Within seconds of loading into my first match of Lawbreakers, it struck me as a game that a younger version of me would have discovered, devoured and evangelised to my friends until it became a fixture at both our regular LAN parties and our Skype-powered, weekend-long gaming sessions. Back then, maybe that’s all it took.
Today, FPS games are in a different and altogether-stranger place.
While the big franchises like Battlefield and Call of Duty crowd are still definitely around, the critical mass that propelled them in their peak has largely-dispersed. The war doesn’t really feel like it’s raging as much as it is on its last embers. Now, in the absence of the big guns, a pretty strong case could be made that Overwatch has more-or-less taken up the torch for the genre.
However, the overwhelming popularity of Blizzard’s game isn’t really driven by the shooting in it. Not really, and certainly not in the same way as it has been for the genre’s past paragons like Quake, Doom and Unreal. Sure, the gunplay in Overwatch is fun but it’s the personality of the characters and the emphasis on rewarding team-play that keeps people coming back.
Today’s online shooters are often as interested in trying to be Overwatch as they are trying to beat it. And even at the best of times, it’s tricky to discern how Lawbreakers fits into and navigates that dichotomy.
Developed by Boss Key Productions and headlined by the involvement of former-Epic Games frontman Cliff Bleszinski, Lawbreakers is a class-based, fast-paced and arena-laced multiplayer first-person shooter. Set in a vaguely science fiction battleground of the near future, the game sees two teams face off in perpetual, gravity-defying combat across eight arena-style maps and five game modes.
Where other games might set up lore, backstory or a bigger picture to the story being told through multiplayer gameplay, Lawbreakers tries to keep things things as simple as possible. One one side, you’ve got “The Law”. On the other, you’ve got “The Breakers”.
You do the math.