The final big stage demo at E3’s Gamescom conference was Battlefield Hardline, revealing two new multiplayer modes and the game’s single-player.
Single-player puts you in the shoes of Nick Mendoza, a Miami-based detective who’s travelling America in search of some naughty people from his past. It’s apparently structured like a TV drama, with each mission comprising one “episode”, with a stated focus on characters, pacing, and cliffhanger endings. I can’t say the dialogue is up to The Wire, but it’s a noble effort.
The demoed mission opens with Mendoza and his friend Boomer being captured by a criminal and held in a missile silo. They escape their cell, sneak around the complex, take out guards by choking them with handcuffs, and finally get some weapons. The single-player can either be played stealthily or in full-on action mode, with your stealth capabilities heightened by the ability to distract enemies by throwing bullet casings. Things eventually erupt into a firefight, with bullets and shotgun pellets ripping apart cover in traditional Battlefield style.
Once they’re out of the silo, Mendoza decides he needs to retrieve his equipment from the heavily-guarded compound so as to avoid tipping off… somebody. This is where things go a bit Far Cry 3, with Mendoza using his scanner to mark out enemies, weapons, and points of interest before beginning his assault.
There are numerous entrance points to the compound, from a wall that can be climbed over to a fence that can be crawled under, and there’s always the option of just charging in guns blazing. As this is a stage demo, the devs opt for both: two isolated guards are taken down by pointing a gun at them and flashing a police badge, which lets Mendoza handcuff them without resistance (although he gives one of them a punch in the face for good measure). A taser is employed to take down a high-value target – a particular foe, spotted with the scanner, who can be taken alive for a big reward – but once he has his equipment back, it’s time for a gunfight. Mendoza gets spotted and held at gunpoint, but he turns the situation around when the guard gets too close, and Mendoza takes the opportunity to use him as a human shield.
It’s worth noting that all of those moments, from flashing the police badge to taking a human shield, didn’t appear to be scripted. These are just options you have throughout. The firefight continues with the arrival of a van full of more armed criminals, and Mendoza makes his escape by using his grappling hook to get up to high ground, and then create a zipline out of the compound. And there, the demo ends.
So yes: if anything, it’s reminiscent of Far Cry 3‘s missions. There’s a definite objective and a defined area you have to fight through, but it looks like you’ll have a lot of options as to how you want to go about it. Steve Papoustis (the chap hosting the demo) said that replayability is something they’ve been working on, and if this mission is any guide then they may have actually succeeded.
In short, it looks a lot better than Battlefield 4‘s lacklustre campaign, and significantly more interesting than the hyper-linear, over-scripted Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare demo displayed yesterday.
Two new multiplayer modes were also revealed. Hotwire is all about fast-paced car chases, with police and criminals roaming the map in vehicles, looking for marked cars. Rescue is an “eSports” focused mode which has a team of five criminals holding hostages, while five cops attempt to breach the compound and take them back. Each player only has one life per round, so these battles are likely to be short, tactical, and brutal.
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Congratulations, Visceral Games! You’ve successfully invented Counter-Strike. I suppose this has all the Battlefield Hardline goodness of grappling hooks, destructible cover and terrain, and the like, so that’s maybe a bit harsh of me.
So yeah, all of this looks about a million times more interesting than the multiplayer beta from earlier this year. The single-player actually looks interesting for once, and the new multiplayer modes actually appear to be genuinely new for this series, with some unique twists and mechanics.
It’s also worth mentioning that Papoustis closed by commenting that Battlefield Hardline is about “innovation, depth, and stability.” Stability? Hmm. We’ll see.
Battlefield Hardline is due out in March 2015.