This weekend, Boss Key Productions hosted a closed-beta for their upcoming multiplayer shooter Lawbreakers. Boss Key Productions was founded by industry veteran Cliff Bleszinski following his brief retirement from development after finishing Gears of War 3.
Lawbreakers itself seems to be following current trends of shooters in which mobility is a big sticking point of the game. Unlike Titanfall, with it’s wall running and parkour, or Overwatch with it’s varied heroes who can traverse the environment in their own ways, Lawbreakers gives players the ability to explore thanks to anti-gravity zones. Because this form of mobility isn’t based on what character you pick, or the loadout you build, everyone gets to experience the same frantic feeling of floating around with a rifle regardless of skill.
That isn’t to say that the characters in Lawbreakers don’t have their own way around the maps too. Some come equipped with rocket packs, others have a triple jump or a sprint, but ultimately those abilities are meant to augment the anti-gravity zones scattered throughout the map. These anti-gravity zones are where all the fun lives, but sadly most of the fun is short lived.
The first problem was that I often found myself dying too fast to figure out where I was getting shot from. While these anti-gravity zones are cool and their floaty-ness feels damn near perfect, they leave you open to attack from pretty much every angle imaginable. Unfortunately, the game does a poor job of communicating which direction you are being attacked from, leaving you watching a respawn timer more often than not. When you are the one getting the drop on someone from some absurd angle though, Lawbreakers is fantastic. If your team is working in tandem together in the anti-gravity zones, holding a point for example, it feels great.
The other, more glaring problem is that the anti-gravity zones that are so fun to float around in are not everywhere. The few maps available in the beta had these zones connected through generic corridors and doorways that bring the gameplay to a grinding halt. These halls that funnel into the anti-gravity areas are great at the start of the game, but can become a forced bottleneck easily if one team has the upper hand. Most spawn areas only have two exits, but they are so close together it can put one team on their back foot easily. Coupled with only a single healer class, the Battle Medic, matches can feel overwhelmingly unbalanced.
While the beta boasted 14 characters, it should be noted with an asterisk. As each match starts you are divided between either the Law team or the Breakers team, and then you pick your character. Each character has a direct counterpart on the other team though. So if you are on Law, your Titan is named Bombchelle, but on the Breakers side of thing you play as Chronos. Gameplay wise these two characters are the exact same, just with different voice acting and skins. It is nice that each character has multiple weapons to cycle through.
Ultimately, Lawbreakers is more Unreal than it is Overwatch. The cast is incredibly generic, but the speed and maneuverability of anti-gravity zones makes for a fun time once you fall into the games odd pacing. In my three dozen or so games I never once saw a team force a comeback, but that could be because of the limited scope of players in the beta. Glitch wise, it was a pretty solid beta, but pop ins and load times could be improved, especially when joining a match. When Boss Key Productions holds another beta weekend, closed or open, you should definitely give it a whirl. While it does not guarantee access for the next beta weekend, you can enter your e-mail for beta access here.