The day has come Battlefield fans, Battlefield Hardline is here. I thoroughly enjoyed the smoothness and fun factor in the beta, and was sold on the new title for the franchise. My concerns in the beta had less to do with the game itself and more to do with how the scoring system incentivizes behavior and how the Battlefield community seems unable to consistently work together, communicate, and go for the objective. I’ve only played the multiplayer, and that will be most of my engagement with the game, so here are my initial thoughts.
The good is really good
If Battlefield excels at something it’s big action packed moments with a lot going on, and that is certainly true in Hardline. There were moments where I couldn’t help by shout and laugh with excitement as my friends and I caused countless instances of mayhem. And if there is a game mode where you get to enjoy these moments almost non-stop it is Hotwire. One of the frustrations I had with previous Battlefield games was the massive size and disconnected feel it could have. You could spend an inordinate amount of time just running through empty fields or streets only to get sniped by a camper and have to do it all over again. Hotwire minimizes the amount of down time with a simplistic focus on capturing vehicles as moving domination points. It’s a refreshing and fun change in the “take and hold” game mode, that keeps the action and firefights moving and is rarely repetitious. My only quibble with the game mode is the cars that serve as the various domination points always spawn in the same place which can lead to some cheap and annoying tactics from lesser skilled players looking for easy kills. Random spawn points for the cars would be more in line with the context of the game mode and make for more responsive tactics and less camping. Overall Hotwire earns most of my attention because Heist and Blood Money, the other exciting and fast paced game modes, tend to devolve into a slaughter-fests without a solid team. And this is where I turn next, which, in my opinion, will always be the weak point for Battlefield: the community.
Simple is never simple enough
Even in a mode with a format so consistently used as Hotwire, where you capture and maintain certain points, with a mechanic so basic, where you just get in clearly marked cars and stay on the move, it’s painfully baffling to see so many players, in game after game, ignore all the objectives and just camp, stay in the wrong cars, or miserably fail to fly a helicopter. So you can imagine how infuriating games as tactical and necessarily synergistic as Heist or Blood Money can be. Just one moronic or clueless teammate can foil all your relentless and patient attempts to steal and get away with the packages or the money. It’s unfortunate that such brilliant and fun game modes have such an easily manipulated weak point. And to be fair, it’s probably the nature of any objective based mode that requires tactical strategy and communication. This is why I think Battlefield will always be held back by the very community it depends on, because the teams are just too big. Some of it is Call of Duty’s fault, with all the focus on individual performance creating a seemingly endless standard of players that could care less if they lose twenty games in a row, so long as they find a good camp spot to bag easy kills. And some of it is just the nature of competitive games, as lesser skilled players will chose the path of least resistance instead of trying to communicate, work together, and get better. I recently wrote that veteran gamers need to walk away from Call of Duty, but I think, with the right amount of effort, veterans can make Hardline their home, at least for a season.
Squad up and have fun
In a previous post about video games feeling like they suck and the ways players contribute to that feeling I talked about how you get out of a game what you put in. If you focus on squadding up with your buddies and having fun, then Hardline offers endless high-octane action for you and your squad mates. But if you’re like me and the guys that I wreck with, and you place a high priority on the win and doing well, you will need to make efforts to minimize that and just focus on having fun. The teams and engagements are simply too large to consistently influence the outcomes of games. My crew was five deep for the better part of an hour, and we probably won the same number of games that we lost. And just today we played a game of Blood Money where we very effectively removed the enemy team from a roof top and then started protecting the money, only to then have to run back and protect our vault. It’s start to feel like you are just putting out fires when everyone else on your team doesn’t seem to understand the basic premise and strategy of a simple game mode. Either way the games shook out we would be on top with the lion share of the points, with the losses usually being easily attributed to non-contributing team mates dragging us down. So I did my best to push past it and focus on having fun, and it actually made a difference. Unfortunately we felt the only option was to retreat to Hotwire or fight game after game of losing battles. I honestly think if the teams were smaller it would benefit the franchise immensely. Squads and teamed up friends could have far more influence on the game, instead of feeling sabotaged or held down by endless waves of unskilled or selfish teammates.
So, do your best to focus on fun and stick to the game modes that deliver. Because that’s really why we play, isn’t it? To enjoy ourselves, to laugh with our friends, and to unwind a little bit. So kick back, prop your feet, blow up some cars, and to quote a great line from a great movie, “A good death is its own reward.”
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