Battlefield Hardline and the Heist Game Dynasty

Battlefield Hardline’s cops-and-robbers theme represents a departure from the series’ usual grand-war setting, but it won’t be the first shooter to tackle high-intensity heisting. While you’re eagerly awaiting the release of Battlefield Hardline tomorrow, let us give you a few recommendations for games in the same tradition that you can chew on. Play these, and you’ll get a sense of some of Battlefield Hardline’s inspiration.

1) Payday 2 (Xbox 360) – Ask just about anyone who knows shooters to name their favorite heist game, and Payday 2 will be the first thing out of their mouths. Playable either alone or with three of your buddies (or three A.I. buddies, if you’re the less-than-sociable type), Payday 2 emphasizes stealth first and guns blazing second. Missions task you with robbing banks, sure… but it gets a lot more subtle, too. Intercepting drug shipments, rigging elections, and carrying out jailbreaks are on the menu, too.

Payday 2 not only provides players with branching, open missions that react and respond to player choices (shoot a hostage and folks may panic – or they may cower in fear), but also supplies characters that are much more than cookie-cutter criminal types. Did we mention that there’s a metric ton of content to choose from, including costumes, weapons, and the series’ trademark clown masks? Huge amounts of customization, randomization of mission events, and a slick Hollywood-movie look make Payday 2 the daddy of all heist titles. Oh, and it’s coming to Xbox One in a special “Crimewave Edition,” too.

2) Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbox One) Released just a few short months ago, the updated, up-rezzed, and up-awesome’d Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition for Xbox One is the ultimate open-world gangster experience. No game has quite captured the sense of being in a Hong Kong action film the way that Sleeping Dogs has, and no game gives you the chance to fight a bareknuckle kung fu match at the docks one minute, then take down a downtown financial institution the next, then master the art of mahjongg at the end of your night.

The nice thing about Sleeping Dogs is that you play an undercover cop – which gives you the ability to both bust bad guys and do bad guys stuff, at whatever whim strikes you. You’re never totally sure of which way the main character’s loyalty lies, and that makes for an engrossing, interactive storyline that draws you into your crimefighting (or crime-doing) missions.

3) Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine (Xbox 360) – If your preference is for style and stealth over bullets and brawn, you won’t do better than Xbox 360’s cooperative Monaco. A team of four footpads (chosen from eight possible characters) must handle a variety of sneaky missions, from prison escapes to art heists, and are rewarded for knowing when to move slow and quiet, and when to blow down the doors and haul ass. Each member of your team has a unique special ability (though every member can do every task, just not as quickly or slickly), so a key element of the game is optimizing your team for the mission at hand. The Locksmith, for example, can open doors and safes faster than anyone else, while the Gentleman has the ability to disguise himself as a civilian in guarded areas.

Monaco is great at conveying that Thomas Crown Affair feel, and its soundtrack, primary-colors-based visual scheme, and reliance on timing and teamwork all put players squarely in the middle of their own heist-movie experience. A higher class of heist from Battlefield Hardline, to be sure – but a fun one, nevertheless.

You’ve got a day until Battlefield Hardline debuts for Xbox One and Xbox 360 (unless you played early thanks to EA Access), so take these three great games and hone your stealth, aim, lateral thinking, and teamwork before it comes out. You’ll be the best thief on the block come release day, and you’ll have a blast getting there.