Battlefield: Hardline Launch Wrap Up – Multiplayer

Battlefield HardlineRounding out my coverage of the launch period for Battlefield: Hardline, today I’ll look at the multiplayer side of things on a whole. Yesterday I offered up my thoughts on the campaign, last week I went over each of the four playable classes, and before that we talked about Heist, Hotwire and Blood Money. Today I’m taking a bit more holistic look at that side of things.

The biggest question to me going in was just how much Hardline could differentiate itself from the previous games in the series with the setting change. There was absolutely the possibility that it would still feel like we were in the military, just in smaller cityscapes. In the end, I think DICE and Visceral did a pretty good job of getting the setting straight. There’s still a bit of that vibe in there, but reinforcing the cops and crooks at every chance helps fight it. That extends to the vehicles choices – cop cars with blaring sirens, or appropriated cars for the crooks; some of the weapons come straight out of pop culture for this kind of world – the Menz in the Hood achievement really sells that; but the best is through the player dialogue – every tag comes with some kind of comment, each side has comments that fit with their role.

Setting aside, the gameplay had to be as good as Battlefield 4‘s was at the end of its lifespan. I’ve always thought that the Battlefield formula made for the strongest online play – Battlefield 4 just had the troubled launch that hurt it. Fortunately, as of this point, Hardline has only had one hiccup – the DDoS during the launch – which helps keep the player base invested. The other really great thing going for Hardline is that there really isn’t another fresh FPS that’s drawing players away – Destiny and Call of Duty both already have established player bases; and Evolve really isn’t in the same boat. Finally, the fact that the game is actually a lot of fun thanks to the new game modes makes it all worthwhile. It’s pretty uncommon to have a game finish without one or two moments that make you go “Damn, that was cool.”

I went over three of the new gamemodes – Heist, Hotwire, and Blood Money – the three modes that I’ve been playing pretty exclusively. Each offer up just enough of a twist on the Battlefield formula to make it feel fresh, and each mode comes with a different set of ways to play within a team. Hotwire is a great way to get a high score, Blood Money and Heist both are good for frantic action. The four classes all feel distinct enough to make it easy to fill a role, and are all useful in just about any game mode. There really isn’t one weapon that feels truly overpowered – each class has plenty of options that all work.

Battlefield Hardline Bank Job

It’s not a perfect game, but that’s because no such thing exists. It’s really a super fun game to play – the campaign is alright enough, but the meat of the game is the multiplayer, which is pretty deep. The progression keeps you invested thanks to the money mechanic. The Premium subscription is a little expensive, but if it’s on the same level as Battlefield 4‘s it will be worth it in the long run. Special events, Gold Battlepacks, and early access to the DLC is always a nice thing. All things considered, Battlefield: Hardline is a fantastic entry into the series. It’s got a surprisingly engaging campaign, really deep multiplayer and a pretty solid looking future. It’s definitely worth looking into – I fully recommend it.

Battlefield: Hardline Final Campaign Impressions

Battlefield HardlineBefore I start diving into Borderlands: The Handsome Collection posts, I want to wrap up my thoughts on Battlefield: Hardline. Today I’ll look at the single player campaign, and tomorrow I’ll wrap up my thoughts on the multiplayer.

I’ll admit that I had somewhat lower expectations going into the story than I might normally for shooters. I was really unimpressed with the campaign in Battlefield 4, and I wasn’t sure just how much of an impact just adding in Visceral would make. I am happy to say that it’s definitely better than I thought going in. It’s not a masterpiece of storytelling or anything that grandiose; but as far as modern shooters, especially military ones, it’s clearly above average.

The actual story is pretty standard fare – player cop doesn’t like crooked cops, gets framed as one by crooked cops, gets broken out of custody and gets revenge – complete with an ambiguous ending as to his intentions. But it’s how it’s told that makes the story actually engaging. Breaking the game into Episodes – complete with narration every time you leave or come back to playing – gives it a kind of unique feel in the current mix. Having the first half of the game be a flashback, while certainly not a new convention, also helps give the characters at least some depth. Sure, some of the pathos is forced, but there’s at least some humanity in the characters. The actors behind the main characters all do a pretty solid job with their voice work – with a few cheesy bits here and there.

What surprised me the most as I played through the game was that it’s not actually an action/shooter – the game tries its damnedest to be a stealth game. You’re rewarded for not being seen, and taking down enemies non-lethally. I played on Veteran – cause I’m no chump – and it wasn’t particularly difficult. At least it isn’t if you play by the rules – tagging enemies and being stealthy makes it a joke – trying to guns blazing is a great way to fail immediately. It’s especially apparent in the few places where the game forces you into combat – there are a couple sections late in the game where you’re tasked with defending a room against a couple waves of enemies; which is the opposite of how the game wants you to play. It’s noticeably jarring – not a deal breaker, but something to keep in mind. The problem is that once you’ve maxed out your Expert Score, you have no incentive to play non-lethal. When I was cleaning up achievements, for speed’s sake I used silenced weapons to just pick off enemies – even on Veteran they were hilariously unaware of what was happening.

Battlefield Hardline Hotwire

Really though the biggest point that kept taking me out of the moment was, unfortunately, an incredibly common one. In the second half of the game, after you’ve been freed from prison, you still have to option to freeze enemies and arrest them – the non-lethal takedowns I mentioned above. The problem I have here is that you’re clearly not a cop anymore – and yet one of the stock voice clips for your target is to ask “Are you even a Cop?” But you still slap on a pair of handcuffs like it’s perfectly normal. Again, not a deal breaker, but every time that audio clip played, I picked up on it.

The game isn’t a super long campaign – ten episodes, of varying length, which should probably take you about 12-15 hours at most to clear thoroughly. All that I have left to do is beat the game again on the extra hard Hardline mode you unlock for finishing the game on Veteran. Each of the episode specific achievements are relatively simple – the toughest are probably completing Episode 5 without being spotted, and killing an enemy while escaping in Episode 9. It’s a fun little diversion from the multiplayer – I do recommend playing it, if for no reason other than it’s easy achievements.

Battlefield: Hardline Tips and Tricks – Professional

Battlefield HardlineRounding out the four playable classes in Battlefield: Hardline, today we’ll tackle the Professional. The Professional is Hardline’s sniper class – long range rifles and spotting are the name of the game. There’s always the risk in any online shooter to look down on sniper classes as “tryhards” or campers – but played properly, the Professional is a potential team all star.

Weaponry-wise, you’re looking at sniper rifles exclusively. You have a pick between bolt action rifles, or semi-auto rifles. The differences boil down to the obvious rate of fire, but also range and control. The semi-auto rifles have a bit less range, and potential control loss, but have a much higher rate of fire – they’re really built for closer to mid range sniping, like on some of the smaller maps. The bolt action rifles are all about long range power – powerful scopes, super accurate, with small clips. Pick your shots – or have an Enforcer give you ammo. Sniping in Battlefield always takes a little getting used to – unlike other games, like Call of Duty, there’s bullet drop and bullet speed to factor in. You need to lead your shots on moving targets, and also account for bullet drop. Now, the maps aren’t quite large enough to worry about a ton of drop – like in Battlefield 4 – but it’s definitely still present. You have plenty of rifles to look at too – there’s only one cross-team rifle aside from the Syndicate reward. So if you aren’t a fan of the Scout Elite (the default rifle) you’ve got a good amount of options. I personally like the R700 bolt action for the police – it’s a bit stronger per shot than the Scout Elite, but you do have to unlock all the attachments. In general, I have on Professional loadout with a bolt action rifle for longer range sniping, and a semi-auto for more mid range combat on maps like Bank Job.

In terms of gadgets, you’ve got a couple different nice options. You start off with the laser tripmine – a good way to defend your back while your focused on sniping. You’ve also got the placeable camera – which marks enemies that walk into it’s line of sight, a good team option. Beyond those two, you’ve also got the decoy gadget, which makes gunfire sounds, and creates false enemy icons on the other team’s minimap. The final choice is to take stealth training – which reduces your footstep noise, and also reduces the noises that actions make. Now the class assignment does require you to use the laser tripmines for the first one, and camera coins for the second; so you’ll probably want to get used to using them early. But beyond that, I think your gadget picks really depend on your playstyle – if you tend to hang back more, tripmines and decoys are probably a good pick. If you’re more of a close action sniper, the camera is really nice. Regardless, your most important role is to play as a spotter – you should, in theory, have a great view on lots of the battlefield. So make sure you spot any target you see – regardless of whether or not you get the kill. You’re probably not going to see a huge score if you focus solely on kills – you need to support your team in other ways.

Like the other three classes, as you help your team, you gain reputation to use for upgrades. The Professional is certainly the most focused on personal upgrades – there’s really only one upgrade that benefits the team. First though, your picks are either Fast Climb or Reduced Fall – useful for getting you into sniping nests. Second tier is either Advanced Spot or Fast Unspot – this is your team pick, with longer spots netting more potential kills. Third up is longer Hold Breath or Low Profile for explosives – both personal boosts, but focused on different aspects of the game. Finally, you get to pick either Fast Reload or Delayed Trigger.

Of the four classes, the Professional is a lot like the Operator – their roles are both pretty clearly defined. Operators play the medic role, and Professionals are your snipers and spotters. Both are extremely vulnerable to vehicles – most heavy vehicles have bullet proof glass – so even sniping the pilot is out. Just be smart – set up defenses for sniping, limit your flanking potentials and make sure you keep your eyes peeled, and I think you can seriously do some damage with the Professional.

Battlefield: Hardline Tips and Tricks – Enforcer

Battlefield HardlineWe’ve got two more classes to go over here with Battlefield: Hardline – we’ve already hit the Operator and Mechanic. Today let’s look at the class that I’ve played by far the most – the Enforcer. It’s a class built for power and speed – but still has a couple counters to keep it balanced.

The Enforcer is the class that you might not think you really need, but after spending a few hours with him, you realize he may be just as important as the Operator to a full squad. From a pure offense standpoint, the Enforcer might be the best all around pick thanks to his weapon choices. His default weapon, the 870P Magnum pump action shotgun, means that he’s purely a close quarters class. But Enforcers also have access to heavy battle rifles – weapons like the SCAR-H and SA-58 OSW – that give you a mid-long range option. They definitely cost a good chunk of change, but they really open up a whole second aspect to the class. Normally on maps like Downtown or Everglades, you would need to find a small area – preferably a building to lock down – but with the battle rifles, you can add in the lanes, and even better defend points. There are still some weaknesses here though – snipers still out range you, and even at close range, missing your shots with the shotguns can get you killed. Rate of fire in general with the Enforcer is pretty low – and recoil with the battle rifles is definitely an issue. Normally I recommend stubby grip for automatic fire recoil control; but with the battle rifles – especially the SCAR-H – I like the angled grip, to help a lot with the first shot recoil. Sights are always nice too – again, I like the green dot or micro RDS – and I like having the heavy barrel for a bit more control. Accessories are a little bit more based around the gun – on the SCAR-H, I recommend the stock; on the SA-58, I like the laser sight. The shotguns though are a whole different story. They have a pretty different set of priorities for their attachments. Sights, really are totally unnecessary – even when ADSing, I find the iron sights the best choice. You really will want the laser sight on, just for extra control when hip-firing, which will happen a lot. You could go with the 12G Slug, but I think the buckshot is ultimately the better choice – the range on all the shotguns is a bit more than you might think. Your barrel choices are a little limited too – either a modified choke or a full choke. Either one is a good choice – it tightens your spread a bit, and does make hip-firing a little less certain, but in the long run, both are worth taking. If you primarily find yourself hip-firing, I would go with the modified choke, just for the lesser penalty. One last weapon to mention is the Bald Eagle – the heavy pistol you get for finishing the second Enforcer assignment. It’s a beast of a handgun – small clip, huge recoil, but is a two shot kill at a pretty surprising range. I fully recommend using it as soon as possible.

Moving on from the weapons, we get to the meat of why the Enforcer is such an important class – the gadgets. The main gadget, and the one that I really think should be a part of every loadout you have, is the Ammo Box. You play the role of ammo man – keeping your other classes in the game full on their ammo. You should be dropping Ammo Boxes as much as possible around teammates. Within your squad, you should be aware of which players need ammo, and get them all squared up. Not only do you help your teammates out, but you also get points for it. Their other gadgets open up a couple different options. Of the two, I prefer the breaching charges by a large margin over the ballistic shield. The problem is that the ballistic shield is tied into the Enforcer Syndicate assignment – which you need to complete for the Menz in the Hood achievement. The ballistic shield functions just like you would think – it blocks bullets, and sometimes explosions. The problem is that it’s slow, one directional and really weak with its melee attack. You almost need a friend to help boost coins with it – incendiary grenades really make using the shield hard. On the other hand breaching charges are perfect for setting traps and taking down vehicles. The breaching charges are essentially this game’s answer to C4 – plantable, remote detonated explosives that do a ton of damage. I like using them in Blood Money to defend my vault – put one or two in sneaky places near the vault, and when you see it get raided, pull the trigger. They’re also great against the heavy vehicles – it takes a few to destroy the big ones, but they’re just as effective as any other anti-vehicle weapon. Plus you can set them down first to create a trap – really useful in Hotwire – setting down some on the outskirt road that drivers use.

As for the reputation boosts for the Enforcer, you have the usual pick between personal effectiveness and team play. Your first pick is between either Fast Throw or Reduced Fall; second is Fast Ready or an Upgraded Ammo Box; third is Fast Aim or an Extra Charge and finally between either Increased or Reduced Suppression. I almost always start with Fast Throw and Upgraded Ammo Box – but Fast Ready is just as useful in certain games. Fast Aim is pretty damn great, it does require some work to get to that level though and that final tier is actually a little underpowered I think. Suppression is great, but putting those boosts at the final tier of reputation is a weird decision.

Ultimately, I really love playing the Enforcer. It’s a class that essentially acts as a shock trooper – fast, powerful, and loud. There are definitely some weaknesses – ranged combat can be tricky depending on your loadout – but I really do think that the Enforcer can be a super important part of your team. Just try to finish up the ballistic shield stuff quickly so you can move on – it’s really not fun.

Battlefield: Hardline Tips and Tricks – Mechanic

Battlefield HardlineContinuing our run through of the four classes in Battlefield: Hardline, today we’re looking at the class that I’ve admittedly played the least: the Mechanic. While I haven’t put quite as much time into the Mechanic as the other classes, I still think I can provide a pretty solid base for some advice.

We’ll start with the primary weapons – which I’ll admit is probably the reason that I haven’t played a lot of Mechanic. Even though I’m a fan of close quarters, the SMGs that Mechanics have don’t really appeal to me – I have no real definite reason why, they just don’t. That said, I get killed by them all the damn time, so I know very well that they work quite well. The default weapon – the MP5K – comes with a pretty good set of attachments. You get a sight – the SRS 02 that I like a lot – as well as extended magazines equipped by default. Add in that it also has a suppressor and you have a really good choice for some flanking kills. It’s a set-up that can do some serious damage at close range – and it’s not even the best SMG available. In my opinion that either goes to the P90 or the MPX – both guns that I see way more frequently out there. The problem here is that all the weapons available all have limited range; there are some maps where playing as a Mechanic is a real slow grind.

With the range as limited as it is, it might seem easy to dismiss the class entirely. But the gadgets available to the Mechanic make up for it all. There’s actually a lot more flexibility here than we saw in the Operator. Putting it into Battlefield 4 terms, the Mechanic is blending together elements from the Engineer, Scout and Assault classes. They have the M79 grenade launcher unlocked by default – giving them some offense against vehicles. And with the presence of the repair tool, it’s easy to just say that the Mechanic is your vehicle fixer class only. That’s selling it a bit short. The vehicle options are there for sure – especially adding in the sabotage item, letting you booby trap cars; but there’s more here. The satellite phone gadget will let you place a mobile spawn point – letting your squad have an extra option to keep them in fight quicker, or set up some tactical moves. There’s still one more gadget even – the armored insert – which gives the Mechanic a little bit more toughness, helping them get close while taking fire. It’s not too hard to see that the Mechanic is a really flexible class – it’s not just focused on vehicles.

That flexibility is also present in the Reputation upgrades you unlock by playing the class. Your first Rep slot is either an Extra Grenade or Flak Jacket; the second is between Extra 40mm grenades or Fast Repair; the third slot is either Fast Aim or Delayed Explosive Trigger and the final slot is either Fast Reload or Fast Swap. With the first two slots, you can further increase your effectiveness against vehicles if you’re playing that role – otherwise you can help get your survivablility up a bit more. In general I think taking the Flak Jacket is the more important of the two upgrades at tier one – surviving explosives can be a really nice addition.

Even with the flexibility that the Mechanic does have, it’s still got a pretty serious downside to it. That of course being the range – it’s out performed at mid range by every class, and potentially even at close range by the Enforcer. The Mechanic definitely fills an important role on the team – especially on Hotwire. But where I think the Operator is the easiest to pick up and play, the Mechanic is on the opposite side of that coin. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but that makes playing it well that much more satisfying.

Battlefield: Hardline Tips and Tactics – Operator

Battlefield HardlineOver the next couple weeks I will be doing a bunch of class based guides. The first batch will be the classes in Battlefield: Hardline, then when I’ve finished up those, we’ll start hitting the Borderlands characters. Now, I already have written overviews for the four base characters in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel; but since then I’ve looked back at those posts and realized I could do much better – plus there’s two new DLC characters to talk about.

So we’ll start today with the Battlefield: Hardline classes. First up, the Operator – Battlefield: Hardline‘s answer to the classic Battlefield Assault class. The Operator is the medic of Hardline – the default gadget that comes unlocked is the health pack, and the revive gadget is a relatively cheap second choice. Really, that’s pretty much the extent of the Operator from a tactical standpoint. There is a third gadget available specific to the Operator – the Survivalist upgrade, which lets you revive yourself after being hit by a car, or explosives – but the main two would be the health pack and the revive tool. Because the Operator is essentially a medic, it’s a really important role within the context of a squad. I like to think a full squad should have at least 2 Operators, regardless of game mode.

I say that because Operators can keep your squad in the fight – not just health wise, but thanks to the revives they can provide. Having two eases the burden a little bit, without really taking away from the offensive capabilities of the squad. As an Operator, you’ll probably want to play a little more conservative – especially if you’re playing as part of a squad. If you go down, the squad loses its “extra lives,” so it’s important to grab cover and fight smart. Which brings me to weaponry. The Operator is probably the most flexible when it comes to primary weapons of the four classes, being able to select either carbines or assault rifles. These give the Operator a good option at pretty much any range, except for really long ranges. In the beta, I only really used the default carbine – the RO993 – because it was that good. It’s gotten a bit of a nerf since then, but it’s still a really good option – just pace your shots a bit more for anything outside of more than 20 meters. I also use the ACW I got for pre-ordering – it’s very similar in behavior. I like throwing on the SRS 02 for a sight, it’s a green dot sight with plenty of clarity; putting on extended magazines helps with the major downside of the Operator – ammo management; heavy barrel helps with the recoil at range; and the stubby grip helps when you do fire full auto. In general, that’s my set-up for any rifle – carbine, assault or battle – across all the classes. You should absolutely pick a sight that you like though – I just like ones with little zoom for my playstyle.

I very quickly hinted at the major downside of the Operator just above. It’s that the Operator is pretty dependent on the Enforcer for ammo. You don’t spawn with a ton of reserve clips, and all the weapons can burn through ammo very quickly if you aren’t careful. Now, if you’re in a squad with friends – the best way to play Battlefield – that’s really not an issue. You should be coordinating with each other as a squad anyway – and that includes ammo and health pack usage. But hopping a random server can be a bit of a crapshoot – the Enforcer has a bit more flexibility with gadgets as we’ll see – and you might be relying on picking up enemies’ gear. The other huge concern for Operators is heavy vehicles. I touched on this in my Hotwire post. As an Operator you really have no option to fight them – hand grenades do a little bit of damage, but are really tough to hit with, unless it’s stopped. Really, if your an Operator and a heavy vehicle is coming your way, your best bet is get out of there. Grab cover and leave – let the Enforcers and Mechanics deal with it.

The Operator is a really great class for players of any skill level, but I think it’s the easiest for new players to pick up. Your role is pretty easily defined, and easy to execute; you have weapons that behave well at any common range; and it does put you into a team frame of mind. Add in the non-specific gadgets like the gas mask and grappling hook/zipline and you have a lot more flexibility with a medic class than you might expect. The Operator might also be your best pick for a driver – keep the Mechanic in a passenger seat for repairs/combat – and as such, taking the stunt driver might not be a bad idea either. Also keep in mind your reputation boosts. Reputation is the Battlefield: Hardline equivalent to the Upgrade Path. You’re rewarded for playing as a team and playing the objective. As you get reputation, you get buffs that apply for the whole match. Operators have the following choices: at Rep 1, you choose between Extra Magazines or Fast Climb; at Rep 2, pick between Fast Ready or Healing Upgrade; at Rep 3, it’s either Fast Aim or Revive Upgrade and the final Rep is either Fast Reload or Fast Swap. Each point essentially boils down to an offensive upgrade, or a team booster. Pick the one that fits how you play your Operator, and you’ll do fine.

I like the Operator a lot – it was the class I played by far the most in the Beta. Since launch though I have started playing the Enforcer more, for reasons we’ll get into later. That said though, the Operator is really fun class, you can easily get a very high score playing well as a support guy. Just remember to keep dropping those health packs.

Battlefield: Hardline Heist Tips and Tactics

Battlefield HardlineContinuing our run-through of the new game modes in Battlefield: Hardline, today let’s take a look at Heist. If Hotwire is Conquest with wheels, and Blood Money is a Headhunter-like; then Heist is Neutral Flag. Unlike the other two game modes, Heist has defined roles – the criminal team is on offense, while the cops are on defense. Because of those defined roles, it does change up some of the tactics that you might want to use.

One thing to keep in mind right away is that the criminals are limited in their respawns. They have a limited ticket count that drops with kills, so while you need to be aggressive to get the loot out, you can’t be careless. Of course, there’s also a time limit, so just sitting back isn’t a great plan either. From the cops perspective though, the plan is pretty simple – defend as hard as possible. Initially, you’ll be focused on the vault/armored truck; but once they’re breached you need to keep an eye on where the extraction points are. Each one can only remove one bag – so when you see both heading to the same spot, it’s actually a benefit for the defense. You can switch focus to the other extraction point and keep them from getting out. As a crook, you really have to make sure that the points are clear – walking into an ambush with the loot is a really bad time. The cops can return the loot pretty easily – they don’t really need to be right on top of the bag. Putting the loot right where there’s a group of them makes it easier for them.

Battlefield Hardline Bank Job

Just like I’ve been saying with the other two game modes, probably the most important thing you can do is play as a team. Spot enemies – especially near the vault, and near the extraction points – on both teams. Play your class’s role – drop health and ammo, set up spawn beacons, deal with vehicles and spot and set up traps – and your score will shoot up. There are only a couple maps without vehicles again, so be prepared to have some kind of a plan to deal with them. Operators are pretty much out of luck against a lot of the cars, so if you play that class, don’t be afraid to spot and run.

When you do make your runs at the loot as a criminal, always keep your eyes peeled for explosives. Professionals and Enforcers both can put placed explosives down as traps – I recommended doing it in Blood Money to protect your team’s vault after all. It’s just as effective in Heist, albeit one-sided. Again – you can spot explosives, just like enemies – so spot them, and either shoot them, or disable them. You can use the interact button to disarm explosives you see – even the laser tripmines. One other important thing to keep in mind is that most maps with a set vault feature multiple points of entry – so don’t focus on one way in. Flank around behind and hit them there, or from above if that’s an option. Verticality is a big part in a few of the maps – with a couple having extraction points that are on roofs – Downtown and Bank Job both come right to mind.

Heist is an all around fun game mode – it’s got a lot of team work involved – and really does a good job of fitting in the world the game has built. The games can take a bit longer than Hotwire matches, or even Blood Money – or could be done and over with in a few minutes. I admit that Blood Money is still my preferred game mode, but Heist is a really great new addition to Battlefield.