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Battlefield Hardline — I’m going to call it just Hardline here — is turning out to be a very different game from Battlefield 4.  It comes from the same roots, but the game play and design differ considerably.  It has elements from the BF2 Special Forces expansion, combat elements and game modes reminiscent of Counterstrike, a game currency-based XP system which allows players to choose which upgrades to get, and an overall feel which makes the game feel like a police action movie rather than a war movie.

I’d like to see the two competitive mission modes — Crosshair and Rescue — in the Beta.  It would make it easier to judge how well they will play as fun, challenging competitive modes.  While CS:GO (and its predecessors) is the king of fast paced competition FPS, there is room for other games which offer a related experience.  Especially with flashier graphics and a civilian-focused theme.  I think that a Bomb Defuse mode would fit into this category as well.  BF4 has it, but I think it fits the cops vs criminals theme better.

Blood Money would be welcome in this Beta as well.  It worked nicely in the previous release, and it would be interesting to see it play out on other maps.  It too has potential for competitive play, as the goals are clear to both players and spectators, and the pace is fast.   Hotwire and Heist might work well for that too — a good spectator commentator could stream games with cinematic content easily — and push this game beyond just the usual FPS.

It is taking me, and others, time to get to grips with just what this game is all about.  There are elements of depth to explore here in tactics, actual strategy, and operational choices in the game.  I don’t know if we will have enough time in the Beta to really get into all of the possibilities.  More, we don’t know for sure what Visceral has planned for additional content for this game.   The basic game itself has to attract and keep players, and I believe that it can do so, but good expansion material could push it beyond this into greatness.  Paid DLC does increase the cost of the game, a Premium version would do so as well, but the price and availability of extra content could encourage more of us to invest in this game on release.

Some quick stuff to think about:  the Hacker mode isn’t just a revised version of BF4’s Commander.  I have over 60 service stars as Commander in BF4 (and time spent in previous Battlefield games), and it still took me time to get a feel for what to do and how it works.  The on map assets are small things which can affect the battle, plus a tiny area scan (GPS) and the usual orders and boosts for the team’s squads.

Hotwire mixes fast action with sneaky strategy.  Grabbing the hot objective cars is the obvious goal, but setting traps and ambushes to take them away from the enemy can be even more important than getting them for your team first.

We haven’t had enough time to see all the useful upgrades unlocked, especially the vehicle armories.  I’m starting to see more of that now (Feb 5, Thursday), but once most players have the top price equipment in use, how much will the game change?  Helicopters and vehicles won’t be nearly as tough when the weapons to take them out are more common.  But then, the upgrades to make vehicles tougher will also be in play.

Map knowledge takes time to learn.  There are a lot of interesting features on the maps, and we’ve only seen three so far.  The Heist game mode depends strongly on learning the best locations and paths to reach the objectives and get away (or protect) the loot.  This is true of the other game modes as well.

The game looks good, and it is fun to play so far.  I think it would be an easy decision to buy this if GTA 5 wasn’t coming out a week later.  Hardline isn’t really in the same genre as GTA 5, but most people who will like Hardline will also want to get GTA 5.  This is more an issue for PC players, and a non-issue for last-gen console owners who have already had lots of time to play GTA 5.  As a PC player, who has been looking forward to GTA 5, that means getting both games.

Game buying is a matter of both money and time.  There isn’t a lot of point to buying a game — especially at full price — if you are not going to have the time to put into it.  With two or more good games to choose from, we often only play one of them and let the other sit until later.  Is Hardline a play now game, or wait for a sale and play later?

In the USA, tax refund money can make spring shopping easier.  And we have six weeks to go, plenty of time to find the money for Hardline and any other games.  Play the Beta, and if you like it, get it.  That’s what I plan to do.


Updates and thoughts on Battlefield Hardline Beta here.

Three Weeks To Go Update

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