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Battlefield: Hardline multiplayer beta impressions: Doling out so-called 'justice'

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 6, 2015
Meet the new Battlefield multiplayer, same as the old Battlefield multiplayer, but with icky police brutality overtones.

On the plus side, motorcycles are incredibly fun to drive for the ten seconds before you get shot off them. Also, the cars play some great music.

Another thing I noticed: There are multiple classes that seemingly focus on shotguns and close-quarters combat, but the only map I've played is the aforementioned gigantic meth compound with tons of wide-open space, rendering those shotguns pretty useless. In fact, things have gone the opposite direction, with at least half the players in any given match I played using sniper rifles.

Part of me assumes there must be more close-quarters maps in the full game, but it would be impossible to play Hotwire without wide-open spaces so... I'm torn.

Lastly, there's movement. It's funny that only a year ago every game played like a modern military shooter, with its slavish devotion to realism. Now, after a year of Titanfall, Evolve, Dying Light, and COD: Advanced Warfare I'm finding that running like a normal human being is, well, boring.

Obviously it wouldn't make sense to include something like wall-running in Hardline, but I did miss how mobile I am in other games--not just because it's fun to jump willy-nilly across rooftops but because it opens up more tactical options. In something like Dying Light a staircase is nothing but a suggestion. In Hardline, it can become a hard chokepoint.

On all that moralizing cop stuff

It's impossible (or at least irresponsible) to divorce games from a larger context, and the context when it comes to America's increasingly militarized police force? Not so great, the past few months.

Battlefield: Hardline 's multiplayerdoesn't feel like a police game or even a police movie. It feels like a military game where the soldiers forgot their uniforms and helmets, found a cache of surplus "POLICE" jackets, shrugged, and put them on.

So I could almost forget I was playing a police game and put it all behind me and pretend it's not really an issue, but there are still some gross aspects--like when you murder some criminal and bark out "SUSPECT DOWN!" Or beating a guy with a police baton until he dies. It feels weird.

And ultimately it's a bit interesting it feels weird. Apparently killing police is okay--not just in Hardline but in Grand Theft Auto and Payday, et cetera--but killing criminals as police seems wrong to me.

Oh well. Personal preference. And again, this is just one aspect (multiplayer) of what's eventually going to be a full package. I'm still holding out hope for a fun, cinematic buddy cop singleplayer campaign from Visceral.

Multiplayer, though? At the moment I'd rather stick to Battlefield 4.


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