Arena shooters aren’t all that common on consoles. Sure, we’ve had general examples like Unreal Tournament, Team Fortress 2, and DOOM land on PlayStation platforms, but these titles are best experienced and sometimes exclusively made for PC. LawBreakers was going to be no exception with its focus on insanely fast speed and chaotic combat. However, Boss Key Productions made one giant leap “for the players” and has brought its multiplayer first-person shooter to the PlayStation 4. Does it have the pizzaz and profundity to rocket jump over its competitors, or does LawBreakers barely get off the ground?
If we’re talking about gameplay, the title is all about soaring high in the sky with its smooth, frantic, hip-fire shooting. All of the characters possess some means of propelling themselves forward with jetpacks, sprinting, or sliding. You have to constantly be on the move because once you’re out of stamina, you’ll feel like exposed prey alongside enemies who are zipping around you. This is especially true in central locations of low gravity on every map.
Whether you’re securing a point or grabbing a ball, shootouts in these areas are a rush as you frantically move and aim every which way. There’s even a mechanic called Blindfire that lets you shoot backwards, and it’s instrumental in getting a heavy class like the Titan or Juggernaut flying, or guiding any character’s trajectory. You might just get a lucky shot, too, but you’ll need a prayer to manage that.
The characters in question are divided into eight classes on the Law and Breakers sides, meaning there are sixteen characters total. Many people have drawn comparisons to Overwatch since classes have a couple abilities with a charging ultimate, and since, for example, the Gunslinger teleports and duel-wields two guns, you can bet people say it’s a copy of Tracer. However, since this particular scribe is still obsessed with Overwatch, we can attest that LawBreakers has little in common with Blizzard’s title beyond base similarities like this. Whereas other arena shooters find diversity in pickup weapons or team composition pairings, LawBreakers is most like Team Fortress 2 with balanced classes that can all contribute equally without highly coordinated teamwork or heavily specialised roles.
Instead of particular classes like support characters needing to rely on tanks to survive, LawBreakers ensures that each class can put up a fight. The Battle Medic is a great example. You can send out a drone to heal a teammate, but you’re just as offensive with the rest of your team as you wield a powerful grenade launcher and energy pistol. The impact of group classes is present in the game’s balancing with some characters possessing more health, firepower, or speed than others, but no single one is so grossly powerful or defensive as to merit people demanding you play as someone in particular.
One of our favourite classes, the Titan, wields a rocket launcher, electricity gun, and mine that can slow down enemies. While it may pack a punch, the class is incredibly slow and ungraceful in anti-gravity fields. On the other hand, the Wraith can slide far and jump high, closing in for kills with his submachine pistol and deadly knife to surprise unsuspecting foes, but he's low on health and only good at close range. The playstyles are like night and day, but either class has a chance at prevailing over the other. This diversity and balance is an exceptional feat, and while we believe the Harrier class could do with a range reduction on the laser rifle and the Juggernaut a small buff with the shotgun, the game is off to a great start in this manner. Just be ready to have some patience as you adjust since there are sadly no in-game tutorials.
Modes do require a semblance of teamwork to get anywhere. Uplink and Overcharge involve both teams bringing an object back to base that must be defended for a certain amount of time. Turf War is a neat spin on Domination where players need to quickly secure three points. Once all of them are locked down, the process continues until the score limit is reached. Occupy is similar to Call of Duty’s Headquarters and Blitzball is akin to Capture the Flag, but again, both have slight twists like the latter having the ball explode in the player’s possession if they don’t reach the enemy base in time.
There are enough modes to keep things interesting for a good while with Blitzball and Uplink being among our favourites. While they don’t necessarily boast anything too unorthodox, you’ll have some exhilarating clutches where the odds can suddenly turn in your favour. The maps also complement the action with the low gravity areas being wide open that branch off to tight corridors and a fair amount of vertical levels, but we wish some maps were bigger to allow for longer chases and more pathways to get around. We think this would be helped by smaller instances of gravity anomalies spread across maps with dangerous pathways or shortcuts to specific areas. Moving platforms and gravity that shifts in intensity would also be intriguing; the developer would do well to further stress the “gravity-defying” part of the game’s combat.
There’s a plethora of unlockables ranging from skins to emblems that you earn in Stash Drops. They’re merely cosmetics and can be earned every time you level up like Loot Boxes in Overwatch, so they’re a welcome addition to incentivize play. However, half of them strike us as useless such as customisable boot patterns that enemies will see if you kick them. In addition, the characters aren’t as distinguishable and iconic as Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch’s cast, so the skins aren’t that alluring with the exception of a few that we’d like to get our hands on.
Overall, the realistic style leaves the character design and art direction feeling a bit conflicted with some characters’ voices and personalities not matching up or simply coming across as generic. This comes through with the music, too, which is wholly unmemorable since it’s more like noise punctured through with obnoxious dubstep and rock.
However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t admit that there are lines, characters, and details about LawBreaker’s world that speak for its potential to lighten up a bit more. In all honesty, this is best expressed through much of the animation, which is brimming with personality that sometimes tells more about the characters than when they speak for themselves.
Performance-wise, stuttering is still noticeable, but it’s hardly as jarring or frequent as it was before the recent patch went through. However, we’d like to see some of the menu navigation sorted out since it gets clunky and bogged down for no apparent reason. Besides these technical quibbles, we played LawBreakers on the standard PlayStation 4 and found that it ran within 50-60 frames-per-second consistently, though it does drop to 30 on occasion.
LawBreakers’ world and characters don’t carve deep impressions, but the experience itself exerts a strong pull with its diverse, balanced classes, solid selection of modes, and stellar gunplay. It’s more than a nice distraction from its looming competitors, and while the map design and implementation of gravity leave more to be desired, the game has the potential to further defy gravity and our expectations if it keeps shooting for the moon.
A safe 8.
Will check more reviews as I am not sure about this one.
The beta was good but i just dont love it combined with a insane backlog with even more games coming makes it a no sale.
I preordered after really enjoying the beta but I'm starting to realise that it's such an inaccessible game with a matchmaking system that makes no attempt to place you with players of a similar skill level. On day one I was having a lot of fun and was able to hold my own but even now, just 3 days after release, I'm finding myself put up against players who I stand no chance against. The really skillful players have shot up in terms of ability whereas me, someone who has never been great (though not necessarily completely awful) at shooters, is getting slaughtered more and more easily.
Come the end of the week I'll probably barely be able to step outside spawn.
Not for me. Maaaybe someday.
As interested as I am in it it's just to similar to Overwatch for me. Right now I am looking at Fortnite for now.
Meh, overwatch takes too much of my time for now! Besides now I started playing lol again and hots, and damn I have so many games to finish on my ps4
The game's reviewing well and I don't doubt that it's good, but it just seems like a hard sell. I'm not entirely sure why that it is to be honest... It just doesn't seem to be holding much attention.
I think it's fascinating how there are sometimes games like LawBreakers that come out, review well, but are still shrouded by scepticism.
Isn't it battleborn tier dead?
@get2sammyb I think the reason it's hard to sell is most people see it and go oh it's another Overwatch clone like Battleborn. Kinda like any MOBA is considers a DOTA or LoL clone , any MMO is a WoW clone for ahwile there military FPS games were CoD clones and any open world game was a GTA Clone.
While yes it might be different but it's not different enough from initial impression and you know what they say first impressions are the most important.
Yeah, I still don't see it.
There's nothing that stands out in this game at all.
Just a run of the mill cobbled together mp FPS that has been done to death by nearly everyone, and in most cases done better to begin with.
@kyleforrester87 Pretty much. Definitely a low 8 for me. 7.5 if I had the choice of being precise.
@Gatatog There were only a couple of times where I noticed that some teams had exceptionally good players, but not to the point where I felt overwhelmed. I really do think this game has a learning curve with how to play as certain classes, but once you find your groove after several hours (especially with classes like the Assassin and Wraith), you'll be able to compete pretty well.
@get2sammyb Same happened with Overwatch. Loads of skepticism with many people thinking it wouldn't outshine Team Fortress 2 and popular options like Battlefield One, but then it came into its own instantly when people realized it was different. The thing with LawBreakers is that it doesn't have the same oomph not only with its world and characters, but also its unique features. If BKP really goes in hard by toying around with the potential gravity brings to modes and match dynamics, I think people might start to warm up to this. As of now, I get the wariness, but some of it is unwarranted. It's not groundbreaking, but a fun pick-up-and-play shooter.
@Tasuki Exactly. I kinda wrote it off when I first saw it, but my first impressions belied a lot of the merit this game has with its gameplay. As an arena shooter, it's a wonderful addition to the genre, but as @get2sammyb implied, there's a "genericness" to it that rubs people the wrong way.
@meppi Not necessarily. I think the way you traverse around environments is fairly novel for arena shooters, but in terms of the character designs and gameplay (besides the Blindside mechanic), it doesn't stand out. But it's well designed and can be a lot of fun regardless! I just think LB needs more time to find itself with feedback and more content. It's not going to blow up, but it will find a niche among players, I think. Definitely not going to overtake what multiplayer shooters I play, but I'll definitely drop in and out every so often to get a short fix.
@hadlee73 THAT is the biggest problem, and it's unfair because LB is nothing like Overwatch in terms of how you approach matches, the meta game, teamwork, etc. The thing is that Overwatch is also more accessible and open to wider audiences, and with LB emphasizing skill and edginess, it'll have a smaller reach as a result.
I think i would be very interested, if the slot wasn't filled by OW already.
Not saying they are similar, just that i have room for only one MPAFPS.
I got stuck buying this in a Limited Run Games bundle because I wanted Wonder Boy as a physical copy and the individual regular edition of that game sold out in less than 40 seconds so I pulled the trigger and grabbed the bundle. Not really interested in shooters, but I might give Law Breakers a shot. That or I might just sell the physical copy.
Please please please: add a training mode.
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