When multiplayer shooter Unreal first released in 1998, it quickly drew attention thanks to its fast and furious gameplay, reliance on twitch reflexes, and the expertly crafted arenas, much of which was designed by Cliff Bleszinski. Bleszinski, or CliffyB as he came to be known in the Unreal community, proved to have an eye for first person shooters, and his designing input proved invaluable for the Unreal franchise. Eventually, CliffyB was promoted to head designer on his own game within Unreal developer Epic Games – the massively popular Gears of War – and the rest is history.
After working at Epic for several decades, Bleszinski eventually decided that it was time to strike out on his own, parting ways with the developer in 2012. Bleszinski would eventually form Boss Key Productions, and promised that he would use the newfound studio to deliver original, fun games that would forgo the disc-based release method. Since its inception, Boss Key offered glimpses of a title called “Project Bluestreak” that the team was working on, but Bleszinski and crew mostly remained mum. Now, Bleszinski has pulled back the curtain to reveal what exactly Boss Key has been working on this whole time.
Called Lawbreakers, Bleszinski touts his new game as a return to his roots, putting emphasis on fast, furious, trigger-happy gameplay. As the developer put it, Lawbreakers emphasizes “skill, not streaks.”
Set in a far-flung future, Lawbreakers will pit teams of five against each other in a classic cops and criminals set up, except the cops and criminals happen to be in highly advanced suits that allow them to bound around as if in zero gravity. It is this gravity mechanic that Lawbreakers hinges itself on, as Bleszinski says that the pillars of the game will be “gangs, guns, and gravity.”
But while Lawbreakers may be steeped in Bleszinski’s past, its release model is all about looking towards the future. Working with publisher Nexon, Boss Key decided to embrace the current business trends by releasing the game totally free with optional content transactions. Bleszinski admits that the decision was made to ensure that Lawbreakers could reach an even wider audience, stating:
“Making the move to free-to-play games is all about maximizing the potential audience for your title while embracing where the industry is headed.”
Bleszinski has proven that his ability to craft shooters is no fluke (in fact, the original Gears of War is getting an upgraded re-release, which is a testament to that game’s staying power), but it remains to be seen if the change to free-to-play will work for Lawbreakers.
Lawbreakers releases in 2016 for PC.