Editor’s Note: As the multiplayer component of a Battlefield game is such a large part of the overall product, we are bringing you these impressions of our initial time spent with the game. When our final review is published, it will contain thoughts based on more time spent with both the multiplayer, and single player.
Fourteen year old me would have been proud. It was a shot I didn’t expect to work. One that was more desperation than hope and something I don’t think I can ever do as well again. I hit a no scope whilst falling off a building that saved my life, and my god it felt amazing. I jumped off a building after hearing a trip mine I had set minutes earlier go off, a flurry of gunshots hitting my back, in mid air I spun to look back at my foe, only to by chance press the trigger. And boom, headshot. He was dead and I was just about alive.
It’s the small moments like that which, so far, have made Hardline’s multiplayer component fun. Hitting that shot, taking out a whole squad with a single grenade, or realising you came top of the leaderboard just by cruising round in a car – these moments offer a feeling of satisfaction that few other shooters have provided in recent years.
That’s not to say the moment-to-moment action between each incredible play isn’t fun, but it just doesn’t quite offer up the enjoyment levels I was hoping for. The main issue seems to be that some maps clearly aren’t suited to certain game modes. Playing Blood Money on the Dust Bowl map (which is clearly designed for hotwire mode) feels tedious at times.
Playing a mode on a map that works is obviously better, and fortunately has been quite common in my playtime. Playing Heist on the Bank Job map is usually great fun, with one side working to infiltrate the safe and steal the valuables, while another has to stop them.
The maps themselves seem a bit of a mixed bag, although I’ll wait on passing full judgment until I have had more time to explore them. A personal favourite so far is Downtown, an inner-city map that features tight streets with huge sky-scrapers lining each side. There are multiple levels, even allowing for you to sit atop of a skyscraper, and varying areas. Oh, and a massive crane crashes into the middle of the map about halfway through each game.
In terms of game modes, the ones I have experienced thus far have generally been quite fun, most of the time. Conquest is a classic that everyone loves, while Team Death Match is probably best avoided as the spawn system will often see you shot within milliseconds of spawning, or conversely, will see you spawn right behind an enemy giving you a free, but cheap kill.
Flagship new additions Heist and Hotwire lead the charge for innovative new ideas. Heist is very map dependent, and not available on all of them, whereas Hotwire is available on almost any map that has space to drive the five cars to acquire points. Hotwire is perhaps the mode that offers the most consistent enjoyment for all. If you want to go on a twenty kill streak then go ahead, as you will be helping your team, but if you are a player who doesn’t get many kills you can still be incredibly useful by jumping in one of the five objective cars and just driving round, listening to “Woop Woop it’s the sound of da police” on loop.
Blood money is one game mode that I can’t decide whether I like or not yet. It sees both teams having to run to a single pile of money, grab as much as possible and return it to their base. The other team can raid your base and take the cash back to theirs. At times it works really well and encourages different roles. A couple of runners to go from the money pile back to the base, and repeat. Another couple to protect the base; and a slightly larger team to attack the enemy base. At other times, everyone on both sides just decides to attack opposing bases, resulting in a constant shoot out that gets neither team closer to winning.
It wouldn’t be a Battlefield game without a ton of weapons, and while there is a few seemingly overpowered options (I’m looking at you ACWR and shotguns on small maps), they do seem fairly well rounded. The assault rifles and SMGs behave as you would expect, the shotguns feel incredibly powerful and some have a surprisingly long range, while the snipers are a varied bunch, each with individual mannerisms. The traditional set of attachments, gadgets, and grenades also feature, with zip-lines becoming a very useful pick up a lot of the time.
While there are a few faults so far, they can generally be ignored for what is an enjoyable experience. A few balance changes, being stricter on what modes can be played on which maps, and I imagine playing with friends will make Hardline’s multiplayer much more fun. That said, those moments where you do feel like a badass (and anytime when you are cruising and listening to Sound of da Police) made me feel like I was a kid again, playing shooters and having the best time ever. That makes Hardline the first game in about three years to do that.