Lawbreakers is the first game from Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions, is out now for PC and PlayStation 4. It is a team-based hero shooter where you choose from a roster of super-powered beings before going into battle in a variety of objective-based matches. It is $30, and it is in its full 1.0 state after more than a year of beta testing.
GamesBeat reviews editor Mike Minotti and I (PC gaming editor Jeffrey Grubb) dug into with the kinetic action of Lawbreakers, and you can check out our gameplay in the video above. As Boss Key and Bleszinski have said, Lawbreakers emphasizes skillful play and explosive mechanics. At the same time, as many have pointed out through Lawbreakers’ beta period, it has a lot in common with Blizzard’s hero shooter, Overwatch.
After playing ourselves, the parallels to Overwatch are apparent, but it has almost just as many differences once you dig into how it works. That makes sense considering Lawbreakers was in development before Blizzard announced Overwatch in 2014. In the video, you’ll see some examples of how Boss Key’s game deviates from Blizzards, including low-gravity combat where players can zip through the air without falling. Our hour-long clip also gets into the match-type variety. All quick-play matches were team-based, but they have more in common with classic arena shooters like Unreal Tournament — the shooter that Bleszinski built his career on before directing Gears of War — than something like Overwatch.
In one match, the two teams fought over a battery. The goal was to bring the battery back to your base to charge it. Once it was full, it would then discharge it into your base and give your squad a point. But if your team can steal it before it discharges, you can return it to your base and continue the charge where it left off in the enemy’s HQ.
Another objective type was domination mode where the two teams had to battle for control over three key spots on the map. A variation on this in another game type had teams battling over a single spot on the map that would move after half-minute or so.
But the comparison to Overwatch is unavoidable. Blizzard’s game is hugely popular and contributes significantly to the publisher’s monthly active player count. And it’s hard not to think of Tracer when you are jumping through space-time as the Gunslinger class in Lawbreakers.
For now, that comparison isn’t something I would automatically hold against Lawbreakers. Bleszinski’s new shooter is fun in a vacuum, and having Overwatch out in the world doesn’t quite take away from that. But I don’t know if Lawbreakers will have the appeal to take players away from Overwatch.