Battlefield Hardline Beta Preview

Cops vs Robbers, it’s a concept many of us were fascinated by as young children during afternoons of goofing around in imaginary firefights with our friends. It seems that DICE is hoping this fantasy remains strong as we have aged, as the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise plays on this exact scenario. Battlefield Hardline is a game about cops and criminals that is currently in multiplayer beta.

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This is the first time that the Battlefield franchise has really strayed from its main focus of being all about military shooters in all out combined operations warfare. The game is currently under development by Visceral Games, who are renowned for creating the Dead Space games. The full game will feature a singleplayer campaign written by creators of hit cop TV shows, however the beta focuses only on the multiplayer component and therefore so will our Battlefield: Hardline Beta Preview.

Battlefield Hardline’s multiplayer brings all the action players expect from a battlefield title and gives it a fresh twist. One team takes the role of a group of criminals looking to score some cash, while the other team steps in to the boots of the police – ready to stop the criminals in any way possible. Matches can be chaotic, fast paced, and allows for players to employ tactics and cohesive teamwork to win.

The beta offers one map for players to trial in the beta, High Tension, a city map set in downtown Los Angeles – picked as it is the same city in which Battlefield: Hardline was first showcased at E3 this year. Amidst the skyscrapers of downtown, cops and criminals have the chance to go head to head in two different game modes on the High Tension map, Heist and Bloody Money.

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Exactly as the game mode suggests, criminals are in the middle of a heist attempt as the match starts. An armored truck carrying cash comes crashing to a halt in the beginning of the match, rolling on its side and opening up an opportunity for criminals to collect their bounty. The criminals must plant a charge on the rear doors of the truck to open it, before stealing the loot and making their escape.

The cops on the other hand have one simple task, stop them. Preventing the initial charge from blowing on the truck, shooting down anyone who does succeed in grabbing the loot, and defending the escape point are all on the agenda for cops. It’s a game mode all about team work, as criminals will need to work well together in order to complete all of these objectives without being killed in the process.

Blood Money

A slight twist on the heist game mode, blood money gives both teams identical objectives. In the middle of the map is a money pile filled with millions of dollars. Both teams must attempt to take money from this money pile and return it to their teams corresponding vaults, an armored vehicle located on both sides of the map. The criminals are trying to steal the cash, while the cops are trying to retrieve it for evidence. The first to reach 5 million in cash placed in their vault wins the match.

In order to gain a lead on the other team, both teams can steal money directly from their enemies vault to hinder their progress towards the 5 million dollars, while then depositing it in their own vault to boost their own team’s cash count. It’s a mixture of defending your own vault, assaulting the enemy teams vault, and trying to control the middle of the map so your team can continue looting as well.

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Battlefield: Hardline does not take a realistic approach to these scenarios, the fighting is over the top warfare in an urban environment. Both teams are fitted with an arsenal of weapons that are ready to turn downtown Los Angeles in to a smoking pile of rubble – from automatic weapons to rocket launchers, both cops and criminals are going all out when it comes to fighting on the streets.

While many of the weapons will feel very familiar to a veteran Battlefield player, Hardline does introduce some new gadgets to the mix. Two of the most popular are the grappling hook and zipline, these gadgets allow players to scale walls or slide from rooftop to rooftop as they maneuver throughout the map. They aren’t used quite as tactically as players might think, but they are a fitting addition. Mostly snipers use these to get to new vantage points on the map rather than for breaching objectives.

It was a shame that these haven’t been implemented in a way that would allow for players to use them tactically in the manner you would expect. Rappelling down in to a build through windows, or ziplining through those windows as a breach charge explodes before players – this is what many expect, but the reality is quite different. These gadgets are just a new way to maneuver the battlefield and reach various sniping points rather than a tactical tool for assaulting the enemy.

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Another addition, although much more controversial is a new gadget for the medic class – an injection which can be used by a downed player to self revive, allowing them to instantly return to the match for one more attempt before their final death. Throw this in with helicopters loaded with miniguns and missiles, armored SUVs with mounted weapons, and you have a cops and robbers game that’s ready to offer the most over the top combat you will ever see, often to the point of it not making any sense.

While the game modes are quite different from anything we have seen in the Battlefield franchise before, the combat still remains practically identical. This is not surprising when the game often gives the impression that the developers took Battlefield 4, stripped it down and re-textured it to be a cops vs criminals game instead of a military shooter. Many might say it feels like a mod or DLC for BF4.

This would be a correct assumption, while the focus of the game is new – the gameplay is inherently the same and players shouldn’t expect any big surprises besides a few new gadgets to play with. The progression system is probably the biggest variance, and yet still only steps away slightly from the traditional path of Battlefield games. Players earn cash at the end of each match they play, this cash can then be spent to buy weapons for each loadout or to customize them with different accessories.

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Classes remain practically the same although with new names. Operator is the new assault class, mechanic takes the place of engineer, enforcer is the support class, and recon snipers are now known as professionals. Players can expect to play these roles essentially how they would in Battlefield 4, although with a few small differences in the gadgets available and objectives of each particular role.

Another familiar feature is levolution, the player initiated static changes that can take place on the map during a fight. While always the same, it generally packs a big wow factor and opens up new gameplay opportunities. On the Los Angeles based map of High Tension, levolution comes in the form of a large crane. When players blow up the lines holding this crane in place it falls and crashes in to a building.

Currently Battlefield: Hardline is a fun mix-up of the traditional Battlefield gameplay, however it still has a long way to go before it can prove itself as being worthy of its price tag. Many beta participants are saying that the game doesn’t deserve to be priced the same as other AAA titles as it doesn’t feel like much work has been put in to the game. However with the release of the game on October 21st, 2014 – we will see exactly what else the game will have to offer gamers besides a quick rehash of Battlefield.

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At the end of the day, this is only a small vertical slice of the gameplay that Battlefield: Hardline will offer and therefore it is easy to make negative assumptions. Whether the game will still feel like a cheap mod on release will have to wait for our launch review, however despite its shortcomings the beta is a ton of fun to play and quite refreshing if you have spent the last few years playing military shooters. Fans of other games such as Payday 2 may also enjoy the PvP over the co-op experience they are used to – offering a chance to go up against real players instead of the standard AI in Payday 2.

With promises of a singleplayer experience that isnt on rails, providing multiple options for how players tackle objectives, and the potential for many new exciting maps – we’ve got hope for Battlefield Hardline. It’s daring to enter a genre that has been given very little attention as of late and we’re excited to see exactly what the team at Visceral can come up with as we head towards release in October.

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