4 Cool Things I Learned About Battlefield: Hardline’s Campaign; Dev Talks Single-Player

While talking to Visceral Games creative director Ian Milham at the Tokyo Game Show, we got to talking a lot about his upcoming project Battlefield: Hardline. Particularly, a lot was said about its single-player experience. Milham said, "We wanted to provide a lot more detailed single player, and that’s what we’ve gone for," later also saying, "We’re trying to provide a deep and replayable single-player experience as well as the multiplayer side."

These specific things jumped out at me:

Tactical Approach

Milham noted that Hardline not being a military game allowed Visceral to "open things up spatially and tactically, so it’s not just different objectives. The other guys don’t already know you’re there," adding that a police scenario is different than a military scenario because, "Cops and robbers are in the same room a lot; they don’t want to immediately start shooting each other. It’s a whole different deal."

Choices

He wants the single-player to be played in the player's style, so gameplay choices that affect the story are a must: "There’s great stuff in the roller-coaster story of single player, but they see more sophistication as they see more choice. So that’s what we’re trying to add to the single player experience."

Branching Story Paths

Milham described the process of going through Hardline's campaign: "There’s a main story, but there’s also plot B and plot C and related things to discover. All kinds of stuff in the world that will have consequences in the gameplay." 

When I asked him if that meant different approaches to mission objectives, he said, "There’s the tactical layer, yes, there’s a bunch of different approaches like: I can finish this whole area without anybody having seen me,  or I could arrest everybody, or I could just go in guns-blazing like traditional battlefield. But you could also find hidden clues for subplots and hints as to what those people were up to. You can complete investigations and sort of make bookings as a cop."

Putting himself in a player's combat boots, he said, "You might just look at something in the game — in the artwork — and go 'What’s that all about?' It’s not just: turn on the magic scope, find the thing. It’s 'What’s going on over here? I’m going to investigate this.'"

Fight or Flight

We all know that feeling, that stir in your gut that says you've gotta make a quick decision. With investigations in Hardline, Milham says we can expect to feel something like that with out decisions to pursue certain clues. Some clues might be fairly obvious, and others will be "just around," in Milham's words. You don't make a plan ahead of time to pursue a certain sub-plot or investigate a specific case — the opportunity will arise when you notice sometime awry about your surroundings. Then you make the decision to stick to the mission or do some independent investigating.

I asked if you could wander away from the mission at times, and Milham replied, "Right, yeah, they could just decide to see where some footprints lead or examine something else, and those clues are not just isolated one-off things; they’re part of bigger sub-plots that span levels."

I didn't ask if that annoying Battlefield "Return to Combat Area" would show up sometimes, though. I meant to ask, but I got caught up in the discussion. Rats.

Battlefield: Hardline is expected to be out in the early portions of next year, and, according to developer Visceral Games, will work at launch.

You can see more details about these topics as well as questions about Hardline sequel potential and the game's inception in the full interview transcription here: Battlefield Hardline Interview.