My next obsession: Lawbreakers

You’ve probably seen me gush recently in regards to Overwatch (godDAMN I love that game), and if you know me, you’ll know I’m total enamoured with Destiny (and soon, Destiny 2), but another game has recently shown up on my radar, and … yeah. I think I need more time in my day.

Lawbreakers is the brainchild of Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, and best known for Unreal Tournament and the Gears of War titles. Cliff left game development for an early “retirement” in 2012, but popped his head back up in 2014 to announce the formation of Boss Key Productions and the forthcoming FPS they were working on, which turned out to be Lawbreakers. Along with an experienced development team, Boss Key Productions has worked towards their goal of developing a fast-paced arena shooter, unhindered by the expectations of large developers and jaded executives in suits…

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To be honest, I had no interest in Lawbreakers initially. Cliff Bleszinski has somewhat of an abrasive personality at times, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him or the game he was creating. I’ve since realised I shouldn’t form my opinion of a person based on how they’ve been portrayed online (especially considering I don’t know the guy personally), and so I’ve come to understand and appreciate his perspective – make something you truly love, and be honest about it in the process.

Lawbreakers was initially announced as a free-to-play FPS arena shooter for PC only. It raised an eyebrow initially – because let’s face it, both Unreal Tournament and  the Gears of War series are brilliant – but the “PC only” component dulled my excitement almost instantly. While I did start my FPS gaming on a PC with Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake back in the ’90s, I’ve never really considered myself a PC gamer. As a result, I almost completely ignored Lawbreakers ever since that initial announcement.

…Until this year’s E3. I didn’t know Lawbreakers was going to be there – I had no idea if it had been released or anything at all about the game, to be honest. It wasn’t on screen at any of the big press conferences I generally watch, but it was there, and I heard bits and pieces of information trickle through here and there. And then I heard the most important thing – Lawbreakers was coming to PS4, and it was coming SOON. So I thought I’d check it out.

And boy, am I glad I did. Over the last 2 or 3 days, I think I’ve watched at least 5 hours of Lawbreakers Beta videos on YouTube. At first I wanted to see what it was all about. Then I started to like what I was seeing. Soon, I fell head over heels with what I was watching, and now I can’t get enough. I even jumped on my PC to see if I could still download the Beta, but alas, it finished last week… But it’s no big deal – the game will be released in a month’s time.

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What is Lawbreakers, anyway?

I’ve said it a few times now – it’s a fast-paced arena FPS, but what does that even mean? Well, first and foremost, this is a first-person shooter, that much is clear. It’s super fast, and is multiplayer only, pitching player against player on enclosed maps. But more than all of this, there are team-based objectives, and combat is entirely role based.

But… that just sounds like Overwatch? It does, sure, but in practice, they really are different games. Overwatch is very much team and role based – if you don’t structure a team based around the roles available to the heroes, you probably won’t win. Lawbreakers is very much SKILL based – different roles will certainly help, but it really comes down to how good you are at shooting. In a way, Lawbreakers is simply an FPS with a bunch of different playable characters to fall in love with. It’s this difference that has hooked me – but don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Overwatch. I really enjoy learning the different roles and performing that task in my team, but I really miss being that kick-ass damage dealer getting all the frags. In Lawbreakers, it looks like I can have both.

In fact, as much as I do love Overwatch and Destiny, there are aspects of each that annoy me. With Destiny, for example, not only is there a distinct lack of balance (based on the fact that the weapons used in the multiplayer arenas are randomly awarded), but there’s also a real lack of “competitive feel”, for want of a better term. And Overwatch, while it’s an AMAZING team game, it almost feels like a strategy game or a MOBA, and not so much a shooter. With Lawbreakers, there’s no concern there – the player roles are different and offer different pros and cons, but skilled players can destroy regardless of who they pick. Some characters will play better at close range, others at long range, while others are melee-based, while in Destiny anything goes, and in Overwatch, there are hard and soft counters to every character, so it’s as important to understand the role just as much as it is to be skilled at playing. More than that, some of the roles don’t really need to rely on any shooting at all – there’s a real “inclusive” feel to Overwatch allowing players of all types and skill levels to prove their worth.

If the subtext is eluding you – I just want to shoot stuff in the face sometimes, and I want to not only feel like a badass doing, it but I want it to feel balanced and competitive. Lawbreakers is going to fill that gap. There’s room for everything – all three of these titles are different enough to not really justify one over the other – so the biggest issue I will have now is trying to figure out how to split my time between three games that I want to play equally.

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When? Where? How much?

Lawbreakers is coming to Steam and PS4 on August 8, 2017, for the comparably low price of $29.99 USD on Steam and $44.95 AUD on the PlayStation Store. Boss Key Productions have promised no paid DLC – all new maps and characters will be offered free of charge for the life of the title (per Overwatch, naturally), but there will likely be paid content along the lines of Loot Boxes – but again, only for cosmetic items. It’s worked amazingly well for Overwatch, and if they get the design right, it’ll work well for Boss Key as well.

My main concern – and one of the reasons I wrote this post, if I’m totally honest – is that Boss Key isn’t Blizzard. They don’t have the name, and while they certainly have the pedigree, they don’t have the marketing power. It’s not really about COMPETING against Overwatch, because I think that’s a losing battle from the start, but it’s more about getting enough word out there that the game amasses a large enough player base to stay afloat, and to stay afloat for years. That’s how much I fell in love with Lawbreakers – enough to spend time writing a post so that I can hopefully influence at least one of my three readers to join me.

Here – watch this video I found (the name made me laugh) and join my obsession.

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