February 2015 Cover Story – Battlefield: Hardline
To Serve and Protect
Battlefield Hardline is Visceral Games first attempt at a standalone Battlefield title, taking the combat away from the front lines and into the streets of LA as law enforcement engage against heavily armed criminals. While quite a change in scenery when compared to the previous games, a stand-off between cops and robbers might be the thing Battlefield needs to pull away from the warfare mould.
After the first beta which was released during E3 2014 on the Playstation 4 and PC, Visceral Games have been compiling feedback and implementing them into the game making necessary changes to improve the gameplay. It’s essential especially with Battlefield where the title needs to last over a period of time and not fizzle up at launch. Visceral Games knows the core of Battlefield Hardline has to be appealing and create longevity for gamers, and this is what they’ve been working on and has been the major reason the game was pushed into a 2015 release.
Addressing another concern, many in the community have questioned whether Battlefield Hardline is worthy as a standalone title because of its shared similarities with Battlefield 4. When Senior Producer Scott Probst was questioned about this, he mentioned “it’s part of the reason why we’re doing the beta now, to show people that we got a game that stands on it’s own” and after several hours on the second beta – I believe the game provides enough to justify a full game release with Probst further clarifying that “there’s much more content then what you’ve played today.”
“it’s part of the reason why we’re doing the beta now to show people that we got a game that stands on it’s own” – Scott Probst, Senior Producer
Dubbed the fastest Battlefield game ever made, the new Hotwire mode definitely cements that quote as it provides some of the most fast-paced action I’ve seen in the series. Similar to the concept of Conquest mode, each team must capture ‘marked cars’ located around the map and drive them fast (or recklessly) avoiding enemy fire for as long as they can to bleed the enemy’s tickets.
When I played the first beta, the cars which are an essential mode of transport in Battlefield Hardline needed some extra work. Things like an annoying turning circle and slow response made driving them quite tedious. Learning from feedback, the team’s made some slight improvements to the handling of the vehicles as well as adding a handbrake manoeuvre to quickly drift around corners and pull important U-turns keeping the momentum of speed in play.
Hotwire is essentially Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit in Battlefield combining fast pursuit chases with a lot of fire power. It’s not the first time the Battlefield series has gone into full vehicular modes but the unique cat and mouse style of Hotwire provides some exhilarating edge of your seat gameplay.
A Re-Imagining of Heist
When the Heist mode was first introduced in the previous beta, it was met with mixed criticism. I for one wasn’t quite a fan of the mode as it didn’t really explore multiple options and the freedom Battlefield was renowned for. Visceral took this mode back to the drawing board and explored the potential with Heist returning with an entirely new re-imagining of the mode.
Heist has gone away with narrow pathway’s and has provided a ‘battlefield’ with plenty of options for strategy. The Bank Job map is specially designed for this game mode and was probably my favourite part of my hands-on with the beta. Each team has a clear objective in Heist, with the Police playing a defensive role protecting the vault and the Criminals on the offensive looking to break into the vault and steal two packages. There’s more than one method to break into the vault and minor Levolutions provide that dynamic battlefield.
Criminals can go head on and break through the front – which successfully worked in my first match but failed the second time around. We then started exploring options and realised that you can break through the roof and from the rear side probing the weak points in the Police defence. Small additions like this can swing the tide of war easily making the match much more intense and dynamic.
It’s a violent tug of war and the mode requires the efforts from everyone on the team to become successful. It’s a brilliant change of pace from the previous version of Heist which always seemed to get bogged down in one spot. Visceral took feedback from players and completely overhauled the mode into a better experience.
The Final Road
With less than two months left until Battlefield Hardline launches, Visceral Games are keen to ship a game that functionally works to avoid the scenario Battlefield 4 had at launch. The first beta was more of a test to “validate everything we’ve setup works” and the “intent of what we want to build came across” Scott Probst explained. The second upcoming beta is more of a test to see whether the back end engineering works like map/mode rotation and design of the game. Beta’s are important for the launch of Battlefield Hardline and Scott emphasised “without these beta’s, I don’t think we’ll be anywhere near a position now to launch a stable game.” Scott knows what happened with the launch of the last Battlefield game and feels confident with his words that Battlefield Hardline will be stable and fully functional at launch.
I had my doubts with Battlefield Hardline and most players will, but the strong confidence from the team at Visceral Games and their constant engagement with the community shows they want you, the player, to help them create the best Battlefield experience ever. The most important factor in winning a war is to win the hearts and mind of the people and it seems Visceral Games are doing just that with Battlefield Hardline.
Battlefield Hardline launches on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 19th 2015. Respawn Ninja was invited to a EA Games event to preview Battlefield Hardline.