E3 2016: Lawbreakers is shaking up traditional shooting tropes in an exciting, frantic way

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E3 Lawbreakers Preview 1

Lawbreakers is fast. The first time I got behind the wheel of the new arena shooter’s assassin class, I was a few clicks away from zipping around the cramped map’s skyline, raining death on my foes with twin daggers and lighting fast strikes. Everything in this gravity broken world moves at a breakneck pace, even when that pace is suspended in mid-air and a slave to the laws of bent physics. It’s a captivating shooting experience, and it’s one BossKey studios is having a lot of fun with.

Before getting my first hands-on time with the PC-exclusive competitive shooter, I was introduced to one of the brand new modes Lawbreakers will be introducing into its frequent closed Alpha events. Unlike the slower, more objective focused Overcharge, Turf War is a faster, intelligent mix between two traditional game modes: Team Deathmatch and Domination. Mixing point-based objective hunting and focused team slaughter doesn’t sound that difficult, but BossKey’s entire mantra is about turning shooter norms on their head.

E3 Lawbreakers Preview 2

In Turf War there are three control points. Each of these points can be captured by either team, granting them a point if they do so. Once a point is captured it’s locked out, with all three resetting after a brief interlude once all three have been taken up. During this downtime is where team deathmatch focus comes into play, with each kill granting you a bonus to your point capture speed for your next life. BossKey emphasised just how important this was to victory, as well as the timing of your kills. A full team wipe just before the points activated again, for example, would almost assure all three for your team.

The match ends when one team has amassed a total of 13 captures, and it plays into a more competitive focus for the online shooter. Where Overcharge certainly was geared towards full-time team play, Turf War sometimes shines with outstanding solo play. A sneaky assassin capture of an enemy team’s free point or a mad Titan rush of the centre point work out well when proper communication is in play, but I didn’t feel out of touch just going it solo most of the time.

E3 Lawbreakers Preview 3

While Turf War itself was interesting enough to grab my attention, it was really the two first matches with Lawbreakers that cemented my interest. If you’re unfamiliar with the Cliff Bleszinski headed shooter, there’s one central hook that differentiates it from classic shooters: gravity. The clean, future world of Lawbreakers has capitalised on gravity around the global breaking, and it’s just as useful in-game as it is thematically.

A massive bubble in the centre of the map ensured that fire fights around the most contested point were always interesting. Here, fights play out in zero-gravity, with a plethora of rockets, bullets and blades flying around the area. Physics play a huge part in the flow of play here, with each of the current four classes even having a ability to fire behind them. Not only does this blind firing offer up some lucky kills, it propels you forward faster than your standard movement speed – suddenly making the likes of the rocket-wielding Titan a fast foe to fear.

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It’s a bit of a shame this is relegated to only a single portion of the map, but the various different character abilities on offer make up for them. Lawbreakers is completely symmetrical, so even though character profiles change depending on your Law affiliation, your role doesn’t. There’s the fast Assassin that doles out damage up close,  the hulking Titan fires rockets when not utilising its Emperor Palpatine like lighting ultimate. The Enforcer is your standard run and gunner with an emphasis on sustained damage, and the Vanguard is a rocket pack powered minigun madman (or woman) that can change the tide of almost any battle.

Each of these classes have unique abilities outside of their standard attacks, which each give them a sense of purpose within a fight. At one point during our play time our team focused on just Titans, and were eventually punished by some more swift Assassin play. BossKey is still deep in balancing and tweaking, but right now Lawbreakers feels tight and fun to play. Even if I was really getting mowed down trying out my best Spider-Man impression as Kitsune on the Law side.

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There’s no estimated release date yet and a hell of a lot of content still to be revealed, but this early look at an ambitious online shooter was certainly interesting enough to sustain my attention. It’s easy for a game to get lost under the weight of s single big name behind it, but Lawbreakers is very much the love child of a team with years of veteran experience. And being one of the best shooters at the show, it certainly proved that.

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Last Updated: June 21, 2016

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

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