Battlefield Hardline is the next release from EA’s successful franchise. And this time around, EA have decided to throw convention out of the window, and have gone down the root of Cops ‘n Robbers. Yes, you read right, a series famous for its military shooters has decided to make a game totally outwith their comfort zones.
And you know what, congratulations to them; I for one am proud that they’ve stuck they’re neck on the line and shunned what they know best. But they sure as hell better make it work, and from the way the betas looking, they may be on the way to a winner.
Okay so what does that mean for the game? Well this time you play as either a cop or a robber in a variety of different game types, no conquest or rush this time around! The objectives have the same feel as many other games, just dressed up in different ideas.
In the Beta your given one map, a modern city with long sight lines on abandoned roads, and tight inner building areas. This mix (as with the other games in the series) leads to a diverse mix of gunfights all within the one twenty minute match. Now, to those game types, in the beta they are heist and bloodmoney. In Bloodmoney, you either play as a crook trying to steal police evidence in the form of money, or a cop trying to secure and retrieve it. Both teams need to attempt to return it to their vault and reach a certain amount. You can carry up to $500k, but you don’t have to; the longer you’re at the pile the more cash you carry for your team, but the more likely there will be an opposing team member coming to shoot you in the face. This is a fast paced game where you need to be on edge all the time. It is a good concept, but could be better if they added another pile to the map. It did lead to one great almighty grenade/camp spam on the pile, and you have no choice but to become fodder to try and help a buddy get some dough.
In my opinion, heist shows some real potential to be a cracking game type when they release the game. As criminals, you’re attempting to rob two armoured cars, and as cops you’re trying to stop the crims from doing so. AS crims you are (sorry sir Caine) meant to blow the bloody doors off and fight your way to the drop-off zone, and the coppers have to stop them from doing so. In this map, this game type is intense, and true to battlefield form, you have to work together to achieve the goal. This is the game type to draw you in, if EA just polish it off by reducing the bomb timer, and making the objectives just a little more apparent.
The classes are much the same as previous games with different names, thankfully EA have taken away the pain in the arse class specific weapons from BF4 (such as shotguns only used by certain classes), and reverted to the fully customizable classes that BF3 used to great success. This game screams fast from the off, possibly in an attempt to appeal to COD players, and the clever addition of gadgets help to keep the flow of the game constant. In this game we get the addition of ziplines and grappling hook launchers which help keep pace and totally mix up combat. Enemy camping the lower parking garage? Fire a grappling hook up to the upper level and rain death from above as you outmanoeuvre the enemy, without traipsing a mile around the block.
The vehicles, will someone think of the vehicles?! In this one tiny map, there are so many different vehicles that one paragraph is not enough to cover them all. However, there is literally one for everyone’s tastes. From police cruisers to muscle cars, to motorbikes and attack trucks. And of course, the Battlefield staple, the chopper! How much you can customise these is not apparent at the moment, but if we know Battlefield, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be vast and customisable to all play-styles.
Overall, this is a solid beta, with EA clearly proud of their gutsy approach to revive the series. The game modes and level design marry well to provide an exhilarating and pacey game whilst maintaining the element of teamwork and strategic planning of its predecessors. But – I’m far from a gushing fan-boy – there are of course flaws with this change of direction. Firstly, with BF3 and 4, the game shone brightest when you had large open expanses, with objectives being wide open from various angles. This in turn meant the game was different every match, as players changed so did their tactics which led to diverse dynamic plays which often made you have to rethink yours. With Hardline and its tight city maps I fail to see how diverse this game can become when there is really only two approaches: on foot. Also, the seemingly lack of conquest and rush (as yet not announced) seem like EA have attempted to please the COD players as well as their own; choosing tight small pacey levels and objectives over large expanses. Maybe in full release with more game types and maps they will prove this preview wrong, but Battlefield players have come to love the series for that “something different”. Hardline looks set to be a good game for all of that, if they can learn from the mistakes of BF4 at release and keep their uniqueness then this is one to watch.