Battlefield Hardline beta (PC): after action report.
Right where does one begin with this: first one has to note that this is a first impressions of a beta for a game that has not released yet so any sort of speculation should be taken with a grain of salt. Second the game is not even out yet, and if you are already set on buying it, then all the power to you – for everyone else read on.
Battlefield Hardline takes a new approach to the franchise in that it leaves behind the gritty modern military environment for a more familiar setting: downtown LA to be exact, and instead of US soldiers and Russian/Chinese soldiers, you have police – or Law Enforcement as they are calling them – and criminals. Gameplay-wise the beta featured two modes: blood money and heist. Bloody money functions almost in the same manner as conquest in Battlefield 3 whereby you simply capture key points on the map in order to score points and to make your enemy bleed tickets – ‘money’ as they are calling it now.
The second game mode is heist: exactly as it sounds, in heist the criminals attempt to steal money and run towards key points on the map that act as way points to mark progress while the law enforcement attempt to stop them by shooting them to death – not much “policing” going on here eh (humor intended)? Now after going through roughly two plus hours of game play I filed my feedback report to Dice and Visceral Games with recommendations for improvement to the overall experience. Firstly it was suggested that the game be given more non-lethal take downs to add to the whole police atmosphere: something that would make the gameplay unique and separating it from the modern military setting. Presently as it stands the game has two “armies” battle each other in the streets of downtown LA: the police and the criminals both using helicopters with miniguns, and RPGs instead of – say – grenade launchers with optional grenade accessories, and IEDs which are most commonly found with high end criminal organizations. Though one can argue that the RPGs were stolen or shipped in via arms dealers for the criminals, the police must have that law enforcement feel and as such should be given alternative equipment to deal with enemy vehicles. One can think of deployable spike strips on top of the grenade launcher option.
Second more police-like game modes were recommended, modes that played similar to heist in that the police and criminals each have different objectives rather than the usual capture-the-flag scenarios. One such recommendation was the use of a prison break scenario where the criminals get their hands on both improvised weapons, and the local prison armoury for conventional weapons like SMGs, pistols and so on. The law enforcement would be going in equipped with riot suppression gear and conventional weapons – their goal would be to force the criminals back into a “Cell” circle, while the criminals attempt to escape. That game mode can also include the classic Battlefield destruction mechanics by introducing explosives to destroy walls within the prison to create new doorways for the police and/or criminals to exit and enter through – after all what is Battlefield without a little plaster dust and C4?
Finally it was recommended that the players on PC version be given the option to turn off things like shadows, and to lower the amount of particles and the particle effect level overall in order to run the game smoothly on lower-end machines. Presently the beta runs like a fat kid with steel-plate armour attached to his legs, torso and arms in that it plays, just sometimes in a very slow manner. Anyone looking to use a twitch-shooter play style may be disappointed to say the least. Hopefully this will be fixed before the final release as the developers still have until autumn to correct these minor issues.
Despite the negative comments about how the game is uninspired I have to admit I am slowly warming up to the idea of law enforcement versus criminals. The sound of the police siren is quite addictive, and the combat mechanics is the usual battlefield format: fluid and fun. Though the final product has not been released yet – and as such I am not keen on buying it right away – there is hope for this title. Time to wait and see if this hope has been misplaced, or that there was some merit towards making such a decision. Battlefield Hardline folks; thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.