Battlefield Hardline: Criminal Activity Preview

Multiplayer shooters thrive off of more content—more maps, more guns, more modes, the list goes on and on. It provides the core player base variety and choice in an otherwise repetitive process. You have to figure the average person who spends hours upon hours with a single multiplayer game repeats familiar scenarios countless times. Thus, the new Battlefield Hardline expansion pack Criminal Activity aims to bring more content to the multiplayer-focused shooter. I spent some hands-on time with the upcoming expansion, though I question whether the new content is enough to entice anyone other than diehard fans.

When a competitive shooter introduces a fresh coat of paint, it typically comes in the form of additional maps. Criminal Activity adds four new maps, each with its own artistic motif and architectural structure to promote different strategies. The most straightforward of the bunch is Backwoods, largely because its title succinctly sums it up. The outdoor area is a large one, so vehicles are constantly used to get from one capture point to the next in a heated game of Conquest. Its size also allows players to pick each other off from far away, as evidenced by the fact that I could rarely travel to capture points on foot without stepping in the line of fire. Another primarily outdoor map is The Beat, which features an apartment complex at night. There’s a verticality to the level with its many staircases, though the map also features plenty of paths that pour out into neighborhood streets.

The next map, Black Friday, wryly features a dilapidated mall. Again, the stairs encourage more environmental awareness, or simply produce more paranoia in my case. It’s a large mall, and it takes a while to travel from one end to the next. It provides plenty of opportunities to stealthily weave in and out of cover in an attempt to catch other players off guard.

It doesn’t quite stack up, though, to the nightclub in Code Blue, the most visually eye-catching of the new maps. The blue neon glow of the abandoned club heightens the sense of danger when you first step foot in it. Also, good luck working your way to the top when playing a game of Blood Money. The outskirts of the area provide plenty of ways in which to enter the club, adding an extra layer of strategy. Do I enter from the first or second floor? Trust me, it’s an important decision.

Criminal Activity also adds new equipment in the form of five weapons, one gadget, and two weapon attachments. The guns all fall under the Enforcer class, so Operator, Mechanic, and Professional fans are out of luck. The FAL was my personal favorite of the new weapons, though I tend to gravitate toward rifles in most shooters. The expansion also includes an explosive shotgun typically used to take down doors (KSG-12), another battle rifle (SG 510), the nail gun secondary weapon, and a M1A1 which will be free for all players in an upcoming update. The Break-In Kit gadget decreases interaction time for objectives, while the AP Tracer Rounds and Breaching Rounds fill out the equipment additions. Also, vehicle aficionados can look forward to the new Low Riders and Pickup Trucks for both cops and criminals.

The last piece of meaningful content in Criminal Activity is the new mode, Bounty Hunter. It’s a simple variation on Team Deathmatch in which dead players drop coins. Players must collect coins from corpses to score more points. One novel twist is that players can pick up their own teammates’ coins to prevent opponents from picking them up. It begs the question: Do I go out in the line of fire to pick up the coin staring me right in the face, or do I play it safe and wait for backup? It requires more patience than a typical game of Team Deathmatch, but it’s also too straightforward and does little to stand out from the crowd.

In fact, all of the content in Criminal Activity fails to make a big impact. The maps fit in well with the rest of the game and complement the existing modes well, but Bounty Hunter feels elementary and the new weapons seem largely forgettable. The expansion pack title seems like a misnomer considering the amount of content, but at some point it all devolves into semantics. In any event, Battlefield fanatics that continually play Battlefield Hardline will surely appreciate the new content, but I wonder how many others will feel the same way.

Battlefield Hardline: Criminal Activity comes out on June 16 for premium members, while the rest of the public will gain access to purchase and download it on June 30.

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