The lights are on
As the first studio outside of DICE to lead the creation of a Battlefield title from start to finish, I wondered just how much of an affinity the Visceral team would have for the franchise. How much experience would the team have with the Battlefield legacy? In executive producer Steve Papoutsis' case, he's been with the series since the beginning. He says he first cut his teeth with Battlefield 1942, and frequently used the release of a new Battlefield game as a reason to upgrade his PC. After sharing his passion with DICE general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson, they brought up the idea of Visceral doing its own take on the brand. The idea they settled on, a cops and robbers motif, had actually been percolating through the DICE offices for some time
Before Visceral would be given the keys to DICE's flagship franchise, Papoutsis says they needed to get their "sea legs." To learn the ropes, the team led the development of the Battlefield 3 expansion pack End Game, which re-introduced capture the flag and included new vehicles like motorcycles. Once the team had its footing, it began the Hardline project in earnest.
As a long-time Battlefield fan, Papoutsis knew one of the major issues that has always faced Battlefield multiplayer - accessibility. If a new player isn't taken under the wings of an experienced player, it can take quite some time to familiarize him or herself with the nuances of the teamplay. With Hardline, Papoutsis and his team are making some adjustments to make sure new players are caught up to speed, and some of the changes may please Battlefield veterans as well.
Have you ever repeatedly requested an ammo or health pack only to have your teammates ignore you? Now you can get the service you need by simply walking up to a teammate of that class and holding down a button. Visceral is also adding more voiceover work to keep players abreast of the objectives. To reward teamplay, the developers are also adding group bonuses that give you more points for tackling objectives together.
Right now Visceral is only showcasing its Heist and Blood Money modes, but when I asked Papoutsis about the classic modes he admitted the team plans to include conquest and team deathmatch as well. Hardline also features the hardcore modifier so players who prefer a more realistic experience. After you finish matches you are rewarded with experience, but in a twist on the Battlefield formula you are granted cash payouts as well. Players can use these rewards to purchase new weapons, attachments, and gadgets, many of which will be blocked until you reach a particular level or spend enough time with a weapon.
Hardline features thematic analogs to the standard Battlefield classes, but you aren't locked into class-specific weapons. If you have enough cash to burn, you can purchase a weapons license to port weapons to other classes. These won't be cheap, but it's a great option to have if you have a thing for a specific gun. You can also save up to four customized presets so you can save your favorite loadouts.
Battlefield standards like destructibility, vehicular play, and Levelution are also making appearances, but expect the maps to have a different feel than traditional Battlefield maps. The locations that cops and robbers face off in can be dramatically different than the oil fields, ports, and strongholds that typically serve as military settings. Hardline features two primary settings, Southern California and Florida, and Visceral plans to feature both urban and rural environments.
When I asked about Commander mode, Papoutsis said they are considering it, but have nothing to announce at this time. Look for more updates on Battlefield: Hardline's multiplayer as we spend more time with the beta currently available on PlayStation 4 and PC. Be sure to check out Kato's impressions of the game as well.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
No one has commented on this article.