Like it or not, Overwatch has changed the game when it comes to multiplayer-focused first person shooters. The game’s massive success has made it hard on other games of the same genre to separate themselves from the obvious comparisons that gamers will likely draw. Recently, in a conversation with PC Gamer at PAX East 2017, former Unreal Tournament and Gears of War developer Cliff Bleszinski talked about his own upcoming multiplayer shooter Lawbreakers and discussed the status of the game as well as the comparisons between it and Overwatch.
To start, Bleszinski talked about how Lawbreakers has changed since the most recent closed alpha saying:
Well, now we have far more variety in the classes—we call them “roles.” Finally having a CQC tank, you know we wanted the Chronos and Bombshell characters to be the tanks before, but they wound up kind of being the berserkers, get in there and shoot the rocket launchers at everyone. And to actually have the robots, Nash and Aegis, who literally can hit Q and armor up like that bad Lost in Space reboot with Matt LeBlanc, where the armor goes on. It looks really great and it was actually really tricky for the animators to pull off. Then, you know, just start blasting people with their shotgun and blade combo. It’s incredibly powerful and tough to defeat, as well as actually doing a support role. For me it was one of those things, where I was like ‘I’m not big on support,’ and realizing that there are people out there who want to heal. And finding out what our original take on that was going to be, instead of trying to out-Mercy Mercy [from Overwatch] because you’re not going to make a better Mercy.
When we were doing our alphas, I think we went live with too few characters. Yeah, there’s eight characters, but you know, it’s really only four because while the fiction is two sides, the roles play the exact same. By having the full run of seven, and the other two coming soon make it nine—we announced Wraith and Harrier at the panel—I think getting to that full robust section, it’s at the point where the game feels like you can play it for hours and not get bored.
He goes on to highlight how happy he was with the game’s online performance during the alpha and said:
I think stability was important. Generally, you could find a match and get online. The performance was pretty freakin’ solid in regards to framerate and lag. That’s one of those things coming from the launch of Gears 2 years ago, where the game was essentially broken except for Horde mode and Horde mode helped save that franchise. That’s super important to us, as well as keeping the framerate up. I’m a big believer in, ‘If the game isn’t 120 frames per second, I don’t want to play it.’ And when I’m playing on the mid-spec and it’s only 60, I’m like, ‘This is bullshit!’
Bleszinski was later asked about the comparisons between Lawbreakers and Overwatch and what his thoughts were on them. Simply put, Bleszinski basically stated that he’s used to it at this point in his career.
It’s humanity, dude! I’ve been dealing with this my entire career. The human mind loves to pattern-match. It’s a survival technique. It’s like, ‘Oh, see that big bear over there? It ate my friend.’ And then you meet a new bear and you’re like, ‘Oh, my god! This bear is going to eat me because it ate my friend.’ People just like to put things into tidy little buckets, and to the point where they will stretch it so far.
Some kid was trolling my Instagram one day on a random photo I posted of my dog. If you’ve seen our characters Maverick and Tosska who have the Gatling guns. They’ve got their jetpacks, they can create zero-G pockets, and everything. And he was like, ‘Oh, you guys have a girl with a minigun, so you’re cloning D.Va,’ and like, ‘You’re dealing with a tiny Korean girl in a big pink mech who can launch her mech and explode.’ So girl and a minigun means copying Overwatch? Right. OK. You’re reaching there, buddy.
This led Cliff into a discussion about how games are constantly borrowing from one another even when gamers aren’t necessarily aware of it.
Yeah, and I mean, that’s the thing about our character having the warp or teleport, right, and the fact that, ‘Oh, Nightcrawler had that, and it was actually in Dishonored, and it was in Dishonored because it was from code from a canceled IP that I worked on at Epic where a character could modify their density and kind of go through grates, and we called it the Bamf, and so Tracer has that and we have a character that does that, and so immediately, like, oh my God!’ And then like, Overwatch gets—everyone gets all excited now they have jump pads, and I’m like, ‘Uh, Quake 3 called.’
You’re dealing with a generation of young gamers who don’t know those old games, so what’s old is new, and with the success of Overwatch—which I’m happy, because that means character-based first-person shooters are a viable thing, and if they’re Coke I’ll be happy to be Pepsi or RC Cola—but people are primed for this kind of game right now. So it’s just a fascinating thing for me to watch, kind of like, that cycle of gamers assuming that because Overwatch did something they were the first to ever do it. And you’re like, ‘Eh, not necessarily, there’s been other games with heal beams.’
Cliff’s point here is spot-on. Even if you aren’t aware of it, there’s a decent chance that all games have borrowed other ideas or concepts from other games at some time. It’s like the old adage says, “There are no new ideas under the sun.”
If you didn’t get the chance to see Lawbreakers at PAX East this weekend, then you’re in luck. Lawbreakers is heading into its closed beta phase beginning next week on March 16.