LawBreakers is the debut competitive game developed by Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski’s studio, Boss Key Productions. In it, players battle each other in a world where they can defy gravity while using specialized roles (classes) to unleash special abilities on one another. The game launches on August 8, but E3 2017 attendees got a chance to play an early version of it, including the newly announced PlayStation 4 release, from the show floor.

Dan Nanni, lead designer at Boss Key Productions

“We’re showing off almost the entire game,” Dan Nanni, lead designer at Boss Key Productions, told AListDaily at E3. “We’ve released eight of our nine roles, showed off three game modes, and five or six maps. Here, we’re doing Blitzball, which is a mode we did in our closed beta, but our biggest announcement is our PS4 launch. The game is live on the show floor with the PS4 for the first time and it will be in parity with the PC.”

Up until the announcement, LawBreakers was regarded as a PC-only title. We asked Nanni if awareness from the PC side carried over to the console audience. “I think in some cases, awareness is awareness, but there are console players who aren’t cross platform gamers and don’t follow PC gaming,” Nanni replied. “We expect LawBreakers to be new to a lot of people, so we have to drive awareness across the different platforms, which helps us on the PC as well.”

So, does Boss Key have to essentially start from scratch with the PS4 audience? “I don’t think of it as starting at square one because a lot of people have been asking for a console release for a while,” said Nanni. “So, it’s bringing those people into our fold and telling them that we’re supporting them with the console version of the game. But we do have to work on getting the rest of the console players who might not know anything about us to buy into the game. We’re developing the games in parity. So, it’s not a port over to the PS4—everything will come in for both at the same time. But the game will maximize what the console can do, just as it maximizes what the PC can do.” To underscore the point, LawBreakers will be enhanced for PlayStation 4 Pro support.

In addition to the PlayStation 4 release, Boss Key also announced the Deadzo Deluxe Edition, which will include character skins, weapons skins, weapon stickers and profile icons for $10 more than the base game price. Discussing the Deadzo Edition, Nanni said that it was about “giving our players a chance to invest a little more to get unique cosmetic items, but there’s no additional gameplay that comes out of it. The base game gives you everything you need.”

We then asked Nanni what was the key to getting players to pre-order games. “I think it’s just getting them to believe in the game, and that’s the reason we’ve been doing all these betas for so long,” said Nanni. “We’re gamers ourselves, and we feel that we’re making a game for both ourselves and the community. Our players have given us feedback and we’ve changed the game accordingly. We’re going to keep on iterating and making the game that they want because even though we think it has a solid foundation, we need our players to make it better. We think those players are going to be here for the long term.”

That community engagement will carry over into the upcoming closed beta, which will be hosted on PC via Steam starting June 28. On June 30, it will switch over to an open beta, allowing anyone to sign up and play until July 3. Not only will this give players a chance to try the game before buying, but it gives early adopters a chance to share their opinions and shape that game even after it releases.

It’s that sense of identity and uniqueness that will help LawBreakers stand out from the crowd of shooters on both the PC and PlayStation 4 platforms.

“You just have to be your own game,” said Nanni. “At the end of the day, we made our game in our own little vacuum. When we started, we wanted it to be different from other games, but we took bits and pieces from things that we really liked to make our own experience. I think what sets us apart is the fact that we are a different style of gameplay. The verticality, the gravity, the gunplay, the different roles and game modes make for a completely unique experience. Some things might remind you a little of this or that, but in the end, it feels like its own experience.”

When LawBreakers was first announced, it was intended to be a free-to-play game, but as development continued, Boss Key decided to make it a premium title. We asked Nanni if there were any regrets over that decision.

“Not at all,” Nanni responded. “That’s not to say that you can’t make this into a free-to-play game, but thinking about free-to-play kept stalling our creative process. We would find something that we really liked, and then we’d have to pause and think how we would turn it into a free-to-play experience. How would we maximize the value of the game and still fund the studio so that we could keep on making content? It paused iteration and slowed things down, and the moment we pulled that away and said it would be a premium title, we didn’t have to worry about grinding people into oblivion or getting them to spend more money. We could focus on making the best game that we could, and the question became, ‘how much can we make by the time we launch?’ Not ‘how do we get them to spend money by the time we launch?’”

Considering how Gears of War became a much-played esport, we asked Nanni about how Boss Key was hoping to foster esports adoption for its game.

“I would love for LawBreakers to be an esport, but it depends on the community to tell us that it’s an esport,” said Nanni. “I’ve worked for companies that have fallen into the esports trap, where they put the cart before the horse. They were trying to create something that the community hasn’t asked for yet. What we want to do is create a game with a very strong foundation in competition, making sure that skill is the primary reason you come to fight and win, not because you pressed some game ending button—[you won because] your skill was better than someone else’s. That’s what we want to foster. If after some time, our players want us to support it as an esport, we’ll do it. We’re talking to the right people, but we won’t do it until the community lets us know it’s ready.”