Video games get delayed. It's just the way the virtual cookie crumbles. Developing them is such a huge task with so many variables that it's almost impossible to get them perfect out of the gate, or to even predict exactly when they'll be complete. We saw it with Grand Theft Auto 5 and then again with Watchdogs, and now we're seeing it with Battlefield Hardline, pushed back until the early months of 2015.
As one might expect, any time a game has its release date delayed, the announcement is met with mixed emotions. Given the amount of anticipation fans of the Battlefield franchise have for each new installment, some disappointment is to be expected. In the case of Hardline, however, the delay is actually the best thing that could have happened, and here are three key reasons why.
Escaping the Call of Duty Vortex
The Call of Duty franchise is a juggernaut. Love it or hate it, the series dominates everything that releases near it. Back in 2013, the minds and decision makers behind Battlefield 4 decided to take this CoD powerhouse head-on (as they did in 2011), releasing just two weeks prior to Call of Duty: Ghosts. While we fully admit we're not business experts, this was viewed by the community as an attempt to take a piece of Call of Duty's pie. Everyone understands the reason for that... people like pie.
With Battlefield Hardline delayed until early 2015, it follows more in the footsteps of Titanfall, which saw great success due to the fact there was nobody else to compete with. But this isn't just a smart business decision from a potential sales perspective, it's exactly what the Battlefield community wanted. They never wanted to compete with Call of Duty. They never wanted to be the top dog. They just wanted the best Battlefield game they could possibly get, and nobody can argue that a delay into the following year will help achieve that.
Additional Features + More Polish
Speaking from a writer's standpoint, we can tell you that if our boss asks for something on a Thursday, then tells us to take our time, polish it up and deliver it the following Tuesday, it's pretty much a slam dunk that it will be a better read. That's not to say that the Thursday version wouldn't have been good, even great, but anytime you create or build something, additional TLC will pay off.
This is something to keep in mind with Battlefield Hardline. The game wasn't delayed because it wasn't done or good enough, it was delayed because the developers identified areas they could make even better, and their publisher, Electronic Arts, agreed with that assessment. In fact, gamers are already seeing the results with tweaks made to the way the Survivalist Gadget works, as well as moving the RPG to a Battle Pickup, and the elimination of surface-to-air lock-on missiles from the Mechanic class. These changes are a direct result of player feedback from the beta, and should serve as a sign that Visceral Games intends to give the fans an experience they have a say in. Had the game been released in October, as originally planned, who's to say that any of these adjustments would have been possible?
Remembering History's Greatest Lessons
We love the Battlefield franchise. Simply put, it's our favorite first-person shooter series of all time, and even the rocky release of Battlefield 4 didn't change that. In fact, that troubled launch might end up being Hardline's greatest asset, the gift of time.
Whether truthful or not, fans believed that Battlefield 4 was rushed. Now, when Electronic Arts and Visceral Games feel like they can improve on an already solid installment in Hardline, they are willing to delay it, giving the developers more time to test, polish, enhance it and make it the cops versus criminals experience they envision in their minds, and that dedicated fans of the franchise deserve.
Would a delay have been considered if not for the passionate outpouring from franchise veterans over the last year? Nobody can say for sure, but what they can say is that Visceral Games is showing all signs that they intend to deliver a game that players can be proud of.
Battlefield Hardline is expected to launch in early 2015, but until then, why not hop back on Battlefield 4 and see how far it's come with some time and a little tender loving care?