Fading video game titan Electronic Arts used its pre-E3 media briefing today to launch Battlefield: Hardline, a cops vs. criminals spinoff of its big Battlefield military franchise that’s sure to court controversy every bit as much as Grand Theft Auto ever did. Wrapping up the hour-long presentation to media and analysts after mostly updating iterations to its many licensed sports franchises, EA executives showed off the Hardline title, which uses the Frostbite 3 graphics engine and other conventions from the namesake military franchise to set up an explosive face-off between cops and robbers.
“It’s much more like a great TV crime drama” than a typical first-person shooter, said Karl-Magnus Troedsson, general manager of DICE, the Swedish game designers behind the billion-dollar Battlefield franchise.
While the initial video game-play excerpts make the game look like a ton of fun, sort of like Michael Mann’s Heat in heat, even to the massive heist in downtown Los Angeles where seemingly every car commercial ever made is shot, it’s not hard to predict controversy ahead. That usually comes when you arm batches of wanna-be virtual bad guys with automatic weapons, rockets, grenades and helicopters, and charge them with figuring out how to get away with, say, an armored car heist in a more-or-less even, and wildly murderous, gun battle with the police. No word on when EA will offer up the downloadable content for the Great North Hollywood Bank Shootout of 1997. Regardless of whether that arrives soon, there is little doubt that Plenty of Concern will be voiced by plenty of critics when this game arrives in several months.
EA used the end of today’s event to officially launch the game’s beta test on PCs and Sony’s PS4 game console, including with a batch of systems with the game set up on the helipad of a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper. Interestingly omitted from the test was Microsoft’s Xbox One, which held its E3 briefing earlier today.
EA did unveil or elucidate details about plenty of other games for the year, including the latest versions of both EA football games, FIFA 15 and Madden NFL 2015 were on display, as were games tied to the NHL, UFC and even PGA Tour, a golf game with some decidedly different courses. PGA Tour uses the same graphics engine as Battlefield and will even include a “course” from the current iteration of the military game, Battlefield 4, complete with an out-of-control warship careening into the island/golf course.
Criterion Games, the British studio behind EA’s Burnout and Need for Speed franchises (the latter also a recent successful movie), is striking out in a new direction, showing extremely early material from a title that will involve using other motor vehicles, including ATVs, helicopters, planes, Jetskis and more. It’s clear the game was heavily influenced by the explosion in first-person videos shot by extreme-sports enthusiasts, typically using the mountable GoPro and similar video cameras. Now, players will be able to enjoy all that craziness with considerably less exposure to downsides like crashes and snagged chutes. The company also is launching a so-called MOBA, or multiuser online battle arena, called Dawngate, jumping on a fast-growing corner of the game business that has spawned mega hits such as League of Legends for Riot Games.