Unreal Tournament was among the few early games that defined the FPS genre in the late 90’s and set a bar for the future of first person shooters. Continuing to evolve the shooter genre and even branching to third person shooters with Gears of War, Cliff Bleszinski is back at it again as the co-founder of his new company Boss Key Productions with the release of High adrenaline first person arena shooter, LawBreakers.
Building on the fast paced gameplay we grew to love in Unreal Tournament, LawBreakers kicks it up a notch with a futuristic “Law” enforcement team taking on the bad guys known as “Breakers” across many scifi-esque maps that are ripe for balanced team play. The maps vary with symmetry and gametypes with end to end map objectives as well as asymmetrical maps with neutral objectives with teams tugging back and forth for victory.
The gameplay can be best described as drinking one too many coffees at once and being filled with caffeine while taking an adrenaline shot before going into combat. Add in the low gravity zones, thanks to “The Shatter” event as it is known in the back story of the game, and you have some crazy aerial combat. This results in a very steep learning curve, especially if you have been used to other types of shooters such as those with squad based tactics or realistic health where you die with a few bullets. This can be very frustrating at first but after spending 2 hours of continuous gameplay and understanding which character fits your playstyle, I found it becomes very fluid.
With 9 classes available at launch, there is surely a class that fits your playstyle. Each class features a different character depending on which team your are assigned – Team “Law” or Team “Breakers”. After briefly trying each class through the beta and now the game’s release, I settled on the Vanguard class to main. With the speed of her jetpack to propel you forward and the heavy machine gun, you can quickly flank the enemy before they see it coming and pump lead into them as your team either hits them hard from the front or goes for the objective. With continuous fire, Vanguards gun increases aim and if the enemy gets too close, her pulse ability will push them back and potentially cause them to explode. A countdown timer begins at the match for when your special ability becomes available and resets with a cooldown after using it. Vanguards special allows her to briefly hover in the air and pound the ground dealing damage to nearby enemies as well as causing a temporary low gravity bubble in the blast radius.
Other classes include the Enforcer which is a run and gun soldier type. Assassin is one of two of the melee heroes with a sword and grappling hook that pulls you towards the enemy while doing damage upon a successful hook. Gunslinger is your dual wielding gunslinger. A medic class that heals teammates and engages in battle when required and a few other heavy classes including one hero with a rocket launcher and another with the ability to create a shield: useful for blocking small corridors or stopping the enemy from scoring on your point in Blitzball.
Each class is fun and useful in their own way across each and every gametype, as long as you take the time to understand their playstyle and advantages for each scenario. For instance, the Assassin is really good for offensive objectives like Blitzball as she can quickly grab the ball and lung forward to the point. You can create some interesting combos or team dynamics/strategies with say the assassin where you grapple to the enemy and slice while the titan shoots rockets and the juggernaut sets up a wall to block the enemy exit. The Vanguard and Juggernaut are great for Turf War and Occupy with one allowing suppressing fire while using the pulse ability and the other setting up a shield to block the enemy. Additionally, Juggernaut is key for Blitzball and Overcharge defense, while the other classes provide cover fire from mid map.
Speaking of the maps again, there are currently 8 in total and range from symmetrical and asymmetrical with some that are exclusive to capture modes and others that are mixed between capture and objective. Each map features a low gravity zone that allows for quicker movement across the map and the benefit of aerial combat surrounding an objective spawn point or near a capture point. Sometimes it is in the middle of the map, while other times it allows for speedy flanking chances around the outside. The Trench map has great mobility with quick access from Base A to Base B. The Reactor map has a fun tactic for Vanguard as you can quickly fly with ease directly into the enemy base with a certain route and score in Blitzball. It is super satisfying. There are communal health recharge stations that are neutral or within each team’s base, which is separate from your spawn area. These are usually tucked away to ensure safety while recharging, but sometimes are more in the open and do not make you immune from death. You can still die while healing.
Each map has incredible detail attached to each wall, display board or object. The Station Map features a monitor that actually displays the current time! It’s little details like that that go unnoticed in an intensely fast paced shooter, but it’s the little things like that are really cool and make the game stand out from the rest. I feel like there is more attention to detail in the environments in LawBreakers than a slower paced narrative, especially for one with a scifi setting.
Continuing the note about small details into customization, the weapon stickers are so tiny that they are really only there for your personal customization and kick decals are interesting in that they will display front and center on the enemies kill screen, provided you kill them with a kick, which all heroes have the ability to do. This customization is specific for each hero within each class, depending on which side you play on – Law or Breakers and are obtained from Stash Drops.
While completing a match, you are awarded with experience and a rating which goes towards your progress to level up a potential Stash Drop. In addition you earn a small amount of currency which can be used to buy additional weapon skins and hero skins to customize and show of your progress during a game. Currency can also be earned by watching all the tutorial videos, which I highly recommend to learn more about each class, mode, and map. Stash Drops can award you with character skins, primary weapon skins, weapon stickers, and kick decals. Of course, you may also buy stash drops in bulk with the chance of getting that exotic or boss drop more quickly, but you can’t specifically buy the special skin you have been eying. There are 5 types of ranks for each skin such as a base skin, advanced, superior, exotic, and boss type which indicate it’s rarity and potential appeal respectively.
A Steam code for this game was provided for free for review purposes. This does not affect the opinion of the content or value of released game.