Battlefield Hardline is the latest game in the Battlefield franchise, now being developed by Visceral games of Dead Space fame rather than the long time Battlefield veterans Dice. As opposed to the military theme of the previous games, Hardline features a cops and crooks setting, with monetary goals and urban settings to create a different atmosphere. After playing the recent Beta for the multiplayer, what are the first impressions?
The first game mode is heist, which involves criminals trying to crack into a vault to steal the loot inside, and then extract it to a designated location while the cops try to stop them. This is achieved by placing a bomb on the door to the vault (or in the case of the beta a pair of armoured cars) and waiting for it to explode, which the cops can disarm and then have to protect. Then the money can be collected and taken to the extraction point, which makes the game mode feel like it’s made up two game modes in one; combining assault from Halo with Capture the flag. The asymmetrical approach to gameplay is a welcome addition, which can lead way to a lot of possibilities. The Beta gives a limited version of this mode, though trailers have boasted bank vaults on some maps, letting you live out your fantasies of recreating the opening scene from The Dark Knight (though Payday would be more appropriate).
The second game mode is Blood Money, a collection game mode where you collect money from a pile of cash and bring it back to your vault, which can leave you vulnerable and makes you think twice about being too greedy. You can also rob your opponent’s stash to lower their score, though this can also happen to you so it’s wise to keep an eye on your base. It’s an interesting game mode, but a bit more symmetrical than heist. With that said you have to admire the creativity to make something new.
The only map in the Beta is High Tension; a multilayered commercial district, consisting of a freeway under an enclosed mall type area, a construction yard with a destructible crane (gave me quite a shock when it first fell, right onto the bridge I was standing on), opening routes into buildings and creating a smoke screen. Speaking of which there are also a few buildings with elevator access, taking you high up above the map, allowing long range sniping points, a great vantage point for a parachute drop or an opportunity to test out the new zip line. The overall theme of this map feels to be verticality, with different layers and a great use of height to get the drop on the enemy position.
The big new gadget in this game is the use of the grappling hook and zip line guns. The grappling hook adds to the feeling of verticality and lets you access areas that would be difficult or impossible otherwise, while the zip line makes navigation horizontally much easier. Both of which have not been seen since the Battlefield 2: Special Forces expansion, and are emphasized by the map choice for the Beta. Other toys include a tazer, which knocks enemies down for a quick takedown, and a gasmask for use with a gas grenade for some Rainbow Six style siege tactics.
There are also new melee weapons, like the baseball bat and the baton, which allows you to handcuff your target non-lethally (and read them their rights if you’re feeling extra dorky).
Each class has their own tools unique to them; the operator is a medic class with a deployable health kit, a revive syringe and a survivalist syringe for self-revival if you’re feeling selfish. They seem to be armed as the grunts of the team with assault rifles, but with equipment that gives them a role in a group. Mechanics are armed with an RPG, a stinger missile launcher for taking out helicopters and a torch for repairing vehicles, making them both the driver class, as well as the anti-vehicle class. However their SMGs pack less punch and encourage vehicular gameplay.
Enforcers are the support class, carrying a LMG for heavy firepower. They also can use ammo boxes for resupplying, a ballistic shield for riot control and a breaching charge, their there are no doors to use them on so it functions more like a remote mine or C4.
Finally the professionals are the sniper class, who come armed with laser trip mines for setting traps, cameras for providing early warning on enemy positions and the decoy which messes with the enemy radar, making them useful as intelligence and sabotage if you’re not too good with the sniper rifle. A problem I have however is that there is only one set for each class, which doesn’t change between teams, making it a pain to change your gear between rounds depending if you’re changing for attack to defense. A team specific loadout or even a set of loadouts for each class would have helped fix this.
Vehicles are more street focused, with sports bikes and muscle cars, as opposed to armoured Jeeps and tanks, and as a result vehicles feel more speed focused. Helicopters (the bane of my existence in Battlefield, due to their uncontrollable controls and how rarely I actually got into one) feel more stable this time around (thank god!) and help the idea of verticality even more, though the crowded streets and lack of decent landing zones take some practice. There are no jets in the demo, though the options do list jet controls, which leads to me believing that they will be included in the actual game, though this is jest speculation. Regardless since the controls are listed I do feel the need to report they are a high possibility in the full game, if only for the sake of rumour control.
Hardline feels like a typical Battlefield game, but with a theme that mixes things up to bring a sense of asymmetrical gameplay and some cool new ways to interact with the environment. The Beta itself feels pretty secure; I never had an issue getting into a game, the experience in the game was more or less lag free, which bodes well for the final product. It feels more or less done, and gives me a lot of confidence in the final product. Just bring a friend since apparently I’m the only one trying to co-ordinate with people over the microphone, with varying degrees of success. Even if you’re not won over on the new cops and crooks theme since the game is at it’s core another Battlefield game, it will at least give the series addicts a fix of awesome.