By Michael Sagoe (mikedot)
As Boss Key Productions races towards the finish line to get their premiere title, LawBreakers, out into the wild, they’ve decided to host one last event to show off to everyone that this is a new kind of FPS experience that has to be played to be fully realized. With this open beta event, they’ve introduced a new map, a new game mode, new customization options and more balance changes. With me already on the brink of overhype, I logged onto the Rise Up beta almost as soon as the servers opened on 6/28 at noon EST. Now that the beta is over and after playing for several hours and reaching player rank 20+, here’s my current thoughts on the game.
So once again, the Juggernaut class has received a ton of buffs in an attempt to make this role into the beastly bruiser that it’s supposed to be. With increased health on its Halo-Deflector, less fuel usage while sprinting and jumping, as well as increased fuel regen, I can safely say that the Juggernaut FINALLY feels like a class that can hold its own in a game that’s primarily focused on speed and movement. The increased fire rate on the shotgun and no animation interrupts while activing armor feels great too. No longer will Juggernaut players have to play overly cautious when sprinting and armoring up, because now you won’t necessarily have to choose between the two unless the situation really calls for a hasty escape. Overall, these changes are well deserved and Juggernaut seems to be in a much better place than this role was before.
The Assassin has also received sweeping changes on her kit that are supposed to make her a lot more fair and balanced. She now has a reduced ammo capacity on her shotgun, reduced damage and a slower reload, while her blades have a reduced base damage on connected attacks while gaining a new mechanic called “Precision” where arc blade attacks gain increased damage whenever an assassin attacks someone while her crosshair is fully aimed at an opponent. Now the whole precision mechanic is supposed to make melee assassins feel more skillful, but I highly doubt that it’s going to change much of anything for most players that can play this class competently. If you’re in melee range of an enemy, you’re most likely going to have to be looking in their general direction anyway if you want to land a hit. The Romerus shotgun has also been nerfed a bit with a reduced ammo size and a slightly longer reload time but is still just as deadly and effective as it was before. Although I’m going to miss having six shots to work with when moving through zero gravity.
As mentioned before: these changes are supposed to make assassins feel fair and balanced but being real honest here, I think that the Assassin was already in a good spot. Same goes for the Wraith class as they are both highly mobile roles that can cover ground and move in on opponents very quickly. Many players are calling for more nerfs on both the Assassin and the Wraith, but is there really any other changes that BKP can make that will not completely gimp these roles? While they’re both good in close quarters and decent in mid-range, they completely lose out when it comes to long range battles, which is where roles like the Vanguard, Enforcer and Gunslinger completely outranges them. Even if you can’t avoid close quarters combat with either Assassins or Wraiths, switching to Titans or Juggernaut can potential deal with them with their close ranged weaponry.
They could potentially scale back on damage a bit more, but I honestly don’t think the public perception of this class is ever going to change no matter what Boss Key Productions does at this point. Fast and mobile characters always seem to be a point of contention when skill-based gameplay is involved. I seriously hope that people will learn how to deal with them shortly after the official release, because right now, they’re both insanely fun classes to play, and I’d hate to see them nerf the fun.
As for the other classes that received changes… Battle Medic got a few nerfs to her drones, making it easier to blast through her shield gating. Gunslinger was buffed to allow a better range on his Omega Pistol and the Wraith got tweaked with less damage on his knife but easier shot detonation on his exploding Stinger Bomb. All welcome changes to help push the game towards less reliance on dedicated team compositions, which is something I’m hoping will stick with this game long after launch.
New Map: Vertigo
With the new map introduced, this one focuses on a smaller, but open environment where players have one straight open lane to run down and two huge gaps to traverse. Objectives are also out in the open so there’s a constant focus on combat and chaos. Personally, I feel like this map favors defenders a bit more often. Because of the open environment, there’s almost nowhere that players can attack from if they want to ambush defenders. I would very much like to see one extra path get added to this map by using the side gaps, since you’re already taking a huge risk of falling to your death there, so you may as well reward players for using it by giving them another route to attack with. As it stands, it’s a fun map to play on, but it can also be frustrating to play on, as well.
New Mode: Uplink
Also included with the new map is a new mode call uplink where players have to steal a mini satellite and bring it back to their base to upload data. Data uploads can be interrupted by the enemy team by stealing the satellite and bringing it back to their base. First three to get three uploads done wins. I’m not so certain that I enjoy this game mode as much as I do with the others, since Uplink plays more or less the same as Overcharge mode. The only real difference here is that enemy players can’t steal the satellite to attempt to steal a scoring point. They can only halt your progress for their own, which leads to much longer matches if both teams are playing competently.
Along with the new map and mode, they’ve added some new customization to the game in the form of stickers that you can splat onto your weapons. While extra personalization is nice, it’s a bit of customization that I feel is a bit too personal, considering that there is almost no way for other players to notice these stickers on your weapon. Weapon customization makes sense. Changeable skins makes sense. Even kick decals makes sense. Weapon stickers? Not so much.
The netcode has also received some changes with hit detection, ones that I’ve actually noticed due to my current gaming situation. As mentioned in the patch notes: “They’ve tweaked the hit registration on the server to more accurately match the character position seen on the client and made replica players on unstable connections move more consistently.” Since I’ve recently had to make changes from a wired connection to a wireless one, I had fears that my online experience with the game would be way less favorable, due to the nature of how finicky wireless connections can be, but it turns out that with the changes to hit detection on unstable connections, I was able to play and hit opponents just fine. It’s an awesome change that really helps out those that do not have the best kind of connections available, and I’m certain that those same folks will appreciate this change as much as I did.
Overall, the changes and updates made to Lawbreakers really set a mark of quality on the game as a full retail title that’s set to be released early next month, and I certainly cannot wait for the full release now more than ever. I’ll be sure to give my thoughts on the Harrier class and latest map come its August 8th release, but until then, I’ll be spending my time bickering on the official Lawbreakers Discord server, possibly arguing with people on why the Wraith isn’t as overpowered as people claim it to be… or something.