Battlefield Hardline (Beta) Review

February 9, 2015 3:26 PM

Fans of the Battlefield series famed for its large-scale destructible maps and vehicular prominence will be pleased to learn Battlefield has returned and is currently playable entirely for free; albeit in the form of a restrictive, multiplayer-only beta. The beta released on 3 February 2015, is available to download on PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One until 8 February 2015. This short window provides intrigued gamers the opportunity to test three different modes across three different maps, all of which will be present in the full game due to be released on 17 March 2015.

Battlefield Hardline is developed by Visceral Games in partnership with EA Digital Illusions. EA have of course long been involved with Battlefield but Hardline is an unorthodox addition as the developers boldly shift the theme away from conventional warfare. Instead, it appears inspiration has been gained from films such as Heist, or games such as Grand Theft Auto V; yep, this is a cops ‘n’ robbers game. If you have ever wanted to hotwire cars and rob banks or slaughter those carrying out such illicit activities (perhaps a tad extreme?), this is the game for you.

The beta includes Conquest; a popular Battlefield staple requiring zero explanation, but sadly Conquest just doesn’t feel right in Hardline. The cops vs robbers concept simply doesn’t suit the mode and the map sizes do not help matters. Battlefield veterans will notice that maps on Hardline are, well, piddly! Close-quarters combat is far more prevalent. Inevitably, shotguns and SMGs are your new best friend. Instantly noticeable is the significant lack of snipers; a direct result of built-up landscapes placed upon minuscule maps. However, sniping itself has become much easier than in Hardline’s predecessor Battlefield 4. Bullet drop has been drastically reduced but due to the much smaller maps, snipers will never be able to execute a particularly long-range kill anyway.

battlefield hardline

The further two modes are both newcomers to the series: Heist and Hotwire. No prizes for guessing the concept of heist. Criminals are required to break into a secure unit before successfully escaping with the swag, whilst those playing as the cops do their utmost to see the brains of criminal scum spattered across every inch of the rather lacklustre maps. Heist is only playable on one solitary map: ‘Bank Job’. Due to the layout of this map, gameplay drifts towards criminals sprinting straight into the vaults, breaking open the safe with ease and meeting little resistance, but the escape is not so straightforward as police tend to lie in wait around the building’s exterior. This inevitable siege scenario can result in long periods of little action, and the map quickly becomes tiresome. It is also questionable as to whether many gamers would opt to play what is essentially a whittled down version of Payday.

The most fun to be had in the beta is definitely with the new Hotwire mode. Hotwire features a basic but fun twist on Conquest; capture points are mobile vehicles. Opposing teams battle it out to seize control of specific marked vehicles, hotwire them, before continuing to speed across the map without getting blown to smithereens. Bizarrely, police are simultaneously required to hotwire vehicles in the same manner. Speed is essential as the ‘point’ is only regarded captured once the vehicle is travelling fast enough. This results in anarchy as sports cars, HGVs and police cruisers alike hurtle across the map constantly being fired at and passengers hang out of windows carrying out 360° drive-by shootings. This is by far the most explosive mode on the beta. Heist and Conquest feel relatively serene in comparison.

battlefield hardline beta

However, the mini-map has never been so important as it becomes in a game of Hotwire. Due to the smaller area of playable landmass combined with the stipulation to drive like a lunatic; continually speeding outside of the map becomes an initial regular occurrence. Expect to be greeted with the unfriendly 10-second warning of returning to the map before being abruptly exterminated when first getting to grips with Hotwire.

There is undoubtedly some fun to be had in Hardline but the fun does not last long. Hardline attempts to add new features but they add little to the game and lack originality. For example, players can now create and spray their own ‘tag’ onto surfaces à la Counter-Strike. Once the novelty of the unorthodox cops ‘n’ robbers theme diminishes, you are left with an average FPS with banal maps and mediocre graphics.  The beta is worth a butcher’s but I’d put that pre-order on hold for the time being!