I’ve talked about my reaction to the Battlefield Hardline Alpha in a previous video last June. My initial experience with the Alpha wasn’t very positive; I’d been burned out on Battlefield 4 and Hardline looked to be more of the same. As well, transferring a military tactical shooter into one focused on law enforcement felt a step too far. Cops taking down criminals with rocket launchers and assault helicopters seemed over the top even with the current state of militarised police.
With the launch of the Beta, some 8 months later, I thought I’d give Battlefield Hardline another chance. My first attempt at the Beta did not go as planned. I tried to play on the first night; the game crashed after 5 minutes with a DirectX error and after that I couldn’t connect to any servers. My second attempt on the next night was more successful; I was able to play several rounds of Hotwire on the Dustbowl and Downtown maps. I didn’t try Heist mode or the Bankjob map, so this is mainly my initial reactions to Hotwire.
A new mode to Battlefield and a clever twist on Conquest, Hotwire sees both sides fighting over vehicles dotted around the map. These are mobile capture points and they activate when you hit a minimum speed. Maintain that speed and you’ll keep the capture point, earning cash for unlocks. Slow down too much, leave the vehicle, or get blown up and you’ll lose the point for your side. This mode is a great addition to Battlefield and helps keep things fresh.
The Beta feels different enough from the Alpha and I enjoyed myself a lot more. I had fun roaring around the map in Hotwire; one of my favourite things to do in earlier Battlefield games was tearing around in jeeps and quads. This mode taps into that kamikaze feeling. The car chase dynamics help bring a new dimension to the familiar combat. There are also a few notable changes that help the experience.
I like the reduced focus on vehicles and explosive weapons, though I did see a lot of grenade and rocket launchers during my play. BF4 eventually devolved into explosive spam and this is a nice change from that. I also liked the weapon/accessory unlock system; you can now choose what you want to unlock rather than wading through a slew of pointless accessories.
I still see Hardline as a close relative of Battlefield 4 but the new modes and changes since the Alpha have helped set it further apart. I’ve had fun with the Hardline Beta but there’s no way I’ll pre-order or buy the game at full price; BF4 took over a year to hit its stride and with the issues I’ve run into in my short time playing the Beta, looks like Hardline still has a way to go.Colin Le Sueur