What we really want to see in a good Friday the 13th asymmestric multiplayer game.
In 1989, NES gamers who were too young to actually watch the Friday the 13th movies flocked to a gruesome looking cartridge that showed Jason Voorhees with an axe raised high above his head, no doubt about to plunge it into teens who dared have sex or do drugs at Camp Crystal Lake.
In an era ruled by cutesy pixelated platformers, the game’s box art instantly gave gamers hope for a dark and bloody trip through Jason’s world. Unfortunately, what they got instead was a confusing and frustrating mess of a game about joggers searching for the goalie of the Los Angeles Kings. Seriously. Jason was big, purple, and completely non-threatening. Kinda like Barney the Dinosaur.
The game was so bad that despite being one of the biggest horror franchises of the ‘80s, there hasn’t been a single new Friday the 13th game released since (though Jason did cameo in Mortal Kombat X earlier this year). But developer Gun Media aims to change all that in 2016. Last week, the delopver launched a Kickstarter seeking $700,000 for a new Friday the 13th game focusing on asymmetrical multiplayer. The gameplay is described as being similar to Evolve, a game that saw a lot of pre-release hype but middling reviews upon release. If Friday the 13th wants to succeed where Evolve failed, there are a few things it will have to change.
1. Include a Single-Player Campaign
Gun Media is aiming to include this mode if it reaches its $700,000 goal, and it really should be at the top of its priorities. The problem with asymmetrical multiplayer games it that with no AI-controlled characters, every player needs to know his or her role perfectly for the group to have a good time. A short tutorial like the one in Evolve helps prepare players understand the basics, but without a few campaign missions to really understand the ins and outs of the characters, they’re just going to get frustrated and quit after being insta-killed by expert players for the twentieth time in one game. Every halfway decent multiplayer game is always going to have a dedicated pro player base, but unless casuals can jump in and have fun too, the game isn’t going to succeed. This is one of the reasons that Evolve’s player base is floundering just eight months after release.
2. Make Jason Easy to Control
The selling point of an asymmetrical multiplayer game is for one extremely strong character act as a foil for a team of characters who must work together to take him down. While Evolve had several cool monsters that four players teamed up against, Friday the 13th would be better off taking a cue from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s Juggernaut Mode and focus on making Jason overpowered rather than playing differently. By all means, give Jason a ton of health and let him use his machete to hack the seven camp counselors he’s up against to pieces, but don’t substantially change the controls between Jason and counselors. If the left trigger is the strong attack button for the counselors, let it be a strong attack button for Jason. Don’t turn it into the button that makes him teleport across the map or throw his mother’s severed head.
3. Allow Customization
Evolve has four classes, and there are three unlockable characters for each of those classes for a total of 12 playable characters. While each of those characters have unique weapons, you’re out of luck if you want to mix and match different heavy and light weapons within a class. Likewise, while there are tons of cosmetic options available for weapons, you can’t add scopes or other attachments that would actually affect gameplay.
While that might make for a more balanced game, it makes asymmetrical multiplayer a boring proposition for players used to the near-endless options of Call of Duty or Destiny. Friday the 13th’s counselors will be “familiar archetypes” like the jock and the nerd. It won’t make sense to give these characters guns (especially since firearms aren’t very effective against Jason), but whatever weapons they do wield need to have a lot of customization options to keep players interested. If the jock starts off with a basic baseball bat, he needs to be able to use variations that are faster or more powerful as the game goes on. Otherwise, gamers are going to get bored fast, and the next Friday the 13th game will be about as fondly remembered as the NES game.
4. Sensible DLC and Progression
With the huge budgets it takes to create modern games, DLC is a way for developers and publishers to recoup their investments. For the most part, gamers have come to accept this, but Evolve pushed the limits of what gamers will tolerate when it launched with more than $130 in DLC. Much of this DLC was cosmetic, but a lot of it was extra characters and monsters that required real money to unlock or hours and hours of grinding in-game. This made Evolve feel more like a free-to-play title than a high-quality console shooter.
Gun Media hasn’t commented on DLC for Friday the 13th just yet, and while a variety of costumes for characters wouldn’t be surprising or unwelcome, the developer would be wise to avoid alienating its player base by hiding unlocks behind extra cash. Of course, if the DLC were to include new horror icons like Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger that could be well worth an extra $10 or $15.
What do you think? Does a new Friday the 13th game get you excited? Does it when it’s a Friday the 13th asymmetric multiplayer experience? Sound off in the comments, or let us know on social media!