It’s become common practice for many video game developers, especially those creating multiplayer-heavy games, to conduct a closed and/or open beta of their game prior to release. Doing so lets developers gather some much-needed final feedback about their game before it releases to the masses. It's that approach that will seemingly benefit developer Visceral Games who is putting the final touches on Battlefield Hardline.
The team at Visceral Games has been extremely active soliciting comments, suggestions and questions from players and YouTubers about their experience with both the closed and open beta of Battlefield Hardline. Now that the Hardline open beta has completed, we would like to take the opportunity to recap what we liked and disliked about it, and what we hope is included (or removed) from the final game when it releases next month.
Battlefield Hardline offers Battlefield fans a whole new experience not available with any past game in the series. While some players may feel like this newest addition is too far removed from the soul of Battlefield, we welcome the change. It's nice to see DICE and EA set aside the military theme and try something new. What we get is new adventures and "Battlefield Moments" not found in the Battlefields of the past.
For example, the strategies used in the Heists game mode are far different than any others we've used in Battlefield before. Protecting (or hunting) the players with the bags of cash makes for a fun and fast-paced play style that was a nice change from just capturing flags or simply shooting down enemies. Additionally, chasing enemies around the map in Hotwire, vying for specific vehicles, provides an exciting challenge that just can't be felt with tanks and IFVs.
However, while we did enjoy the beta, we couldn't help but think we were playing a Battlefield 4 mod. It wouldn't surprise us if Visceral and DICE used a lot of Battlefield 4 as a skeleton for Hardline, since the game mechanics felt very much like a port. And while we freely admit that there's no good reason for Visceral and DICE to reinvent the wheel, we feel that their desire to push out a new Battlefield game so soon after Battlefield 4 may have caused them to miss out on new mechanics and features, leading to a less-than-stellar game. Of course, we'll see how it all plays out when the full game releases.
One of the best new qualities of Battlefield Hardline is the introduction of new game modes. After the last few Battlefield games basically recycled the same modes, it's nice to see some fresh ideas enter the fray. Game modes like Heist, Hotwire, Rescue, Crosshairs and Blood Money are sure to excite and challenge players in new ways, giving Hardline its own feel and life.
However, after playing the beta, we foresee some changes coming to the Hotwire mode. It almost felt like that mode rewarded players for driving around and avoiding confrontation with the enemy, which is definitely not Battlefield-esque. Sure, it's nice to easily collect cash by driving in circles for a couple hours, but it definitely takes away from the game's core of intense action.
Hopefully we'll see a change to the way players are rewarded in Hotwire. Visceral could easily improve the game mode by putting a cap on how much money can be gained during a single ride, or even from a single vehicle. But, if they decide to keep the game mode the same in the final release, you can bet we'll be right there driving around making a ton of cash.
One of the biggest improvements over the Battlefield 4 beta was the variety of gameplay types available in this week's Battlefield Hardline beta. Where Battlefield 4 only featured one map, players were able to experience three maps in Hardline. Offering more locations during the beta has allowed players to get a better idea of how the cops-and-robbers dynamic is affected by the environment. Hopefully, this makes players' feedback more reliable and useful for Visceral Games and DICE as we near launch.
Unfortunately, the maps were a lot smaller than Battlefield fans are used to. Due to the new cops-and-robbers theme, it's understandable that the maps won't cover as much ground as past Battlefield maps, but we're still a little disappointed. Playing on large maps is one of the best aspects to a Battlefield game. Plus, it's easy for a small map to feel congested when there are 64 players running around, spraying bullets everywhere. Hopefully we'll see bigger maps at launch, at least for Conquest and Hotwire. We admit the other game modes don't lend themselves well to bigger maps, but if the map size is larger for Conquest and Hardline, players could be a little more strategic and not feel like they're playing on top of each other.
Weapons and Gadgets
While the overall feel of the weapons and gadgets was what we expect from a Battlefield game, Hardline offers a new method of obtaining these items. Rather than just unlocking weapons and equipment through leveling up, Battlefield Hardline offers players more selection early on by allowing them to purchase weapons right away, as long as they have the cash (hence the circle-driving in Hotwire). We were pleased to see a change to the way players obtain accessories for their weapons. When a player unlocks an accessory category like sights and barrel types, they can purchase any of the accessories in that category. This is much better than unlocking them one at a time, or hoping they arrive in a battlepack.
The introduction of new gadgets, like the zipline and grappling hook, was a smart move by the developers as these new items have the potential to greatly alter the flow of a match as players learn to use them to gain advantage over their enemies. We're excited to see how they're utilized in the Rescue and Crosshairs game modes, in particular.
And let's not forget the secret reload animations - definitely a good addition. The only real downside to the new weapon system was when a player buys a new primary weapons as a cop, they can't use that weapon as a robber. It would be nice to buy a weapon once and use it for both sides rather than have to buy different primary weapons as a cop and then as a robber. Hopefully we'll see more crossover weapons in the final release of the game.
Share Your Feedback
What did you think of the Battlefield Hardline beta? Would you like to see the same changes we've recommended, or do you have different requests? Let us know in the comments what you would like to see change or remain.
Battlefield Hardline will release on March 17, 2015 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.