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Will’s Armchair Designer – Cliff Blezinski has just committed career suicide

 

‘Lawbreakers’ was shit.

For those of you who didn’t play it (That’d be all of you), it was a generic FPS with some interesting mechanics added ,in that characters could use interesting new mechanics like swinging from grappling hooks and shooting behind them. Problem was, that was it. After about 30 minutes, you’d have gotten used to the new controls and had the movement systems down, all you were left with was 2017’s blandest shooter.

This was a shooter that tried to sell itself on some of the least likable player characters I’ve seen in a long time. One character was just a black woman who yelled “Big momma, comin’ through!” when she used her ult. That’s the level of cringe we’re talking about here. Couple this with some of the least appealing (and least functional) visual design around, and all over the game was a hot mess.

It was a not even half-baked game concept, developed in perhaps the least inspired way possible, and it was released not even a month apart from Destiny 2 and Battlefield 1, and during the reign of Overwatch. It was a shit product with nothing even remotely appealing released into a market swamped with massive, high-quality titles.

Cliff Blezinski had fucked up, to say the least. John Romero has ‘Daikatana’; Cliff Blezinski has ‘Lawbreakers’.

Which is why yesterday’s news shocked me. The ‘Lawbreakers’ team have spent the last five months developing a Battle Royale game.

Yes, really. ‘Radical Heights’ is what they’re calling it. In an interview, they told us the following:

“We’re huge fans of Battle Royale games along with the bright, inviting irreverence of the 80’s aesthetic. Because of that, we want to put our own spin on the genre and create a futuristic 80’s world that takes place in 2023 during an over-the-top game show where contestants battle it out for fame and prizes.”

So, in other words, this is PUBG with a more colorful palette. Fortnite with no building. Just look at the screenshots- there is nothing even remotely exciting or unique about this game, and it’s being released into a market dominated by not only one, but 2 giants. This is exactly the same mistake, made twice in a row. And I can’t believe the utter stupidity of this move. There is absolutely nothing unique about this game.

“Only in Radical Heights does in-game cash you find carry over into future matches,” 

Huh? Is that a unique selling point I hear?

“Play matches, collect cash, kill contestants, interact with game show elements and more to buy cosmetics from your personal prize room, or put some of that sweet cash in your bank to help buy a weapon next match quicker than your opponents. The choice is yours.”

Right, I see. You have one unique idea. One. And it’s one that gives players a distinct advantage over other players, too. I’m concerned. Because changing the way in which one acquires weapons could have massive effects on a game like this. Could even make it worth playing over PUBG or Fortnite. But does it seriously look like the kind of thing that can carry the marketing of a new game in a swamped market? I don’t think so.

Bets on that you can buy cash with real money? Oh wait! I checked the news during the writing of this article, and sat right there is the headline:

“Radical Heights is tinkering with today’s Launch to avoid looking Pay-to-win”

The game is currently free-to-play, but with a £12 ‘founder’s bundle’ available. It comes with a lump of in-game currency (of course) and some cosmetics. Want to see what you get for your money?

OH SWEET LORD, SOMEONE GET ME THE EYE BLEACH

The fact that Boss Key have the audacity to market this game as a “Passion Project” astounds me. Passion is not about copying a mildly tweaking an already existing product you already like- that’s the AAA safe money system, an approach that at one point seemed rife to tank the whole industry in a swamp of grey-brown cover shooters (Like, ‘say Gears of War..?’). Passion projects are about taking an unproven, risky idea that you know has potential, and giving it the love- the passion– that it deserves to make it a reality, and giving something beautiful and unique to the industry.

‘Shovel Knight’ was a passion project.

‘Life is strange’ was a passion project.

‘Hotline Miami’ was a passion project.

This game is not a passion project. And it’s going to fail hard.

In an industry so filled- saturated, even- with incredible creative talent chomping at the bit to make amazing games with their incredible skills, the big names like Cliffy B seem to have lost it.

The man hasn’t been a part of the development of a successful game in seven years. Let that sink in.

Hang up your coat, Cliff. Take a back seat. There’s a recent masters degree graduate somewhere that deserves it more. Someone who isn’t going to make idiotic business decisions and can lead a team more creative than “Clone popular game, add unfair and unmarketable game mechanics, add the most basic and entry-level ‘personality’ you can think of”

I’m going to find someone in the Respawning office dumb enough to accept a £10 bet that this game tanks Boss Key.

Ouch.

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