The War On The Streets Of Battlefield Hardline’s Second Beta

To the long term fans of the Battlefield series, Visceral have a lot to prove with Battlefield Hardline. For a series that has been all about soldiers, tanks and planes, the shift to cops and robbers is a big one, and one which didn’t really capture people’s imaginations when it was first unveiled. With a second beta kicking off tomorrow, running from February 3rd to 8th, this is their second chance to convince.

Visceral are much better known for their single player games, with the first Dead Space a particular highlight of theirs, and from what I’ve seen previously, Hardline looks to bring a lot more invention and ingenuity to a series that has struggled to find that spark in recent outings. However, it’s really the multiplayer that makes Battlefield what it is, with up to 64 players battling for superiority in all manner of vehicles.

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On paper, Hardline isn’t all that different, with up to 64 players in some modes and on some maps, plenty of different ground vehicles and even air support in the form of helicopters, yet it has a quite different feel when playing it. You move just that little bit faster, the vehicles that you step into are cars, SUVs and fuel tankers, and on and on.

A big part of this comes from the shifting focus of the game modes. Conquest and Team Deathmatch both feature, of course, but Hardlines other modes try to reinvent the familiar formulas. Hotwire, for example, takes Conquest’s control points and puts them on vehicles, completely changing the complexion of the game mode.

It takes a while to get used to, with a feeling that you’re aimlessly driving around the map to start with, but in truth it twists the mode so that you’re trying to set up ambushes or chase down a control point vehicle and take it down. With more play time, plenty of interesting strategies will doubtless expose themselves, from making use of remote explosives to somewhat amusing instances where control points chase one another around the maps.

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Hotwire also shows off some of the changes that Visceral have made since the first beta, adjusting to player feedback and making use of the extra few months of development time. Control point vehicles need to maintain a certain speed in order to sap tickets from your opponent, for example, and heavy weapons like RPGs and LMGs can now only be picked up from car boots and at certain points on the map, as part of a rejig of the four classes.

The Operator (the analogue to BF4’s Assault class) has been toned down, while the Mechanic has shifted from being like an Engineer class to being more gadget based. The Mechanic now has access to the spawn beacon, which emphasises their use in more forward positions than when they are used with a sniper. That will come in much more useful in the more objective based game modes, such as Heist.

With the criminals busting their way into a bank vault on the Bank Job map, before trying to extract the cash to some helicopter pick-up points, it’s about as close to Payday as you could imagine Battlefield coming. In truth, it’s more akin to the popular Rush game mode from recent Battlefield games, with a series of points to attack and only a limited number of respawns with which to succeed.

Rather than the nondescript M-COM stations though, Heist has a much more cinematic and narrative feel, as well as more potential routes of attack. Busting into the vault, you can go in through the vault door, bust a hole in a wall and even drop an air conditioning unit in through the roof!

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The challenge comes from trying to balance the game’s maps and difficulty so that both teams have a fighting chance, and I can’t help but feel that the helicopter pick ups were perhaps a little too far in favour of the cops on this particular map. One change that’s been made is that you need to wait for a helicopter to arrive for 15 seconds, before actively attaching the bag of loot to the hook. However, while one point on this map is relatively isolated on a garage rooftop, the other was rather close to the rozzers’ spawn point, feeling almost impossible to get to and hold.

There’s still plenty of time to tweak and adjust things like this ahead of release and after, and with the way that Visceral responded to the first beta, you can bet that they will. Battlefield fans might yet be sceptical of whether this game deserves to live under that brand, and this beta will be another opportunity to convince them, but what I feel both EA and Visceral deserve credit for is trying something new, as they’re looking to rejuvenate a long standing series with quite a drastic tonal shift and lots of smart new ideas in the mix.

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10 Comments

  1. a strange twist in direction for the battlefield series.
    I’m guessing that the change in pace is trying to appeal to the cod heads.
    its funny because i am a huge fan of both games,getting my run and gun fix from cod and a slightly more tactical approach from battlefield.
    i tried the first run of the beta and i wasn’t impressed,just bolting the battlefield name onto a new ip may or may not be a smart move.

  2. Nice write up tef, I actually really like the sound of this after reading your report, I wasn’t in the least interested previously. Nice one!

    • And hey, you can always grab the beta and give it a whirl for yourself, to help make up your mind.

    • Whilst it may be a painful step back from PS4, you could join us on the PS3 as there’s a meet listed. Either way the Beta should hopefully be a good demo for you.

      • I no longer own a ps3 so that’s not an option for me.

      • Ah well, still worth trying it out. Although I am curious about how big the download will be. The PSN listing currently says ‘minimum save required: 49GB’ which is insane for a beta, but then the PS store info is never never to be trusted.

      • I think I read on the new consoles the Beta will be around 11GB and 3.5GB on old gen.

        I just want to see how the game modes play out, Tef does make it sound good fun! Fingers crossed the beta actually works though and I’m hoping the extend it too, 5 days will go by quickly if the first couple of days are full of connection errors which is kinda what I’m expecting.

  3. Is that delsin’s brother reggie i spy around 3:32 and 3:46 he certainly sounds and looks very similar,he was a cop after all.

  4. I’ve been playing the beta today and I’m still massively underwhelmed by it. It feels like a huge step backwards from BF4, in my opinion. I’m still a little annoyed they just shoved the Battlefield name on it too. I guess it will cater to a different audience, but it’s not for me. Might buy it if it goes cheap later on down the line.

    In all honesty it reminds me a lot of the DICE Medal of Honor multiplayer. That’s not a good thing.

  5. I’ll be honest, I actually think this looks a hell of alot better than COD and original Battlefield. I think im washed out with the amount playing soldier, they have become the zombie equivalent!

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