When Battlefield 4 released in October 2013 the game's multiplayer was largely unavailable due to an unstable online environment bogged down by frequent bugs, freezes and game crashes. The inability to play online impacted console and PC versions of the game, causing the CEO for Electronic Arts to admit that the release was unacceptable.
With Battlefield Hardline approaching its March 17 release date, players are now worried that Visceral will repeat the same mistakes that Battlefield 4 had. Moreover, many have had questions about whether this entry is just a re-skin of the previous installment.
Lead multiplayer designer, Thad Sasser, acknowledges the struggles from Battlefield 4, but assures fans that Battlefield Hardline won't have the same issues. He points to the recent beta as a positive experience and highlights that the development team created a smooth online experience for the player:
"You can clearly see our efforts have paid off with the stability of the most recent beta; the beta we just had was pretty smooth. Obviously we expected to collect some problems, and we did. We found a number of interesting issues that we've since addressed and fixed; crashes and so on, particularly on the PC client."
Either way, whether players loved the beta or thought there was still room for improvement, Sasser is correct that it was a relatively stable experience with minimal crashes and bugs. Which is good, because a functioning online system day one is a must for Battlefield Hardline - a fact that Electronic Arts realizes more than anyone, as the attention to multiplayer is one of the main reasons why they delayed the original release.
Releasing with a stable multiplayer is a pivotal feature if Electronic Arts wants the Battlefield series to compete with Call of Duty as the most popular first person shooter. Unfortunately, the publisher was slow to resolve issues players encountered during Battlefield 4's online experience, and they also have a history of games with buggy online environments. Just recently, Electronic Arts shutdown Maxis, which many believe was a direct response to the poor release of the latest SimCity.
However, Electronic Arts has remained open and communicated their strategy of avoiding Battlefield 4 issues with Battlefield Hardline. Sasser believes that his team will be able to avoid any large issues due to careful planning:
"The fact that we've been able to have two betas and we've been able to build on all of the learnings from Battlefield 4 that they've done over the last year or so. We've incorporated a lot of their changes and a lot of their fixes as well. So I think, altogether, we're in far better shape and we're really looking forward to a stable launch."
It will be interesting to see if players will be forgiving of minor bugs and growing pains during the first few days of Battlefield Hardline. A lot is riding on the success of Battlefield Hardline.
Do you think that Battlefield Hardline will have a stable multiplayer experience? Will you wait to pick up Battlefield Hardline based upon the release of Battlefield 4?
Battlefield Hardline releases March 17, 2015 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.