Battlefield Hardline is already a mess. I’m not talking in terms of the technical aspects of the game, or even how much fun it is to play, I’m talking about the fact that the game exists at all. While I completely understand that EA would want to get something fresh into the market to try to regain some of the lost faith after gamers grew (understandably) upset with the state of Battlefield 4, this was the absolute wrong way to do it.
Battlefield Hardline isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. What we’ve seen in the beta and what was presented on the floor during E3 proves that. Instead, Battlefield Hardline plays almost like a “best of,” by taking key elements from Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4. It’s putting a small twist on capture the flag, and adding in new skins/vehicles while having the audacity to call itself a new game.
There is absolutely nothing that we’ve been shown so far that demands a full AAA price tag. Nothing. Had the modding community had the tools to the game, I have to think something like this would have been done quite a long time ago, and for free. The only meaningful changes between Battlefield Hardline and the last two games are a few new gadgets, an altered theme, and the in-game cash shop. Admittedly, these are nice additions, but everything here screams to be thrown in as DLC.
Don’t tell me for a single moment that this couldn’t have been done as a mod, although I’ll admit it would have be an impressive undertaking. Battlefield 1942 had a damn pirate mod. Pirates! Complete with sailing ships and hot air balloons. Battlefield 2 hosts one of the most impressive examples of game modding ever with Project Reality, which essentially re-wrote the entire game and improved upon it in almost every single way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying my time with Battlefield Hardline so far. It does play well for what it is, the new game modes are fun, and I’m enjoying the in-game shop as a way to select my loadout as opposed to grinding levels to get the weapon I really want. And I’m certainly not willing to throw out the entire title based on impressions from a beta, but walking away from the game leaves an undoubtedly sour taste in my mouth and a twinge of guilt.
I’m fully aware of the fact that this is simply a beta, but unless there’s something extremely special waiting in the wings, we should be embarrassed by this game. Embarrassed that the market has decided that every game needs a yearly iteration, and embarrassed in ourselves for buying into this crap.
Battlefield Hardline serves as a valuable litmus test for where we are now, and the results should be horrifying. Simply releasing a pretty game on a AAA engine doesn’t make for a AAA game. A simple premise like this shouldn’t be 60 bucks when just a decade ago we would have expected it as solid DLC in the 10-30 dollar range. Grand Theft Auto IV offered two distinctive DLC packages for $20 each, and each one offered something unique. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 had the Vietnam expansion for $15 that opened up the game in new ways. This isn’t new territory for anything outside of pricing.
I hope Battlefield Hardline proves me wrong, I really do. I’d love nothing more than to eat some crow here and have to admit in my review that this is a fully fleshed out title and improves on what we have. That the beta was nothing but a small taste and there’s enough brand new content here that it just had to be packaged on its own. So far, I have no real reason to believe this is going to happen.
Battlefield Hardline scares me, quite honestly. We’re about to be tested as consumers. We’re about to see what happens when DLC is released at full market value and if we’ll buy it. I really don’t want think of where the industry will be headed if we prove this to be the case. Vote with your wallets. If this game is ends up deserving your money, by all means buy it and love it, but please, if this does end up just being overpriced DLC, walk away before this kind of thing becomes the norm.