Battlefield Hardline | Beta Hands-On

By Richard ‘FiveStarZA’ Martin

There wasn’t a whole lot of mystery surrounding the official announcement of the latest instalment in the Battlefield franchise. An announcement clouded by leaked information and video footage. We knew what the premise of the game would be: Cops vs. Robbers. As a long time fan of the franchise, I had my doubts as to how a new genre, something other than the large scale, open world, vehicle-rich (think Caspian Border, Arica Harbor, Gulf of Oman) warfare we’ve grown to associate with the Battlefield franchise, would translate. Luckily for all fans, the cynics and the optimists, an immediately accessible multiplayer beta was announced live at the EA E3 press conference on June 9th.

Battlefield Hardline Beta_01

The beta includes one level, High Tension. Two game modes are available, the first being Blood Money and is somewhat like capture the flag. There is a central cash point, from which both sides must retrieve cash and then carry said cash (500K max at a time) back to their vault to secure points for their team. One can also steal cash from the opposing teams vault by robbing it directly. With 3 points of focus, the fighting is fast and intense. First team to $5m wins. The second game mode is Heist, with more of a Rush-type feel from the previous Battlefield instalments. This is where the cool kids (the Battlefield veterans) seem to be hanging out. The game is played out in a sequence of events, with the crims being the attackers and the police having to defend strategic locations and stop the bad guys getting away with the cash.

What we like
  • Hardline feels familiar, the weapons, the gameplay, the destruction and the Levolution all make this feel like a Battlefield game.
  • Visceral is working closely with players and YouTubers to implement improvements before the game is launched. It sounds like there is a slightly newer build of the game out there (with no suppression and no personal insta-revive) so maybe we’ll see a patch to the beta in the next couple of weeks. An early beta also means time for fixes.
  • The lessons already learnt from BF4 are being carried over into Hardline.
  • The unlock/upgrade system has been over-hauled. One can now purchase upgrades and new weapons with in-game cash, earned while playing. The new system makes it easier to focus on the guns and classes you enjoy playing, no longer having to grind away with weapons you don’t particularly care for just to unlock the “best” weapon in a class.
  • There seems to be a greater focus on fun. With some very amusing voiceovers and witty comments flying around (seriously go spot the doughnuts in the police spawn area if you haven’t already) the game brings back a bit of a Bad Company feeling. With the addition of tazers, baseball bats and handcuffs, the new gadgets also lend themselves to the over-all fun factor.
  • Visceral Games. Battlefield 3 and 4 both caught a lot of flak for flat, uninspired single player campaigns. It’s no secret that the Battlefield name has been built on the backbone of an epic, immersive multiplayer experience. The single player has never been the seller in the franchise, but it’ll be interesting to see what Visceral brings to the party.

Battlefield Hardline_Hands On_01

What we dislike
  • The player movement is horrible. It feels sluggish – like you’re walking through a big bowl of porridge.
  • There are only European servers currently, if you’re playing on the PS4 there will be no difference in terms of latency between this and Battlefield 4. However, it is a rather large jump on PC to go from a 7 – 11ms ping, to 160-200ms. It requires some adjustment and a few more bullets to drop an opponent. Not the end of the world, but not ideal to get a true sense of how the game plays.
  • The driving and collision physics are not terrible, but could be better.
  • Levolution is back – great. But when it happens on High Tension there is a ridiculous amount of screen shake making it impossible to shoot on target or react to being shot for a good few seconds (see 1:20 – 1:35 in the video below to see the shake of death).
  • The price. At a pre-order price of R699 for the digital deluxe version of the game on Origin and the no doubt inclusion of a Premium this is a hefty investment in a game.

In conclusion

The core focus of the game remains centred around teamwork. PTFO’ing (Playing The motherFlippin’ Objective!) is still highly rewarded, and the best way to ensure success is to squad up and communicate. The perk system has been reworked and now rewards the individual for playing well as opposed to the entire squad. Helpful in that you aren’t relying on other, potentially random players to benefit from perks. All-in-all this feels like a Battlefield game, and it doesn’t. If I had to pick another FPS title that I think it most feels like, it would be Medal of Honor (which didn’t garner much praise for its multiplayer, but was always fun and almost a unique middle-ground between Call of Duty and Battlefield, maybe I’m just a sucker for most things FPS though).

My advice: If you too enjoy most things FPS is get the Beta (around 6GB on PC and PS4) and test the game. It’s different to previous Battlefield games so will most likely appeal to a slightly different audience, but with room for veterans. Personally, I won’t be pre-ordering just yet but that is mostly due to the price. I think BF4 still has a lot of longevity and with a couple more improvements should be the same, if not better than BF3.

Battlefield Hardline will be released on October 21 for PC (via Origin), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

* Please note: This hands-on was based on the PC version.

About Guest Zombie

Here today. Gone tomorrow. Always a zombie...