At San Diego Comic-Con 2018 Columbia Pictures showed off a new game based in the Ghostbusters franchise. Called Ghostbusters World, the game is an AR game where essentially you walk around the real world catching ghosts. There is a little more to it of course so let's get into it.
How does it work?
Like other AR games, you walk around in the real world where assorted ghosts will spawn for you to fight and capture. The demo showed off many varieties of ghosts that seemed to appear randomly, of course, the demo probably had a higher spawn rate than the actual game but even in the demo, the variety of ghosts seemed extensive.
After you tap the ghost the AR screen appears and you have to use the PKE meter to scan the area for the ghost. This is really just to use ARCore and ARKit to scan the floor so the ghost interacts correctly with the ground and surrounding area but it fits so well into the game that it feels seamless. Of course, you scan for the ghost using the PKE meter Egon does it all the time!
Once you have found the ghost you can use your proton to pack to drain the ghost's energy and then catch it in a trap that you can launch or have launch automatically. Once caught the ghost goes into your bank to be used later.
Do you only have a Proton Pack?
The demo showed off 3 different weapons for me to use but I was assured there are many more in the full game, weapons from all the original Ghostbusters media including cartoons, films, and comics. I got to use the original Proton pack, which felt amazing by the way, a shotgun style weapon that can be used to reduce the ghosts stamina but not catch them, and a power glove that allowed me to counter the ghosts attack.
The weapons will be available as upgrades in the full game but most of them require ammunition which you will need to purchase using the in-game currency. The traps are also not infinite though you do get them when you open the dimensional portals that are scattered around the world as a small amount of in-game currency.
So are there in-app purchases?
Definitely. The two main currencies in the game are gold and gems. Gold seems to happen naturally in the game and can be used to buy certain things but the main upgrade currency is gems and that is going to cost you real money. Now you can play the play the game without ever spending money I have been assured but like most games these days, if you are serious about it you'll need to drop some real cash.
How was the AR?
The AR in Ghostbusters World was surprisingly good. Unlike Pokemon Go, Ghostbusters uses the ARCore framework on Android and ARKit on iOS to great effect. The ghosts hover above the ground and cast shadows that very realistic. at the moment there is no occlusion or obstacle detection but the lady I was speaking to said they were looking into it but it wasn't ready just yet.
The map screen that shows you walking around is also very well done. Using the new gaming APIs for Google Maps, Ghostbusters World generates 3D models of the buildings around you making it feel much more immersive than other games that only use a flat map. It also helps orientate you to your surroundings so you actually know where you are while you play.
You mentioned portals earlier?
Dimension Portals are the Pokestops in Ghostbusters world. You travel to them and collect consumables like traps, gems, gold, and ghost runes, that allow you to upgrade your ghosts —yes you can upgrade your ghosts, more on why in a moment — but that seems to be all. The developers tell me there is no distance tracking in this game, you aren't going to collect anything for just walking around with the app open, but there are missions that require you to travel to the dimension portals to complete.
The whole game feels far more linear than Pokemon Go with missions and specific goals including leveling up and getting ready for the big bads in the game, the Raids.
Is there Multiplayer?
There seem to be 2 types of multiplayer in the game, Raids, and PvP. I didn't get to see the PvP as it isn't ready yet but they tell me it is a lot of fun. The premise is simple, one of you unleashes one of your stored ghosts on the other player and they try to catch it. You get to upgrade your ghosts after you catch them with mystic runes and they don't get destroyed if you lose. You do get rewards if you win however thought hey couldn't tell me what yet.
I did get to play the raid which was a lot of fun. Designed for 4 players, they are, right now, best played out of AR mode so you can enjoy the staged feeling that comes with a big raid event. I got to fight the Stay Puff marshmallow man with one of the team and it was a lot of fun. The raid was much more like a computer game boss fight than other AR Raids. There were specific points on Stay Puff that I needed to hit to cause the most damage and to stop him from causing huge amounts of damage as well as mini Stay Puffs I needed to kill while trying to find the big guy.
Having a Raid that feels like a full game is worth a lot for games like this. These games can quickly get monotonous but with raids like this, I can see Ghostbusters World having a little more longevity.
What can I play it on and when?
Ghostbusters World will be available later this year and will be available on both Android and iOS. Do you have any other questions about it? let us know in the comments and we will try to find the answers.