Another anticipated game launching in May, another disastrous launch.
Maybe it is something I should come to expect with multiplayer titles launched in May but much like last year’s rocky Overwatch launch, Gun Media’s Friday the 13th the Game has had a horrendous launch that derailed a game I was very much looking forward to.
So much like I did last year I waited a while before sitting down at my computer to type up my thoughts.
If you caught my last post about Friday the 13th the Game you no doubt could tell I was excited and largely optimistic about the game. Yes it was still suffering from server issues, creating long wait times and less than a week in it was discovered that Gun Media had sold Xbox One users a beta version of the game that lacked a major day one patch (something I personally find absolutely inexcusable no matter how much they want to blame Microsoft for it).
And yet I have always loved the cheesy slasher genre and grew up with the Friday the 13th franchise as one of my favorites and as such was desperately wanting this game to be good. I have been dying for the experience of facing off and playing as one of my all time favorite movie monsters, enthralled by the hunting down helpless victims and running for my life as the monster pursues me too.
At times Gun Media’s Friday the 13th the Game delivers just the experience I was hoping it would.
Just not all the time, not even 1/4 of the time in fact.
As mentioned the opening days were atrocious in a variety of ways. First the game didn’t show up in the Xbox market place at the announced time and hours later could only be found if searched for. Once I finally found it late on the night of May 26th (it was supposed to be available at least a dozen hours earlier by from the announcements I had found) I downloaded it hoping to play it when I got home the next morning. Come morning at 0730 I fired up the game and was met at different times with either a database error or was simply left staring at an endlessly upwards counting timer as the game tried to find a match.
The long waits were upwards of 20-30 minutes at one point and have largely dropped to about 2-3 minutes most of the time but can go well past that. This photo being taken during the time that I was alternating from writing this piece to playing the game.
I danced that dance for most of the weekend off and on throughout the weekend, finally getting into matches in the early morning hours, playing three or so matches before getting kicked back to the main menu. Sadly it was like that for most of the week that followed, trying and failing and trying again in order to play a handful of matches before starting all over.
This has largely been fixed, matches are typically much easier to come by with wait times largely reduced but as the caption in the photo below states it’s not all the way fixed. The game also continues to suffer from connectivity issues, as matches are still ending with this screen far too often.
Friday the 13th is not all bad though and before I continue on with my complaints let me lay out what I do love about the game.
The game nails the vibe of the movies perfectly in my opinion. Jason Voorhees is a nigh unstoppable killing machine just like you’d want him to be. If the player controlling him gets you in his sights you’re likely dead meat, which really ratchets up the tension quite a bit. Running for your life, knowing that the monster is closing in and you’re about to meet your demise is a wonderfully terrifying experience.
At the same playing the monster is delightfully amusing as you know the people controlling the counselors are crapping their pants as you stalk around the map after them. Each counselor takes about three blows of your awkwardly swung weapon to die but the real fun is in grabbing ahold of them for the execution or environmental kills. There is something perversely satisfying about punching a counselors head from their shoulders or drowning them in a toilet.
Jason stalks on after his right hook sent Chad’s head soaring.
Counselors can work together to escape, simply try to survive the night by hiding or avoiding Jason or through a convoluted multistep process kill the demon themselves (I’ve yet to see this happen as it takes coordination of a level I don’t see happening with a bunch of random folk playing together). I’ve escaped multiple times, sometimes alone and sometimes together but my experience has led me to believe that most people are in it for themselves and teamwork isn’t in their playbook. This morning a popular technique seemed to be leading Jason towards the location of another player and hiding while Jason peels off after this unwitting piece of bait. I’ve also repeatedly seen people take off solo in the boat or, as I once did, run up with the keys after others have finished repairing one of the cars and driving off in the car leaving one or more people behind (in fairness it was a two seater and I had the keys).
The environment in-game is very much one of “better you than me” when it comes to letting Jason kill the other players and that adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game overall. This player led atmosphere is very important because while a good group of players makes for an excellent game experience it is all too easy for player behavior to wreck the experience outright.
For example, several players in the match are friends and one of them is Jason. Amongst themselves they agree that the Jason player will not kill the counselors controlled by his friends but they help Jason find the non-friend players, killing them until the match only has the three of them and Jason allows his friends to explore unharmed while they chat. Match lengths are 20 minutes long and I witnessed a trio do just what I described, wasting fully twelve minutes of time before the host caught on and quit the match, dumping those of us who had died and the uninvested trio to the main menu at the cost of our experience points.
Which is another huge problem the game has, peer to peer hosting without host migration. In the instance above it was helpful as it freed all of us from the being held hostage but it came at a price. When the host quits, everyone loses their XP. This has happened a ton over the last week, hosts quitting when they get killed by Jason or when the match timer is about up and they’re going to lose or sometimes just to be a dick (and possibly due to connection issues, maybe). Forgive my use of the current year argument but it’s 2017 damnit, host migration has been a thing for a long time and if you insist on using the bullshit Peer to Peer style of multiplayer you better put in migration so a sore loser who happens to be hosting isn’t given the power to end the match for everyone.
This brings me back around to the XP situation, the game is designed in such a way that you only receive the experience points you’ve earned if the match reaches its conclusion. If you are an unlucky soul who happens to spawn in the match near Jason’s random start point you may well find yourself as the first to die within the match’s opening moments. Unless someone starts off the aforementioned convoluted Jason killing technique that brings you back as Tommy Jarvis, which only happens once and you might not be selected for if more than one person is dead, you will spend the better part of a quarter hour in spectator mode watching the slaughter unfold. Or you can quit and forfeit your experience. In fact this flawed system allowed me to write a sizable portion of this post while dead and waiting on the match to end to save the tiny bit of experience I had earned.
These long waits are excruciating when the Jason can’t figure out how to get the sole surviving counselor out of a closet while the last five minutes tick off the clock.
Friday the 13th the Game is such a confusing thing to try and quantify in a review. When the game is firing on all cylinders it is a fantastic, frightening and fun ride but so often there are technical hiccups and/or ill-mannered players that wreck the fun with their behavior (the host quitting kind not the setting others up for death kind).
Final Verdict: 5 out of 10.
Part of me really wanted to give this game at least a six out of ten because for all its flaws (including graphical hiccups and only 3 very similar maps) I do actually enjoy the game slightly more than not, but I don’t quite enjoy it enough to recommend it to anyone who isn’t a diehard fan of the series/genre AND who can look past the problems the game has in its current state. Despite my optimism and the fun I feel playing when playing the game, the game in its current condition may lack appeal for anyone who isn’t a super-fan of horror as a genre.
As it stands now the game has a workable yet wholly average foundation that I hope Gun Media can build upon and use to make a truly fantastic game. I can’t review a game based on my hopes for the future though and can only go on what exists at the moment. I’m going to keep playing the game in the hopes that they fix problems and make the good things even better but for now only the most hardcore of fans need to take a look at this game.
I want desperately to love this game but as it is now the game simply has too many negatives working against it.
That said, have a quick compilation of some of my favorite brutal and silly moments from my time with the game.