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First Look – Battlefield Hardline Beta

Let’s be honest here. I have never been a big Battlefield guy. The games have been okay for the most part and some have just been bad. Last year’s Battlefield 4 spent much of the year being a borderline broken game. To me, and the majority of other people, Battlefield was always a step behind Call of Duty, the king of the genre in sales and number of players. Luckily, the good folks at Visceral recognized this and decided to change up the format. Sure, we are still going to get all the first person shooter action we can handle, but instead of the same old military warfare that we get year after year, Battlefield Hardline is all about urban warfare between cops and criminals. When I saw the multi-player trailer at E3 I was stunned. It absolutely blew me away. Luckily, I was able to get into the Beta and have put about 13-15 hours into it. Does it measure up to my expectations so far? Sadly, not really.

Let’s start off with that basics. The Beta gives you full access to all the classes. There is the Operator class, the medics on the team. There is the Mechanic class, which are the engineers. There is the Enforcer class, which are the grunts and support team. And finally there is the Professional class, which are the snipers. The loadouts are pretty standard FPS fare. You have a primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade slot, and an equipment slot. There is only one playable map in the Beta which is called “High Tension” which is a representation of downtown Los Angeles. Only two game modes are currently available, Heist and Blood Money. Heist is the game mode we saw in the trailer at E3. The criminal team has to reach two separate armored trucks and blow them open and steal the loot. Once that has been achieved, the team must get that loot to two different extraction¬†points. If they do, they win. The other team is the police. Obviously, they try to stop them to win. Blood Money has a central already blown truck of cash. Both teams start out racing for it and try to take the loot back to their own base. Players can also try and rob the opposing team’s base. The first team to get $5 million banked, or the team with the most cash at the end of the time limit wins. Think of a slightly tweaked version of Domination in Call of Duty or Hardpoint in Titanfall. There are also two more announce game modes that aren’t available to play in the Beta. There is Hotwire mode, where cops will try to chase down criminals in a high speed chase across large environments. And there is Rescue mode, where the cops or S.W.A.T. must try to save hostages from the criminals.

Vehicles. All the vehicles.

Vehicles. All the vehicles.

There are several things that I did like about the Beta, but sadly many more that I didn’t. But we do have to remember that this is a Beta and that this is early. But my biggest worry is that the basic concept of the game is flawed when you consider the reality of what online console gaming is. Battlefield Hardline REQUIRES teamwork. If you don’t have a team that is communicating, it is absolute chaos. Sure, if you have a group of friends to consistently get on and play with you then this game will be great. But the reality is that most people just want to get on and play most of the time. Regardless of whether their friends are or not. And for anyone that has played an online multi-player FPS, you will know what I’m talking about here. 99% of the time, the lobby you are put in is just a bunch of random people. Half of them don’t have mics on and if you try to actually communicate and form strategy with the ones that are, all to often curse words or a homophobic slur are the only response you will get. So basically, you have a bunch of individuals running around having no strategy and no communication. And unless you are very good at this game, that leads to you getting slaughtered. This is especially true in Heist which is the featured mode. It’s a little better in Blood Money, but not much.

The mechanics are a little off for my taste, but I’m sure would feel more normal over time. Player movements feel a bit rigid and control is a bit loose. Also, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, zoom out a little when aiming down the sights! I am a constant aim down the sights kind of player and it is a horrible design. The iron sights block half of your view and make it VERY hard to see what you are shooting at when the recoil starts moving your gun around. I would also like to see a bit more variation in the level destruction. I get that there is one big set piece of destruction, but I would love for there to be much more destructible environments. Once you have seen the big set piece (a large crane in High Tension) you know exactly what is coming every game after that and how to avoid it. And I get that vehicles are a big part of the franchise, but often they just cause chaos. They can certainly be used for good when working with a team, but as I said that is very rare. More often it just comes down to 75% of players driving around crazily trying to kill each other instead of playing the objective, and that gets very annoying.

This is just terrible gun design...

This is just terrible gun design…

My only other complaint is that for anybody that is not a dedicated and returning Battlefield player, when you first start the game you will be the most confused. There are no explanation of the class system. Only the bare minimum explanations of the game modes. There are different squads on the same teams, so different players are showing up highlighted in different colors. I didn’t even know who to shoot in my first game I played. Even getting your party on the same team isn’t explained. When I was finally able to play with Chuck, our senior staff writer, we had no clue how to get in a game together. Finally, through trial and error I realized that you have to create a squad so your friends can join. And to that point, only a total of five people can be in your squad. That seems very tiny for a game that centers around big team battles. Hopefully this is an area that they are planning to fix. This is just a Beta and I hope that they were just keeping it small and that the real game will have far more explanation and help for new players. Otherwise, prepare to be frustrated.

Despite all of that, there are several things I liked about the game. The graphics are good for a shooter. Probably my favorite element is how open the map feels. I feel like I can go anywhere with the freedom of movement they allow. With ziplines being put out everywhere and several stairwell and elevator locations, vertical travel is very easy. Having a parachute at all times is also freeing and allows so many facets to be allowed in the game. Also, even playing with one friend VASTLY improved my enjoyment of this game. We still lost almost every single match because the rest of our team wasn’t communicating. But Chuck and I at least were able to talk and feel like we were actually making progress and had strategy. In Blood Money, we were able to do a lot of the objective with just the two of us.

 

The maps are very open and the freedom of movement and vertical travel are outstanding.

The maps are very open and the freedom of movement and vertical travel are outstanding.

Overall, I found myself much less excited for Battlefield Hardline after playing the Beta. I don’t think it’s a bad game, I just think that I would rarely get to play it as it was meant to be played. I find myself still more excited for the Call of Duty and to go back to Titanfall, where it’s still much better with friends but you can still play almost all of the game as it was meant to by yourself. I will say that I had enough fun playing with Chuck that I may still buy this game. The single player story mode sounds very intriguing, as it will basically play out like a TV cop drama with each chapter ending with a cliffhanger. I’m thinking that basically I will be playing Gang Related the game. But if you are a FPS fan, Battlefield Hardline is still a quality shooter that will be fun for those of you with a group of friends to play with consistently or if you are just aching for something different. I look forward to seeing what improvements are made in the final game, but as of now I just keep thinking of what it could have been.

 

 

About Evan Swafford

Evan Swafford

Evan is a semi reluctant insomniac, who has used his extra time to watch way more TV than is healthy for a normal human being. All his other time is devoted to movies, gaming, and being a sports fanatic and stat geek. Evan has a degree from MTSU in Electronic Media Journalism which he now uses to grow some of the best trees and shrubs money can buy. You can hear his useless knowledge every week on the Free For All podcast.