Initial Release: 8th August 2017
“LawBreakers is undoubtedly one of the stronger titles we’ve seen in 2017, as it truly captures the essence of competitive first person shooters that has since been lost to Call of Duty. Of course the game still has a lot left to do, from adding bigger incentives like better loot, to fixing many of the issues fans are currently facing. Once addressed however it isn’t hard to see LawBreakers rise to the top, having the potential to even become the alpha of the E-Sports scene.”
Although competitive shooters have been around for quite some time, only a handful has managed to reinvigorate the genre the same way Overwatch has done over this past year. Setting a new standard for hero-based multiplayer action, many have tried and failed to dethrone Blizzard‘s currently most popular IP.
Enter LawBreakers, an exhilarating new title brought to you by Boss Key Productions under the guidance of veteran designer Cliff Blezinski. While it carries many elements borrowed from today’s multiplayer conventions, it is anything but the same old thing. Introducing an entirely fresh combat system and a demand for actual skill level, LawBreakers sets out to dominate the genre anew while also reminding us of its origins.
Thus far LawBreakers is strictly an online experience only, therefore many important elements such as stories and characters are yet to be fully explored. This actually comes as a shame to some degree, as there is clearly a lot of intriguing materials and background just waiting to be discovered. The multiplayer’s vast and diverse mechanics however have been polished to perfection, showing signs of both new and classic inspirations merging together, Boss Key Productions has managed to create a truly competitive experience.
During the many matches spent familiarising ourselves with the variety of modes and characters available, one thing became quite apparent, this game is challenging. While LawBreakers is certainly one of those titles that is easy to pick up, there is a lot of crafting and mastery involved in order to be able to call yourself a ‘decent player’.
The majority of this falls down to the actual dynamic of the game’s mechanics, which primarily involve how each team is set up and how players contribute to a match. On the outset, each competitor is divided between the teams of ‘Law’ or ‘Breakers’ and while each faction carries a selection of different characters, they all share the same roles and perks. The Assassin class for example are represented by both Hellion (Law) and Kitsune (Breakers), and while the characters have their own backgrounds that sets them apart night and day, they play exactly the same no matter which side you’re on. On the one hand this helps with the competitive balance within the game’s meta, but it sadly detracts from the importance of their character memorability and personality.
This minor inconvenience however does not take away from the heat of the battle, as the intense and high-flying gun showdown is the heart and soul of LawBreakers. Overall, the experience feels quite reminiscent to other classic Arena shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament, setting a basis to the amount of hand-holding the game does NOT provide its players. Instead it urges you to learn your chosen character, picking up on the basics and utilising these in order to change the tide of the fight.
In this regard zero gravity zones are perhaps the game’s biggest selling point. Introducing a new area in which players fight one another in a space of absolute freedom, it is here that stakes are always highest. Death can come from absolutely anywhere, and it is also the place where skills are most important. During the first half of our gameplay, we couldn’t help but feel like cannon fodder compared to the more experienced players. Admittedly there were more times where elimination was caused by consistently falling off the platforms, leading to a lot of frustrated groans at not being able to get it right. Eventually you will however pick up on the pacing and timing, and with the combination of available perks, you too can be an absolute bad-ass!
Although the gameplay proves to be near flawless, there are a few caveats that must be addressed when picking up the game. The first is its steep learning curve, which comes from a strong point that quickly becomes its own kryptonite. As the game is heavily reliant on cooperation and development of skills, uninitiated and impatient players may actually find this to be an off-putting element to enjoyment. This is especially the case for those coming from other hero-based shooters, who would more than likely expect a similarly light-hearted and fun approach that they’ve become accustomed to.
The second and perhaps most prominent issue is the lack of true variety within the available game modes. As LawBreakers offers a whole list of objective points, from classic capture the flag (Overcharge) to territorial domination (Turf War), one would expect that each play through would feel quite different. However, due to maps and general tone of each objective to begin with, it was often difficult to distinguish them from one another. Add to the fact that combat is such a substantial part of the gameplay, it was even harder to find a team willing to follow or care about orders. Instead we were often met with a torrent of players running for gunfights and abandoning points, which further fuelled and culminate frustration. As ranked mode is an inevitability in this case, perhaps this will fix this problem in due time, but for now we continue to wade through the soaring corpses of Assassins and Gunslingers.
LawBreakers is undoubtedly one of the stronger titles we’ve seen in 2017, as it truly captures the essence of competitive first person shooters that has since been lost to Call of Duty. Of course the game still has a lot left to do, from adding bigger incentives like better loot, to fixing many of the issues fans are currently facing. Once addressed however it isn’t hard to see LawBreakers rise to the top, having the potential to even become the alpha of the E-Sports scene.
Rating: 8 out of 10
A PS4 copy of LawBreakers was provided by Nexon for review purposes.