I'm one of the lucky people that furiously typed away to get a Battlefield: Hardline beta invite as soon as EA's press conference announced it, and after playing it for a bit here are some of my initial thoughts.
It's Still Battlefield
In its essence this is still the very same Battlefield that you're used to. You still have your four classes (although they've been renamed, they're still functionally the same roles). The Operator is the equivalent to the Assault, Mechanic = Engineer, Enforcer = Support, Professional = Recon. There are some new gadgets you can play with in each of the classes, so there is some new variety within the comfort of the old. At its core though, if you've played and enjoyed the previous Battlefield games, you'll be right at home in Hardline. At the same time though, if you've grown fed up with Battlefield, Hardline likely doesn't have anything that will really make you want to come back.
Money is King
One new addition in Hardline is how unlocks work. In the previous Battlefield games, essentially all the unlocks were locked behind your rank in the game. If you wanted a certain gun in Battlefield, you would have to grind out that class until you accumulated enough experience to level up enough to unlock it. In Hardline, all the points you score in the game are turned into "money". "Money" is a new thing that is associated with your profile and just keeps building as you play the game and you'll accumulate more and more money. All the unlocks in the game just cost "money" (They're fairly cheap too, hopefully that's not just a beta thing). So if there's something specific you want to unlock, just spend your money and it's yours. No more having to unlock a whole bunch of stuff you don't care about to get to what you want. I can't comment on how it works with upgrades, etc, as most of that stuff was locked, but I don't know if it's locked by level or simply because it's a beta.
When Things Work Out, It's Magic
Now this obviously isn't something that's going to happen too often, but when things go just according to plan, or as a team you do a really cool maneuver, it really captures exactly what this game sets out to do. When something really cool happens, you just want to tell someone, which partially spurred me on to write this article. In a game, a teammate who was carrying the loot had his car blow up. I was nearby and started running toward the loot, of course, so was the enemy team. As I picked up the loot a friendly helicopter (piloted by another player) immediately drops down in front of me, calling to pick me and so we can extract the loot. So I run toward the chopper avoiding gunfire, jump off a ledge, and get into the chopper and he takes me to the extraction point. It felt like a scene pulled straight from an action movie, and I jokingly remarked to myself that I could have been in the E3 trailer. It was a moment when everything just happened to go right.
At the end of the day, it's still a Battlefield game, and it's not going to change anyone who was never interested in Battlefield in the first place. As a $60 game though, it's still pretty hard to justify especially if you've been playing BF3/4. It's fun, but it's not different enough yet to say it's something that's a must buy. If there's enough unique content to be revealed maybe that sentiment might change, but overall, it's a solid Battlefield experience.