Published on June 29th, 2016 | by Suros_Six2
First Look: LawBreakers
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Another day, another shooter. The question this time is, “Is it any good?” After playing 9 hours my answer is yes. LawBreakers is a very solid hero-based arena shooter that I am excited to play again. With a solid Alpha test backed by great gameplay I am excited to see what lies in store for this game.
As mentioned earlier, LawBreakers is a hero-based arena FPS. The only mode available during this first Alpha weekend was a mode called Overcharge. This mode seemed to be a variant of 1-Flag Capture the Flag. Each team of five has to fight for control of the flag, or in this case the battery, and take it back to their base to charge it. Once the battery reached maximum charge either team had to hold on to the battery in their base for 20 seconds to gain a point with 2 points to win. During this time of charging the battery, however, the enemy team could steal the battery and take it to their charging station with the current charge carrying over. This mechanic allows for some crazy final pushes with the enemy team attempting to overrun the player’s base when the battery reaches 100% so they could cap it for themselves. This mode felt like quite the breath of fresh air for me as I hadn’t played something like this in a while and it was a nice change from typical objectives like capture the point or eliminate the enemy team.
Everything about LawBreakers felt so right after getting a few games in. When I initially booted it up and hopped into a match I felt like the movement was slow and something I just wasn’t expecting. I wanted something faster. But after a game or two learning the movement the speed wasn’t an issue anymore. Each character has some sort of speed boost when using shift. For example, the Enforcer class has a speed up that increases movement among other things, and when learning how to manage that limited bar properly players can move around the map effectively. Another change in movement is the inclusion of Zero Gravity areas that lack, well, gravity. At first it felt a bit strange to me, but it felt fresh. It was a unique movement mechanic that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. While it took a little getting used to, once I understood it I felt like I had an edge on others that didn’t quite understand it just yet, and while that skill gap won’t last too long, I liked that it existed. Throughout my whole time playing this game it didn’t feel too teamwork oriented. Sure, you had your team to help you capture the battery or return it from the enemy base, but I didn’t actively have to rely on anyone and I really liked that. Without designated classes like a healer or tank the game shifted more to which team has better individual skill and this allows good players to have the ball in their court to make all the right moves to win the game. This I feel rewards high skilled players very well because they get to see the results of their skill right in front of their eyes either through wins or through their show of dominance in a match.
Speaking of rewards this game feels so rewarding. In LawBreakers when hitting an enemy the player gets feedback through hit markers, these hit markers are small bars around the player’s crosshair and they fill up as the enemy’s health depletes. When the bars fill up they become red indicating that the enemy is dead, and let me tell you, it feels so good to empty the clip of my assault rifle as an Enforcer into any enemy and be able to see how well I’m hitting them and how much damage I’m doing until they inevitably drop onto the ground. Grabbing the battery from the middle of the map and boosting out of there feels so exhilarating at times when the enemy team is just swarming the area trying to snatch it from you, and shooting people flying through the air is just amazing. Seeing the effort I put in being rewarded is something I enjoy.
With an FPS that has different heroes to pick from there is always the worry about balance. The reason I call them heroes and not classes is because when I think classes I think something along the lines of, tank, healer, and DPS. These variations don’t exist in this game, the main difference are the abilities each character has and their weaponry. The Titan, which is bigger than the other characters in terms of size and health, carries a rocket launcher and moves slower than other classes. While it is beefier, this class wouldn’t exactly be a tank, it’d just be a different playstyle. The game overall felt very balanced to me after my time playing. At first I thought the Assassin was a bit too powerful because of how nimble they were and how much damage they did up close with their melee weapons, but after, once again, figuring out movement and understanding the game more I figured out how to dodge around them and kill them before they could get up close and become a threat. None of the characters seemed unbalanced and hero stacking wasn’t an issue either because when facing a hero stacked team it still all came down to skill anyway. Nothing about stacking specific abilities felt cheesy at all because aiming your weapon was much more of the game than the use of abilities. So in terms of character balance everything felt fine, my opinion might change after more gameplay, but I don’t think it will unless people figure out some silly strategy. Map balance for their first map also isn’t an issue as it is symmetric and there aren’t ridiculous chokepoints anywhere. The health stations that allow players to regenerate health are nicely placed around the map that allows for fair interaction. I don’t feel specifically vulnerable while in one, but I’m also not afraid to charge into the area to kill an enemy before they heal up.
The only noticeable issue I had with this Alpha test was the leavers. A lot of my 9 hours was wins so my team would have a pretty strong grip during those games. I think this was because the individual skill of my team was higher than that of the enemy teams I faced even though I didn’t have a set group. This lead to people just quitting making the game a boring 5 v 3 or even a 5 v 2. This leads to something interesting I noticed while playing. When I tried to leave a lobby mid match to join up with a friend I couldn’t. I was taken back to the lobby and the, “Leave Lobby,” button was greyed out. Upon completion of the match I was able to leave the lobby without an issue and I liked that. If players abandon a game where they are getting stomped they shouldn’t be allowed to join a different game, just make them wait out the match until it ends. Now I did see people still replace those players in game at times, so I’m not sure if someone can get their spot replaced and requeue or not, but I hope this isn’t the case. I hope leavers get punished by having to wait until the match is over to leave because having leavers in this game is the most disheartening thing to play with or against. It’s a boring wait with no action on the map as the battery charges until one team reaches 2 batteries and at this moment there isn’t a time limit to a match which is also an interesting choice.
So overall the Alpha was very solid from my experience. I only encountered one bug and it caused me to continuous reload over and over while in a health station and it only happened once and all I had to do is swap weapons to fix it. The main issues the Alpha test had was just lack of features that I can only assume will be added further down the line. For example, it didn’t have crosshair customization, it lacked some video options, you couldn’t remap all the keys, vertical sensitivity was different than horizontal sensitivity, etc. The game ran fine for me without any frame drops or server issues so I don’t have much to say on that front. It was very solid for an Alpha test.
The hero-based FPS that is LawBreakers looks to be very solid after this first Alpha test that I was able to partake in. The gameplay is fun with great game pacing, balance, and stability. I’m very excited to see where it goes as it continues to be worked on and I hope a lot more players get invited as the playerbase seems a bit small and I’d like to see more friends on to see how much the gameplay changes with more coordination. CliffyB knows how to make great first-person shooters and he’s showing that very well through this game.