The Battlefield franchise has been keeping with numbered sequels over the past couple of releases. The announcement of Battlefield Hardline, marks a stray from direct sequels to another spin-off series. However, whereas DICE has developed every other Battlefield game, Visceral Games takes command this time.
At E3 2014, a Beta was the game was announced and began immediately. Some Analog Addiction editors were lucky enough to get hands on time with the game on PlayStation 4 and PC.
Let’s find out what Jamie Briggs (PS4), George Sinclair (PS4) and Nathan Manning (PC) thought of the beta.
P.S. As a reminder, everything in the beta is subject to change and most likely will receive some form of modifications before the final release.
Firstly, for a bit of context, how familiar are you with the Battlefield series?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): I have had a small amount of experience with Battlefield previously. After completing the Battlefield 3 campaign and I spent a handful of hours playing multiplayer online. I also had a chance to dabble in Battlefield 4, but I didn’t get to experience as much as I would have liked.
George Sinclair (PS4): Believe it or not, Battlefield 4 on PS4 is my most played game despite all the issues it has. I own almost all of the Battlefield games dating all the way back to 1942.
Nathan Manning (PC): I have been playing Battlefield since 2011 when Battlefield 3 was released. And by playing, I mean religiously playing. I have sunk over 100 hours into Battlefield 3 multiplayer and another 50 into Battlefield 4.
Battlefield Hardline is doing away with the army theme and makes the opposing sides Cops and Robbers, allowing gamers to play out their childhood fantasies on a larger scale. Does the police and criminals concept fit well with the Battlefield series on first impression?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): No. To be fair the experience doesn’t feel like cops and robbers at all, it feels like Battlefield online with a new set of character skins and new objectives. The aesthetic of cops and robbers actually feels extremely out-of-place in the Battlefield universe, since any robbers who caused a crane to be demolished and destroy two buildings would be considered terrorists; it felt very odd.
George Sinclair (PS4): It fit well enough. It has a very loud Urban Chaos: Riot Response vibe to it (fun fact, that was Rocksteady’s first game) but it feels like Battlefield despite the drastic change in theme. I want to see more of Hardline in terms of game modes, campaign etc. and while I had fun, I wasn’t rushing to get back to it after I played it for a good few hours.
Nathan Manning (PC): I quite enjoyed the idea of police versus criminals, but the only thing that makes it feel any different to a ‘military’ shooter is the inclusion of street vehicles (for example Sedans) and lack of military grade weapons like M416s or ACW-Rs. I feel the new theme should give the franchise a fresh feel, while keeping true to the roots of the Battlefield franchise.
Battlefield Hardline takes the Battlefield franchise away from foreign war zones and fixates the action in an urban setting, for example Downtown Los Angeles (at least in the map available). What did you think of the new setting?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): I think the urban setting felt fresh, in a multiplayer industry where we venture to war ravaged locations of the world or abandoned facilities way to often; it was nice to take combat into the streets of a familiar location.
George Sinclair (PS4): The new setting for Hardline does intrigue me. The one map we did play was very friendly to all player types apart from snipers. The change from ruined buildings and craters to office blocks and coffee shops is something I’ll have to get used to.
Nathan Manning (PC): I thoroughly enjoyed the new setting. Gone are the open planed maps like Battlefield 4‘s Golmud Railway or Hainan Resort, rather the map available tended to focus the action inside buildings, in alley ways or on streets. Hopefully more maps in the final game feature these elements because they make the game feel fresh. Further, like George said, the maps do a great job of allowing all of the classes, except snipers, to contribute effectively. Snipers are not really effective because of the skyscrapers blocking long lines of sight.
With a new cops versus robbers theme comes new game modes. Heist involves the robbers attempting to steal two bags of money while the police attempt to prevent them from taking the bags to the drop off points. Whereas Blood Money involves the police and robbers taking money from a neutral spot to their base. Are these new game modes worthy enough to join the likes of Conquest and Rush as staple Battlefield modes?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): I think Heist would be an excellent addition, the mode provided combat that was constantly on the move. Criminals trying to get their stolen funds to their drop-off location make this mode constantly hectic and I loved it. Blood Money on the other hand only seemed to emphasise camping around the main location of money, though players can steal from other teams stash, it felt like the entire mode funnelled players into one location; providing a frustrating design.
George Sinclair (PS4): Maybe not staple game modes but they were fun to play. They didn’t really jump out at me but there was a lot of focus on the objectives from both teams in all my games which is always a good thing.
Nathan Manning (PC): While both game modes were fun, I was not specifically impressed by any of them. Blood Money does not do a particularly good job of forcing action. The teams are often on the other side of the map, meeting once or twice in the middle to collect the cash. On the other hand, heist did encourage combat as an attacking team against defending team format. However, I felt that the games finished extremely quickly for a Battlefield game. The usual game of conquest tends to go for a minimum of 30 minutes, games of heist would last for about 10 minutes. I just did not find the new game modes that enjoyable.
With this new generation of consoles, the power of modern PCs, and the amazing Frostbite engine, games look great nowadays. What is your opinion on Battlefield Hardline‘s visuals and the art style?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): Due to the fact this is a beta, it is hard to judge what the final product will look like; with that being said what was presented here wasn’t impressive. The entire map lacked attention to detail and was summed up when I look at a poster on a bus stop. The entire image was unreadable due to the fact the image looked like it had been raised to a resolution it couldn’t handle. Hopefully the visuals look better in the final version.
George Sinclair (PS4): While the beta ran at a nice clean 1080p/60FPS from what I could tell, the visual palette of Hardline leaves something to be desired. The textures don’t look too hot and the character models on the Robbers looked especially bland. I guess tanned shirts are the “in” fashion for criminals right now. It’s far from the worst looking game, it’s still quite a bit better than some others.
Nathan Manning (PC): I was playing on a PC with medium graphics settings, and I did not have a problem with visuals. While the Beta did not look as good as Battlefield 4, it still looks stunningly beautiful. The textures do look bland at times, but the vibrant art style adds a slightly exaggerated feel to the game – and I like that.
Now with all of the other stuff out of the way, let’s get down to the part that really matters: gameplay. At its core, Battlefield Hardline is a class based first person shooter. Were you easily mowing down cops and robbers or were the shooting mechanics not quite up to scratch?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): There isn’t much to say about the gameplay in question, which I guess is a good thing. It is hard to tell that DICE isn’t behind Hardline because the gameplay feels exactly like a Battlefield title should, which will please hardcore fans.
George Sinclair (PS4): Hardline felt really weird to play. Whilst the movement isn’t as fast as Battlefield 4, the shooting feels just as solid. It felt as if I was moving in slow motion but when I fired my weapon it thankfully made me feel as competent as I am in Battlefield 4. I was able to get some decent play through in the beta. It plays like the previous game which is great.
Nathan Manning (PC): At first, I was not satisfied with the gun play. I did not feel like I had the control over my weapons like Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4. However, once all of the attachments were unlocked last week, I found the combination that worked for me. That’s the thing with the Battlefield series, Hardline included, there are so many different attachments that can change weapon stability, recoil, accuracy, etc. that it can take a lot of experimenting to get a setup right for you. Once I found my favourite combination, I was competently taking down enemies.
Speaking of weapons, as with other Battlefield games, Hardline has four classes to pick from, each with different weapons, gadgets and play styles. Which class did you gravitate towards, and why?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): I mostly played as the operator or the mechanic class, in one scenario I’d help out my team by throwing down medical supplies and the other allowed me to take down enemy aircraft that could become quite a nuisance. Most of the included gadgets (grappling hook, gas mask) I didn’t experience, because they never seemed to be useful in the game modes available.
Nathan Manning (PC): As with other Battlefield titles, I gravitated towards the Mechanic class – previously the Engineer in other Battlefield games. I love creating explosions in Battlefield, and it was especially fulfilling blowing up cars and helicopters. I tried out the new gadgets like the grappling hook and the zipline, but there were not that many places to utilise them. They felt like a loss of resources.
Vehicular warfare has been what has made the Battlefield franchise stand out over the years. With the urban setting we do away with fighter jets tanks, APCs, etc. How do the new cars handle and how does vehicular combat come into play in this iteration?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): I am going to focus on the motorcycles and how ridiculous these vehicles are. No matter what I drove into my bike wouldn’t stop if I held the accelerator down. I wouldn’t crash, I wouldn’t be thrown off the bike; I actually drove over barricades in the environment. The entire vehicle itself felt antiquated and unrealistic, I understand providing a fun and easy way to traverse the world, but when I can drive over walls without an issue, that’s a problem.
George Sinclair (PS4): The vehicular combat is largely the same though Visceral has graciously replaced the accelerate button with R2 on PS4 which makes the vehicles control less like Halo. I thought the move from tanks to riot vans would be a downgrade but roaring into the middle of a shootout in an amped up Police cruiser felt GREAT.
Nathan Manning (PC): The new cars handle just like the vehicles in past Battlefield games – not on the level of racing game handling, but manageable. This time around, vehicular combat has a greater emphasis on transport rather than providing more fire power. Rather than running across the map, just jump in a car and get to where you need to be, running over any enemies on the way. On a plus side, you can finally shoot from the front passenger seats of vehicles. There is also an armoured van with a machine gun that will cause chaos to the other team if it is not destroyed quickly though.
Finally, overall summary of time with Beta?
Jamie Briggs (PS4): After playing the beta for almost 12 hours, I’m not excited. It didn’t provide me with anything unique, exciting or innovative that grabbed my attention. That’s not to say there isn’t a solid foundation amongst the apparent problems, but with a crowded holiday season set later this year, Hardline hasn’t made a strong presence on my radar.
George Sinclair (PS4): The beta was exactly that, it was a beta. Whatever faults it has right now don’t diminish my desire to play the final product. As a Battlefield fan I want much more of Hardline.
Nathan Manning (PC): Overall, I enjoyed the Beta. It combined the traditional Battlefield gameplay with new elements to create a fresh feel. The Beta has me optimistic for the end product of Visceral’s take on Battlefield this October.
Battlefield Hardline will be available on October 21 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.