In the last year, we’ve seen a revitalization of the classic arena shooter. If nothing else, this proves that everything is cyclical, even the gaming industry despite massive improvements in graphical fidelity and more freedom in world creation. Earlier this year, we received the acclaimed remake of DOOM, which we thought very highly of, Blizzard Entertainment released its take on the arena shooter with Overwatch, and Bethesda just recently announced a new Quake title in the works.
What is Lawbreakers?
Well, add one more to the list with CliffyB’s latest concept: LawBreakers. For those who have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, or simply aren’t into shooters, Cliff Bleszinski is one of the main minds behind Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. Although it’s been a few years since he’s had his hands into a true FPS, Bulletstorm in 2011, it seems like he hasn’t lost his touch.
What LawBreakers does is combine the solid shooting mechanics of Unreal Tournament, add class mechanics, node warfare, and then throws zero gravity into the mix. What comes out is a multi-round FPS where the action never stops.
In the LawBreakers E3 demonstration, teams of five players compete in various, futuristic settings and attempt to capture 13 nodes before the enemy team. Each location is a set in an alternate future, which weren’t quite what we would call post-apocalyptic. For the demonstration, we played on a mostly indoors map with two enclosed capture points, near each base, and one capture point in the middle that was mostly open except for a giant sphere in the middle.
So far, I’m sure this sounds like any typical shooter out there. Capture the point closest to your base and then fight your enemies at B and hope to secure the round. However, there are two distinct differences. The first is that capture point B has zero gravity and that each character has unique ways to take advantage of that aspect. Secondly, each round technically ends once each of the capture points has been locked but this doesn’t stop the action.
While the capture points are unlocking, players can still fight it out and this can lead to some very interesting strategies. A hyper-aggressive team could attempt to camp the enemy spawn and then work backwards taking each point. Well-coordinated groups of players could station teammates each point and try to secure all three simultaneously. Furthermore, the more enemies you kill during intermission the more points each capture node is worth and taking enemies down right before the nodes unlock keeps them out of the fight during the first key moments.
In LawBreakers, speed and maneuverability are key. Currently, there are four classes that are mimicked for both the Law and the Breaker sides. If you haven’t caught on by now, LawBreakers is basically Cops vs Robber with tons of finesse. Every character has its own style, in terms of personality and combat, but both sides have access to the same classes, which is essential for balance purposes. Personally, I would like to see a larger variety of classes, but the four available already fill most general roles in an FPS (minus a true sniper).
Law vs Breakers
Initially, I gravitated towards Kintaro, the Breaker Enforcer because his kit seemed to be the most aligned with a typical shooter. He has an assault rifle, Electromag grenade, Bloodhound rockets and super speed. If run-and-gun shooting is your thing then Kintaro, or Axel on the Law side, is your man. I had quite a lot of success with him as the Bloodhound rockets absolutely devastate the battlefield and his speed boost allows him to get to any point quickly. Moreover, while flying around in zero gravity, his Aerator assault rifle was incredibly easy to aim, regardless of what direction I happened to be flying.
After topping the scoreboard in the first round, I decided to give Kitsune (Assassin) and Toska-9 (Vanguard) a chance. One of the nice things LawBreakers decided to implement was the option to switch classes midgame, which is great for adapting to enemy playstyles or when you’re just not play well as a certain class. I’m fairly confident that the Assassin will have the highest skill cap in the game, and due to this I had quite a bit of trouble with Kitsune throughout our second match.
The Assassin class has a melee blade, energy shotgun, and whip that she can use to pull herself across the battlefield. This requires her to get in close in a tight arena shooter where people are equipped with all kinds of grenades, rocket launchers, and other projectile weapons. However, if she does get into close proximity, things are all over from there. I wasn’t quite able to weave in-and-out of bullets, and more often than not ended up dead before reaching the enemy backlines, but there were some enemy players who performed spectacularly. If you’re the type of player who likes to bring a knife to a gunfight, the Assassin is definitely going to suite your style, but I kept finding myself wanting to go back to Kintaro.
Next up was Toska-9 the Breaker Vanguard. The Vanguard class is somewhere in between the Enforcer and Assassin. She has a lot of mobility with her jetpack but also brings the firepower in the form of a minigun and cluster grenades. Additionally, she can knock enemies out of the sky with a Pulsar blast or ram into them with Starfall. Overall, the Vanguard’s kit is incredibly versatile but it’s also not the easiest to pick up and play. She’s designed as a mid-range fighter, but I had a difficult time not getting too close while using her boost. This often tempted me to rain death from above with the cluster grenades, however, I ended up killing myself with them more than once.
Finally, there was the the Titan, who acts as the tank of the group. They’re the biggest, baddest, and hardest to kill class in the game. Equipped with a chain-lightning gun and Hammerhead rocket launcher, they aren’t a slouch in the damage department either. Furthermore, if you make them angry they’ll go berserk with a massive electric charge that you don’t want to be near. If you want to get up close and personal while not having to worry about taking a few hits on the way in, the Titan is your class. Moreover, they’re also great for countering an Assassin heavy team because they can soak up so much damage and have lots of area-of-effect utility.
Even though I only really gravitated towards two of the classes in LawBreakers, I believe the game has amazing potential as an arena FPS. Even in its current stage, the game is aesthetically pleasing and the gun mechanics are spot on. CliffyB has utilized his roots in Unreal Tournament quite well and added a ton of spice to deliver a high skill cap shooter with a very unique personality.Related: Boss Key Productions, E3, E3 2016, LawBreakers, Nexon, Shooter