Enter the Law, the Breakers, and a rivalry that leads to nothing but death. As I stumbled into my first match with full intentions of doing harm to others, things quickly change for the worse when you play Uplink. After confidently loading up my class and entering an area where gravity does not exist, my character begins to float as bullets and rockets come flying toward my face. Looks like I’m not in Kansas anymore. Time to get some skills and fast or continue to die: enter LawBreakers.
LawBreakers is a game that was developed by Boss Key Productions and everyone’s favorite game developer, Cliff Bleszinski. When it was first announced, it came to some fanfare and discussion, notably because it was a PC digital only, free to play game (later confirmed for PS4 as well).
At its core, LawBreakers is a first-person shooter that is fast, packed with action, and at times frantic. While everyone in the gaming space is very quick to try and compare it to the current FPS juggernaut out, Overwatch, it is a comparison that has no value. LawBreakers is less of a cooperative team-based shooter and, in that vein, more of a traditional Unreal Tournament style shooter, but with different classes that provide different loadouts.
LawBreakers launches with seven different maps and four game modes to kick things off. There are currently nine classes which have two different version each: one for the “Law” and another for the “Breakers.” While some may scoff at only having nine characters, this effectively gives you twice the character customization for your liking.
Players can go from starting the game up right into a Quick Match or testing your hand at a Custom game. Summarizing LawBreakers’ plot pretty quickly is easy, given that it is fairly one-dimensional: there are two sides that do not like each other, the “Law” and the “Breakers” and they will shoot each other on site. With that brief intro, you are tasked to go forth and shoot. Although there are nine distinct classes, the classes don’t exist to create team variety and well-rounded skills like in a cooperative style shooter. Instead, the classes serve more to give you different ways to kill your foes with different weapons, which is fine with me.
LawBreakers incorporates not only speed into the mix, but also changes in gravity throughout the environments to create more depth and verticality to the gameplay. This purpose is further carried out through flight, teleporting, floor sliding, jump pads and a leash mechanics. Movement is a big component to LawBreakers and will be the difference between living or dying or getting the drop on a foe. There is also a cool element that allows you to shoot behind you as you run away. Although I have never used it effectively, it is a cool thing to try, and very awarding in execution.
When I first picked up LawBreakers I logged into a Quick Match and it wasn’t long before I was being shot in the face — the game is very much trial by fire. It took a few rounds for me to sort out what weapons each class used and what their abilities were all about. Admittedly, things were frustrating until I picked a class that matched with my playstyle and I finally started turning the tables and my Kill/Death Ratio.
Enter the Enforcer class — a standard shooter class with an assault rifle and an electric pistol that can run quickly around the map as well as toss grenades. Oh, did I forget to mention that his Ultimate ability also shoots missiles that lock-on to enemies? What’s not to like!
In other words, each class takes time and effort to master, especially since you will be playing against other more seasoned players out of the gate. It’s also gratifying to end your foe with a good old-fashioned boot to the face — an attack that leaves a sole imprint on the screen that you can customize.
This Skill based shooter encourages you to do well by providing you with loot boxes every time you level up. Anyone that knows me can attest that I am quite the fan of leveling and loot-hunting and this was no different. The progression fueled my incentive to kill more foes so I could open more loot boxes and uncover sweet skins for my classes and weapons. The only downside about this style of reward (like many other games) is that you are at the mercy of the RNG gods, and must hope your boxes aren’t duds when you open them.
At a distance, it’s hard to tell characters apart, partly because the design of the characters are so similar but also due to the speed of the game. Once you see an enemy it is time to shoot — not ponder about what his preference in cereal is or where they came from. So much of LawBreakers is just that; speed and precision, see someone at a distance and obliterate them either up close with a knife if you’re an Assassin style player or at afar with a rifle or rocket launcher.
The different game modes took some time to get used to and, to be honest, in the beginning I was unsure of what was happening — I was just trying to focus on killing people. The four games modes, Uplink, Blitzball, Turf War and Overcharge, all provide you different objectives that need to be met, regardless of kills. My favorite mode of the bunch was Overcharge; teams fight over a battery and must bring it back to their base and defend it until the battery is fully charged. Sounds simple until you have a bunch of savages raining rockets down on your head.
Uplink is similar to Overcharge, but instead of a battery the teams are fighting to take over and fully power an Uplink system. Turf War is like a classic capture the area style gameplay, where there are three locations team must hold down to score points. The last mode is Blitzball and you can think of this as a really simple football game, carry the Blitzball into your goal to score and kill the other team when they have the Blitzball to defend.
Cliff Bleszinski has confirmed that the game will be patched and shaped by the community that plays it, which is all we as gamers can really ask for. Why balance and/or change things that the community is not asking for or leave a title untouched without making the necessary tweaks to make your community happy. While it isn’t factored into the review, he also confirmed that the game will continue to get patches with full transparency because “we are in this for the long haul.”
Visually LawBreakers looks fine and customization of characters provides for replay if you want to score and flaunt a special skin for your main. Even more important in any skill based FPS, the gameplay was tight and ever felt shoddy. As always, gamers playing on PC will have an advantage over console gamers because a mouse and keyboard combination is more effective towards scoring those critical headshots. With that said, I played on the PS4 and still enjoyed the gameplay and movement of the game on a DualShock 4.
LawBreakers is one of those games that offers you something fun, but has an unforgiving learning curve that some are not prepared to deal with. The game will not hold your hand and teach you how to play, but instead throws you into matches and challenges you to learn. LawBreakers will take time and practice to be master, which I believe is one of the key reasons the game has received a myriad of mixed reviews from players.
I joked with a Pro player the other day that posted a 50-kill game that he was the reason the game got low scores among reviewers, but I really do wonder. It is hard to have fun at a game you suck at or are constantly being killed in. My suggestion to those losing the quality of the game for the frustration:, “get good!”
LawBreakers is fun and fast and a breath of fresh air for a space that needed some infusion of change from the monolith and trends dominating the genre. LawBreakers should be played by all fans of the genre, and all comparisons be thrown out the window; just enjoy the rush, literally. Become #SkilledAF.