The question on every active Battlefield player's mind is how publisher Electronic Arts will avoid the issues of BF4 with the next series installment, Battlefield Hardline. The last game launched infamously to an overwhelming number of bugs, glitches and online netcode issues that plagued the game for some players for a year. It took a year of updates to get Battlefield 4 to where it should have been at launch - a launch that EA's bosses forced and later called "unacceptable."
That's something EA's done a little too much so they're taking efforts in letting Visceral Games do something different and have more time with their cops and robbers take on the Battlefield formula.
Even thought it's not their fault, Visceral Games can't avoid questions and comparisons between Hardline and previous entries, and they even had to make the head-banging promise that Battlefield Hardline will "work" at launch. How they're doing that is by involving the community and gaining feedback, something they already dabbled in last summer with a closed beta (watch our let's play videos if the BF Hardline beta for more!).
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The beta's feedback was mixed. The game worked, but it felt like a mod or re-skinned version of Battlefield 4. The downtown Los Angeles setting of the map 'High Tension' was lifeless and lacked destructible environments. The two modes on display (Heist & Blood Money) were interesting but not enough to justify another game.
Battlefield players generally play Battlefield for the multiplayer and so despite all the talk of a dramatic, action-packed story campaign, things weren't looking great for the brand (according to some analysts) where it matters. Battlefield Hardline was thankfully delayed from its fall 2014 date to March 2015, proving that EA had - at least for this game - pulled back on their release-date-over-quality mantra.
This allows developers to run another beta, this one open to everyone, across all platforms and that's exactly the plan as revealed by Visceral Games today. They oddly don't yet have a beta date yet, just the announcement that it's coming to PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3, and that it'll feature two maps (new screenshots of Dust Bowl maps above and of Downtown map below) and two modes.
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- Hotwire - an all-new mode coming to Battlefield focused on combining all-out warfare with all-out speed. "This is how you introduce yourself to the new flavor Visceral Games is bringing to Battlefield with Battlefield Hardline."
- Conquest - classic 64-player cops and criminals warfare - "the oldie but goodie"
For this beta, there's no progression cap and Visceral is encouraging players to "play this beta to death" so they can soak it up, stress test the servers and netcode, and offer feedback on the maps and game types.
"To be frank, we want you to play this beta to death. We need you to. This test is only going to make the game stronger, and help us take a look at ways we can ensure we deliver the most stable launch you deserve."
So far, we can at least applaud Visceral and DICE this time on their clear and open approach to the community, encouraging feedback and discussion on the game. Were excited to see what's in store for Hardline and how the new gadgets, modes and maps play out. Right now, our concern is whether or not Hardline can prove its worth being its own game instead of BF4 DLC and the announcement that it'll have only 7 modes and 9 maps fails to impress, given the obligatory incoming announcement of map packs that won't be included and sold separate.
Are you going to check out Battlefield Hardline's beta? Waiting for Battlefield 5 next year instead?
Battlefield Hardline releases March 2015 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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