Throughout the years the Ghostbusters franchise has taken many forms. Whether we’re talking the original blockbuster films, animated series, or a very healthy selection of merchandise. We’ve also seen a number of video games that have spanned several generations of consoles. Now, the team at Illfonic is ready to believe you with Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, an upcoming asymmetrical multiplayer game that will let players take on the role of buster and bustee. I recently got a chance to go hands-on with a work in progress PC build to see if I have what it takes to make the cut.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed takes place following the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The whole game takes place in canon and Illfonic was even able to get a hold of Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd to reprise their roles of Winston Zeddemore and Ray Stantz respectively. Players will get a chance to create their own unique characters and become the next generation of Ghostbusters. Illfonic is making sure that the character customizations offer a hefty amount of options so that players will be able to make an avatar of whichever race or gender they choose.
Once players have made their perfect Ghostbuster, they’ll head to the team's iconic firehouse base for some pre-game lobby hangout time, where Mr. Zeddemore himself will be guiding his new recruits. I took a look around the firehouse and it’s definitely looking like its source material. I was pretty stoked to find out that I could slide down the firepole from the top floor and that the containment unit was up and running in the basement. Players will also be able to get some proton pack target practice in the back alley or stroll across the way to check out Ray’s Occult Books store and his haunted copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide.
When it’s time to get down to the bustin’ itself, four players will randomly be assigned to take on the role of tracking down whichever spooks are haunting a given location. The odd person out will take on the role of the ghost that’s haunting said locations. The Busters will start with a standard loadout of a proton pack blaster, PKE meter, and ghost trap, but will be able to upgrade components as they level up.
Players will have to work as a team and communicate in order to track down the free floating apparition in a similar fashion to the original film when they’re trying to hunt down Slimer. Players can also use their PKE meter to locate ghosts and, if they can get close enough to it, the meter can be used to send out a spectral stun. The team will have to be sure to track down spectral rifts that serve as spawn points for the ghost and keep the various citizens roaming the area calm. If the team of busters can’t catch the ghost before they scare off all the citizens, then they’ll lose the match. Players will also have to be wary of how much damage they’re doing to the environment as everything destroyed gets deducted from the payday. Amusingly, there will also be a number of spores, molds, and funguses that players will be able to discover throughout levels for some extra points.
Playing as the ghost seemed to entail a lot of spooking and running. Players will have to keep track of their ectoplasm meter in order to flee from entrapment quickly or scare the NPC citizens roaming the area. Ghosts can haunt items which appeared to give everyday objects like buckets an eerie aura, or possess objects in order to hide or flee. Chasing down a ghost hiding in a mop bucket and forcing a team of Ghostbusters to destroy a model of a killer whale I’d possessed were two highlights of my hands-on time. Ghosts also have at least three special abilities, like ectoplasmic tornadoes, or the ability to spawn a few ghost minions to run interference or cause some general mischief. You can even give your Ghostbuster opponents a good slime-ing and temporarily take them out of commission. If you do happen to get caught, be prepared for a quick-time event that will have you mashing a button to get out of a stream or a trap.
I have to admit, while the game is still in a very early stage it feels like it has a lot of potential. Wandering around the museum level that the demo presented was enjoyable whether I was an earthbound human or a free-flying ghost. Each seemed to have their own advantages and offer a different strategy. Being a Ghostbuster was all about the team dynamics and making sure everyone came together at the right time to take down a target. Being a ghost feels like it’s more about spooking and running away before you can be caught. I also really appreciated how the level became more and more haunted as things progressed with spectral winds blowing debris around and slime dripping off the ceilings and walls.
Beyond the PvP, players will be able to play through a story mode with or without friends. If folks don’t have any pals around or they’d prefer to play on their own they can replace their squad with AI companions. And for the times when you do have friends around, it won’t matter if they’re playing on a console or a PC as the game will feature cross-platform multiplayer. There’s no set release date just yet for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, but as of right now it’s aiming for a Q4 2022 launch on Epic Games Store for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date as more details rise from the grave. Until then, don’t cross the streams.
Blake Morse posted a new article, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed will let you bust and slime your friends