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WO Examines: Battlefield Hardline "BETA"

There are many gamers out there that for one reason or another either love the Battlefield franchise, or have grown to despise it. If you are one of the latter, you've no doubt sneered with mild disdain or full-on rage at the notion of yet another entry by EA games. And to a degree you would be justified in doing so.

For all the gamers that enjoyed the latest iteration from DICE and EA but felt, like I did, that the waters had been waded through once too many times already; this newest offering is something for you both (skeptic and admirer alike) to perk up and take notice of.

In a rather cool move, Visceral Games, the creative mad-minds behind the highly popular Dead Space series have brainstormed what could very well be the next big multiplayer thing since sliced bread... or in this case, tea-bagging. (lolz)

Regardless of your own personal take on the past games in the DICE franchise, Visceral's version on the all time favorite "cops & robbers" theme is nothing short of a massive breath of fresh air, and one that had six million players online for the beta of the new bang-zoom shoot 'em up. Not only is it a far cry from the contemporary military mayhem, but it is a radical transition from the franchise's bread and butter comfort zone.

So, enough about all that, let's get on with what I actually have to say about my own experiences with the game.

Because I am a bandwidth miser, I opted out of downloading the huge ten gig beta for the PS4 or XBox One. I went instead with the smaller less impressive three gig beta for the 360, and while the graphics were less than amazing, and the effects less than dazzling, I wasn't blind to the fact that it was after all a beta, not to be confused with the final version... graphics and all.

I've spent several hours online watching reviews, getting a few takes on what the other gamers are saying about the franchise, and while there is a great deal of hostility over BF4, and how it's this huge failure of a busted-ass game, the bottom line is, I still managed to put over 400 hours of game time on it. So for me, it isn't about having a perfect game, it's about playability, and despite the perfectionist's points of view, I was satisfied with almost everything about BF4, with huge exception given to Metro being remastered as a barrel of death cluster fuck. 

The general consensus on the net is that DICE or rather EA is needing to put one out of park, and a lot of hope and expectation is riding on Hardline to do just that; and like I said, while the graphics of the beta weren't anything to write home about, I was able to read between the lines, and see a great overall game that was just waiting to explode.

So what is it about?

The beta, for those of you that didn't get to play was pretty generic fare. It was three game types--which is more than I can say about the BF4 beta--featuring single map versions of "Heist, Hotwire, and Conquest." The last being an overall staple of the franchise, and one that I myself would be rather bummed about if it suddenly vanished.

The campaign of the single player game is more or less a mystery until launch, and I'm fine with that. I feel strangely comfortable with Visceral working the game, it tells me several things; it apt to be compelling, and it almost guaranteed to be immersive. Something that hasn't successfully happened since BF3. Of course, the idea these days is that most game campaigns are a meager eight hours long and that's it, end of game; and I'm saddened that most will believe that and probably never play the campaign, choosing rather to pwn and own on the multiplayer so they can bitch and whine about team spirit, all while trying to not play the objective. But I digress.

How did it play?

The mechanics of the game reminded me instantly of past games like BF3 and even Rainbow Six Vegas 2 a game that I wish would have more games. The movement mechanics are a little clunky at first, but I cough that up to the limitations of the Xbox 360 edition of the beta, and something that will be ironed out smoother in launch. 

The bullet hit was fantastic! Amazing! and for once, I knew beyond a doubt that my bullets were making contact. No more emptying a whole effing clip; having the opposition shrug and end me with a few well timed pistol bullets to the head. When I shot... the enemy dropped. Something that made this old man feel pretty good about his going double in the score board.

The vehicles have been regeared to showcase a game of this genre, cop cars, cop motorcycles, helicopters and deployment vans/swat wagons. But nothing made me feel like I was in an all-out action extravaganza than having the radio blasting Ted Nugent's Stranglehold while I had the sirens cranked, and was road-killing the enemy. Ah... good times will be had.

Another perk is the fact that regular guns do damage to helicopters. Say goodbye to chopper asshats that just want to garner a 50/2 KDR while proving something. In this game, you are not safe anywhere. 

Vehicle mechanics were about right. I wasn't expecting Need For Speed or GTA, so the fact that vehicles don't crush on impact is fine with me. The handling is great though, and e-braking is bitchin'. As is riding out the window to shoot shit. 

Some things like weapons and customizations are more or less the same with the exception of how it all unlocks and how you spend in-game cash earned. I will say that I was annoyed by the idea of beta players already being at level 100... Jesus that makes me feel a little ill. But then, the leveling system was one of the last things to get tweaked in BF4 before it went live. So I imagine all those level masters will be grinding again once the games goes on shelves. 


I am doing my best to limit my amount of expectation. With so many near hits, and big misses this past year, I'm just hoping for a game that doesn't require endless amounts of updates to correct, or fix, and one that can be played with minimal downloaded shit out of the box. But this generation of games seems dismally unbalanced with unfinished games, or games that require a day one download patch of no less than 2 to 6 gigs. My storage space isn't unlimited you bastards!

Never the less, I do have something of a small hope that at least the naysayers will finally get the hell off of EAs ass about games, and give us fans a break. Not only that, I hope that Visceral lights a very real fire under DICE and gives them the push they need to deliver on a possible Bad Company 3 game. Not that we've been waiting a long time for it or anything.

So far, the beta was straight-up pure fun. Something that I feel gamers don't understand these days. Something that makes or breaks a game over things like graphics and mechanics. Arguably of course. But fun this game is, and while I know that alone isn't going to push copies, I do believe that it will give me the incentive to dump another 400 hours into the franchise.