EA and Visceral's Battlefield Hardline was gearing up for a late 2014 release until the backlash from a recent multiplayer beta demanded a reaction from the developers.
To their credit, the companies involved didnt just forge ahead with a product to meet a release date, instead pushing the game into 2015 to ensure they have a title which satisfies the demand of the gamers. You don't often hear that.
So post beta and post delay, the game just had a showing at Gamescom with EA. Visceral's Steve Papoutsis took to the stage to show off some new multipayer modes as well as out first proper glimpse of singleplayer gameplay.
For the single player, you're in the SWAT boots of Nick Mendoza who goes to a meet and quickly gets in over his. He's captured with his partner (played by actor Eugene Byrd) and they have to escape. Handcuffed and weaponless, this is a different kind of Battlefield experience, and that's reflected in the gameplay.
Papoutsis says that you'll often have a non-lethal option in Hardline and that's show in the demo in a number of ways - choking out enemies, knocking them out with a blow to the head and later using fancy taser like gadgets to take them down. Of course it doesn't take long before the bullets do start flying and the demo player seemed more interested in shooting furniture than anything else. Gotta show off that Frostbite tech whenever possible.
The action then headed outside to a construction site like area (how original) where some more sneaking was in order. There's a new gadget in the form of the scanner which can help you find targets and avoid detection and a new skill in Freeze. Basically Nick will take out his badge and order enemies not to move. Then you'll have to keep your gun on them to hold them in place while you get close enough to cuff them. And punch them in the face a bit as well. Naturally.
This freeze mechanic was also inverted in the demo, an enemy approached and told you to keep your hands raised rather than shooting you on sight. Big mistake - so you grabbed his gun and use him as a human shield. The fighting escalated with some fairly standard shooting (that feels a little underpowered right now) with only the use of gadgets - like an instant zipline creator - really setting it apart. Though this might actually be a shooter where you care about the characters. Maybe.
Then multiplayer kicked off with a brief look at a new mode called Hotwire. Teams will rove the map in search of high value motors then steal them and try to get away while another group playing as cops move in to try to stop them. Could be a lot of fun.
The last piece was a multi mode called Rescue. It's new to Battlfield but has been seen before elsewhere - two teams of five act as hostage takers and SWAT. One invades, the other defends and it's one life per round, which should add some real tension to the mix. Here's a trailer. With the wrong name.
All in all, Hardline certainly looks like an interesting title, and it's trying to be different from the rest of the series. Of course, that still leave it very familar to anyone who has played a shooter in the last 10 years but if its a quality production and captures the attention of the multiplayer audience that won't matter.
Hardline hits PC and consoles in March2015.