Since the launch of Overwatch, every single class-based shooter has been compared to it. And that’s because Overwatch, due to its deserved critical acclaim, has become the top notch on the measuring stick of team-based multiplayer shooters. And the recently released LawBreakers, just like all the other shooters of this ilk, has garnered the same comparative treatment. However, contrary to popular belief, LawBreakers is nothing like the aforementioned Blizzard colossus, it is simply better.
Before you jump to any conclusions regarding the above statement, let me clarify exactly how LawBreakers is superior to Overwatch, and how it has managed to fix a plethora of underlying issues which have, and still do, plague Overwatch despite an endless number of patches and other fixes.
At first glance, LawBreakers looks just like any other modern shooter. You have two teams composed of different classes with different abilities, fighting over numerous objectives. However, unlike the majority of titles that pose similar features, LawBreakers has managed to overcome all the negatives resulting from forced team play, and it has achieved so by simply levelling the playing field through removal of an over-reliance on other character classes.
In LawBreakers, Gunslinger-role characters, either Faust or Abaddon, posses two pistols – one submachine gun which fires three rounds at a time, and the other, a high caliber revolver. The use of two different guns allows the Gunslinger to neutralise both long and short-range characters. Using both weapons concurrently also allows for a more even distribution of damage, and also allows him to sustain fire indefinitely when ammunition is managed correctly. In addition, his throwing knife ability, which grants a temporary short-range wall hack, also makes him a perfect counter to flankers and campers alike. And all these features and abilities ultimately result in a character which personifies the perfect ‘McCree’. And while it sounds like Gunslinger may be an overpowered character to some who haven’t played LawBreakers, the fact of the matter is that the nature of the title puts him on par with other characters/roles when in open play.
The high velocity gameplay of LawBreakers and the core design of the gun-play makes it a shooter which is not just fair, but also one that is rewarding to players who decide to master a character, or the game as a whole. The entry level, unlike in other titles, is fairly steep as even ‘Call of Duty Bro’ who refers to a basic assault rifle and grenades is fairly difficult to comprehend due to all the external zero-gravity factors around which the title revolves. However, the high entry level and overwhelmingly high skill ceiling also mean that no character ever feels over or underpowered.
Gunslinger and Wraith, due to their damage output, can come across as OP when watching a stream or any other gameplay video. But in reality, both of those characters require an immensely high mechanical skill level in order to be used to an extent where they may seem overly powerful. Gunslinger requires a pin-point accuracy not just to terminate other players, but in order to survive. Whereas characters such as Wraith or Assassin have to master their own respective movement mechanics because their survival and lethality are situated, not within their damage output, but their traversal capabilities. And once zero-gravity sections are added to the fray, all the above characters become even more difficult to master, as suddenly the players are removed from the familiar Y axis, and are forced to familiarise themselves with the all new Z axis.
The basic concept of LawBreakers is that two opposing factions, Law and Breakers, are fighting against each other within predetermined arenas. However, the use of multiple traversal mechanics unique to all characters, and the application of zero-gravity zones, turn the basic FPS formula on its head, and create something simply beautiful. Because at its core, LawBreakers is an impeccable arena FPS, which has been clearly created by people who understand both the genre, and the concept of multiplayer as a whole. And you can see that from the moment you enter your first match.
In many ways, it feels more like your Quakes and Unreal Tournaments of old, because you can kill everybody, and everybody can kill you. And it creates an atmosphere where you are always on your toes on the lookout for the enemy, and there is never a moment where you can just stop and take a breath, because immediate danger is always waiting around the corner. And you’ll only be able to rest when you’re quite literally dead.
The feeling of the incessant threat is immense and persists throughout each and every match. Initially I was skeptical of this concept as there are no safe zones within the maps, which can come across as cheap and tasteless as it doesn’t just allow spawn camping, but also promotes it. And at the beginning, I hated the fact that anybody can just wait right outside my spawn and prevent me from supporting my team, or concentrating on the objective. But then I came to the realisation, that the point of the game is not just score, but also to prevent the other team from scoring, through sabotage and deceit. And the fact that a single person can completely stop an enemy team’s push with a single stall or frag, evolves the team play to a whole other level, making LawBreakers one of , if not the best skill-based shooter on the current gen consoles.
To summarise the core of LawBreakers in a handful of words, it is enough to say that “a lone wolf is just as important to the team, as the person who puts the points on the board”. And this is because a single flanker is just as important as a tank who is standing his ground on the objective. Because a single frag on the far end of the map does more than eliminate an enemy player, it ultimately starts a chain reaction which leads to the acquisition of points.
The core multiplayer gameplay of LawBreakers is incredible. But the game as a whole is not entirely perfect, as the current build of the version is rather lacking, and requires a fair bit of balancing, especially when it comes to BlitzBall mode, which in its current form is baffling. Matches nearly always last 20 minutes, and they end at a point where either the timer runs out, or when one team simply gives up and allows the opposition to score. In-short, it simply requires some tweaking, just like the match-making system.
Matchmaking in LawBreakers is very inconsistent in its current form, as there are no region restrictions, and you can often be matched with players from UAE or the Far East, and be forced to play against or with players who play on 200-300 ping. And the more players like this you have in your lobby, the worse the quality of the match is, as a couple of high ping players can have a negative effect on the match as a whole. However, the previously reported hitching is at this point non-existent and only occurred once within 20 or so matches, and the quality-of-life improved seemingly with every game. But while the game-health was constantly on the up, the desire to continue through secondary and tertiary rewards was absent, as LawBreakers does very little to entice you with things such as skins or stickers.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s an abundance of skins, stickers, and other tat to be found in LawBreakers, but the vast majority of it is incredibly generic, and varies very little from item-to-item. However, the game has only just launched, and as promised by big man Clifford himself, more stuff is coming, and it is all going to be free. And let’s hope that the said ‘stuff’ will take the game a step further visually, as it desperately needs it.
Ultimately, even when taking into the consideration all the shortcomings, including the lack of a deathmatch-like mode, it has to be said that LawBreakers is an incredible and complete package. And surprisingly, for the first time in a very long while, the developer’s description of the game actually matches the final product, because LawBreakers is a game without the “$60 bullshit”, despite the fact that it carries more intrinsic value than a vast majority of $60 games. And it is likely the only modern multiplayer-shooter where single individuals matter as much as team, and one which has finally brought back old-school roles such as lurker.
+ Frantic and Unforgiving Gameplay
+ Incredible Sense of Speed
+ Every Action is of Grave Importance
+ Goes Above and Beyond the Current 'Meta'
- Questionable Cosmetic Items
- BlitzBall Requires Some Work
- No Tutorial on PlayStation 4