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Boss Key takes aim at the giants of the shooter genre with its debut title.

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The arena shooter genre is a tough nut to crack. Over the years many a small upcoming studio has had a go at carving themselves out a corner of a genre that has the potential to elevate a developer operating successfully within it. Therefore the mixture of big budget behemoths and punchy indie offerings makes for a competitive marketplace, nevertheless that's where Cliff Bleszinski's Boss Key Productions decided to make their first stand after the former Epic man set up shop as an independent developer (in this case, with support from Nexon). Based on what we've seen so far of the studio's debut game, Lawbreakers, we have every hope that this sci-fi shooter is going to thrive and survive.

We say "what we've seen so far" because at this stage it's hard to make statements with any certainty. Games in the online shooter space can grow, like Rainbow Six: Siege has shown, while seemingly surefire hits can tank like Battleborn did; success very much rests in the hands of the communities that build around these games. What we can say at this stage, however, is that the groundwork that Boss Key has laid down should ensure that Lawbreakers has every chance of staying the course, because the studio has crafted a very good game, even if the offering is a little on the lean side at launch.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the slow start to life endured by the game following its release. The player count is on the low side, and this results in sluggish matchmaking, and even if you do get a prompt game, you'll often find yourself warming up while you wait for additional players to make up the numbers. This is a shame because apart from the relative lack of content (which we'll come to shortly), this is the only significant complaint we have. Boss Key has laid out a great buffet, but it seems as though not everyone fancies the zero-g flavoured sandwiches.


In a way, it's a debut that reminds us of Titanfall, in that it feels a little barebones when considered against the quality of the overall production. Like Respawn's first title before it, this is clearly the work of capable studio finding its feet, and that manifests itself with a launch offering of nine playable classes and just seven maps. There's no wave mode, no campaign, just objective-based matchmaking across five different game modes. For those looking for something a touch more "complete", that might be an issue.