Battlefield Redeemed? Battlefield: Hardline Beta Impressions

Battlefield Redeemed? Battlefield: Hardline Beta Impressions

When Battlefield: Hardline was announced, I rolled my eyes and made a snarky tweet, as did a lot of other. My hostility towards Battlefield had be growing ever since Battlefield 3, with the last installment resulting in my ending any interest in the franchise. Hardline felt like a cheap cash in, a new full price game that lowers the scale of the franchise, oh goodie. After the buggy mess that was Battlefield 4, I couldn’t help but instantly feel negative thoughts about Hardline.

Given the games concept, the games PR campaign was already in a sticky situation. It always felt slightly awkward seeing news stories about trigger happy police and then watching a Hardline video. It’s wasn’t EA’s fault of course, but it still didn’t stop people having a few pot shots. With all these things in the past, I went into the Hardline Beta hoping to find a solid experience, at the very least. It’s fair to say, my feelings towards Hardline have been changed, and it’s all thanks to the Beta.

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At it’s core, Hardline is built around the familiar infantry combat the franchise has feature since Battlefield 3. The scale of the game has indeed been scaled back, and it’s not exactly a bad thing. While vehicles still feature in some maps/modes, the majority of the action is confined to fire fights. This switch in focus results in some truly epic team struggles. The backbone of the combat is still class based, with a little more flexibility compared to past installments. The expected mix of Attack and support classes are all present, with slight changes making them more suited to Hardlines smaller maps.

There’s a few additions in terms of gear at the players disposal. Gas grenade, flash bangs, zip lines and grappling hooks are just a few of the new items offering a tactical approach. The likes of the grappling hooks and zip lines do give the game a genuine sense of tactical approach, especially on certain game modes. Given the game is no longer military based, heavy machine guns have now be removed, instead they can be found as pick ups across Hardline’s maps. Each fire arms comes with a decent amount of customization options. Scopes, barrels and grips have a tangible effect on Hardline’s firearms, giving each option a feeling of legitimacy rather than set dressing.

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One of the most noticeable differences in Hardline is player progression. Instead of unlocking weapons as the player levels, they instead buy them with money they gather in-game. Money is earned by earning kills, assists and completing objectives. This new form of progression gives the player more control in how they wish to play, rather than waiting hours upon hours to unlock the game they want. Attachments and weapon skins are unlocked by using the weapon you wish to equip them to. These unlocks only give the player to buy the attachments as opposed to unlocking them and getting them for free. Battlepacks also give the player various weapon items and vehicle paint jobs, as well as point/experience boosters.

The new means of unlocking weapons and attachments results in most players donning different weapons and set ups. It’s oddly refreshing to see players totting their own unique choice instead of a uniform set up. One down side is each weapon is bought blindly, there’s no way to test them out beyond picking them up on the battlefield. There’s a few weapons, most notably the M4, that feel a bit too powerful. Balance issues were naturally going to appear in a Beta, but hopefully this won’t be a issue in the full release.

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Hardline brings two new modes to the franchise, both of which are distinctly different. Heist tasks police with defending a vault containing packages. The criminal team must break into the vault and take the packages to drop off locations dotted around the map. While the concept may sound like it supports planning and execution, it’s nothing more than one long fire fight. The two teams will often spend most of their time fighting from corridor to corridor, eventually ending up onto the streets.

It’s not exactly a bad mode. If anything, it’s a intense slice of non stop action, with a slight brush of team play and light use of tactics. The map, a large bank, is designed in a manner which encourages flanking and accommodating each class. The fistfights naturally flow throughout the map resulting in each round feeling like a struggle, in a good way. Heist has potential to be something great, as long as there’s variation in the other maps. The Beta currently only hosts one Heist map, after multiple play through, it all becomes a little too familiar. If all of the maps rely on the same ‘all guns blazing’ mentality, things could become stale rather quickly.

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Heist may be sold as the ‘premier’ game mode, but Hotwire is by far the most fun. The objective is to jump behind the wheel of marked cars/trucks/vans around the map. Players must drive these vehicles at full speed resulting in the enemy teams tickets slowly depleting. This mode mixes all the intensity of Hardlines fire fights and gives it a whole new level of enjoyment. Chasing down a enemy car, with a buddy popping out the window to spraying out a hail of bullets, is nothing but pure joy. The sheer chaos and carnage Hotwire creates is some of the most fun to be had in modern first person shooters.

The final mode featured in the Beta is the classic Conquest mode. While it’s a staple of the franchise, it feels rather misplaced in Hardline. With the variation on offer from the other two modes, Conquest is a step back. There’s fun to be had, but it all feels rather tame. It’s clear the core of Hardline was designed to work with Hiest and Hotwire, Conquest doesn’t do all that good of a job of embracing the new features and items.

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Overall, the Beta is a good indicator of what to expect from Battlefield: Hardline. Even as someone who grew tired and repulsed by the franchise, the Hardline Beta is undeniably fun. Hotwire is one of the best game modes to appear in a multiplayer game for a long time. Hiest is fun, but could evolve into a repetitive experience depending on how the maps are designed. The gameplay is solid, the progression system feels like a genuine improvement, there’s a lot to admire.

The Beta does a decent job of presenting the values and aims of Hardline. While Battlefield 4 did major damage to the brand, Hardline could quite easily be the redemption Battlefield needs, as well as a refreshing new direction. Battlefield: Hardline isn’t due for release until 20/03/2015, but even in it’s Beta form things are looking good.

 

 

 

 

Sean Halliday


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