So this weekend there is a LawBreakers alpha going live, and in fact you can already play right this moment if you signed up and got a key.
LawBreakers is a hero driven team shooter not unlike Overwatch being developed by Boss Key, the company led by Cliff Bleszinski after he left Epic. As expected of a game from "Dude Huge" himself, it has a lot of "attitude" of what I found to be a very teenage-highschool variety. Everything seems to be edgy, and in your face, and very 90's as best exemplified by a big bloody smiley face that appears across your screen when you die. Your cast of heroes are similarly edgy in the most boring way imaginable. There is also a lot of cursing and ambient smack talk between the player characters.
My thoughts on LawBreakers? Honestly I was incredibly underwhelmed by what I played of it. As I wrote on a popular social media outlet, after only 15 minutes of LawBreakers you gain a whole new level of appreciate for how well made Overwatch is. For a game centered around "hero" characters with unique abilities, the cast in LawBreakers seems somewhat uninteresting and generic. You have a lady with swords, a guys with a rocket launcher and skull mask, a.. soldier in a jump suit? They're not silhouettes that are instantly recognizable from far away, and the colors all seem to blend together. Each "hero" has two abilities and an ultimate that work on cooldowns and these can range from passive buffs, to movement enhancing abilities or offensive powers. A lot of the secondaries seem to be various forms of grenades: for instance one hero had a proximity mine while another shot out a cluster bomb that split in mid into tiny explosive shrapnel, while another had a distortion area effect bomb. I hate to keep going back to the comparison, but a lot of this is very much like Overwatch, except grittier, so if you played Blizzards offering then you know what you're getting into here.
The shooting did not feel especially great. I tried out a few completely different classes to get a feel for different types of weapons. The best feeling of the lot was the rocket launcher which seemed to do proper damage and was well suited to the floaty nature of the gameplay. In stark cotrast a character with a huge chaingun didn't seem to be damaging my foes nearly as fast as I would expect it to. There is a kick instead of a melee and of course the ability to shoot directly behind you, which doesn't seem all the useful in combat as your character seems to take entirely too long to point the gun behind their back and start shooting. You'd think this would be a snappy movement meant to get the drop on your foes as you fly by them, but nope, it's pretty slow. Nothing in the arsenal seemed to stand out of the ordinary. Assault rifles, miniguns, rockets launchers, shotguns. It's the classic video game arsenal you've seen countless times before. The wildest of the bunch was a chain-lightning gun and a character that used a pair of swords that actually felt pretty good to use as they chopped people up real good.
This brings us to the bizarre gameplay. LawBreakers takes place in big levels that split off into side arenas where the two teams battle over control points and such. When these cap points become active a bubble forms around the arena and drops the gravity within it's confines allowing the players to fly around like you're on the surface of the moon. This is where the shooting backwards mechanic proves more useful as certain characters are able to give themselves a boost from doing so. I'm not exactly clear on the actual game modes really.. I played a few matches and we were tasked with "charging a battery" or capturing zones and I wasn't sure if the zero G bubbles are always active or only appear once the fighting starts. Either way you jump around, fly and dash while killing other "doods" respawning and coming back for more. The environments are these futuristic space facilities that wouldn't feel out of place if they showed up in Quake 2 or Unreal Tournament.
All in all it all felt very bland and slightly unresponsive in a way. Shooting enemies feels like you're just shooting sand bags and it's hard to judge if you're even doing damage. Maybe this is just me but somehow everyone seemed to always be really far away and I rarely experienced close quarters engagement. Maybe it's just not that kind of game? It's weird. I'm not sure what they were going for here. It certainly doesn't feel like an old school arena shooter. LawBreakers seems to be some really weird amalgamation of Tribes, Quake and Team Fortress. The swimmy feel of the low-g arenas robs the game of any momentum and the pace of combat suffers because of it. I wish them all the best luck in the world but after only a few matches I uninstalled the game without any desire to continue playing it.
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