LawBreakers – MOBA Shooters a new norm

LawBreakersGears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski has unveiled a new game, LawBreakers, that will be a free-to-play multiplayer shooter. LawBreakers will be the first release from the new studio Boss Key, and it’s being described as a, “five-on-five, team-based shooter where law enforcement squares off against criminals”. In a similar vein to what we have seen from Overwatch, Battleborn, and Gigantic, it has clear MOBA influences with a dynamic cast of characters to choose from. There are some things in the gameplay trailer that have me excited, but given how many other titles are falling into this new category I have some concerns.

360 3-D

The standard experience of a first person shooter has been pretty established. Whether you play Borderlands or Call of Duty, moving and shooting at enemies from the first person perspective is familiar and has only seen minor innovation over the years. Something you will quickly pick up on in the footage for LawBreakers or any of the many gameplay videos for Overwatch is there is a creative mix of special moves and movement that pull you out of a traditional first person experience. Something I even noticed in the LawBreakers video is that one of the characters quickly turns his rocket launcher and fires a shot behind him over his shoulder. I think these elements will help this type of game standout as distinct given that so many shooters are currently in the market with many more on the way. After watching a lot of the videos about Overwatch, Battleborn, and now this new gameplay trailer for LawBreakers, I have to say I’m slightly overwhelmed and a bit concerned about the reception of these games as well as balance.

Daunting Choices

Someone recently asked me on my stream which character from Battleborn I was looking forward to the most. I found myself struggling to answer as the sheer number of characters makes it difficult to pick one or even remember which have seemed the most appealing. This is an area where games like this may struggle to get traction and gain appeal. The popularity of shooters like Call of Duty has led them to being somewhat dumbed down, which has turned many way. But that has also set expectations for many shooter fans about what to expect in a PVP first person shooter. So on one hand it may now draw very many players in, but it could also stall them out when it comes time to choose a character. I for one am excited about the prospect of more first person shooter games taking on this MOBA-esque identity with big casts of characters, but I’m still skeptical about developers being able to reign in the balancing issues that will almost assuredly arise.

There’s always an MVP

I’ve made the prediction that Destiny’s PVP will never be balanced because the nature of a first person shooter with PVP is one where players sniff out the guns and gear with the quickest TTK (time to kill) and then that is all you see. An obvious risk for games like LawBreakers is creating a game with maps, guns, skills and perks that get quickly dissected and broken down into who is the best character to use. One obvious solution would be to only allow one character type per team, forcing players to be tactical and pairing up characters that complement each other in order to make sure certain enemy players don’t run rampant around the map. Hopefully all of the games within this new vein find a way to create balance and fun, either through role assignments for types of characters or through thoughtful strength/weakness skills so that there are not OP characters. Time will tell, but the sudden surge of these games is a sign of different days for the FPS PVP world, and I for one am looking forward to a shake up.

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