Battlefield 4 CTE vs. Battlefield: Hardline

More than likely, most readers here have already heard the rumors (it really was the worst kept secret) and seen the leaked videos of the upcoming title, Battlefield: Hardline. Because of the leak last week, EA and Visceral were forced to confirm the new Battlefield IP. More is to be revealed at E3 next week, and prominent YouTube personalities have been flown to Visceral studios and allowed to record gameplay. Uploads of this gameplay are allowed to begin June 9.

So, what is Battlefield: Hardline? Put basically, it is a game about cops and robbers. It is not entirely clear how it fits in the Battlefield franchise, but one can assume it is going to have the same core gameplay mechanics, destruction, Levolution, and combination of vehicle and infantry combat found in other BF titles. Early comments on Twitter from those invited out to test play indicate it has a more close-quarters infantry feel than Battlefield 3 and 4. Hardline will supposedly introduce new game modes more in line with a war on crime than an all-out war. The game will be running on the Frostbite engine, and first appearances look as though it will be utilizing assets from BF4, and vice versa. Many have hypothesized that the riot shield to be introduced in Dragon’s Teeth was developed for Hardline and brought over to BF4 to test and tweak.

Many of you are likely asking why I am discussing Hardline on a blog dedicated to Battlefield 4, and reasonably so. Hardline is clearly going to be made as part of the Battlefield franchise, so it makes sense to at least mention once, in my mind. However, the more prominent reason has to do with its timing. Even without the leak last week, all appearances indicate EA and Visceral were planning to introduce Hardline at E3 next week, as there has even been mention of playable demos, as they had with BF4 last year. As of right now, Battlefield 4 still has the Dragon’s Teeth and Final Stand DLCs yet to drop. They claim to have not given up on BF4, but will the players? Actually, in a lot of ways, players have without the influence of Hardline, as BF3 recently had double the players online as BF4, due in part to BF3 being free on Origin for a week, but also due to many players returning to BF3 for the “cleaner” feeling gameplay.

This blog recently discussed the introduction of the Community Test Environment. Basically, it is a second build of BF4 a player could download to join special servers meant for utilizing the community to test tweaks and improvements being made to the game. It was introduced as an effort to improve Battlefield 4 and its “netcode”. However, many in the community feel it is really a way to test network improvements for Hardline, and benefits to BF4 are merely a side-effect. Only time will tell what impact the CTE will have on BF4 vs. future titles. Thankfully, som impact is had for BF4, as it has been announced that a patch is going live today (June 3) that includes a network frequency update those who have played on the CTE say drastically changes the gameplay, generally for the better.

The idea behind Hardline is a very intriguing one, and the game looks to have potential. Done right, it could be a very refreshing change of pace for Battlefield players growing weary of the modern warfare setting. I will certainly be watching it, and may pick it up if it is well-received and runs properly after release (no more pre-orders or release day purchases for this guy). Therein lies the issue, though: Battlefield 4 still has content to drop, but we are watching the news for Hardline. Has the Battlefield franchise moved to an annual release cycle? I certainly hope not, because there can be too much of a good thing. Worse yet, the pressure to meet an annual release, even spread between 2-3 studios, leads to cutting corners and other issues that make one year’s release feel like nothing more than DLC for the prior year’s release.

It seems as though they would have a hard time convincing players to stick with both BF4 and Hardline if the core gameplay is the same. Things like game modes, available vehicles, weapons, impact of Levolution, etc. would have to differ greatly between the two titles to make anyone want to keep BF4 installed if they pick up Hardline. If the CTE does bring significant improvement to BF4, maybe some players will never pick up Hardline at all. Premium and DLC packages have introduced some fragmentation to the community; releasing one title on top of another seems to threaten to build upon that fragmentation. Success of multiplayer games depends upon communities; purchasing decisions are directed by the consensus of friends. I know I will think twice about Hardline if I have no one with whom to play it.

In the end, EA is just another company looking to make a profit. Honestly, they have already gotten most of what they will out of Battlefield 4. It seems to have been more of a quick cash grab, never meant to have the replayable lifespan Battlefield 3 has had. Then again, maybe they feel it will hold its own along side Hardline. We the community will be watching this unfold how it may, and I know I look forward to seeing how BF4 changes with the CTE patches. Let us hope it can only go up from here; that Battlefield 4 improves to be what we hoped it would be; that the community is restored; and that future title have the quality we expect at release.


Tags:  , , , Community Test Environment, , E3, , Hardline, leak, , opinion, patch,