How Quake and Old-School Shooters Inspired the Classes of Lawbreakers

The rapid style of an older time.

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Lawbreakers may be the first game from the young Boss Key Productions, but its influences date back to a different era: the halcyon days of the early first-person shooters, when mechanics were few and simple, focused on accuracy and player movement. The characters of Lawbreakers embody both tenets.

During a recent interview with GameSpot, several Boss Key members delved into the creative process of the Assassin and Titan character options in the competitive shooter.

The assassin was the most-played class during the recent Lawbreakers closed alpha, senior gameplay programmer Nathan Wulf said. Equipped with dual swords, a shotgun, and grappling hook, this nimble class is more difficult to master than its counterparts. But despite the archetype's steep learning curve, Boss Key thinks the popularity is a result of the assassin's fast-paced play style.

"The assassin has this first-person Spider-Man-esque gameplay that's really appealing to people," Wulf said. "A lot of players, when they start, try to play Lawbreakers horizontally. But assassins start to have this 'Aha!' moment where they realize they can use verticality and reach these assassin-only places on the map. It changes the game."

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Adding even more fast-paced verticality to the assassin's lineup is the grapple hook, allowing the class to create its own paths through maps in Lawbreakers.

"The original grapple hook was a Quake-style linear grapple," multiplayer designer Andrew Witts said. "It let you cling to walls and drop down behind people. But we found that wasn't working too well. Clinging to the wall, waiting for someone to come around, was weird. It didn't feel right in this kind of game."

The new grapple hook, on the other hand, fits much more seamlessly into Lawbreakers' frantic pace--it allows for more flexibility and mobility, as assassins swing under outcrops, around corners, and over ledges. Lawbreakers is a game about offense, and after several iterations, Boss Key eliminated the assassin's proclivity for staying still.

However, the studio embraced a more brutal, thuggish approach to combat with the Titan class. He comes equipped with a rocket launcher, a la Quake, for doing splash damage and killing enemies quickly.

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"I like to see the Titan as a way to break up engagements, or start engagements," senior UI/UX designer Jonathan Peedin said. "I view the Titan as the catalyst to actually affect the outcome of the game--not the hero, per se. But he can sway things in one direction or the other."

Peedin said this is a pillar of Lawbreakers' design: creating characters with their own distinct abilities, yet all able to shift the battle in their team's favor at a moment's notice. The class-based nature of the skirmishes may be a more modern concept in the grand scheme of the shooter genre, but the rapid pace and heightened verticality hearken back to a heyday when movement and skill were paramount.

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