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We Have a Pulse - Hands-On with Battlefield: Hardline's Multiplayer
Post by Joaby @ 11:01am 03/02/15 | Comments
Joab Gilroy took Visceral's cops and robbers spin on Battlefield, in multiplayer form, for an energetic and law-breaking and abiding spin. Read on for his full thoughts...

You might recall that I got my first taste of Battlefield: Hardline back in June last year, and while it was ok, I wasn't blown away by the game. Now that Visceral Games' first full Battlefield is about to hit Open Beta once again, let's see what has changed.

It's still very much a cops and robbers game in the Battlefield Universe. There's large, open-ended maps providing a great deal of destruction, players have access to military grade weapons at almost all times, the visuals are stunning, and taking command of a vehicle is just as -- if not more -- important than infantry combat.

To increase the emphasis on the vehicles, Visceral gave us access to the newest mode they're showcasing -- Hotwire. Hotwire is basically Conquest except here all the capture points are vehicles. What this means is that you and your team members need to find the target vehicles, get in them and drive them as fast as possible. The point isn't capture if you aren't driving over a certain speed, so it reads on paper like some sort of insane Speed twist, but in practice it turns every battlefield into a crazy Mad Max style arena of chaos.

This is definitely the most imaginative of the modes, and it captures the sense of the setting the best. Why the police need to acquire stolen vehicles and drive them fast isn't exactly explained, but it's when Hardline allows you to forget that you're supposed to be a police officer that it's at its best.

We've got to accept that, right? In Battlefield Hardline, you're a cop the way Dr Pepper is a surgeon. Hardline's police angle is ramped up in the singleplayer portion of the game, but in multiplayer it's barely there -- used to differentiate between teams and nothing more. Just let me get this out of my system quickly -- if a criminal group in the US mounted mini-guns on a helicopter, they'd be called a terrorist group.

And anyway has your side ever really meant that much in Battlefield? I guess in Battlefield 2 I always preferred to have the MP5 over the PP-19, but otherwise I've never really questioned my motives from the point of view of a soldier fighting for any particular side in Battlefield games. Typically, my side simply indicated where I started and who I wasn't supposed to shoot.

It's much the same with Battlefield Hardline. As nice as it would be for the game to pay more than just lip service to the concept of law enforcement (and as risky as it is to release a game glorifying the militarisation of America's police force) it's not really about cops and robbers.

Which is a shame, but understandable. When other games attempt to tackle the concept of police following realistic rules of engagement, either the criminals are AI (as in the incomparable SWAT 4) or they are forced to adhere to their own rules of engagement via written RolePlay based rule sets, as in Jailbreak or Life mods for Counter-Strike and Arma 2 respectively.

Obviously I've digressed. Hotwire is a good game mode, but when either team focuses on combat instead of objectives it can fall flat a little. There were a few rounds where I just worked out a path and drove in circles, racking up conquest points as I did. This is the case with many objective based games -- if nobody protects the flag in CTF, a person with decent map knowledge can get a lot of points just running back and forth -- but it did feel particularly exacerbated by the size of the map and the speed of the cars, where it was simple for a player to simply leave an area of conflict if they stumbled across one. If the team without the objective didn't give chase, if they continued to focus on their combat, Hotwire got a little boring.

Outside of Hotwire, we also got the opportunity to experience regular Conquest, which is the same game mode you know and love, and we played Heist again, on a map with a bit more logical a theme. The bank map we played Heist on actually involves the criminal team taking part in a Heist, instead of simply being nearby when an armoured truck crashes (as is the case of the Heist mode we played back in June last year).

It's a highly interactive map, which is one thing Hardline seems to be concentrating on more than previous Battlefield games. Inside the bank there's a struggle to control not only the safe room, but the doors and rooms around the safe room -- that's how players can gain access to the cash, see. This leads to intense close quarters fighting around the money, and players need to be able to switch gears if they are to have any hope of dealing with the mid-range combat that occurs outside.

This is probably the closest to the dream of a Heat style shoot-out that Battlefield: Hardline gets -- the police try hard to keep the criminals penned up inside this massive bank, while it's up to the criminals to work together to get the cash out and assault the escape zones. This is the scenario Visceral Games probably described in its elevator pitch for the game and in Heist, on this map, it's quite successful. It will be interesting to see how they tailor other maps to the Heist mode, or whether this map alone feels like it belongs.

The most important thing is that you don't have to sit here and listen to my yapping about it -- Battlefield: Hardline will hit Open Beta later today on PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and Xbox One -- if you jump in, tell us what you think of Hotwire in the comments below.

Joab "Joaby" Gilroy is a huge fan of sports games, racing games, first-person shooters and 4X strategy games. He's awful at fighting and real-time strategy games although he'd love to get better. He thinks the Halo universe is hollow and that Arkham City was the real game of the year in 2011 and that AusGamers' managing editor Stephen Farrelly only gave Skyrim the nod because he is a filthy Marvel fan. His top three games of all time are (in no particular order) Deus Ex, GTA: Vice City and DayZ.

Recent articles by Joab:Find him or follow him on Twitter - @Joabyjojo, Steam - Joabyjojo, Xbox Live and PSN - Joaby, Twitch - /Joabyjojo, - Joaby#6688, and Origin - Joaby.

Read more about Battlefield Hardline on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

Latest Comments
Posted 12:50pm 03/2/15
Joaby seems to have taken a rather jaundiced view and i can't really blame him, capture the flag type scenarios no matter how well disguised are getting pretty long in the tooth.

Capture the flag began an ended for me with Quake, shooting people with a rocket launcher while you were bouncing off into the void "humiliation" everything else is just a big fat yawn.
Posted 01:02pm 03/2/15
I'll take an overplayed CTF over TDM any day of the week though, I'll tell you that up front.
Posted 01:10pm 03/2/15
How do you think it will stack up to Pay Day 2 Joaby?
Posted 01:11pm 03/2/15
Holy animated gifs! Anyone else find that super distracting? I couldn't read it, had to close it :(
Posted 01:14pm 03/2/15
I imagine all Battlefield multi player games are glorified TDM every one of them is more boring than the last.
Posted 01:20pm 03/2/15
I imagine all Battlefield multi player games are glorified TDM every one of them is more boring than the last.

Conquest is TDM? Right..

GIFS didn't work here.
Posted 01:54pm 03/2/15
Fixed it up Khel, should only play through once just so it isn't as distracting.
Posted 02:10pm 03/2/15
How do you think it will stack up to Pay Day 2 Joaby?

Very different experience, PayDay has more structure to it. BFH sorta just goes with what it's got.
Posted 04:52pm 04/2/15
After playing the beta for a fair few hours, I can now safely say I won't be picking this up. Something felt off, and I figured it out: Hardline just reminds me of the rebooted Medal of Honour.

The UI is godawful, such a mess. Guns feel weightless and animations don't help. The time to kill is way too low, as in I'll die as soon as someone spots me. Some guns are overpowered but that's a given for a beta. Heist is far too rush-y, chaotic and just not fun. Hotline is interesting, though the vehicle controls don't help make it enjoyable.

I could have seen this being an expansion to BF4, like Vietnam for BC2, but not worth a $100.
Posted 08:43pm 04/2/15
Yeah ok Eorl but what if this was the audio for the game
Posted 09:27pm 04/2/15
I would buy 10.
Posted 10:26pm 04/2/15
Haha Joaby, this reminds me of the guy who did that to Half-Life 2.
Posted 09:29am 07/2/15
Posted 10:55pm 07/2/15
the best thing about this game is the hilarious reload animations that occur every now and then.

last edited by ravn0s at 22:55:45 07/Feb/15
Posted 11:26pm 07/2/15
Haha, what the f***
Posted 09:47am 09/2/15
There are a few others, RPG reload, another gun reload too.
Posted 07:19pm 09/2/15
this vid has most of them

edit: there's this one as well.

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