It’s been a rather interesting road for this game. From its initial announcement to its delay shortly after E3 and the first Beta, one could hope the game has shaped up. After 2 Betas and several playtests it is interesting how the game has evolved in just a few months. The developers and Visceral worked tirelessly on this game day in and day out and the progress especially on the multiplier shows it. They practically rebuilt the class systems and changes some very key things in the game to give Hardline the shot it deserves. Anyone who thinks this is a reskin of BF4 needs to take a seat and enjoy some of the new modes and a campaign that is actually enjoyable. Tune in this week because Battlefield Hardline is set to steal those doubts away.
When it comes to graphical engines it’s hard not to mention Frostbite. Battlefield Hardline is Visceral’s first swing at using the Frostbite Engine and while it shows in some parts, Its quite impressive how they were able to pick up the technology and make a great looking game. Though not mind blowing the game has solid character models, particle effects, and great looking maps.
One thing in particular I noticed is that when using certain muzzle devices the flash leaving the weapon would change contextually to what ever was equipped. Being a gun guy I could only help but notice that when the Compensator was equipped and the Battlecomp 1.0 model was present that it had a very specific flash that looked just outstanding. Since there are more close up shots of the characters you could see all the details of their faces especially when drenched from a swim up a skyscraper. Yes a swim up a skyscraper.
The one major disappointment in this category is that destruction is not very consistent between maps. This is due to the limited time Visceral had to really optimize the frostbite engine for the game. Though in smaller maps you can literally see walls getting torn apart changing the landscape and leaving a pathway of destruction. So while the large scale destruction seems to take a back seat this time around the micro destruction was pretty impressive when it was present. Some of the maps do have great set piece levolution events but just not on the same scale as previous Frostbite titles.
Like the previous Battlefield titles before it, Battlefield Hardline excels in this catagory. Its hard to make reoccurring weapons like the M4 or AK sound different in every game but Visceral has managed to do just that and more. The weapons sound very snappy in this game and I can’t get enough of the call outs your character gives in-game. Sound plays a huge role in immersion especially with the games new theme. The developers have done a stellar job getting voice actors that can really bring the Cops and Robbers feel across in both Campaign and Multiplayer. Even the soundtrack helps make you feel that this is truly a different game. When you enter some of the vehicles the radio is blaring music and this also helps let you know when those vehicles are near by. Be sure to run some solid headphones for this game to hear all the goodness that it has to offer.
Written like a TV Crime drama with folks with experience from that side of Hollywood, I can say this is a far better take on a Battlefield campaign than the last go around. Here you have a more focused and better connected and simple story. Here you get more time to know the characters and the writing in comparison to BF4 is far superior. The actors chosen for roles in the game have had experience on several different TV Shows like CSI, Law and Order, House of Cards and the list goes on. The game also features a strong Female character KAI voiced by Kelly Hu ( X-Men 2, Scorpion King, TMNT Animated series, Young Justice). This brings a much stronger cast to Battlefield than its had in the past and especially since Bad Company.
The story it’s self is not terribly complex or convoluted and centers around that familiar Crime drama of dirty cops, betrayal, and who can you trust. It won’t knock your socks off but it will provide you with a fun and immersive narrative to get you through the game.
The levels themselves progress with a mix of action and stealth gameplay. Its clear that games like Far Cry were influences as some later levels in the game feel like a cross over into the battlefield universe. Get up into a nice vantage point scan enemies positions and alarms and then systematically take them out. If you liked those features in Far Cry then you will enjoy them here as it helps bring a greater amount of replayability to the single player missions.
There are warrants out for the arrest of some key NPC bad guys running around the levels. These will garner points and add an additional layer to the campaign. Using your badge you can temporarily gain the upper hand when sneaking up on several opponents. Later in the game this becomes much more difficult and and can result in some hairy point blank fire fights.
The AI isn’t terribly smart but they do get the job done. The minimap shows their field of view and your hud will show you if they have spotted you or not. Definitely not the highlight of the campaign and the day has yet to arrive where the AI in a battlefield game blows you away. Still they make good enough cannon fodder and using a taser on them never gets old.
Overall the campaign is definitely one of the better ones in the Battlefield franchise.
The meat and potatoes of the game are found here in the awesome and chaotic 64 player cops and robbers slugfest that is multiplayer. First off lets get acquainted with all the modes in the game.
CONQUEST – “A Battlefield staple, Conquest is based on the idea of controlling a base. Capture a base by standing near a flag on foot, in a vehicle or in the skies – if your team owns more flags than the enemy you’ll slowly reduce their tickets, which are their ability to respawn. The first team to run out of tickets loses.”+
Conquest is a classic and every battlefield title needs it. Of the maps available in the beta I will say that Dust bowl fits the classic conquest bill the most.+
HEIST – “Heist is all about pulling off that big job or that perfect score. The criminals are trying to infiltrate a cash-filled vault, and the cops must regulate them. Once the criminals break in, they have to nab two bags of cash and jam out with them back to each of the two base points”.+
Heist is a wonderful asymmetric game mode that totally draws you into the lore of the cops and robbers world. With extraction points moving and a shifting battlefield, this is one of the best game modes in the game. The epic moments trying to make a an escape with the loot will resonate with players everywhere. This will literally give you a run for your money.+
HOTWIRE – “The criminals are trying to steal a list of marked cars while the cops are trying to repossess them. Use your driving skills to catch up with the enemy, and bring a friend riding shotgun to take them down”.+
Hotwire is essentially conquest with a twist. The capture points are actually cars scattered around the map. The if you control more of these points you will eventually dry up the enemies tickets and win the round.+
RESCUE – “This is a cop-centric mode that lets you step into the boots of a SWAT operative tasked with saving innocent lives from the hands of criminals. Lead your team carefully into dangerous environments and get the hostages back to safety. Be careful though, because there are no second chances in this mode.”
Rescue is essentially the developers take on the popular formula that Counter Strike created all those years ago. If you like that asymmetric style of play you will enjoy this one. Rescue is made more for the competitive crowd and isn’t for the guy who wants to jump back into the action right away.
BLOOD MONEY – “A huge pile of loot has been intercepted in transit. The criminals are fighting to steal the money, while the cops are trying to secure it as evidence. Each team is trying to secure the money in their team’s vault – but it’s not safe there. Raid the enemy team’s vault to help your team score the most money”
New to the Battlefield series is Blood Money. This is a very push pull kind of game where the tide can turn very quickly if someone steals your loot. Nothing is more satisfying than laying waste to the enemy to see them drop piles of green $100 all around waiting for you to pick them up. You can even follow a player by watching the trail of money flying out of his bag. This is a keeper for sure.
CROSSHAIR – “This is the second competitive mode. In Crosshair, a former criminal turned state’s witness is on the run from his former crew. The criminals are trying to erase the VIP’s face from the world, while the cops are trying to get him out safely. Once again, there are no second chances – one death and you are out for the match.”
This is essentially their take on VIP. Though its functional enough to work its just not as fun as the other modes in the game. Even though it has had some huge improvements from its internal testing it still doesn’t hold a candle to Hotwire or Heist. Would have much rather had something more akin to Rush in the place of Crosshair.
TEAM DEATHMATCH – “Team Deathmatch is infantry only and has the easiest objective to understand: shoot the enemy team more than they shoot you.”
Pretty much any kind of maneuver warfare boils down to a variant of the classic TDM. TDM on the map The Block especially is absolutely chaotic in the best way you can imagine. Though some of the spawns could use some help, Hardline has some great maps that work great for TDM as well as other objective game modes.
HACKER MODE – “Hacker mode takes surveillance to the next level as the Hackers can take control over security cameras, spot enemies and specify areas on the Battlefield for their team to attack or defend. Hacker mode will be playable on all modes in the beta”.+
Hacker mode puts the commander in more of a support role with less devastating attacks then before. There are some interesting ways for the commander to interact with the environment and it will be interesting to see how this pans out when the game goes live.+
MAP DESIGN – This is that magical category that can destroy the awesome multiplayer that Battlefield has been known for. Fortunately developers like Thad Sasser (Lead Multiplayer Designer) and the team of level designers at Visceral have done a stellar job making maps that both look great and play even better. In the past the franchise has had issues making maps that look pretty cool on paper but play like garbage.
Hardline has a huge focus on infantry combat and each map available has excellent areas for solid gunfights. The use of ziplines and grappling hooks also take things to a whole new level as new routes to flank open up. Levolution events seem more functional. One excellent example of that is the map Bank Job where you can blow a hole into the vault to steal the money and make your get away. The maps focused on vehicles have ramps and other features to make for epic jumps and memorable moments for streamers and youtubers alike.
Like mentioned earlier the destruction isn’t super consistent between the maps where there is either a ton of it or not much of it at all. Though Micro destruction seems to be present the ability to blow holes in walls and bring down buildings just isn’t there on all the maps. Luckily the core gamplay makes excellent use of the battlespace and makes up at least partially for the lack of destruction.
WEAPONS / GADGETS / CLASSES
Gunplay is one of the things that makes Battlefield feel unique among the sea of shooters. I am happy to say that the gunplay here is far superior than that of Battlefield 4. Right out the gate without any special modifications or patches the game includes hit indicator for headshots which is a very subtle touch for letting the player know how they are doing in a gunfight. The time to kill overall is much faster than BF4. This can be a good thing if you like faster more consistent play or bad if you are just picking up shooters for the first time. This helps keep the games pace as you are not taking as long to focus on just one target. I found myself taking shots I would not take before in BF4 because not only did they connect with the target, but they would put them down for good.
Weapon unlocks also got a touch up as there are a greater variety of unique optics and attachments then there were before. Now everything is not another type of red dot. The developers continue to improve weapon balance but I feel on launch day they have a pretty even playing field especially after the M16 got a bit of a nerf post Beta.
Battlefield has a sea of Gadgets and Hardline is no exception. Whats great is they have been able to reduce the number of crazy explosive grenades to the one simple frag and a few other non lethal ones. Incendiary and Gas grenades are perfect for flushing an enemy out of a dug in fighting position while the zip line and grappling hook get you the most mileage out of every single map. The Taser is perhaps the ultimate insult in this game and it also allows you the chance to gather intel on nearby enemies. The various melee weapons are also a treat and provide for some funny close quarters engagements or sneak attacks on unsuspecting snipers.
The classes are much more focused bringing the game more back to its roots. Less weapons can be found universally giving each class its own flavor of gameplay. Certain classes and factions have access to specific weapons making the fight a bit more immersive right from the beginning of the game. After several playtests the gadgets got swapped around more than a few times till every class seems to have something worth using on the battlefield.
Seeing how the game has shaped up over the last few months I think Visceral has done an outstanding job of making this Battlefield Their own. It stays true to the core mechanics that make a great Battlefield game and also gives us a new flavor of Battlefield that we didn’t know we wanted. With a better campaign and some seriously awesome multiplayer I can say that I will be playing this well into the wee hours of the night until Battlefront steals my heart away. If you had your doubts about Hardline leave them at the door and hit the streets with a game that’s truly fast and furious. This week on Battlefield Hardline drivable couches called Merica.