LawBreakers offers a few cheap thrills, but lacks longevity.
LawBreakers is not Overwatch. Got it? Good. With that out of the way, we have to understand that because of the incredible, ongoing success of Overwatch, pretty much ever class-based first-person shooter that comes out within the next year or two is going to be compared to Blizzard’s masterpiece in some ways (or in every way). Experienced gamers will have no trouble at all recognizing that the games look, feel, and play very differently, but comparisons are still inevitable because all we really want to know is, “Is this good enough to draw me away from Overwatch?”
That’s what I was wondering as I booted up LawBreakers earlier today. The game is still in development, and Boss Key kicked off alpha testing this weekend with a larger pool of participants. Keys were fairly easy to obtain if you wanted one, so I figured I’d give it a go and see what the big deal is. After all, Boss Key was founded by Cliff Bleszinski who obviously has a solid history of working on solid shooters. So is LawBreakers shaping up to be an Overwatch killer? So far, the answer is no.
I can’t really put my finger on what’s missing in LawBreakers. Certainly a lot of its issues are due to the fact that it’s still in early development: weapons and classes don’t seem very well balanced, performance was really spotty, standard game-types were layered arbitrarily with extra mechanics that detracted from the fun, and my game froze a few times. I can deal with all of that because I’m sure when the game actually releases that it will all be resolved. What really bothered me was the fact that the game felt completely soulless.
Games like Overwatch and even Battleborn draw you in with their larger-than-life characters who all have these big personalities. Every character in LawBreakers was totally forgettable. Boss Key is trying to pull off a “more mature,” “grittier” shooter, but that just translates to blood spurting out of your toons with they die and characters dropping F bombs every now and then as the banter. It felt very high school, you know? Like that guy who feels like he can impress his older sister’s friends by using a lot of cuss words and acting really edgy. It’s annoying in real life, and it was annoying in LawBreakers.
Aside from weapons and skills being somewhat unbalanced, none of them felt very exciting. They’re all very standard weapons: an assault rifle, a Gatling gun, short swords, a rocket launcher, grenades and mines… (*yawn*) If Boss Key wants their shooter to stand out and for people to take notice, they’re going to have to deliver characters that we care about, and weapons that we can’t find anywhere else. Otherwise we’re just left with something that kind of looks like Overwatch and kind of plays like Quake, but without the charm or polish of either.
If you’d like to check out some footage, I’ll embed a stream of my alpha gameplay below. I have no idea why the game sound didn’t make it into the stream, unfortunately. My capture card has been working against me lately.
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