EA’s flagship shooter series is set to return in 2014, with this year’s outing swapping military warfare for cops versus robbers action. But will Battlefield Hardline steal players’ hearts?
PCR jumped into the closed beta to find out…
In many ways, Battlefield Hardline feels less like a brand new game and more like a full-fleshed expansion pack for Battlefield 4.
The first-person shooting feels familiar, with Battlefield’s signature mix of slower-paced tactical gunplay and chaotic vehicular combat present.
There’s also the franchise’s impressive destructible terrain set pieces, powered by DICE’s Frostbite 3 graphics engine – on the map I play, a crane comes crashing down through skyscrapers as players dash for cover.
However, even with the FPS familiarity and just a single map available to play in the beta, it’s clear that Hardline will be its own game.
There’s the combatants: camo-kitted soldiers have been replaced with balaclava-clad thieves and uniformed bobbies.
There are also new weapons: police tasers provide a non-lethal kill equivalent for policemen, while the criminals can brutally take down cops with a baseball bat or zip away on grappling hooks.
Both sides are equipped with the same equipment, for the sake of a fair fight, but during my time with the game it seems like the teams sink into character – masked men spray submachine fire out of car windows while teams of policemen take no time to stun and cuff me when given the chance.
The vehicles have been made thematically suitable too: police cars, motorbikes, riot vans and helicopters chase down sedans packed with robbers.
The game is still clearly focused on multiplayer, with the two beta game modes centring around a big pile of cash – in ‘Heist’, the fugitives pull off a Heat-style robbery and attempt to get away with the cash, while in ‘Blood Money’ both sides dash to a central stack of bills and ferry thousands of dollars back to their base – the policemen trying to lock up the evidence before the thieves can get their hands on it.
Developer Visceral Games previously created the Dead Space series, which inspired memories of 1980s horror movies, and Hardline similarly recalls the classic crime films of three decades ago.
Details about the single player campaign are yet to emerge, but from the brief slice of Hardline I’m given, it seems to be shaking up to be something fresh for the Battlefield series – sticking to what it knows while relocating and re-envisioning the solid foundation of previous Battlefield games in a new world.
Battlfield Hardline will be released in the UK on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 24th.