I think that we can all agree that Battlefield: Hardline seemed a bit of a mess when it first emerged in beta form straight after it was shown off at this year's E3. The biggest complaint was the notion that iut seemed more like a BF4 spin-off than a new game in its own right -- a series of new maps, and new skins that could easily have spawned as a DLC drop than a full price new game.
Here we go again, thought many. Typical EA.
Jon posited in his article on the matter that knocking £15-20 off of the top and just releasing it as a multiplayer content pack would have bee fine, and he's probably right. A few more distinctive modes and we might have been happy with that. It's impossible to say just how the much-vaunted singleplayer component was coming along because no-one got to see it. The Bad Company games are testament to the fact that DICE can deliver strong campaigns, and Visceral have had their moments, but the latest BF singleplayer components have been utter rubbish. Po-faced, COD-copying mediocrity of the highest degree.
But it's okay, because Hardline is getting pushed back into early next year, and with a fresh 2015 release date all of these wrongs will be righted.
Back at E3, we launched a beta for Hardline -- we wanted to not only show you the game, but to let you play it for yourselves. Millions of you jumped in and had a great time. As a result, the Visceral Games team learned a lot from players about what they wanted in the game. We’ve been pouring over the data and feedback, and have already been putting a lot of it right into the game and sharing it directly with you.
This feedback also spurred us to start thinking about other possibilities and ways we could push Hardline innovation further and make the game even better. The more we thought about these ideas, the more we knew we had to get them into the game you will all be playing. However, there was only one problem. We would need more time. Time that we didn’t have if we decided to move forward with launching in just a couple of months.
We decided that the right thing to do was to take more time to ensure Hardline is the best, most innovative Battlefield experience we can give to you, our fans.
The bottom line is that Hardline emerged as something of a laughing stock. It just about managed to lift a flagging global audience after The Most Boring and Empty E3 Presser of All Time, but was quickly found out. The cops and robbers concept was cool, but it didn't really fit the standard Battlefield template, and nothing was really adjusted to deliver a different experience.
It seems like EA want to change that.
Troedsson's mild missive is both infuriating and gratifying. The wilful patronising contained in phrases like "Hardline innovation" takes us for fools. Where is this innovation? Show it to me! But the mere existence of this letter and the delaying idea behind it is indicative of a company that has actually listened for a change. Instead of waiting months and making obvious changes (hello SimCity) and then trying to take credit for listening to a consumer base that's blue in the face, EA have moved quite decisively on this one.
The three pillars of change that this extra time buys, according to Troedsson, are vital: incorporating feedback from the community to add "some new feature ideas direct from the community that will evolve the cops and criminals fantasy into a truly unique Battlefield Multiplayer experience", exploring a deeper story and character-driven "crime revenge" narrative, and making the damn thing work at launch. Troedsson is saying the right things at the right time rather than the classic EA technique of releasing something inadequate and then fixing it (or not) over time. Battlefield 4 is a game that could have definitely used a few more months, but instead EA released it anyway, showing their utter contempt for their most loyal fanbase.
That's not really an option after the farce that was the Hardline beta.
So it certainly seems to be a good thing that Hardline is facing a delay. Instead of dropping an unfinished project and then waiting half a year to issue a dreadful apology, it seems as though EA are taking some responsibility. The quality of the finished product, of course, remains to be seen, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. EA have wanted to annualise Battlefield for a long time. Sabotaging that for the sak of a better game is exactly what we've been demanding of them. So for now, hats off EA. But the job's not done yet.