PAX East 2016: I AM THE LAW!

This story has nothing to do with Judge DREDD, but I’ve always wanted to say that.

Lawbreakers is the new venture by Cliff Bleszinski and the team at BossKey, a new studio focused on reinventing the formula of first person shooters. What makes the game’s development process interesting is their end-to-end commitment to getting and incorporating gamer feedback throughout the development process: the alpha signup page just went live a day before PAX East 2016 kicked off today.

The playable build this weekend shows off an innovative twist on Capture the Flag by swapping out the titular flag with a battery, spawning at a central location each round and requiring a combination of acquisition and transportation as well as charging at home base to win a round. Opposing teams can snatch the battery out of an enemy base and reverse the charge status in their favour for a back and forth battle for 100% charge, quickly shifting the active field of combat around the arena and rewarding players who become well versed in different attack angles.

In my game session, the early favourite is the Assassin class which featured a swift moving melee attack that rapidly cuts through enemies with a pairing of long and short swords. Her blades are paired with a slower pump shotgun and a repulsion grenade that can deflect incoming projectiles, a powerful option to defend against heavy artillery and delay enemy forces at strategic chokepoints. The Vanguard was an effective defensive option with its combination of a heavy gatling gun that spins up its firing rate over time and a backwards rocket punch/thrust that forcefully clears out imminent threats such as melee attackers. I spent less time with the rocket launcher/Unreal Tournament-style lightning rifle wielding Titan and the assault rifle wielding Enforcer with a pop-up sight for greater accuracy, both are useful utility classes but currently less interesting than the earlier classes.

Lawbreakers feels like a blend of the unreleased Overwatch and classic versions of Unreal Tournament, mixing an array of diverse weapons and supporting abilities with an awesome round victory condition in the demo build. The combination of a PC focus, hard R rating (that’s Ice-T on the voiceover!) and what may be the highest degree of ongoing user feedback during development for a major title makes this an exciting game to keep an eye on.

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