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Battlefield Hardline Review

The sound of the police.

On playgrounds up and down the country, playing Cops and Robbers has been a staple of practically everyone’s childhood – unless you preferred to play Cowboys and Indians, Doctors and Nurses or football with a tennis ball. There’s an element of that fantasy play in Battlefield Hardline’s multiplayer, where the scope of Battlefield’s signature game modes is married to a conflict on a smaller scale.

Hardline is a notable shift for a series which has always concerned itself with wars, pulling away from a conflict between nations and back to the kinds of gun battles and shootouts that will feel much closer to home for the American public. The story centres instead on the war on drugs that consumes so many millions of taxpayer dollars, trying to combat the relentless influx of narcotics into the country.

Compared to the disappointing drudgery of the last two mainline Battlefield games this is a breath of fresh air. As newly assigned Detective Nick Mendoza and his new partner Khai Minh Dao quickly find themselves embroiled in a twisting and turning tale of corruption, deceit and revenge. It sounds like your standard buddy cop film fodder, but what makes it stand out from the crowd is how it’s presented as more of a TV show.

Right from the title credits that roll after the prologue, introducing each of the characters and their actors – several of which previously acted in cop shows – to the “previously on…” summaries of the action that happen when you load back into a level, and even “next time on…” outros if you quit to the main menu. The ten episodes generally come it around the 40 minute mark too, each with its own self contained pacing and arc, and this all lends itself well to a slightly cheekier tone and the odd wry smile later in the story, compared to the more serious blockbuster films that games so often try to ape. Then again, there are a number of standout moments that are more than worthy of an over the top buddy cop film and will have you grinning from ear to ear at their sheer audacity.


This isn’t your standard corridor shooter, taking the brief glimpses of sandbox arenas from Battlefield 4 and pushing them further into what Visceral dub Fortress encounters, something which begins to approach Far Cry’s outposts, albeit within a linear story. At least a dozen times through the story you’ll be faced with an area with patrolling guards. Naturally you can go in all guns blazing, but it’s better to go in quietly, and try to take people out as they are isolated – there’s also usually an alarm to deactivate, so that a car of extra goons won’t show up.

Chief amongst your toolset is your police badge, which lets you get up to three enemies to drop their weapons, so you can cuff them. You have to be aware and keep looking at each of them so that they don’t draw and start a gunfight, but sometimes your partner will run in and cover the other guy as you make the arrest – though they’re precious little help at other times. This is also beneficial because, in addition to searching for clues to build case files, you’ll also be able to grab criminals with a warrant for their arrest.

But the way that these sandbox areas are designed also allows you to tackle them from a number of different angles, by using the grappling hook and zipline to gain the advantage. Admittedly, I generally snuck around the areas, taking people down quietly, which neutralised a lot of the challenge of a pitched gunfight on Veteran difficulty, but then there are still plenty of climactic shootouts, just as there are more relaxed moments of exposition as you find yourself heading from A to B.

The story certainly shows of what it is that Visceral can bring to the series, after years of disappointment on that front. It’s not perfect and there’s a few moments which feel a little flat, dialogue which doesn’t match up with what you actually need to do and the occasional spike in difficulty, but these are easily outweighed by the moments of bombast and occasional light humour.


Yet it’s the multiplayer that is the beating heart of Battlefield and it’s here that Visceral have had an uphill struggle to convince the most sceptical of the series’ fans. Of course, it simply wouldn’t be a Battlefield game these days without the huge 64 player Conquest game mode – though sadly this and 64-man TDM also send the framerate below 60fps quite noticeably – but that series mainstay feels like it will take a backseat to some of the new additions and inventive twists on the other staple modes.

Heist is perhaps the most logical addition, taking a loose rendition of the main series’ Rush mode and giving it a light Payday-esque twist. It’s a simple mission to break into a vault through a number of points, grab the money and get it to the chopper before time runs out or you run out of respawn tickets, as the police whittle away your numbers.

Blood Money then sees you squabbling over a central stash of cash, trying to secure it for your side, while Hotwire is a form of Conquest, where each control point is a vehicle that must be driven above a certain speed in order to be active and drain the opposing team’s respawn tickets. Early on with this mode, there is a feeling that you’re just aimlessly driving around or endlessly chasing after letters, but then you realise that you can have a control point car full of guys hanging out of windows and chase down enemy captured points to destroy them, or grab the RPG that’s tucked away in a building and set an ambush. My favourite tactic by far is to use remotely detonate breaching charges thrown out the window of a car.

That last point is key, as the four classes that were present in Battlefield 4 have been rejigged and renamed, amidst a raft of other changes that alter the tone of the game. The Mechanic, for example, (this game’s Engineer) has SMGs and PDWs for their weapons still, but these have been amped up a bit to make them more viable in combat. But he’s now the guy with all the tech, with the ability to sabotage vehicles or plant the satellite phone that is this game’s spawn point, taking that away from the Professional née Sniper class. He also takes the Assault class’ grenade launcher, with RPGs and LMGs now to be found as pick ups on the maps.


Buying new weapons and gadgets has been given a more accessible twist too, where cash earnt as one class can be spent to buy things for another and battlepacks can now award generic weapon modifications tickets that can be spent on any gun. It gives you a lot more freedom to explore the various classes, as you’ll no longer be stuck having to get 5 sniper kills, but you will need to unlock cop and criminal specific weapons on either side of the fence – it takes 1,250 kills with a gun to enable its use on the other side of the law – which helps the two sides feel ever so slightly more distinct, outside of the criminals’ more vulgar spot and mark gesture.

That’s emphasised during the asymmetrical modes, but aside from Heist, that is the preserve of the two 5v5 squad-based modes Rescue and Crosshair. Both of these give you a single life per round – played as a best of nine rounds – and with hostage rescue/defence and VIP escorting/elimination as their goals. Damage to the world persists from one round to the next, so buildings might be collapsed or walls opened, giving you more tactical options. They can be genuinely tense, albeit prone to devolving into a straight up shootout, but my main issue comes that the teams only switch sides after four of the nine rounds have already been played, potentially giving one side a near unassailable 4-0 lead.

As a whole, the game refocusses around more ground-based combat, as lighter vehicles come to the fore, but can be destroyed relatively easily. That’s key in Hotwire’s balance, but also has an effect on Conquest, Blood Money and Heist – when maps allow for vehicles. It’s a different take on the Battlefield series, with many of the same core elements but a shifted focal point and a slightly faster pace to the running and gunning.

What’s Good:

  • Finally, a good Battlefield single player.
  • TV-style presentation which fits the flow of the story.
  • New game modes like Heist and Hotwire stand apart from Battlefield 4.
  • Rebalanced classes suit the less vehicle based combat.

What’s Bad:

  • Frame rate dips below 60fps, most noticeable with 64 player modes.
  • Some counter intuitive aspects to the new multiplayer game modes.
  • A couple of low points in the story’s pacing, difficulty spikes and dialogue inconsistencies.

It’s easy to dismiss Hardline out of hands as being too far removed from Battlefield’s typical setting to be worthy of the name, but even as Visceral ride on the brands coattails, they’ve had the confidence to adapt that core gameplay to suit a new setting. That’s not just true of the multiplayer, but also the single player story and its compelling tale of drugs and police corruption.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4

For this review, Battlefield Hardline’s multiplayer was primarily tested at a dedicated event last week, but also subsequently with public servers in the last few days. With testing during the public beta and netcode that has much in common with recent BF4 patches, multiplayer at launch should be relatively smooth, but watch the news if you are wary of issues.

  1. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Thanks for that review tef, it read really well. I’m more interested in this than I would have been a standard battlefield release, mostly because the single player now sounds worthwhile and the different twist to the multiplayer. Hmm, tempted! Might see me through to the next destiny dlc :)

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 06:49.
  2. Mark Lee
    Since: Oct 2014

    Really can’t wait for Friday now, awesome review!

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 07:52.
  3. monkeyspoon
    Since: Dec 2009

    The xbox one version looks a bit rubbish as its only 720p.

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 08:25.
  4. Crazy_Del
    Since: Jul 2009

    Great review Tef, looking forward to pick this up this Friday =D

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 08:54.
  5. leeroye
    Since: May 2012

    Great news that the SP is good. I am still going to hold of on buying it until i know its stable on the MP side.

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 08:57.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      It should be pretty stable. There were one or two odd little bugs when I played (excusing for pre-release servers and debug consoles), but on the whole it felt equivalent to where BF4 is right now. That they share a lot of code obviously helps, and Hardline has the same high frequency polling tech that was added towards the end of last year, if not the very latest Winter Update revision which came to BF4 in the last few weeks. That will be added in due course.

      But yeah, keep an eye on the news, and see how the game fares during the US launch today, ahead of the UK release on Friday.

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:01.
  6. homerjnick
    Since: Jun 2010

    Same regurgitated garbage every year…Battlefield, COD etc…mind numbing boring games to feed the kids minds of today’s generation…the market is saturated with crap like these games and there is just subtle differences to get everyone in and then in 3 months time its dead…

    But it sells…

    I’ve never played Destiny, any COD game not Battlefield…and will never.

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 09:39.
    • Youles
      Since: Feb 2011

      Morning Grumpy McGrumperson ;)

      To be fair, I think people are realising this, hence CoD sales are now becoming less each; Battlefield are now trying something new like this; and CoD is doing a 3-year cycle which not only gives them time to actually improve the game rather than “regurgitate”. It also means someone like me who liked the Modern Warfare series (but no the Black Ops series so much), doesn’t get bored of an annual release – with my preferred series now coming out every 3 years rather than every 1 or 2. The advantage of that is also that people who also like the series will be playing that games’ MP even after the latest CoD is out.

      I think Assassins Creed is the worst Annual release game to be fair!

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 09:49.
    • Forrest_01
      Since: Jun 2009

      Then you are not one to judge.

      Why don’t you at least give something a try before you slate it? As unfortunately your comment lost all credibility when you said you had never played anything that you were slagging off.

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 09:56.
      • homerjnick
        Since: Jun 2010

        Of course I can judge as I have friends who play it and I’ve watched people play it…I’ve read reviews and it’s same content repeated over and over…I fully understand some like it, even love it, hence why it sells but I’m fully entitled to give my opinion on it…

        You don’t have to try something to have an opinion on it…I have an opinion on suicide but the fact that I haven’t committed it doesn’t make my opinion wrong, as it is just my opinion!

        Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:43.
      • Forrest_01
        Since: Jun 2009

        Yeah, but that now seems like you are just having an opinion for the sake of having an opinion – My point is, if you aren’t interested in these types of games, why would you even bother with reading a review for one & then going as far as to slag off the games themselves & the types of people that play them? It almost felt like trolling. Almost.

        & you can have an opinion on what your perception of suicide is or the types of people that may go down that route & many other things, but you could never actually judge them as you are not in that situation & possibly never will be.

        That’s also kind of a weird analogy to give. I know Tuesdays are a bit depressing, but come on! ;)

        Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 11:41.
      • double-o-dave
        Since: Nov 2008

        “You don’t have to try something to have an opinion on it…I have an opinion on suicide but the fact that I haven’t committed it doesn’t make my opinion wrong, as it is just my opinion!” – Brilliant… You can’t argue with that! ;)

        Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 12:41.
  7. Avenger
    Since: Oct 2012

    Are all maps compatible with all modes, or does something like Heist only feature on a few maps?

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:08.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      All maps adapt to fit the mode, cutting down the playable area from the largest version in Conquest to smaller play areas.

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:37.
      • Amphlett
        Since: Jul 2009

        Stef, great review, great read. Thank you.

        Could you let me know which maps are playable in Heist please?

        Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 11:08.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        All of the nine maps are available for all modes.

        The set up is always the same, where Heist has a designated vault room within a main building for the criminals to break into from any or all of several potential routes, using bombs, drills, keycode hacking and level destruction events. From there it’s a case of trying to get the bags of cash out to a helicopter extraction point, while the cops try to stop you and defend a bag until it times out and respawns in the vault.

        Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 12:02.
  8. LegendishThingy
    Since: Jun 2011

    When I played the second beta test, I was weirdly impressed with the game, particularly after I’d pretty much entirely disregarded it after hating the first beta.

    I’ll be picking this one up on Friday because the sound of the SP story has helped cement it as a day one purchase for me – it might not be like other BF games but change, in this case, is clearly a good thing.

    Hopefully some other TSAers are picking this up so we can organise some meets because the ones on BF4 were an absolute blast (pun intended).

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:18.
  9. JustTaylorNow
    Since: Oct 2011

    Lost interest in BF thanks to their map being massive for no reason, couldn’t be asked to run around a big map looking for one kill. I would spend the entire match running around following gun sounds but yet seeing no one to kill or to bf killed buy.

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:21.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Yeah, you can still find yourself chasing the gunfire at times, but there’s plenty of vehicles to hop into to get you there faster, you can spawn on squad mates and command vehicles and also control points (depending on the mode). In general, play the objective and the fight will come to you.

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 10:43.
    • Avenger
      Since: Oct 2012

      Yeah, hotwire was boring unless you got in a car, and even then the novelty wore off quite quick.

      Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 11:21.
  10. Zephyre
    Since: Aug 2009

    Can’t help thinking this would have been better if they’d just dropped the battlefield name (which battlefield are they even referring to?) and gone for a cheesy 80’s cop show inspired name instead. At least the hardcore BF players may have given it a chance

    Comment posted on 17/03/2015 at 11:16.

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Battlefield Hardline
  • Developer:Visceral Games
  • Publisher:Electronic Arts
  • Platforms:PS4, XBO, PS3, X360, PC
  • Release Date:20/03/15

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