Despite being one of the best selling game franchises around, the Battlefield series is one that has been considerably tarnished recently. With Battlefield 3 underwhelming many and its successor Battlefield 4 being plagued with game-breaking bugs left unfixed several months after its release, it was unlikely that Battlefield Hardline could completely get Battlefield's reputation back on track, especially amidst criticisms that it played and looked like a mod to the last two BF titles.
That's in part due to the way that the cops versus robbers game was announced. Battlefield 4 developer DICE was still working on netcode fixes and huge lag problems at the time of Battlefield Hardline's announcement, and although Hardline is being developed primarily by Visceral Games (with support from DICE) many asked if the development would hinder both games' ability to perform well, especially when releasing so soon after.
Although DICE and Visceral said that Battlefield Hardline would run smoothly, after playing the beta many were unconvinced, leading publisher EA to push back the game's release until next year. It's fair then, that at the recent Tokyo Games Show, one Visceral Games developer was posed the question of just whether or not the game will work properly at launch.
The question of launch stability came in reference to other big titles that have been particularly hard hit by launch issues (for example, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and Titanfall which is also an EA published game). However, GameRevolution spoke to Ian Milham, creative director for Visceral Games at TGS and his answer unequivocally dismissed this.
"What you're basically asking is, 'Is you're game going to work?' and the answer is yes, it's gonna work. We actually started on this more than a year before Battlefield 4 came out. We've been working with the DICE guys for a long time; some of our engineering work is actually in Battlefield 4 and things they've been doing since then. It's in pretty great shape now and all that work is gonna come into what we're doing.
While the fact that some of Visceral's handiwork can be seen in Battlefield 4 is unlikely to instil many fans with confidence, Milham also pointed to the Battlefield Hardline beta in terms of how they are ensuring the game will be tip top at launch.
"We already had one very successful beta, we're going to have another beta on every platform we ship on. We take shipping a working game pretty seriously. So, yes, the game will work."
This is positive if only because the beta that recently took place helped the team acknowledge key areas of improvement including the need for new game modes and the way that Hardline's gameplay doesn't always encourage the teamwork that the other Battlefield games are known for. Furthermore, Milham also made note of the game's performance at trade shows such as TGS, where the eight versus eight multiplayer matches have run without "crashing".
Of course both the beta and the trade shows at demos (where few people are unlikely to play for more than a few minutes at a time) are relatively controlled and don't give us a complete picture of how the game is doing. However, it is a confident start and a solid foundation to build upon so hopefully Battlefield Hardline really will be as bug free at launch as we would all like. But in the end, the fact that this question needs to be asked and answered speaks volumes to the recent set of Electronic Arts published titles.
Battlefield Hardline will be released on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2015.