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Battlefield Hardline Beta Impressions: Inconsistently Underwhelming
I was bored after nine hours.
There’s a lot of potential in mashing the Battlefield series with the “Hollywood heist” film genre. Hasn’t every little boy played cops & robbers at some point during their childhood? That dream has supposedly graduated from playgrounds and backyards and found its way into the video game industry. Games such as Payday: The Heist and its sequel successfully capitalized on the lack of a true heist video game.
While the conglomeration of modern military first person shooters seems to be headed towards the future, Battlefield Hardline aims to adapt the heist movie into a competitive first-person shooter. If you look at the numbers, it appears that developer Visceral Games (the same studio behind Dead Space) have pulled it off. Over six million players have participated in the beta according to EA.
After playing the Battlefield Hardline open beta for nine hours however, I’m convinced that its success is a product of Battlefield‘s status as a franchise and not of good game design. The heist movie theme appears to have been included to merely distinguish the game visually, however the moment-to-moment gameplay remains identical to previous games, notably Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4.
The open beta included three different game modes on three different maps. According to EA, the game will ship with seven modes, nine maps and a single player campaign. The first mode I tried was Heist mode. It’s an objective-driven mode with several stages. One team plays as cops, the other as criminals. The map was a bank heist. The criminals have to unlock the vault and bring two duffel bags full of money to separate pickup points. The cops have stop the criminals until the time runs out or the criminals run out of tickets.
I’m immediately disappointed that Battlefield Hardline doesn’t include any sort of planning phase. At the very least, a bit more effort could have been made to build up the heist before it begins. Half of the fun of a heist movie is watching the cops and robbers get into place before all hell breaks loose. Battlefield Hardline drops you at one end of the map and asks you to sprint towards an objective. Sound familiar? That’s because this is exactly what players did in Battlefield 3.
The second mode is Hotwire mode. This mode has two teams, fighting over several objectives. The catch is that the objectives are vehicles that have to be constantly moving in order to be effective. While it’s no closer to emulating a heist movie than it’s predecessors, for a few fleeting moments while playing this mode, Battlefield Hardline felt like its own game. It’s a lot of fun to drive a fully loaded police car, with allies leaning out the window and unloading into an enemy objective. This moment quickly faded however, upon me realizing that there was little depth to the gameplay.
On multiple occasions, I would capture a vehicle and proceed to drive it in circles on my side of the map. This “ingenious” strategy fooled many teams and it resulted in me being the top ranking player in a game with zero kills. It doesn’t speak well for a game’s design when a thoughtless, mindless, uninspired strategy becomes viable in the face of incompetent players.
The third and final mode in the beta was conquest mode; which is a Battlefield staple. It’s inclusion in the Battlefield Hardline Open Beta undermines the any attempts to makes this game unique. I played no more than a few rounds and I can verify, conquest mode in Battlefield Hardline is identical to previous games in the series.
There were moments where I thought the Battlefield Hardline Open Beta could have been more than it seemed. It performed perfectly on a technical side, only 1 disconnect in nine hours of playtime. The load times between games are also near instantaneous but these improvements, while welcome, aren’t a substitute for good game design.
Should you buy Battlefield Hardline when it comes out on Mar. 17? That depends on you. Battlefield Hardline ticks all the boxes that series veterans are asking for. If you have no issue with the Battlefield series remaining the way it is and enjoyed the open beta, you’ll probably enjoy the full game.
If you want anything different, anything unique from Battlefield Hardline, you’ll have to keep looking. I spent nine hours looking and found little to indicate that this game will bring anything worth mentioning when it comes out. After nine hours, the new-car-smell had already worn off.
Version played: PC (on highest settings).
Time played: 9 hours.