If you had to define a specific console generation by one franchise, Gears of War would be a strong contender for the face of the Xbox 360 era. It was violent, polished and featured numerous soldiers with more muscles than a Rob Liefeld comic book. An idea that stretched out across dozens of other games as studios made use of the Unreal 3 Engine that Epic Games had created.
The common thread here with these games was Cliff Bleszinksi, who worked with the Epic Games team to introduce a more visceral level of action to players. Five years ago, Bleszinski departed Epic Games, but he’s making a comeback with a new type of game by the name of Lawbreakers. It’s one of many new titles in a genre that is quickly becoming crowded. But Lawbreakers looks a bit different.
It’s old school for sure, but it’s also picking apart the numerous flaws of classic shooters by adding in traversal options to keep the action flowing. And that’s what it’s all about really. “I want it to really have a sense of flow,” Bleszinski said to GameSpot.
There’s that sense of nonstop movement going through the environment. The thing about making an arena shooter is you really need to make something that has depth. I go back and play the new Unreal Tournament and it looks fantastic, but I feel like I’ve almost seen everything there is to see within a couple hours. For us, when we added in character abilities and the various classes and the sizes and different health, we shifted it from being about the map to being about the player in the role.
That was the goal with making this kind of game–like an arena shooter for a new generation.
For me it’s the verbs. What are you doing besides shooting? As much as we are a real core shooter, there’s a lot of other things that you’re doing. You’re kicking. You’re blind firing. You’re doubling your size and using lightning hands. You’re grappling. You’re using jet packs. You’re doing all these crazy different things that, for me at least, add up to the watch-ability that we are going for in this game.
Overwatch and Battleborn are just two examples of games arriving in a genre that has been dubbed “the hero-shooter” as of late. Essentially a few pilfered ideas from massively popular MOBA games, hero-shooters are meant to make everyone feel special and unique. Just don’t apply that label to Lawbreakers. “We are kind of in the golden era of the hero game. I don’t want to be labeled as a hero game,” Bleszinski said.
I almost want to be labeled as an anti-hero game because all of our characters have the Quentin Tarantino vibe to what we are going for with the IP. For us, it comes down to characters and heroes and, honestly, cosplayers. When we are designing the nuts and bolts of these characters, we want to make the job of the cosplayers as difficult as humanly possible so that they have to run around to 15 stores, which, for me, is a sign of an interesting character design.
It’s giving people aspirational characters and abilities that they want to actually be instead of just having 15 guns in your butt, which is what the old shooter mentality was.
It’s looking good so far, and there’s definitely that Cliffy B charm under the surface. It’s the kind of game that I want to see more of. Purely just for the fact that there’s a chance for me to actually not have to spend a match worrying about being shot in the back several hundred times before I even have a chance of returning fire.
Last Updated: April 22, 2016