Over the last few years, EA has taken the Battlefield series and turned it into a fully-fledged yet stereotypical modern military shooter. Though successful, the fatigue that gamers are feeling thanks to a multitude of installments in this genre has EA believing that it’s time to change up the series once again. In a surprising twist, this change takes it into the realm of cops and robbers with Battlefield Hardline.
In this limited-time beta for PC and PS4, players were granted access to two game types: Heist and Blood Money. The former is what was seen by the general populace via the video released by EA at E3. The team of criminals has trashed an armored car convoy in downtown Los Angeles and hope to loot the dough and split. Meanwhile, the police are called upon to respond to the scene; arriving in full riot gear to try to stop the chaos.
In general, it works like a pseudo capture the flag mode where the cops are on defense and the heisters are on offense. The briefcases from the trucks are the flags and the escape locations can be thought of as the drop point. The police can even reset the cases like flags by standing over and defending them without criminal interference over a set amount of time.
However, unlike traditional capture the flag, the criminals must also stand by the armored trucks and plant explosive charges on them. They must then defend the charges from being defused so they can get to the cases. It adds an extra bit of spice to the old formula, but also opens up the opportunity for police camp-fests that only a well-coordinated attack from the criminals can overcome.
Blood Money works in a way similar to games like Halo have done in neutral flag CTF game types. A case of money costing millions has been dropped into the middle of a map by accident and there’s a mad scramble from both the cops and criminals to collect as much as they can. The first team to $5 million wins.
It’s not a simple, cut-and-dry, take-the-money-and-return-it endeavor either. Both teams have an armored truck labeled as their vault on each side of the map. These vaults can be raided and stolen from, lowering the victims’ total to swing the momentum of the game. It forces teams to be more defensive-minded – or overly offensive – than usual in order to prevent a sure win from becoming a devastating loss and vice versa.
While the way gamers will be playing Hardline will be quite different in terms of objectives, the nuts and bolts of gunplay mostly remain the same. Classes from Battlefield 3 and 4 retain the same theme despite obvious changes for the setting. For example, gadgets are more fitting of an urban heist setting than a war, and grappling hooks and zip lines have been included to allow for hasty travel between buildings.
The same goes for the game’s weapons, as players will be using guns that could only be accessible to criminals or SWAT teams. There don’t appear to be any AK-47s or SCARs in Hardline, but the beta showed that there should still be enough options to keep players satisfied. Weapons were also accompanied by plenty of attachments and mods, which were automatically unlocked for the purpose of the beta. For melee, players will now have the option of switching out a knife for a baseball bat or police baton instead.
One of the nicer features in Battlefield Hardline is how the game sets the stage for each match, which is both obvious and subtle. Loading screens have now become news bulletins with a reporter detailing the scene that players are about to charge into and explaining why there are no citizens on the streets – the police enforced a mandatory evacuation of the area. Another little nod to show that players are actually in the middle of a huge heist in a major city are TVs in buildings – once again with the news graphics – showing live action of the match being played. However, the best touch had to be the fact that commercial airliners were flying over the map to and from LAX, giving a sense that the competitors were in a living Los Angeles.
Furthering that sense of realism are the changes to vehicular transportation. Instead of tanks and jeeps, players will charge into combat in four-door sedans, motorcycles, and SUVs. The larger of the SUVs for each side sports a gun turret and acts as what’s being called a “Mobile Command Center,” which boils down to a moving respawn point that can add critical tactical value.
All of these differences sound like a lot, but at its core, Hardline still feels and plays like a Battlefield game. Whether or not that’s a good thing will be for players to decide. We’ll all find out exactly how much of a departure from traditional Battlefield mechanics the game will be when it releases for PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360 on October 21, 2014.