In a shooter climate where originality is incredibly prized, Lawbreakers comes as a welcome addition to the family of team based shooters. Coming from the dream team of devs headlined by one of the most creative minds in gaming, Cliff Bleszinski, this brand new shooter promises ultra competitive multiplayer, free long-term support, and a price point of only $30. But all of this progressive and risky marketing and design begs the question: can originality keep fans playing or will it get drowned out by competition?
If Lawbreakers has avoided your sights, don’t let it. It’s a first-person class-based shooter that excels in speed, competition, zero-gravity, and hundreds of kicks to the face. I was able to get a small taste at E3 this year but seeing what this entire game has to offer shows off the potential of a great IP. With two factions duking it out – the Law, and the Breakers – personalities will clash in a variety of game modes.
Every team based shooter has its unique traits, and this game is no different. Lawbreakers is a culmination of the hero-shooter gameplay popularized by Overwatch, and the twitchy, acrobatic arena shooters from the 90s. While every shooter includes a variety of movement to best your opponents, Lawbreakers makes this key. Keep moving, keep shooting, or float to your doom.
There are five modes currently available at launch. Uplink is where you grab an objective from the center and charge it at your base to score. Turfwar is a capture 3 points on the map over several never ending rounds. Overcharge is similar to Uplink but the battery can be taken at any percentage and continue charging at the enemy teams base. Blitzball is a frantic soccer-like mode where you score points with a ball that’s voiced by Justin Roiland ( yes, Morty from Rick and Morty). And finally, there’s Occupy, a King of the Hill mode where the “hill” changes to various spots around the map.
There is a major missed opportunity that a standard Deathmatch mode isn’t here. However, Boss Key has made it clear that more modes will be on the way.
Meet The Squad
Each character is going to have a pivotal role in each of these game modes. There are currently nine classes available, and whether you want to go offensive or defensive, there’s a character for you. Speed and versatility brings you the jetpack chaingun wielding Vanguard while up close and personal fighters may go with the leash slinging Assassin or jet propelled Wraith. Personally, when playing Blitzball I go for the robotic Juggernaut, capable of shotgunning his way around the defensive line and throwing up a momentary indestructible shield. When playing Occupy or Turf War I go for the Titan who can launch rockets from a distance while having a secondary electric gun and ultimate move that’ll dominate close quarters.
While team composition may not be necessarily crucial to the variety of modes, having a well-balanced team to offset objectives and provide defense is the best way to ensure victory for your team.
Furthering the personality of these characters are unlockable player skins, footprints, weapon stickers and weapon skins, which are available through stash drops. While these unlocks help show off your own personal style with who you choose to play as, it doesn’t do a whole lot to make any of the brawlers stand out wise.
It’s not that these characters aren’t designed incredibly in their own right. Visually speaking they are all very distinct and bring their own flavor of badass to the table. Unfortunately, the lack of banter and background story could make it very difficult to tell if you’re playing as Bomchelle or Cronos when you chose the Titan. It’s not the end of the world but seeing more interactions between the characters would help each one of them stand out more.
Think Fast, Shoot Fast, Learn Fast
With so much speed and skill necessary, Lawbreakers isn’t for the faint of heart. The training process is steep, and the lack of a tutorial on PS4 modes could be discouraging for some new players. It took me a couple hours in dedicating myself to just 3 classes to fully grasp my capabilities.
For those who are all about K/D ratios, Lawbreakers does a great job of rewarding those who actually play the objective and coordinate with their team. While lone wolfing it can get you quite far in a game with such frenetic gameplay, a good team comp and coordination with the squad will severely increase your chances of victory no matter what mode.
Maps vary from different places around the world that have been severely altered due to gravity anomalies. One moment you can be fighting in the middle of a destroyed Santa Monica 3rd street promenade, the next, buildings above the Grand Canyon. While they look beautiful, the functionality of each is essentially the same. Each map holds the same type of design, a small curve from the spawn to one circle in the center. Some maps hold zero gravity globes that if mastered you can use to gravitate around but I believe there can be a much more unique style of map design to cater Lawbreakers unique movement style.
Lawbreakers is an impressive $30 package that boasts a lot of versatility in its design. While the high-octane gravity-controlling hero shooter brings a lot of action and entertainment, the lack of competitive matchmaking, a standard Deathmatch mode, and a map design that lacks going the extra mile holds it just shy of perfection. Regardless of the missed opportunities, Lawbreakers still hail-marys its way to the top of my personal favorite shooters list.