After many in the industry wondered if Electronic Arts would embrace the technical prowess of DICE and the Frostbite Engine, and make Battlefield an annualized series, it seems the question has been answered. After months of rumors and speculation, an update to Battlelog has revealed new details and assets created for the next entry in the series: Battlefield: Hardline, a SWAT/police-themed title coming from Dead Space studio Visceral Games.The shift from a modern (or WWII-era) battlefield to the confines of urban defense may seem like quite a leap, but those who have been following the rumored project may find the reveal less shocking.
It was over a year ago that the first evidence appeared which supported the notion that Visceral Games may be handling the next Battlefield (on top of their unannounced Star Wars project), with further speculation pointing to a game focused on modern police and SWAT teams, not military.
Now, an expansive batch of images and code unearthed from within Battlelog by Koen V. reveals not just the title and logo, but a number of awards, vehicle, and weapon icons confirming the setting.
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Since word of the hidden assets broke, multiple sleuths and outlets have pieced together fragments and details, all of which support the idea that the studio previously responsible for the third-person Dead Space franchise will be bringing the team-oriented, objective-based multiplayer that Battlefield has emphasized over the years to the pavement and skyscrapers.
There is no word yet on the story portion of the game, but the multiplayer classes have been revealed. Players will have their choice of Enforcer, Mechanic, Operator and Professional, with the game modes revealed so far including Blood Money, Heist, Bomb Squad, Conquest, Onslaught. At this point, the only factions referred to by name (and logos) are SWAT and Thieves. Twitter account Battlefield Daily has also isolated some telling images, one of which can be seen below:
Beyond the medals are confirmed vehicles ranging from police helicopters and armored vehicles to getaway vans, motorcycles and sports cars, so it seems that the mechanics and game modes of Battlefield 4 will be a strong example of what to expect. Reports continue to surface that Ghost Games will be offering development support, thus explaining their time off from the Need For Speed franchise.
A majority of the uncovered code looks to be fairly complete and advanced, meaning there is a high likelihood that EA will officially unveil Hardline during their E3 press conference this year. The publisher is clearly expecting big things from the brand if they're willing to take it in such a bold new direction - especially given the mixed launch of Battlefield 4 from a technical support stance.
We'll keep you up to date as the story developers, but for now, what do you think of a Battlefield title set in a major city, following the war between SWAT and criminals? Intriguing, or too far from the franchise's roots?
[Update: EA has officially confirmed the title via the Battlefield website, and released the promotional art below, with more details coming June 9, 2014.]
Expect to hear more about Battlefield: Hardline at E3 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.