"I want to make another billion dollar IP." This infamous lines made by the famous designer or Unreal Tournament and Gears of War Cliff Bleszinski was for his then upcoming game Lawbreakers. It was supposed to be the shooter that took the industry by storm, and with Cliff's experience we at least trusted this game to be a solid arena shooter. The developers at Cliff's new studio Boss Key Productions even as well as Cliff even went out of there way to repeatedly say that this game is unlike other games (and unlike one specific game, take a guess which one). They also said this was the shooter for adults, filled with gore and coarse language, unlike other shooters that feel like they are "PG rated shooters" (can you take a guess at which game he is talking about)?
In the first paragraph, I was hinting at a very specific game. If you don't know which game I am talking about, it is Overwatch, and that is what Lawbreakers became. Instead of becoming a billion dollar IP and an original or refreshing shooter, it became another-one-of-those shooters in an over saturated shooter market. It's highest amount of peak players on Steam is lower than 8,000 and the game now averages a player count that doesn't fill a single match. And in the end the "R rated shooter" vibe personally killed it for me as for it made already unforgettable characters annoying more than hardcore.
Now don't get me wrong, Lawbreakers isn't a bad game. My time with it was fun. The controls felt tight, the character balancing was fun, the gameplay was fast-paced,and the zero gravity was neat. I also had some issues with it like the similarity in game modes, but overall it wasn't a bad game (I am going off of my time with the game in beta shortly before the release, and I even wrote about my thoughts here). But in the end, that's all it really was: a slightly faster and more gory Overwatch with a zero gravity section and forgettable characters.
It seems like at this point more people have talked about its failure than its peak player count, so why talk about it now? In a blog post on their website, Boss Key announced that they will be moving on from the game and working on new projects. They say that they want to breathe new life into the game and continue support, but they cannot focus on the game as of now. Essentially, it's dead. But this blog isn't about dancing on Lawbreakers' grave, it's about the studio's newest project.
Only announced the day before release and releasing today (April 10th, 2018) into early access on Steam (key word is early), Cliff's new game is Radical Heights! What is Radical Heights, you say? It's a....battle royale game. Boss Key is back at it again releasing another-one-of-those in what I personally feel is an over saturated battle royale market.
Now I have actually tried the game. I don't want this blog to be about my thoughts on the game and if I do or don't like it, but here they are. The game can mostly be related to Fortnite with its cartoonish style of play and its tiered weapons. Some smaller aspects like armor can be traced to PUBG, but saying that this is Fortnite without building (other than a trampoline) is more accurate. If you couldn't tell by the title, the game takes a heavy 80s theme, which I think works well with the cartoonish action. Other small things that this game does differently includes adding in a money system that allows you to buy health and items around the map, reducing the map by grids instead of a shrinking circle, significantly reducing the map when it's the last ten-or-so people (which I love), bicycles and bicycle races, and a few more. I find most of the differences between this game and the competition to be small but positive changes. On the other hand, the game is so unfinished that I don't think it should've released yet and buying new close is stupid expensive (which I can't hold against the game that much considering it is free-to-play). Their are many buildings without textures, matches will constantly glitch, and more. But I also don't hold technical issues against the game that much either because I know they will be fixed. Still, a little too early. I will say that one thing I don't like about the game gameplay-wise is that you can only hold one weapon and one item until you pick up items that increase capacity, which was annoying. Overall, the game feels like it could be a competent battle royale game, but I don't want this to be about how good or bad the game is.
When looking back at Lawbreakers, I see a competent game that ultimately failed because of its similarities to a recently-released hit in an over saturated market and lack of differences to make its experience unique. I wanted to make this blog about this issue because ultimately I see their newest game to be a (soon to be) competent game that will most likely fail because of its similarities to a recently-released hit in an over saturated market and its lack of differences to make its experience unique. They just fell right back into the hole that was just dug for Lawbreakers, but this time their is no excuse. What happened to the idea that you wanted to make an original or refreshing game to the point of denying similarities to other games? What happened to looking at big hits and saying "let's not go in that direction?" And on a side note, what happened to you not wanting to have the "PG rated shooter?" I am happy to see that this studio is still making games because I believe that they have talent, but to see this game honestly shocked me and for all of the wrong reasons. What are you doing?
Now I can get straying from those previously stated aspects and following a trend because at the end of the day people have to eat, but honestly I couldn't think of a worse time to jump in. For starters, many other studios have either released their own game or released a mode into their main game, so now you have to compete with them as well as the big cheeses known as PUBG and Fortnite. But on top of that, you released a game that doesn't really distinguish itself from Fortnite, which means it will be compared directly to Fortnite and Fortnite will always win because of its immense popularity. At least with some of these other games and game modes, they try to twist up the formula. Even though I don't think Hunt: Showdown is a battle royale game, some do and they change things up by adding NPC enemies, a main bad guy, and more. Darwin Project reduces the player count to ten and includes a broadcaster that can alter the map. Even the big two are adding in events that alter their own game. Sure, some games do a direct copy with little changes and succeed, but with how big these games are that train already left. I'm sorry Boss Key, but if your biggest difference between the rest is a theme, then I think your chances of being the next Lawbreakers are close to 100%.
Could I be wrong about Radical Heights and it becomes the next big thing while I come back to this some time later and laugh at wrong I was? Maybe. But from what I have seen and played of Radical Heights, I predict that this game will not be a hit. I'd love to see this studio get a smash hit because I think they are capable and I think that Lawbreakers was a good game that couldn't have released at a worse time. But at the same time, I am almost think this whole thing is a joke because their is no way they looked at Lawbreakers' failure and think it could have a good chance at succeeding. Maybe their is a chance, but that is a fat maybe. I know you aren't reading this, but good luck Boss Key, you're gonna need it.