What’s Next For Friday the 13th: The Game?
If you're like us, you've been spending the summer trying to survive out in the woods by Camp Crystal Lake, Higgins Haven or the Packanack Lodge. It hasn't been easy, and not just because there's a masked killer on the loose. Since releasing just ahead of Memorial Day, Friday the 13th: The Game has kept plenty of gamers busy trying to escape Jason's wrath, but it's often also proven to be a disappointingly frustrating experience. Like those hapless counselors that return year after year, we find ourselves unable to stay away from Friday the 13th: The Game in spite of its shortcomings.
With that in mind, we gathered 'round the campfire to think up some ways Gun Media and Illfonic might make those daring excursions into the New Jersey woods more palatable when the going gets tough. From new hero characters, specific game improvements, and new maps, these are just some of the things we hope to see added to Friday the 13th: The Game.
New Maps and Locations
New locations and maps are an absolute must for Friday the 13th: The Game to survive beyond the summer. Right now, multiplayer experiences are few and far between, but starting in September, Jason's going to have a lot of competition. The three included maps have been fine so far, but the repetition is slowly ruining the overall meta. There are very few new strategies to implement as Jason or any given counselor at this point, but opening up the playable spaces with even just three new maps could do a lot.
First, we'd love to see something like Jason Takes Manhattan's Lazarus cruise ship added. Not only would the tight confines of a ship make for a very different vibe compared to the open spaces of the existing camp maps, but it also gives Jason a whole range of new opportunities for environmental kills. Throwing people through the starboard window and out into the ocean is certainly more dramatic than tossing counselors through one in a cabin. The same is true for counselors, who'd no longer have open spaces to just run through to avoid the supernatural killer. You'd actually have to work for your safety versus giving Jason the old okey-doke. Plus, you can find new weapons like the guitar or weights from the boxing room to wield on that disco dance floor.
Yes, people really want a Manhattan map — even though Jason is only in Manhattan for like 20 minutes — and it was one of the additional maps teased by Gun during the Kickstarter. The ship makes for more varied experience in our eyes.
Gun also teased an additional camp space, the "Abandoned Camp," during the Kickstarter, though that stretch goal wasn't met. A number of the stretch goals established during the crowdfunding campaign were similarly missed, but many still found a way into the retail release anyway. What makes the idea of the "Abandoned Camp" appealing is the way it too could shake up traditional strategies employed by counselors in the existing game. With cabins missing walls or doors, or barely even being considered livable structures, preventing Jason from tracking you down indoors becomes that much harder.
Another camp wouldn't be all that exciting if it didn't offer any new variations on the existing formula established at Crystal Lake or Packanack Lodge, so it would have to bring some drastic gameplay changes to make it special. Splitting the map, and thus spawn points, with a large body of water would immediately make the "Abandoned Camp" more challenging. Splashing around in the deeper water makes much more noise for Jason to hear, and keeping players apart without any connecting land or bridges would make teamwork that much more important when split up. It might give Jason an unfair advantage given how deadly he is once submerged, but adding in a few more noisemakers, like a generator on the dock, could even the playing field.
Better Reporting Tools
After finally getting all the launch week server and match-up woes out of the way (for the most part), Friday the 13th was finally playable for long stretches of time. Unfortunately for those that try to take this game even slightly seriously, Friday the 13th finally working properly exposed us all to a new problem: trolling. Whether it's people running around spotting you for Jason, people killing you because "reasons," or people glitching into unreachable areas to "win," there are a number of ways trolls are wasting people's time. Gun's not to blame for people taking the fun out of a night of survivalism, but its efforts to curb rampant shenanigans has been less than stellar.
Given that studio is a small team, that it's taking some time to address problems common in other major multiplayer games isn't all that surprising. At least to this point, Gun was able to eliminate several, though not all, of the hiding glitches that were taken advantage of by some players. The reporting process was anything but simple and easy however. You first had to catch someone in the act, then record it, then email it to Gun's specific support address. On a PC, that's not terribly hard to do. On consoles, it's a laborious process that you really had to commit to in order to get someone cheating permanently banned from playing.
Gun's also had a bit of a bad run with its response, with some reports of favoritism among the player base. After one player spoke up on the game's Reddit page about how he caught some cheaters, then was himself banned, Gun appeared to have closed the Reddit. Someone then rethought that ill-conceived idea, and re-opened the Reddit, but by that point, the damage had already been done. The developer's reputation for fairly judging trolling situations was put in question. Given how many people are still in the game acting like complete fools, it's a wonder just how thorough Gun has been with its vetting process.
Counselors running around flashing their lights at "teammates" in an effort to call them out to Jason is still way too common, and so are players just outright team-killing. Sometimes it happens by accident. We've all pulled the trigger on the shotgun hoping to save a friend from Jason's grasp, only to take out the counselor by mistake. Just running up to someone and shooting them in the face, or chipping away at them with a machete is a completely different kind of malarkey.
All we need is some kind of legitimate and easy reporting option in-game. No more recording footage. No more emailing it in like it's a TPS report. Yes, these kinds of griefing report systems can be abused, but that's a chance we're willing to take given how rampant the trolling has gotten in the past few weeks. Perhaps rather than permanently banning offenders, a sliding scale of reported offenses would be required. It's not up to us how it's handled; that's on Gun. We just want to see it addressed in a more commensurate fashion.
Though not necessarily trolling on the same level as team killing, hosts quitting the game as soon as they are killed or as soon as they find out they're not Jason is killing momentum in online play. If you're not the host of the match and you quit, everyone else still earns the experience and gets credit for having played. However, once the host quits, no one gets anything except booted back to the main menu. It's a huge problem right now, and there's nothing that can be done about it as the game stands now.
For Gun's part, host migration is something the team is working on implementing in a future update. That's all well and good, but it's a feature that should have been included from the start. Any time you have specific individuals responsible for game hosting, migration is a must-have feature to prevent this very thing from happening. For now, we'll just have to keep waiting for the next update to come through, and keep crossing our fingers that the next match we enter isn't cut short by another inconsiderate host.
Jason X and the Grendel
There aren't many Jasons left to include in Friday the 13th as downloadable content. Every actual Jason Vorhees is already in the game, save for three: Final Chapter Jason, the 2009 remake version, and Jason X. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning's Roy doesn't really count, and obviously Pamela Vorhees would be a tough sell as a killer of Jason's magnitude in a video game. Both of those characters were merely human killers, and don't have the supernatural abilities Jason posses like teleportation and inhuman strength. That's not to say they couldn't be added into the game at some point, but with the way the killer mechanics work right now they just wouldn't fit into Friday the 13th: The Game.
With the 2009 remake version of Jason not licensed out by New Line, that leaves only Jason X to be added to the roster. Like the additional maps, Uber Jason was actually teased by the Kickstarter, as was having a map based on the starship Grendel where Jason X took place. A space-based map would be a lot of fun, particularly in the way it would change up how hiding and trying to escape worked. There's no boat or car to drive away in, though there is that escape shuttle, and you can't exactly call in the cops for help either. Like the Lazarus, a map based on the Grendel brings with it a number of interesting opportunities to explore new strategies on both sides.
Given that Jason X is often referred to as Uber Jason when it comes to that movie, balancing him would be no small task. He's basically unkillable already, but now he's got the added benefit of the future's super science and technology giving him even more power. Even being blown out into space, tackled and forced to fall through Earth's atmosphere, and crashing into a lake (womp, womp) wasn't enough to kill him. Given how the other Jasons are all ranked in a handful of categories, it'd be tough to give this one the same treatment without him feeling watered down. That's just what will have to happen though, as survivors and counselors need a chance to win, however slim.
The way we see it, Jason X would have to have weaknesses in Run, Stalk, and Water Speed. He'd get strength in Stun Resistance, Destruction and Grip Strength. Everything else would be about average, though he'd get no traps or throwing knives. Combine all that with the super space machete he wields, and you've got one formidable Jason.
As to Final Chapter Jason, it's not really clear why he's not part of any plans at the moment. Perhaps there were some licensing issues with him as well, or he just wasn't different enough from Part III's Jason to include.
More Ultimate Hero Characters
Currently, Friday the 13th: The Game has 10 playable counselors. Each of them has different skill sets, but they're all cut from the same cloth. While getting more counselors to play as would be great, the one spot we'd like to see more options is in the Ultimate Hero. That role is currently filled by a shotgun-toting Tommy Jarvis, who is certainly a nice guy, but he's not the only big time character that could fill the role. We do want more player characters from Friday the 13th's diverse casts from over the years, but we'd definitely like Gun to add in some more variety to the Hero characters first.
Even just bringing along two additional characters, like Tina Shepard or Creighton Duke, could give these Ultimate saviors some needed variety. Tommy is already 10/10 in every single stat category, and Tina and Duke would be too. Duke could basically just be a palette swap with Tommy, as both have a proclivity for guns. Though it might be interesting to offer Duke something slightly different since the shotgun is a weapon readily available for normal counselors as well.
With Tina, Gun would have to work out something just a little different. Her whole deal is telekinetic powers, so perhaps she'd have a power set similar to Jason's that included cool downs between uses. Something as simple as a stun attack that could be used more than once, but with a measure of time between those uses, might even be good enough. The "end game" of a match just needs a little something more to spice it up. Any way the current meta can be shaken up to give strategizing a bit more depth would be great.
While there have been rumors of a major content update coming on Friday, October 13, that's still a long ways away. By that point, several dominant multiplayer experiences will be in rotation, with more AAA multiplayer games to follow. It's going to be hard to maintain excitement for the same three maps, same 10 characters, and same half-dozen Jasons for four more months, especially if some of the other front-end fixes aren't patched in. By adding a few of these things, if not all of them, Friday the 13th: The Game can help extend its longevity through the fall. Now we just have to wait and see what Gun can actually bring to the table to make our stay at camp even more enjoyable.