E3 2014: Battlefield: Hardline Preview
In an industry full of people trying to pull at your nostalgic heart strings, Electronics Arts is going very deep with their next attempt. They’re going all the way back to your school yard days, when kids would gather after school to play a game of cops and robbers; however, to avoid copy right laws, EA is simply calling it Battlefield: Hardline.
I don’t know why they’re calling it Battlefield: Hardline. I had 40 minutes to play two rounds after the EA press conference this year and there is no military involvement. It’s true that after a few minutes the game-space starts to look like a battlefield due to the bodies littered about, but EA could have attached any title they wanted to this game and it would still make as much sense.
Calling it Battlefield: Hardline only draws more attention to the fact that Visceral Games (best known for making the Deadspace franchise) has made a game that plays exactly like Battlefield 4, but this time is set it (at least partially) in North America. Given the issues that EA has experienced launching Battlefield 4, I am not sure that’s the name EA should be invoking right now.
That said, anyone who’s played Battlefield 3 or 4 recently will pick up the controller and feel right at home with Hardline. Actually, Battlefield 4 and Hardline have the exact same lumbering feeling of character movement, the same kit selection (assaults, supports, medics, etc.), the same squad based organizational system (I didn’t see a commander mode but the option was never given), the vehicles drive exactly the same (and by that I mean poorly), etc.
The biggest deviation from the contemporary Battlefield formula is that Hardline seemed to lack the same dynamically destructive environments that 3 and 4 had; you can knock down a tall construction crane in Hardline, but I didn’t see any major changes to the level after that. Part of the reason is that there are not tanks in this game, so no one had much of a chance to cause damage on that scale. Everyone is given one grenade, but I did not see anything big enough to take out something as unforgiving as a wall. There is a possibility that C4 can be unlocked later, since this game will offer you a basic bag of equipment each time you spawn, and you have the option to purchase better equipment after you’ve collected some undetermined amount of cash.
The mission types are also similar to standard Battlefield games, but they’re never identical. One mission I played was called Blood Money, and it starts off with a signal point in the middle of the map that is full of cash. The winner of the Blood Money modes is the side (cops or criminals) that steals the most money; although, I don’t know why the cops would be compelled to steal cash. Half way through the mission I realized I was just playing multi-flag capture the flag, since the other team could run me down and take my money-flag for themselves. What’s even worst is that they could run to your base and steal your entire collection of money-flags while you’re not there.
The game-mode that people saw during the EA press conference is simply called Heist, and it starts off as mix between capture the point/king of the hill. It’s a very standard multiplayer mode used in many first person shooters. Hardline puts a small twist on the game-play and allows the robbers side to steal cash from the capture point (played in this scene by an armored car full of money) and then run for one of two end-zones that are placed across the map. This is where the game becomes capture the flag again. The side with the cops then has to chase down the robbers side and shoot the two players carrying the cash-flags. If the cops are successful they’ll hang around the cash-flags for about 30 seconds as a big circle builds itself over the cash. This circle indicates the time until the cash-flags ”despawns,” and if the cops can defend the cash-flag long enough all the money will go back to the armored trucks causing the robbers will need to start all over again.
While I had an extremely long session of hands on time, at least by E3 standards, there was still a lot I did not see because EA did not have it there. The E3 demo that EA brought only had a couple of game modes, and only a single map, meant to look something like Los Angeles, to play on. That said, EA is claiming that the game will have a single player campaign that is action packed. Wikipedia is also saying things about Battlefield Hardline, and in this case the online encyclopedia says that the game will have two more multiplayer modes. The first is called Hotwire and it involves police chasing down criminals across big maps at high speeds. The final mode, Rescue, sounds like it will be very similar to Rainbow Six: Siege. In that mode police officers will try and save hostages from criminals.
I can’t confirm any of this from personal experience but we will all know the truth soon. Battlefield: Hardline is one of the few games shown at E3 2014 that will come out in 2014, and this particular product will be coming out for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs this October 21st 2014.