LawBreakers is being billed as an "adult take" on the 5v5 FPS genre. It wants to be the gritty yin to Overwatch's ultra-fluorescent yang and the design team are hoping that cosplayers will get behind this very different art style. There's just one problem: the majority of armour designs are nigh on impossible for the average cosplayer to pull off. Whoops.
During E3 2016, we spoke to LawBreakers' director (and former Gears Of War daddy) Cliff Bleszinski about the design of his upcoming shooter. According to Cliff, LawBreakers' aesthetic was deliberately crafted to attract members of the cosplay community — which translates to free, high-visibility advertising.
Basically, if people aren't cosplaying your multiplayer shooter it's going to get a lot less exposure in social media and the specialist press. In just a few short years, it's gone from a fun fan hobby to a commercial consideration.
"We're in this 2016 world where you can't just rely on marketing and PR. You also need to get YouTubers, twitch streamers and cosplayers," Bleszinski explained. "I'm wondering whether we need a cosplay ambassador at the studio who can help gather cosplayer opinion. One thing Blizzard did [with Overwatch] was reach out early to make sure their designs were functional."
In its current form, it's fair to say that LawBreakers' character designs are beyond the skill set of the average cosplayer. According to our own resident cosplay fanatic Hayley Williams, only one of the designs is remotely achievable — and that one is a "toned down Assassin's Creed character."
It would seem they overdid it, a fact that Bleszinski is sheepishly aware of:
"We've got girls who wear power armour where they get to be the pilot and the jet at the same time. So we're going to be challenging the cosplay world to try that kind of stuff... Our art director is making it particularly difficult for them — instead of using traditional bolts and nut shapes in the armour, he's making bolts that don't even exist. So I'm wondering if this game takes off whether they'll be a spike in the sale of 3D printers."
I personally find it fascinating that cosplay is actively starting to shape the characters we see in games. It used to be the cosplayers who had to mould, tweak and transform themselves to match a game character's appearance: now games are re-designing their character models to make cosplay more feasible. It's a weird time to be alive.