Battlefield: Hardline Review

Whichever way you look at it, the eternal battle between cops and robbers was ever present in my childhood. Turn on the news, it's there. Watch a movie, it's there. Even in my favourite cartoons, the war between good and evil raged on. It's no surprise then that Visceral Games looked to tap into this with Battlefield: Spinoff (copyright pending). Sorry, I mean Battlefield Hardline. The big question that remained was how this new theme and setting would fit in with the Battlefield formula. In short, it fits rather well, but it’s not the perfect marriage.

The cops vs. robbers theme has allowed Visceral to try its luck with a more personal, character-driven narrative for Hardline’s single-player campaign. You play the role of Miami vice detective, Nick Mendoza, thrust into a textbook drug operation that had much further implications than the young detective ever bargained for.

"You have the right to remain silent!"

With plenty of almost obvious twists, some frankly ludicrous set-pieces, some painful car chases, and a smattering of arresting thanks to the new arrest mechanic built exclusively for the single-player story, it’s a perfectly manageable story in truth. Likeable characters and a cohesive plot make it all the more appealing, but it’s not exactly Oscar award winning material. However, it’s more than enjoyable while it lasts.

The most significant effect the cops vs. robbers theme was going to have was always in the franchise’s trademark multiplayer; the usual draw for a Battlefield title. Predictably, it does have an impact. A huge impact. Thankfully, for the most part, Visceral Games has reacted to this, but when the developer fails to address the changes, it’s a mere shadow of what we expect from a Battlefield multiplayer shooter.

Sure, Battlefield Hardline might be the quickest and most frenetic Battlefield we’ve ever seen, but in welcoming the cops vs. robbers theme, it does so at the expense of some of the more well-known aspects of the title, like Rush mode, tanks, and jets for starters. It’s definitely a more bite-sized Battlefield experience, that’s for sure.

New game modes, more fitting with the cops and robbers theme, have been crafted to counteract that though, and with the new Hotwire and Blood Money modes, Battlefield Hardline has its own unique selling points. The two modes are new takes on traditional formulas and work perfectly within the new setting and vibe of Hardline.


Whether it's Hotwire’s frenetic car chases as you hunt down what are essentially moving capture points – which come in the form of a range of vehicles – or stealing your opponent’s cash from their base and returning it to yours, each of the new modes creates those much-vaunted 'Battlefield moments', which sets it apart from its rivals.

In addition to Hotwire and Blood Money is the new Heist mode, a game-type that when it works, is truly great. Unfortunately, outside the Bank Job map, which was obviously built specifically with this mode in mind, it’s something that never really finds its feet.

Hardline’s eSports (one life only) offering comes in the form of Rescue (think capture the flag but with hostages) and Crosswire (where you must get a teammate VIP from A to B), two modes that suit this Battlefield formula more so than ever before. Other than that, the traditional Conquest (both large and small) and Team Deathmatch playlists still exist. Honestly though, it’s all about Hotwire and Blood Money, two distinctive and unique modes that give Hardline its stars online.

The nine maps in the box range from the tighter, more intricate affairs like The Block to the more sweeping, open-world playgrounds like Dustbowl, with most maps having a small and a much more expansive version for various different modes.

Obviously, some maps are more suited to certain modes, but there’s a good mix, each balanced perfectly enough, that show off tons of different environments. Plus, you can ride an airboat across the swamplands of the Everglades. Who can say no to that? From a destructibility standpoint, for the most part Battlefield’s iconic destruction engine is front and centre, and while yes, there may be 'levolution' aspects for each map, it comes nowhere near to reaching the same level as Battlefield 4.

While Hardline might not feel like a true Battlefield title because of the absence of tanks and jets – although there are armoured trucks and what not that show up in various modes – Visceral does a few things to shake up the formula somewhat; some for the good, and some for the bad of the franchise.

First things first. Gone are the days where you can spawn with a rocket launcher in your loadout, a move obviously made to counteract the lack of heavy duty armoured vehicles and the inclusion of more lightweight fare, like cop and muscle cars. Instead you’ll find what are essentially power weapons dotted around the map. Great, but that does mean when you do get in the armoured vehicles, it makes it infinitely harder to prevent their dominance. The inclusion of the quicker vehicles too means that the inclusion of some sort of dive-out-the-way-of-oncoming-vehicles button would have been welcomed.

Look at that bank. It's just begging for a good robbing.

A few of the neatest additions are things that could translate perfectly into the main Battlefield franchise, and those are the take ability, auto-revives and the interrogation feature. The take ability means that those days of “Hey, man, can I get some ammo, please?” *2 minutes passes as you chase around the same guy* “OI DICK, GIVE ME SOME FUCKING AMMO!” are long gone, allowing you to take health and ammo off those who have it. The auto-revive ability on the other hand allows you to revive a downed ally provided you have the defibs – or the revive injection if you’re a crook – and don’t have an enemy in your sights. At least that’s how it seems to work.

The interrogation feature also allows players who 'assassinate' a player i.e. melee them from behind, to interrogate them afterwards – nothing sinister, just holding down a button – which in turn shows all the enemies on the mini-map for a short period of time. A completely ace addition and one that can become a tide changer.

There’s a load of new gadgets and what not for each of the four classes as well – classes which might have new labels, but are essentially as they were in Battlefield 4 – whether that’s the grappling hook, the zipline, decoys, and a gas mask for the new gas grenade meaning that encounters from one mode to the next become infinitely more tactical.

Visceral has even gone one step further to test out a new equipment unlocking system with the multiplayer – and one more fitting with the subject matter – and that’s making all unlocks now a case of purchasing them thanks to money you earn during matches. Sure, the better gadgets and weapons are more expensive, but now you can control what you unlock and when. In short, it’s an excellent addition.

Shit, hitting the fan.

In terms of achievements, Battlefield Hardline is a goldmine of Gamerscore goodness. Granted, it will take you multiple playthroughs of the campaign if you want your full thousand, but one playthrough is likely to net you between 500 and 700 points with very little effort.

Sure, there are a few multiplayer achievements thrown in - although they’re not too hard - but the game’s sub-mission objectives are where the list shines. Ride a dirtbike off a ramp into one of the game’s missions, get an achievement. Blow up a methlab to cause a distraction, get an achievement. Finding certain hidden rooms nets you an achievement. It's a decent enough list in all, maybe a tad too easy, and could have done with a sprinkling of more creativity.

What Visceral has achieved in taking the Battlefield franchise, once synonymous with being a military shooter, and moving it into a different genre, is something quite different. More importantly, the studio has managed to make it work. While it might not be as epic in terms of scale and awe when it comes to matching a conventional Battlefield title, Hardline’s bite-size, quick-paced action is a credit to the Battlefield franchise. Sure, it might be a stop-gap for the next huge-scale Battlefield, but Battlefield Hardline is nonetheless a mighty fine one at that.

Battlefield: Hardline

A mighty fine bite-size Battlefield experience that takes a franchise synonymous with being a military shooter and establishes it in new territory. Battlefield Hardline is not as grand or epic as you’d perhaps expect a core Battlefield title to be, but it’s certainly a damn fine alternative.

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Decent performance from the cast, a nice – but small – selection of licensed music (including KRS One) and the guns sound as wonderful as ever.


Considering that Battlefield used to be a standard bearer when it came to visuals last-gen, Hardline doesn’t seem to be hitting that same standard. Pretty, but there’s better out there.


It’s a Battlefield game. It’s built on the Frostbite Engine. What more is there to say? Not much has changed from this perspective.


Hardline quite clearly is Battlefield-lite. The action is a little quicker but it’s not as epic in terms of scale. It's a great take on the cops and robbers theme though, with some superb multiplayer modes that suit it perfectly. Some neat additions, but it suffers somewhat with the removal of tanks and jets. The netcode is stable as well, so that’s nice.


A decent enough achievement list, but maybe a tad too easy and could have done with a little more creativity.

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