LawBreakers has just popped it’s launch cherry and has been out for PC and PS4 since Tuesday. I had the opportunity to attend the pre-launch in LA to see how it stood against other FPS’s that are currently dominating the market.
[Editor's note: Despite attending the review event, we've decided to run this feature as a preview instead. Reviewing such an online-focused game at a controlled venue likely wouldn't reflect the final experience the average user would have on live servers.]
Lawbreakers has seen a huge overhaul since its inception. There was even talk at one point of a campaign, but all that has been tossed out in favour of making a stronger FPS and learning how to cater to its online communities. It’s definitely looking much less Pixar-like and much more attractive to a broader range of FPS players.
So has it got what it takes to become an esport blockbuster? Short answer: maybe. Lawbreakers is packed to the rafters with all kinds of new game modes that others – like Overwatch – lack. Yes, that giant elephant in the room. But what has LawBreakers got that will stop it from stumbling into the same potholes that we’ve seen others do? Well for one, they’ve got Cliff Bleszinski, a guy with a track-record of not half-cooking games before release. It’s safe to say that the levels and character balance feels right. Like any other online FPS, we’ll probably see a few tweaks in the coming months, but it’s in a much more stable place than Overwatch ever was in its initial stages. The whole anti-gravity thing is a bit strange, but gives a bit more of an even-playing field between the first time player and seasoned FPS gamer.
Game modes are set up in what Cliff calls “buzzer beating” modes, which pushes for high skill ceilings and tapping into Call of Duty and Counter Strike skill areas. The game modes are split into four: Uplink, Blitzball, Turf War and Overcharge.
Blitzball’s objective is to get the EURO ball into the enemies hoops to score a point - first team to reach the score limit wins. Oh, and did I mention it’s voiced by Rick And Morty’s Justin Roiland? It’s perfect.
Turf War will need your team to lock down three zones throughout the map. After all three zones are locked down, there’s a short intermission and the zones are opened up again. First team to the score limit wins.
Overcharge relies on your team retrieving the single battery that can be found somewhere on the map. You’ll need to bring the battery back to your base to charge it. The trick is, the battery keeps its charge, so if it’s stolen at 99% and the enemy charge it to 100% on their charger, you lose. First to 2 points wins. This round also allows you to recover your health from your charging base.
Uplink requires members of teams to fight for control of the uplink and download data to their base. Similar to Overcharge, but the uplink percentage stays with the team.
In total, LawBreakers packs 18 characters that span 9 classes. These characters are split between roles so each team has a version of their own, so there’s no doubling up in any round. Players can pick between Assassin, Medic, Enforcer, Gunslinger, Harrier, Juggernaut, Titan, Vanguard and Wraith. Each role also comes with its own unique abilities and powers, and – the ace up its sleeve – each role also has two interchangeable primary weapons which really shows its worth in varying combat environments. I highly recommend starting with the Enforcer role to get a lay of the land as he’s the easiest to adapt to and move around with.
The team behind LawBreakers are BossKey Productions, a relatively new studio that started in 2014 and oddly based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Its Wikipedia is literally a one sentence, but with Cliff at the helm, and Guerrilla Games co-founder Arjan Brussee as COO. This is a studio you want to keep your eyes on.
LawBreakers is available now for digital purchase on Steam for PC and the PlayStation Store for PlayStation.
Kermath attended a LawBreakers press event in Los Angeles. Flights and accommodation were provided by the publisher.