LawBreakers beta: low-gravity combat anyone?
This is a guest post by: Bill Cooney or @ on twitter.
It’s pretty interesting to follow the path Lawbreakers has taken since it was announced. Initially, Boss Key Production’s new hero shooter was going to be free to play, until March of 2016 when it was announced the game would be released as pay-to-play. It’s an interesting plan in a market dominated by games with loyal followings like Overwatch, and to a much lesser degree Paladins and Battleborn. LawBreakers wagers players will be drawn in by the fast-paced gameplay mixed with low-gravity environments and a cast of unique characters. At least they got the first half right.
The LawBreakers beta ran on Steam from July 1-5. There were several different maps and game mode combinations available which kept each new game just fresh enough to keep things interesting for players.
First things first, the gameplay is fun, feels great, and can get addicting fast. Flying around, shooting guns and slashing at other players in low gravity is just as enjoyable as it sounds (Lawbreakers: because they’re breaking the laws of gravity, get it?). Still being in beta, team cohesion didn’t seem to be a high priority for most players, but when it did happen the full potential of Lawbreakers began to shine through.
Visually, Lawbreakers looks as good as any AAA shooter on the market right now. The maps and characters are smooth and beautifully designed, but the problem is they just doesn’t stand out. The maps, and to a certain extent characters, could be taken and used in another first person shooter set sometime in the future with no problems. That is where Lawbreakers runs into its first hurdle.
All games, but especially team hero shooters, need to have unique characters to pull the player in and get them to invest in the game. Lawbreakers just doesn’t. Some of the character concepts are really cool, but they just don’t stand out from one another. It takes somewhat of a trained eye to be able to differentiate between the different classes and characters, first time players will have a tough time telling who is who.
There are some balance issues with the character roster as well. Two classes in particular, Assassin and Wraith, stood out as being somewhat overpowered, and as a result were picked way more than all others. There would be games where both teams would be made up of Wraiths and no other class. Hopefully after looking at the results from the beta, Boss Key will work to better balance characters before the official launch.
That aside, gameplay is where Lawbreakers really shines. Fast paced, and with enough game modes to keep things from getting boring, it’s a lot of fun. The gravity mechanics are done fantastically and Lawbreakers is probably as close to flying around in low-gravity that any of us will get to experience.
Lawbreakers should have success early on. It’s addicting, fast paced gameplay will bring back players from the beta and draw in new players as well. But the lack of any really unique characters means the game will have to being something else to the table if it wants any real staying power. Maybe a competitive game mode and leaderboard will add some dimension. Lawbreakers shouldn’t have any problem generating interest and attracting players when it’s released, whether they stick around to develop a community around the game is another story.