Having played Lawbreakers for an hour and a half we caught up with Cliff Bleszinski to learn more about the game and his new studio. In fact, we were so impressed that we decided not to stray from the subject, and spent ten minutes talking about... Lawbreakers.
"There has been people saying, you should go back to making old school games, but sometimes when I play some of those old school titles, I'm bored after 30 minutes. The way that the got variety in their experience, they had a variety of characters that didn't have any inherent abilities, they had ten weapons and once you'd seen the map you were like 'okay, now I just need to do maps'. So the community kind of drove that back in the day.Now we're in a world where the depth is coming from the characters, from having abilities on Q and E, as well as having multiple weapons and multiple alt fires, and unique movements on the shift button as well as the ability to blind fire behind using the ctrl button."
We asked Bleszinski about the decision to go with a symmetric character design rather than the rock, paper, scissors approach many "hero shooters" have gone for.
"It's one of those things I realised playing some of the games, and in some of those other titles if you come into a room and you encounter some other hero or class you just turn around and run," says Bleszinski. "Cause that basically rock, paper, scissors you out. You're done. You don't even bother to engage. As well as in some of those other hero shooters you come into a room and it's you versus two or three other people, there's no way you have a shot at taking them out. In our game every ability, every character has the ability to take out numerous ones of the others. So I've seen every single character, not hero, we call them characters or roles in this game, we don't want to hero-based shooter. It's cool, it is what it is. I've seen people playing as Kitsune, or playing as Hellion, or playing as Bombchelle, go into a room or a base and take out the entire team and get an annihilation. You don't see that in a lot of the other character based shooters."
Ever since work began on Lawbreakers, Bleszinski has been very clear that this is a shooter designed for PC, but as he said it comes "first on PC and Steam", we naturally had to follow up and ask exactly what that meant.
"I wouldn't rule out putting the game on console eventually down the line, but we sure as hell aren't doing it ourselves. We're at about 65 people and I want to keep that medium sized development studio family fell to it. And let's just say there's interested parties at both Sony and Microsoft. It's a business, you never know what's going to happen with any sort of negotiation."
"It's a big maybe, right now. We just want to get this game awesome and out and kicking butt on PC."
We also talked about the modes, and the design decisions going into those, as well as what has gone into building Boss Key Productions over the last couple of years.
The first public alpha test for Lawbreakers just ran this past weekend, with more tests and eventually Early Access planned for this summer. The game will cost somewhere in the $20-$40 region, having ditched the free-to-play model a while back ("we kept sliding down the patch of it feeling sleazy").
Bleszinski said they are targeting a release this year, "early fall/late summer" maybe, but as game development is an "dark art" he didn't want to commit to a release window just yet.