Battlefield Hardline is an odd duck. It almost feels like a Battlefield 4 mod conversion at first glance with concepts somewhat similar to the highly successful Payday 2. It’s an unusual but welcome distraction from the main series.
While Hardline tries new things, the core gameplay is still quite similar to the traditional Battlefield games. You have conquest mode where you join a side and a squad within that side. With your team’s help, you have to capture points. The longer you hold the point, the faster the other team’s respawn tickets will hemorrhage, and the more points you capture, the faster the other team will “bleed” tickets.
You unlock extra levels and attachments for guns, increasing in proficiency as you go. As you play, you accrue money to purchase items rather than just unlocking for weapons and gadgets. Every few levels you gain will be awarded with a free “Bronze Battle Pack” that contains free items. There are Bronze, Silver, and Gold packs, each awarding better stuff the higher you go. You can also buy the battle packs: Bronze ones cost $2000, Silver is $7000, and Gold goes for $20,000.
There are the usual four different classes you’ve come to expect from Battlefield games; however, they have different names with the operator being medic, the mechanic being engineer, enforcer being support, and the professional being the recon class. They each have different class-specific unlocks that you will access as you play each kit individually. The downside is unlike previous Battlefield titles, an unlock won’t just be given to you at a certain level — you will need to buy the item you have unlocked.
A neat little addition to the Battlefield formula is the inclusion of hacking. This is what appears to have replaced Commander that provides overall support for your team through the use of gas traps, cameras, transformers and tracking of enemies. This is available in all the new modes, including “Hotwire” and “Heist”. You can introduce trojans into cameras and other devices, setting off transformers to electrocute enemies, or just provide GPS spotting for your teammates. Each trojan and hack has a cooldown period that you have to wait before using that skill once more on a separate device. You can also upgrade teammates’ HUD, updating them of enemy whereabouts as well as objectives. At the same time, your team can request support from their hacker and you can carry out those requests for extra points and cash.
“Heist” is the new addition that is somewhat similar to the Payday 2 gameplay — break into the vault and make off with the cash while cops struggle to stop you. Ultimately, “Heist” is a re-imagining of the Rush mode from Battlefield. If your team is criminal, you have to break into the bank vault and make off with the contents of it. The police have to defend the extraction points to prevent the criminals from making off with the money. They can also bleed the criminals’ tickets fully to win.
Criminals have to escort their money bags to the escape point with guns in tow. The cops are given unlimited respawn tickets while the criminals are given 100. If they manage to break into the first part of the vault, the counter resets. The police team wins if they manage to prevent the enemy from carrying out their mission within the time limit. The criminals upon breaking through one phase of the mission get their tickets back, should they succeed.
The final mode in the beta is “Hotwire”. This mode is probably the most substantially different to what most Battlefield fans are used to. It is somewhat similar to the classic conquest mode in that you have to get hold of several key points and remain in control to win. The difference this time around? The control points are vehicles. You hop into one of these vehicles and start driving. The longer you remain in control of the car, the faster your opposition bleeds respawn tickets. In order to control the vehicle point, you must keep driving no matter what. If you stop driving, then the control progress bar drains, eventually wearing off and requiring you to gain speed once more. There are many vehicles scattered around the “Hotwire” map, ranging from trucks to motorcycles and just standard police cars. If the opposition holds one of the control vehicles, then you must either kill them or destroy the vehicle — rocket launchers are in common use within “Hotwire” matches.
There were the occasional connection issues, as well as a surprising amount of server lag. The driving mode seems fine, though the use of motorcycles seems really wonky and physics-defying in how you can almost be on the bike’s side and still able to ride. In “Hotwire” mode, it can get kind of boring pretty fast as once you have a control vehicle, all you can really do is drive around keeping the vehicle safe. Occasionally you will mow down an enemy which helps break up the monotony, but ultimately, “Hotwire” mode is pretty repetitive and boring. The ability to switch to third-person while driving is definitely welcome and makes the vehicles far easier to control.
I was ranked 20 when I stopped playing though, the Beta didn’t grab my fancy. While there are some interesting new ideas in it, ultimately it’s still a Battlefield game. Hardline doesn’t do enough to improve on the formula to stay new or fresh, or even interesting. “Hotwire” seems like it could have a lot of potential when the game is finished and I am genuinely looking forward to it, albeit for the single player campaign.
I think the main focus of Battlefield Hardline is centered on single-player. The maps in multiplayer are the usual urban and desert maps you’ve come to expect from the series and it feels somewhat phoned in. My only hope for this title is that the single player campaign will be as good as the very first Bad Company title game, otherwise this will just be another run-of-the-mill Battlefield outing.
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