and crooks might be the smartest move for the series right now (unless they want to do another future-tech BF game with mechs and orbital drops – JUS' SAYING).
I'm a big fan of the ground vehicle combat in the BF series. Some of the coolest fleeting moments in my gaming life have come from the BF series use of crazy vehicles; Successfully deploying a full squad of infantry men on an objective from an APC while laying down cover-fire from the autocannon, defending a choke point with a single tank against all challengers, or taking a little zodiac raft far out from shore with my bro, sneaking onto an enemy aircraft carrier unnoticed and rigging the planes and choppers with C4. So with that in mind, I'm a little worried that the switch to urban combat will diminish the variety and usefulness of the vehicles. In fact, to my chagrin, the only vehicles that looked just as potent as their military themed ancestors in that trailer were the goddamn helicopters and planes. I know I'm in the minority, and feel free to call me a bad if you like, but I've always felt the BF games are dis-proportionally dominated by air units. A single good chopper pilot/gunner can completely suppress an entire ground based team, especially on console versions where the player count is lower. And it's way too easy to evade stingers and repair damage, leading to pub-star players who get the chopper, stay in it all match, dunk on the enemy, and render the rest of their team's contribution to meaninglessness. It's bad play design all around. Hopefully they'll avoid it this time, but only time will tell.
Other than that, I'm super pumped. I feel like they've taken a page from Titanfall with the use of zip-lines and grapnels, allowing for more diverse player movement has paid dividends in Titanfall, and while jet-packs may be a bit too much in a "realistic" setting, these new options will let players get around in more interesting and creative ways.
- Just how long are games going to chase after the robbery scene from Dark Knight anyway?
I feel like this is going to be a real "money where your mouth is" moment for both EA and gamers. EA NEEDS to get this one right. After Sim City and BF4, and Titanfall's merely moderate success, they have to make this one go over right. But gamers here have an opportunity to actually make a statement. After all the complaining and cursing, it's going to look VERY silly if the same people come out in droves to pre-order Hardline. If EA really has damaged their name and trust with gamers, it's time to show it. Don't pre-order this game, even if it does look amazing. Wait for it to come out and come correct before spending your money, make them work for it. Send the message that you won't be burned again.
At least, that's what I'd like to see. Who knows though, all the people who have winged through BF4 will probably wuss out and be as effective as the famous MW2 boycott.
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