Preview: Hands on with Battlefield: Hardline on Xbox One

Visceral Games (Dead Space, Dante's Inferno) seek to put their mark on a beloved franchise with Battlefield: Hardline. Dropping the large-scale destruction and military themes of previous games, Battlefield: Hardline segues into high octane urban battles between cops and robbers.

Thanks to EA Access' Xbox One exclusive trial period, we've been able to go hands on with Battlefield's latest installment and all signs thus far seem positive.

Inspired single player experience

One of my personal gripes with Battlefield and other multiplayer focused military FPS games is the treatment of single player. Even Kevin Spacey's inclusion in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare did little to put the aging franchise on the same footing as say Bioshock: Infinite or Wolfenstein: The New Order in terms of plot quality, and Battlefield is no different.

Enter Visceral Games, famed for the plot heavy Dead Space series, and their severely underrated adaptation of The Divine Comedy - Dante's Inferno. I was hoping Visceral could inject a bit of depth into Battlefield's single player story mode, and so far it seems as though they're delivering.

EA Access only provides users with the first episode, but its a hearty appetizer leaving me wanting more. You play as Nick Mendoza, a young detective in Miami's vice unit. The game begins with a drug bust gone wrong, and Frostbite 3 really shines in this setting. Facial motion capture in particular is incredible, some of the best I've ever seen. The uncanny valley is eliminated entirely, and makes the characters immediately sympathetic. Akin to Breaking Bad's first season, Battlefield: Hardline takes place in retrospective. Detective Nick Mendoza is in cuffs on a prison wagon, being chastised by the prison warden for being a crooked cop. The game then cuts to 3 years earlier, and presumably the rest of the plot revolves around how Nick wound up in the slammer. It's instantaneously intriguing for fans of cop shows like The Wire or movies like Training Day, and my expectations that Visceral will deliver big on the story aspect seem well founded.

Battlefield: Hardline

Gameplay wise, there are elements that separate Battlefield: Hardline from other games in the series. You can sneak up on enemies, flash your police badge and then arrest them, instead of just running around guns blazing. Certain segments will require you to gather and analyse evidence, and provide further context for the mysteries as they unfold. They're not as in-depth as say L.A. Noire, but players coming in to Battlefield: Hardline will likely be expecting a shooter, not a police puzzle game. I find myself hungry for the next episode, which is preceded by a bit of a cliff hanger.

Familiar multiplayer, sans server problems

Battlefield: Hardline feels similar to Battlefield 4, but with some important caveats. You're unlikely to be killed by tank shells and falling sky scrapers in this installment, as the game places a firm emphasis on close quarters combat, albeit on a larger scale than Call of Duty. Movement speed is decidedly higher than Battlefield 4, giving it a slight edge into a more arcade feel.

Vehicles continue to play an important role in combat, and enjoy increased survivability thanks to limitations on rocket launchers. N̶o̶o̶b̶t̶u̶b̶e̶s̶ Grenade launchers will not kill players as easily as they do in Battlefield 4, forcing players to retain ammo for their intended use against vehicles and buildings. There's still a vast array of weapons, tool kits and mods for each weapon, retaining that sense of unlock addiction which I am incredibly susceptible to. Classes return with similar functions, medic, engineer, assault and recon are now named operator, mechanic, enforcer and professional respectively, and each carry new gadgets and tools over previous games - perhaps most famously, the grappling hook and zip-line tools.

Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield: Hardline features 8 gameplay modes across 9 maps, and modes like Hotwire and Heist offer enough differentiation from Battlefield 4 to be a worthwhile purchase. Hotwire has teams capture and maintain vehicles to accrue points, which has players leaning out of windows to commit drive by shootings and setting up C4 traps on roads leading to explosive hilarity. Heist is an assault/defend type mode which really captures the essence of cops v. robbers. Cops have to defend a vault from encroaching thieves, who are tasked to steal assets back to their escape chopper. These are in addition to classic Conquest and Team Deathmatch modes, and various others.

Crucially, I haven't experienced any of the server/client problems prevalent during Battlefield 4's launch. Whilst the only people online right now are EA Access subscribers, so far its been an encouraging experience on this front.

Battlefield annualized?

There's a growing backlash against some of the larger franchises moving into an annualized model. Assassin's Creed launched not one, but two titles last year alone, and Assassin's Creed Unity in particular was plagued with bugs - presumably due to poor testing and tight deadlines. Call of Duty has also descended in quality (but not sales power) since becoming an annualized franchise. These games still sell ridiculous amounts (for now), but if Guitar Hero's descent into obscurity is anything to go by - annualization may not be a good long-term strategy.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that we need to annualize Battlefield and that's the way it's going to be forever and ever."

EA Studios Vice President Patrick Söderlund spoke at E3 last year to stress that this was not the case, and that Battlefield: Hardline came about simply because Visceral pitched for it. Visceral's Steve Papoutsis met with DICE head Karl-Magnus Troedsson three years ago to declare 'Hey, we have an idea,', the result was Battlefield: Hardline, and so far, it's all looking positive.

Now, let's all hope Battlefield: Hardline is a success so EA funds another Dead Space...

Battlefield: Hardline

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Junto com a do WhatsApp.
  • Why EA stopped releasing Cricket games ?
  • Because New Zealand started playing awesome cricket out of nowhere?
  • Hehe, same can be said about India looking at their yester year's tours.
  • I guess they realized it wasn't a profitable game.
  • If the game turns out to be good and a new Dead Space came from it then I'm happy.
  • I'm intrigued. Been looking for a new shooter that has a good single player campaign.
  • I really hope single player is good.
  • I normally dont touch the campaign in battlefield but I did try this one and I must say its awesome and incredibly different. The cut scenes play out like a cop drama and the gameplay is fast. The multiplayer in Hardline has been great fun as well. I ended up preordering with 5 hours left on my EA Acess trial :)
  • Theme installed on Battlefield 4
    Wallahhhh Battlefield hardline Is born..
  • Prob buy complete single and trade in.. Mp is just too similar to frenetic bf.. Just not a true cops vs criminals mp
  • Hardline: Heist on first day of release. GTA V: Heist 2 years after release
  • Except that battlefield hardline is a whole new game that u have to pay an extra 60$ to get 3 different online modes over BF4
    While in GTA V its a 2 years old game that still provide DLC's for FREE!!!!
    Why are u complaining ?
  • Woah, I'm not complaining, just stating facts.
  • Not facts at all.
  • It is a fact, heist came out for GTA roughly two years after it came out... Lol
  • Um they charge full prices for the same old game. Gta5. I payed full price on 360. Wont pay that much again on Xbox one!
  • Cuz they worked hard for the game again on next Gen. That applies to BF hardline too its basically BF4 with extra modes and vehicles and you're paying a full price for a buggy game.
  • I only paid 60$ for the Xbox one, didn't get for 360
  • As far as I am concerned GTA V did not come out yet, and when the best release does come out it will have Heists on release, plus a ton of other stuff.  
  • Early release still looks like beta! Been playing for a bit and graphics do not look next Gen. Now im on the Xbox one . Is it because it only on 720p? Cousins going to pick it up for ps4 and compare
  • I'm going to tell you right now, unless you're literally 2 feet from the TV, not playing and just staring hard, it'll look the same, but if you are doing that, it'll be a slight difference.
  • AFAIK it's only 900p on the PS4. Lot of stuff going on. If 720p was the tradeoff for smooth as hell gameplay, I'll take it.
  • I'm sure 900p on the PS4 is just as smooth ....and crisper!
  • Won't know for sure till Tuesday. But, it looks really good with my Xbox One on my 82"tv.
  • I thought it looked great. You maybe need to adjust your distance from the TV or something.
  • I think if there were multiple banks/stores on a map and the cops have to work out which ones being robbed and defend it could make the replay factor slightly higher...
  • Really enjoyed my free 10 hours on access. Can't wait until Friday.
  • Personally I am done with call of duty having previously been an avid fan of the series through to mw3. Destiny is my new favorite and have been playing that in the same way I did mw3.
  • Wow mw3 for me was worst than cod ghosts. The last great cod game was MW2.
  • Didn't really care about this game until I saw a video of the first chapter of the single player campaign recently. It looks like a really nice game. I might buy it.
  • Long story short, the game is battlefield. It's call of duty but better.
  • It's an OK game, in my opinion. I'm looking forward to Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield 5
  • Big issue with Battlefield is (like the 3 games before this) people from all regions can easily join all regions. Which is quite annoying and ruins the netcode/fairplay. If i play on a european server, somebody who joins via quick match or serverbrowser (and who has not touched the settings) will be able to see my server up top, see 4 bars like he has a good connection and join it with ease. Ingame he will see that he doesn't die easily (taking half damage) and kills people with ease (who will see it as 1-hit-kill). As long as they keep the lag-advantage and region-freedom the online matches will be ruined for a lot of people and there is nothing you can do about it. Not even on a server you pay for, to host. And since they pay 0 interest to the console versions (just see the comparison between this and BF4 performance-wise) and you'll see that this issue will still not be fixed soon. If they'd force people to set a region, you would decrease the number of laggers drastically. If they'd decrease laggers-advantage you would decrease the numbers of laggers drastically. And it aint even hard. I'm already regretting my purchase again.
  • After the abysmal BF4 I wont be getting hardline. Back for BF5-1944 era hopefully.
  • abysmal BF4? ! hrhrrh no
  • This could easily of been dlc on bf4 but no had to do a cash grab, wait till u drive a car or watch it transition from nice smooth graphics to absolute crap. Dont waste your hard earned on this blatant cash grab pos.
  • I completely agree, should of been released has a single player game and the mp as dlc for bf4. But hey it is EA who are bringing it out, what really do we expect.
  • I still don't understand the Tuesday release cycle. A lot of people won't have time or energy to play until the weekend and some possibly will have spent too much over the weekend to be able to afford it. Release them on Fridays so I can crack it open and blow an entire weekend playing it
  • From what I understand, Tuesdays are the slowest shopping day. New movies and games are released on Tuesdays to bring customers into the stores.
  • I played Graw on the 360 and had all the dlc. When Graw2 came out all the maps from the first one was downloadable to play. I wish Cod and BF would let all of us that purchased map packs in previous games play them in the new games. I remember having around 50-52 maps on Graw2. It would be cool having all the dlc from just Ghost on AW, but awesome to have them from all the Cod games. IK that's not going to happen but I can dream!
  • I miss GRAW2! If they redid that game for Xbox One and PS4 I would so buy it again. Multiplayer was better than most of these games coming out nowadays.
  • Oh man that trailer makes me wanna pick that up. I will do my best to hold out for the review.
  • how much on that video preview are actually playable? how close is it gameplay wise like SWAT? how long is the single player? this game looks really really good
  • I just pre-ordered it. It looks good enough that I'll take a chance.
  • Played the beta, wasn't impressed so I'll be passing
  • I have no interest in this franchise after bad company 2. EA killed it long ago, and this game has "call of duty" status in my book.