Battlefield Hardline

The old Battlefield brilliance is still there, but the familiar gameplay fails to take advantage of the cops and robbers setting.


Key events

EA launches Origin Access for PC

EA launches Origin Access for PC

15 games, 4 a month.

EA has announced - and launched - Origin Access for PC. It costs 3.99 a month.

Origin Access is a similar offering to EA Access on Xbox One. Subscribers can download games from EA's Vault, play EA's PC games for a limited time before they're released, and save 10 per cent on Origin purchases.

15 games are available now (unfortunately no Star Wars: Battlefront). EA will add more games over time, it said:

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EA announces Competitive Gaming Division, led by Peter Moore

EA announces Competitive Gaming Division, led by Peter Moore

"Competition runs deep in the DNA of Electronic Arts."

EA is launching a Competitive Gaming Division (CGD) to be led by former chief operating officer Peter Moore

Moore's new title will be executive vice president and chief competition officer. "This group will enable global eSports competitions in our biggest franchises including FIFA, Madden NFL, Battlefield and more," EA stated in its announcement.

EA chief executive officer Andrew Wilson noted that the CGD will be based around the following "three core pillars":

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Battlefield Hardline details next DLC expansion Robbery

Battlefield Hardline details next DLC expansion Robbery

Adds new 5v5 game mode, due in September for Premium members.

Battlefield Hardline's next DLC expansion, Robbery, is due this September with early access for Battlefield Premium members, publisher EA has announced.

As detailed on the game's official site, Robbery will contain the following additions:

Four expansive maps: The Docks, Break Pointe, Museum, and Precinct 7

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Battlefield Hardline's first expansion Criminal Activity has a Nail Gun

Battlefield Hardline's first expansion Criminal Activity has a Nail Gun

UPDATE: New trailer shows maps, Dead Space mask.

UPDATE 26/05/2014 The first footage from Battlefield: Hardline's Criminal Activity expansion has been released.

Check out its new maps below. Also keep an eye out for its new masks too, including a throwback to developer Visceral's Dead Space series.

ORIGINAL STORY 21/05/2014 Battlefield Hardline's first downloadable expansion, Criminal Activity, comes out in June for Battlefield Premium owners, EA and developer Visceral has said.

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Sofa-nerfing Battlefield Hardline patch out now

Battlefield Hardline's sofa-nerfing patch is out now.

As well as reducing the health of the shooter's physics-defying sofa, update 1.0.2. rebalances a raft of the game's weapons, and adds the rent-a-server functionality to the console versions.

PC players will be particularly interested to hear developer Visceral has optimised the Battlefield Hardline game engine to increase graphics performance while anti-cheat system Punkbuster is running.

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Battlefield: Hardline trumps Bloodborne in March US retail sales

Battlefield: Hardline was the best-selling game in US retail for the month of March, according to analyst group NPD.

Bloodborne came in second. Then again, Bloodborne also came out near the end of the month on 24th March, while Battlefield: Hardline was released a week earlier on the 17th. Hardline's also available on multiple consoles, whereas Bloodborne is exclusive to the PS4.

While Bloodborne did quite well, it didn't manage to set a record for PS4-exclusive titles, an honour still held by inFamous: Second Son. "The launch of Bloodborne ranked as second overall in software sales this month, but also has the second highest sales for the debut month of a first-party game on the PS4, after inFamous: Second Son, in March 2014," noted NPD Group's Liam Callahan.

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Battlefield Hardline review

The traditional nostalgic view of boys at play is that old playground classic of 'war', where kids pelt around the tarmac making "akka-akka-akka" noises and pretending to shoot each other with machine gun sticks. The alternate to that scenario is, of course, cops and robbers, so it makes sense that for its first foray outside of the military milieu Battlefield would swap tanks for squad cars.

We've already taken a look at Hardline's campaign, so won't be wasting any more time on it for this review. Suffice to say, for all its TV cop show presentation, it's a disappointingly limited, linear and lifeless effort that favours clunky stealth over full-blooded action. At best, you'll hammer through it in order to earn a stack of bonus Battlepacks for use in the real meat of the game: multiplayer.

While the campaign at least pays lip service to the idea that you're playing as an officer of the law, giving you the option to arrest enemies for more XP but not really caring if you shoot them in the back either, such details are absent from online play. Here, it's kill or be killed, due process be damned. If you shoot a criminal in the head with a sniper shot from 100m, or grind him to paste under the wheels of a truck, it's all good.

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Face-Off: Battlefield Hardline

Visceral Games' cops-and-robbers shooter may bear many similarities to its predecessor in its core tech, but Battlefield Hardline's single-player shows a key change to how PS4 and Xbox One performance stacks up. While our multiplayer analysis suggested only conservative tweaks to DICE's engine, the solo play brings out some different results in frame-rate metrics - for better and worse. Testing both console editions in identical scenes, the clear advantage once held by Sony's platform with Frostbite 3 is no longer a resolute one, though its raw pixel-count remains an advantage.

The first thing to note is Hardline's single-player follows a different, more plot-driven formula than previous games in the series. Mimicking the format of a modern crime drama, its characters are put centre-stage with a heavy push for motion-captured cut-scenes, backed by a film grain post-process effect. A great many of these sequences are rendered in-engine, and at least on a technical level, the game strikes a surprisingly high standard of facial animation this side of LA Noire's MotionScan tech.

Alas, a good chunk of these scenes are simply pre-encoded video files. Each format uses the exact same quality of compression here, and as a result all boast a sizeable total download size of between 36GB to 44GB, with consoles veering towards the upper end. To a point, the use of pre-rendered cut-scenes minimises the impact of the lower native resolutions on console - the video sequences are locked to 1080p and 30fps. However, as with the multiplayer side, we can confirm the PS4's solo gameplay still runs at a 1600x900 native resolution, while Xbox One sits at 1280x720.

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Performance Analysis: Battlefield Hardline Multiplayer

FeaturePerformance Analysis: Battlefield Hardline Multiplayer

Visceral aims for 60fps gameplay on PS4 and Xbox One - but high player counts can impact performance.

With much to prove after Battlefield 4's stability woes at launch, the delayed Hardline takes no chances in getting it right. Having tracked the game's progress since its early E3 2014 reveal, the recent beta showed a clear advance in overall performance levels, promising a more polished end product on day one. Today, we have the final PlayStation 4 and Xbox One code to hand, where to varying degrees we see Visceral Games' efforts paying off - though it's clear a locked 60fps is still a hard won fixture on console.

As before, frame-rate in console Battlefield is at the mercy of three factors: player count, transparency effects, and the use of Frostbite 3's physics engine. Given the full breadth of nine multiplayer maps, we can now move past the beta's familiar areas (Downtown, Dust Bowl and Bank Job) to see how the balance of the maps fare. A direct comparison between PS4 and Xbox One is not possible given the variables at play here, but as a broad indication the results show an intriguing trend.

Cranking the player count up to 64, some maps hold up in performance terms more adeptly than others. As ever, triggered events like the collapsing of the Hollywood Heights' central building cause big momentary drops - similar to the crashing crane on the Downtown stage. However, it's compact maps such as The Block that strain PS4 and Xbox One more consistently, where sustained periods at between 40-50fps are possible when a match is in full flow.

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VideoVideo: Battlefield Hardline's image problem

You have the right to remain violent.

Battlefield Hardline has come under fire before (ha ha guns) for being a 'wacky' militarised police game, scheduled for release at a time when tensions with the police are particularly strained stateside.

More than six million played Battlefield Hardline beta

More than six million people have played the Battlefield Hardline beta, publisher EA has said.

Steve Papoutsis, boss of developer Visceral, said he was "thrilled" by the impressive number of players, and had already begun improving the final game based on feedback gathered from the beta.

This, despite the fact Battlefield Hardline launches in just five weeks, on 17th March.

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Performance Analysis: Battlefield Hardline beta

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Battlefield Hardline beta

Digital Foundry reveals PS4 and Xbox One metrics and impressions.

Last summer's PS4 Battlefield Hardline beta disappointed us with its sub-par frame-rate and a notable lack of visual refinements over Battlefield 4. Surely we should expect more from a triple-A title based on a key franchise? With a new beta released this week, we were eager to see what improvements had been made, based on code that should fall closely into line with the performance profile of the final game, due next month. We've already taken a look at the PC version running on a high-end PC, and it runs as expected but what about the console versions? Have things improved?

Well, the 720p/900p rendering set-ups for Xbox One and PS4 respectively are a genuine disappointment, but the good news is that performance has increased significantly since last year's E3 beta, which often dipped below 40fps in taxing scenes. The big revelation on playing this new code is that overall frame-rates are significantly improved: the urban map from last year's sampler returns, delivering much better performance with minimal dips in frame-rate even during the massive environmental destruction episodes. The new modes all seem to operate very smoothly, maintaining a stable 60fps throughout most of the match.

It's only when returning to Battlefield's classic 64-player Conquest Large mode that familiar problems begin to crop up. Jumping into a full scale battle across the game's new Dust Bowl map - closest in scale to Battlefield 4's larger stages - demonstrates plenty of performance hitches and dips on both consoles, more noticeable on Xbox One but still an issue on PlayStation 4. The prolific use of alpha transparency effects appears to contribute to the issues, but on top of that, it seems that the increased player count causes its own impact to frame-rate too - perhaps because of the increased CPU load.

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Video: Watch us play Battlefield Hardline's open beta LIVE from 5PM GMT

If yesterday's written preview and trio of videos managed to pique your interest on Battlefield Hardline, but still weren't quite enough to swing a decisive opinion either way, you might want to tune in to our YouTube channel from 5pm GMT, where video producer Ian Higton will be taking on the game's Hotwire mode as part of Hardline's Xbox One open beta. The beta runs from today until Sunday February 8, so feel free to jump into the stream and send an invite request to get involved. Frankly, judging by the videos he published yesterday, Ian could use the practice.

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Digital Foundry: Hands-on with the Battlefield Hardline PC beta

Best known for its Dead Space trilogy, developer Visceral Games takes the baton - and indeed, the Frostbite 3 engine - from DICE to build a Battlefield universe all of its own. Early access to the multiplayer beta launching today shows that the gameplay has changed in that handover to support its new cops and robbers theme. But as a pure technical exercise, does the maxed-out PC experience leapfrog its predecessor?

It's safe to say that, for its multiplayer component at least, changes to the engine aren't on a monumental scale, based on tests run at ultra settings. Visceral promises that AI is extensively rewritten from the series' military outings, but underneath, the rendering technology is visibly close to that of Battlefield 4's. Reflections rely on a similar mix of real-time and baked-in methods, depending on your perspective of a scene - and the game's HBAO shading still looks odd up close, cutting off the effect at the ends of objects and hands in a way that looks closer to the screen-space approach.

However, despite its quirks, the per-pixel lighting remains gorgeous as ever, and each map design benefits from strong artistic direction. It's worth noting that this beta leans more on medium sized maps, focusing on the LA bustle of Downtown, and the junction surrounding the Bank Job's vaults. That said, given the level of detail iron-pressed into these smaller areas - including the impressive number of destructible elements - they rank among the more adaptive maps we've seen from the series yet.

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Video: Everything you need to know about the Battlefield Hardline open beta

Battlefield Hardline's open beta runs for five days this week, showing off three new maps and modes for the squad based cops-vs-robbers shooter. Players on PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 will be able to try out Hotwire, Bank Job and Heist Mode until the 8th of February. Ian got a sneak peek at what the beta has to offer, bringing you his impressions and two big old chunks of gameplay. For Ian's take on the beta, check out the first video below:

Or, to just enjoy pure gameplay with no additional voiceover, fill your boots with one or both of the two links below:

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The Battlefield series has, to date at least, been faithful to the ideas that made it a hit from the start. It's the chaos of letting 64 combatants loose across a giant map, free to rip through the ocean waves in boats, or rocket to the sky in a chopper with your team-mates buckled up. And then watching them bail out, one by one, as each slowly twigs that you have absolutely no clue how to control the thing.

Battlefield Hardline open beta launches 3rd February

EA has announced details of the upcoming Battlefield Hardline open beta, which is due to take place next week between Tuesday 3rd and Sunday 8th February.

Players will be able to test the cops and robbers shooter across all of its platforms - PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Developer Visceral will include three modes to try out: the high-speed chase centred Hotwire, the classic Conquest mode and the new Heist offering.

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Battlefield Hardline's next beta has no level cap

Battlefield Hardline's next beta has no level cap

"To be frank, we want you to play this to death."

EA has detailed its plans for the next Battlefield Hardline beta, which will launch for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Hardline developer Visceral Games has said that the beta will allow you to progress through the game's upgrades as far as you can, without a cap on your max level.

There's no launch date yet, but when the beta does arrive it will include two maps (Dust Bowl and Downtown), plus two modes.

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It's hard to really understand EA's Battlefield reveals. When DICE, once revered as the kings of multiplayer before all that messiness with Battlefield 4, make a new game, it's the lacklustre single-player that's always first sent blinking into the wider world. When Visceral, the studio that cut its teeth in the savage single-player adventures of Dead Space, steps into the fray, it's the multiplayer that we see first. Surely they've got that the wrong way round?

How Hardline is learning from Battlefield 4's rocky launch

How Hardline is learning from Battlefield 4's rocky launch

And what the delay has brought to Visceral's shooter.

Battlefield 4 hasn't had the greatest year. Its launch was riddled with problems that EA itself deemed "unacceptable", and while over the course of 12 months many of those have been addressed - and, indeed, while it has seemingly come the norm for triple-A games to ship with serious issues - faith in the Battlefield brand has been dented.

Visceral's Battlefield Hardline, a spin-off that takes the gunplay of the series and places it in a gritty world of cops and criminals, needs to restore some of that faith, something it made move towards when EA released a multiplayer beta earlier this year that was arguably more stable than its mainline companion. So what has the studio learnt from the problems faced by Battlefield 4?

"When you ask what did I learn, or what did we learn, all game developers know it's important to launch a stable game, a bug free game, because that equates to fun," Visceral's general manager Steve Papoutsis told Eurogamer at a recent press event. "It's unfortunate that Battlefield 4 had a rocky launch, and a lot of effort's gone into rectifying that. We at our studio pride ourselves in doing our best - as do many, or all developers - to release bug-free software that works. But these games are complex, and when you're working on five platforms simultaneously it is a challenge. What's resonated with us is we need to keep an eye on it.

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Battlefield Hardline release date announced

Battlefield Hardline release date announced

As EA reports impressive financial results.

Battlefield Hardline launches on 17th March 2015 in North America, 19th March 2015 in Europe and 20th March 2015 in the UK, EA has announced.

Developer Visceral's cops and robbers-inspired Battlefield spin-off had once been due out this month, but was delayed to early 2015 following feedback from the summer beta.

The announcement came as part of EA's fiscal 2015 Q2 financial results, which saw record revenue of $1.22 billion. The same quarter last year saw revenue of $1.04 billion.

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Battlefield Hardline launches with nine maps and seven modes

EA has confirmed that first-person shooter Battlefield Hardline will launch with nine maps and seven game modes.

Steve Papoutsis, boss of developer Visceral, told YouTuber JackFrags that five of the game modes were never-before-seen in the Battlefield franchise.

MP1st points out that the confirmed game modes so far are Hotwire, Rescue, Blood Money, Heist, Conquest and Team Deathmatch, so there's one left to go.

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The Payday 2 website has been updated with news of another upcoming DLC pack, but you may be forgiven for thinking you've clicked through to a different game by mistake. The page is a pretty spot-on parody of EA and DICE's Battlefield series, right down to the logo, glowing orange and teal colour scheme and pounding soundtrack.

Battlefield Hardline's single-player story details emerge

Battlefield Hardline's single-player story details emerge

You play as a framed cop who goes underground.

After months of keeping mum about it, Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral Games has finally spilled the beans on what its upcoming shooter's single-player campaign is about.

As reported by Polygon, the developer explained in a San Diego Comic-Con panel that it will focus on a cop named Nick who's been framed following a drug bust gone wrong in what creative director Ian Milham referred to as "desert, Breaking Bad meth country." To clear his name, Nick must go undercover and collaborate with the criminal underworld. As such, we'll see both sides of the cops & robbers dynamic play out.

The single-player campaign will star Eugene Byrd (Bones, 8 Mile) and Kelly Hu (X2, the Scorpion King) in major roles, while Sons of Anarchy actor Benito Martinez and The Shield's Mark Rolston will also play a part in it.

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Visceral outlines changes sparked by Battlefield Hardline beta

The first Battlefield Hardline beta has been and gone. And now the dust has settled, developer Visceral has outlined the changes it will make to the game based on player feedback.

In a post on the Battlefield website, lead multiplayer designer Thad Sasser revealed the CMW - the Community's Most Wanted. "Yes, we are listening!" he said.

Changes are being made to movement, suppression, camera shake and vehicles, among other things.

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Another Battlefield Hardline beta coming this autumn

Another Battlefield Hardline beta launches this autumn, EA has announced.

In a post on the Battlefield blog, Visceral boss Steve Papoutsis said this second beta would be made available to all platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The recent beta, now closed, was an attempt to get early feedback from players, Papoutsis said.

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YouTube premieres 60 fps video with Battlefield: Hardline trailer

YouTube is finally bolstering its video playback to support 60 frames-per-second.

Soon you'll be able to keep up with the buttery smooth gameplay that this latest generation of consoles frequently boasts about. "Your video game footage with crazy high frame rates will soon look as awesome on YouTube as it does when you're playing, when we launch support for 48 and even 60 frames per second in the coming months," YouTube noted on its company blog.

It further noted that some developers are previewing their 60 fps videos on the YouTube Creator Channel. This includes some footage of Visceral's upcoming cops & robbers shooter Battlefield: Hardline, along with already existing titles like Titanfall.

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EA addresses "unacceptable" Battlefield 4 launch

EA addresses "unacceptable" Battlefield 4 launch

DICE changes the way it makes games ahead of Battlefield Hardline.

EA has addressed what the boss of the company has described as the "unacceptable" launch of Battlefield 4 - and detailed the new processes it has put in place to prevent it from happening again.

In detailed interviews with Eurogamer, EA CEO Andrew Wilson and DICE general manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson said the development teams behind the Battlefield series had learned their lesson the tough way after Battlefield 4 launched in a state many players labelled broken.

Battlefield 4 released late last year for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, with a target of 60 frames per second and 64-player multiplayer on next-gen consoles.

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EA extends Battlefield Hardline closed beta

EA has extended the Battlefield Hardline closed beta for an additional week.

It now ends on Thursday 26th June at 12pm PST, which is 8pm UK time.

EA has also opened up the closed beta to PC players, although it's worth noting you need a Windows 7 or 8 64-bit PC to play.

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Battlefield Hardline beta performance analysis

Digital FoundryBattlefield Hardline beta performance analysis

Has Frostbite 3 really hit 1080p at 60fps on PlayStation 4?

You've got to hand it to EA for a slick piece of fan-service. After completing its press conference with an action-packed look at Battlefield Hardline, the firm revealed that it was releasing beta code for PC and PS4 immediately, with none other than Sony VP of publishing and developer relations Adam Boyes popping up on stage to reveal how BF4 owners could get instant access to the code in all of its "1080p, 60fps glory". Live-streaming to the world is one thing, releasing code direct to gamers there and then is quite another - it's the ultimate crowd-pleaser, in this case marred by just one fact: the PS4 beta doesn't live up to the claims made for it.

Probably the biggest criticism levelled at Hardline is that it's a full-price release that looks and feels remarkably similar to Battlefield 4, to the point where some have suggested that it could have been released as a DLC expansion to the existing game. Based on our testing, the similarities between the two titles extend still further, down to the technological underpinnings of the game itself: Hardline's implementation of the Frostbite 3 engine is an extremely close match to Battlefield 4's. On PS4, we see the same 1600x900 native rendering resolution and identical post-process anti-aliasing, along with a performance profile that's similar - perhaps possibly worse - than its DICE stablemate's.

Of course, this is beta code, with all the disclaimers that should be attached; the game is still in development and there is likely to be a significant optimisation effort - but the reality is that Hardline has a long, long way to go before it can be said to hit a sustained 60fps. In an E3 that has been defined to a great extent by increased developer confidence with the new wave of gaming hardware, it's difficult not to be disappointed with a sampler that is presenting us with a visual experience reminiscent of a title brought to market last year, at a time when studios were only just getting to grips with the new systems.

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The Hardline beta: it's Battlefield, but it works

The most amazing thing about the Battlefield Hardline beta on PC? It works. No black screens. No hard crashes. No rubber-banding. What relief after months of tussling with DICE's rarely functioning Battlefield 4. Those struggles had started to feel like features. Yet Visceral's debut in the Battlefield universe (as it will likely be called from now on) runs like clockwork, even at this stage.

Admittedly, it's only having to host one fairly small map and a pair of game modes, so all is not necessarily rosy just yet. The map here is called High Tension, an approximation of downtown Los Angeles - appropriately for E3 week - constructed around a central hub of tunnel and overpass, while towering skyscrapers peer onto the carnage below.

Despite EA's protestations that Hardline is a cops-and-robbers simulator, this is still very much the Battlefield you know and love/hate. Appropriate, given then game's name, and obviously compelling, but also off-putting to those expecting a completely new experience. Here military jeeps are replaced by cop cars (or silver sedans if you're playing as the criminals), Engineers are called Mechanics, and M-Coms are now Vaults. Squint, though, and you're back in Siege Of Shanghai.

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Battlefield Hardline beta launches today for PC, PlayStation 4

EA is launching the Battlefield Hardline beta today - an unusual step for the franchise - for PC and PlayStation 4.

You can sign up for the beta now via the Battlefield Hardline website (well, not right now - at time of writing the sign-up option isn't currently there - Edit: It's now live).

PS4 players who own Battlefield 4 can access the beta by highlighting the game's tile on your console screen.

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Battlefield Hardline trailer reveals October release date

Battlefield Hardline, the franchise's new cops and robbers spin-off, will launch on 21st October 2014.

That's a US date - and the series isn't known for worldwide launches - meaning Europe will likely get the game a few days later on Friday, 24th October. We're checking with EA now to make sure.

Hardline is being developed by Dead Space studio Visceral Games, which will apply its brand of storytelling to Dice's shooter franchise.

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Last year, Call of Duty: Ghosts tried to get us excited about a dog. This year, Battlefield Hardline is trying to get us excited by throwing in a bit of, well, Dog Day Afternoon. Developer Visceral Games is adamant that this isn't the Battlefield you're used to, because it's shifting its focus from saving-the-world military battles to tense skirmishes in familiar settings.

EA makes Battlefield Hardline official

UPDATE: internal gameplay video leaks online, is then pulled, but we have all the details.

UPDATE 3: EA is working to have the leaked Battlefield Hardline gameplay video removed from the internet (good luck with that), so we thought it useful to round up all the information it divulges in text form.

Police-themed Battlefield Hardline details leaked via Battlelog update

Details of the next Battlefield game, apparently titled Battlefield Hardline, have been spotted online following a new Battlelog update.

Internally code-named Havana and in development at Dead Space studio Visceral Games, the police and thieves-themed spin-off has been rumoured for some time.

A logo and artwork for Battlefield Hardline were spotted lying on EA's server today, along with a set of "BFH" icons for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One (thanks, GetBlog). "BFH+" icons, presumably for those with Battlefield Premium, are also present.

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