Disclaimer: Please note that I’ve backed the Kickstarter campaign for over 500$ (CAD) in 2015, however this opinion piece remains unbiased, as I’ll touch both pros and cons of the game.
I remember when I got up on May 26, 2017; I had to get up early for my 8AM shift at the restaurant, but I had barely slept, as I was super excited about the impending release of a game I had been waiting for since 1989. Before I left for work, I managed to download the game on both my PS4 and Xbox One. Then I had to suffer through a seven hour shift before I could go back home and finally get in Jason’s boots or get butchered.
Unfortunately, the game had a rough start. Considering they were expecting roughly 20,000 players and the servers got slammed with over 75,000, this made things very unstable, and I was able to experience these problems first hand, mostly on Xbox One. In the first few weeks post-release, I managed to play a handful of matches on Xbox One. On the other hand, I managed to play for hours on end on PS4; the next day, I was able to play for seven hours straight! I was lucky enough to meet up with a bunch of reliable players, so we ended up having a bunch of private matches. It made things easy and efficient to get into a match; we even worked together to try to kill Jason (I was the lucky one who ended up with the trophy!).
Fast forward to a year later, where May 26, 2018 marked the first anniversary of the Friday the 13th video game. So where does the it stand now?
Well first of all, Gun Media has been working constantly to offer a more stable experience. The developers had gotten a lot of flack for the first few weeks post-release as players were plagued with database connection issues, most notably on Xbox One. In the months that followed, the game has become progressively more stable and reliable, so players can enjoy killing counselors or seriously being wrecked by Jason. Gun and Ill Fonic have also discussed their plans to bring in dedicated servers to avoid matches ending abruptly because of Jason players disconnecting from the game. But thankfully, connection errors have basically been eradicated and it’s a huge improvement from a year ago.
Secondly, Gun Media has been supporting the game with free content for a over year. Whether it be new maps, counselors, emotes, clothing, or Jason skins, the developers have been giving this game some serious TLC, even adding movie-based characters. Remember Fox from part III? Shortly after the actress’ death, they added her as a playable counselor. They also added the fake Jason from Part V along with the Pinehurst map. The best addition, in my opinion, is the Jarvis House from part IV. Who can forget Shelly from part III? He’s the reason why Jason has his famous mask.
Additional content goes beyond skins and characters. While the game was initially sold as a bare bones, multiplayer experience with a single game mode, Gun Media had always planned to add single player content. Unfortunately, the original Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign didn’t raise enough to get some single player content out of the gate, but the developers kept their word by introducing Offline bots, and more recently, single player challenges. The former lets players control Jason as they hunt down A.I. controlled counselors. While sometimes the A.I. has odd and dumb behavior, they overall offer a decent challenge as they can either call the cops or escape with the car. Sure, they are not as smart as human players, however it’s a nice distraction to avoid the possible handful of fun-killers (more on that below). Single player challenges are interesting. As Jason, players are tasked to take out a varying number of counselors within a certain time frame. While you can just willy-nilly grab counselors and kill them (act quick as they can escape rather easily), the game will reward players with experience points if they kill the counselors under certain conditions. For example, in the first challenge, players are asked to kill one of the counselors while he’s taking a pee break.
Unfortunately, not was all perfect. As some players quickly leveled up to the cap of 100, some of them became fun-killers. Some players would actually help Jason track down and kill counselors. To counter this, Gun Media and Ill Fonic worked on two fronts: first of all, they patched the game so a variety of weapons wouldn’t damage other counselors. The second part? They brought in incentive to encourage players to play fairly, as they not only raised the level cap to 150, but players would get new unlockables as they move on up the level ladder. For example, certain purchasable skills for Jason are only available at certain three digits levels, and perhaps the most interesting thing of it all: level 113 rewards weapon swapping for Jason!
So how I do feel about the game a year later? If you follow me on Twitter, you probably remember me stating that this was my Game of the Year for 2017 despite some shortcomings (shitty players, lack of game modes, multiplayer-centric). And considering the fact that Gun Media and Ill Fonic continues to support the game with free content, Friday the 13th is thus far my GOTY for 2018. While some will praise games like God of War and Detroit for their visuals and story telling, Gun Media’s love song for the iconic masked killer shows that gameplay remains a vital part for a virtual fun time. Oh, and it’s also very cathartic.
For the very reasonable pricing of £29.99/$39,99 and a handful of continuous flow of content, you can’t go wrong. Whether it for solo play or good times with friends online, you’re in for a (bloody) fun time.