It's been a tumultuous stretch for EA's Battlefield brand. Plagued by outages and service interruptions, Battlefield 4 never got its online multiplayer component straightened out quick enough to satisfy its eager fanbase.
Battlefield Hardline is a drastic thematic departure for the franchise, taking the action off the actual battlefield and bringing it to the streets.
Hardline plays more like a cable-TV cop drama than a traditional military shooter, and the new approach is a welcome one. The narrative oozes good-cop-bad-cop cheese, but it's a fresh enough take on storytelling to sustain interest throughout.
The game also introduces some new systemic features that place players in different roles than they're probably used to in Battlefield. You're a cop first, so you'll be rewarded for taking criminals down and arresting them. You can't just go in guns blazing all the time. Well, you can, but that's not the way to quickly level up and unlock new weapons and perks.
There's also some extracurricular reconnaissance work you can do in each episode. Collecting evidence helps stitch the story arc, which in turn translates to more bonuses.
I played Battlefield Hardline on a Maingear Rush, making good use of the two GTX 980 graphics card inside. Battlefield looks fantastic with maxed-out graphics settings. I prefer a mouse and keyboard setup for first-person shooters, so if you have the means that's how I recommend playing it. Nevertheless, Hardline plays well on an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 -- it just won't look as pretty as it theoretically can.
So what about the online modes that soured the experience last time around? Is there anything new worth checking out? Is the change in narrative direction jarring to the seasoned Battlefield player? I talked with GameSpot's Chris Watters about Hardline, knowing full well he's a bit of a Battlefield connoisseur, to get another take on the latest iteration of the game. Check out our video at the top of the page.