LawBreakers clearly draws inspiration from the legions of arena shooters that came before it, all while throwing a whole bunch of new ingredients into the mix. But while many of its influences are worn proudly on its sleeve, some might not be quite as obvious. Racing games, for instance.
After getting in a couple of rounds with Boss Key Productions' first big title (it's rad as hell, by the way), I had an opportunity to sit down with Lead Designer Dan Nanni during E3 2017. Nanni said the LawBreakers crew knew they wanted to make an arena shooter -- something many members of the team have worked on and are comfortable with -- but they quickly realized that they wanted to bring the game into its own unique space. That's when they started tooling around with gravity and the game's unusual take on class-based gunplay, pulling ideas from RPGs and even racing games.
But that's just one of the game's playable classes and, as Nanni puts it, those abilities don't define the classes the way players might expect. He said that, in games like Overwatch, you know what you're getting when you select a class-based character; everyone knows how a healer or a tank is supposed to behave, for instance. In LawBreakers, the team wanted to change things up a bit so that players maybe pick a role they are familiar with, only to learn that they can actually be used in a couple of different ways.
Dan Nanni used the Enforcer as an example, saying that most players will see the guy with the automatic rifle, grenade, and a speed boost and think he's meant to run point and push objectives.
Dan Nanni said this comes from a desire to make players feel comfortable with the roles in LawBreakers, but then reveal extra levels of depth that come to light intuitively. He said that type of balance is key in creating roles players can jump in and play immediately, while still creating incentives for players looking to dig down and really learn the classes.
LawBreakers hits PlayStation 4 and PC on Aug. 8.