Battlefield Hardline: How Real-World Police Controversies Affected Development

"A lot of these unfortunate events have actually helped provide feedback to us about things that we should or should not be doing."


Battlefield Hardline
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As stories about the militarization of police forces in the United States continue to make international headlines, Visceral Games plans to release Battlefield Hardline, a game with similar subject matter, next month. During a recent interview with one of the game's producers, we asked if these events had any impact on how the studio went about building the game.

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"Yes, it's had an effect, and I think a positive one, because it's brought up a lot of key issues that we need to discuss as a team to make sure that we're addressing," senior producer Scott Probst said.

"I think it's a very important topic and something we should be aware of. And we should make sure that we're not in any way exploiting that or making it a negative experience for players," he added. "A lot of these unfortunate events have actually helped provide feedback to us about things that we should or should not be doing. And that's helped craft a lot of our experience."

Asked if he could provide any specific instances of dialogue, or scenes altogether, that were altered or tossed out as a result, Probst said nothing came to mind. Visceral isn't trying to make a political statement with Hardline, he said, echoing writer Ian Milham's previous comments on the subject.

"We don't want to make it something that is a political statement" -- Probst

"But I think it's always just about being mindful about what are the right and wrong things to do morally and what would cops do in a moral situation," he said. "And this, I think, applies more to the single-player campaign than it does to multiplayer. I can't think of a specific thing [that was changed due to the controversy], but I can tell that those types of mechanics and that type of gameplay are always at the front of our conversations to make sure that we're not doing anything to exploit things or to go over that moral line."

"We want to make sure that while we're providing players with fun and innovative and cool ways to play the game, we don't want to make it something that is a political statement or is changing the way the game's built and making it something that goes over that line."

Milham said in a September 2014 interview that it was never Visceral's intention to make a "realistic police tactics simulator," but rather a TV-like crime drama. "It's not cops and protesters. It's cops and robbers," he said at the time, referencing real-world events that saw clashes between authorities and civilians.

When Hardline was first announced, this point might not have been as clearly communicated to gamers as it could have been, Milham admitted. "They're understandably passionate about some of the issues, so I thought for what people knew about what we were doing, the reaction to it, I could understand how people got there."

The Hardline release date is March 17 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. An open beta for the game--which has already attracted 6 million players--ends today, February 9.

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