PS4 Version Of LawBreakers Confirmed, PC Cross-Play Ruled Out Because It's "Dumb"
LawBreakers will offer all gameplay content, including maps and characters, for free to everyone who buys the game.
LawBreakers, the new shooter from ex-Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski and his studio Boss Key Productions, will not be a PC exclusive. In addition to the PC version, which remains in closed beta, LawBreakers is now headed to PlayStation 4--and it finally has a price on both platforms.
Boss Key had previously been hesitant to confirm a console version, saying it would need a "great partner" to make it happen. But Boss Key has decided the only way to do it would be to handle the project internally, it revealed during a roundtable attended by GameSpot.
"The thing we realized, doing something like console, some of this stuff--like tweaking controls--is so close to the gameplay and so close to making the game ultimately very playable, that there's nobody else outside of us that can do that," explained Boss Key COO Arjan Brussee. "You need Cliff in front of the TV, hands on the controller, giving feedback. You can't outsource that."
Brussee claimed that bringing the game to PS4 hasn't been a distraction from development of the PC version--and, in fact, computer players stand to benefit. He said LawBreakers now runs a "lot smoother" on PC as Boss Key leverages "synergies" with console development.
One of the challenges of bringing LawBreakers to console is adapting its keyboard and mouse controls for a controller, a difference that Bleszinski describes as "fairly significant." He recounted going through the process at Epic Games when developing the first Gears of War, considering things like how much the crosshair sticks to enemies when aiming with a controller.
"Being a skill-based game, you want players to still earn their kills," he explained. "You don't want them to feel like, 'Oh, the game helped me.' Some shooters do the whole 'look down iron sights and you clearly target-lock an enemy.' I don't want the game to have that too much; I want this very light, little bit of that assistance in the game. It was a challenge that required a lot of iteration, a lot of that kind of feel of the game--feel where the acceleration ramps are, [asking] am I turning too quickly? Am I not turning enough? We've gotten it to a really fun place."
"It does play slightly differently because you can't always directly compete with the pacing of keyboard and mouse," he added, "but with a game that's so hectic, I actually still enjoy the PlayStation 4 version immensely."
As for the decision to come only to PS4, it doesn't sound as if other consoles have been ruled out. It was noted throughout the roundtable that Boss Key is still a relatively small studio of about 65--"We're not Call of Duty with five studios and 1,000 people," Brussee noted--and those limited resources may explain the decision to start out with only a single console. Specifically asked if we could see the game on Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, Bleszinski said, "Anything's possible."
Although Boss Key didn't go into much detail, PS4 Pro support will be offered for LawBreakers, with at least one of the improvements coming in the form of a higher framerate. But whether you play on PS4 or PS4 Pro, what you won't see are PC players--that's because "cross-play is dumb," as Bleszinski put it.
Alongside the news of a PS4 version, Boss Key has also reaffirmed that LawBreakers won't use a free-to-play model, which it was slated to use at one point. Instead, the game will offer a "starting" price of $30, which entitles players to all future "content upgrades" for free. That includes things like new characters, maps, and modes, all of which will be available to the entire player base. Among other things, this has the benefit of not harming matchmaking by splitting up players, which Bleszinski believes is particularly crucial for a skill-based game.
Like so many other games these days, what Boss Key will offer are cosmetic items for characters and weapons that can be purchased. The specifics of how this will work remain unclear, including whether these items can all be obtained by simply playing the game.
"I think we have a really compelling lineup of cool-looking stuff, and I think we're building a lot of ways for people to show that off," Brussee says.
Being a shooter with distinct characters that each have their own abilities, LawBreakers invariably gets compared with Overwatch. And while that certainly presents Boss Key with a major competitor, Bleszinski sees LawBreakers as distinct enough to stand apart.
"Overwatch is a great game, but it has its own kind of Pixar art style, and we're not that," he said. "They're a game that feels more like a game that has abilities and characters as a shooter, and we're a super-core shooter that has characters and abilities. I'm happy that your average person out there, with Overwatch, now knows how to play a character-based game with Q and E ability or Shift; it's kind of prepped people for us to hopefully come in and be Pepsi to their Coke is the example; I'll even settle for RC Cola."
LawBreakers does not yet have a release date, but Boss Key hopes to launch it at the same time on both PC and PS4. Beta tests are ongoing on PC, and there will be at least one held on PS4 at an unspecified date.
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