Games like Dead by Daylight, Evil Dead: The Game, and Video Horror Society have garnered quite the audience, but what can they change?
In 2017, Friday the 13th: The Game (F13) changed the niche asymmetrical gaming landscape forever. Asymmetrical games aren’t new by any means, with titles like Evolve or the multiplayer modes for games like Batman Arkham Origins, Dead Space 2, or Left 4 Dead, but F13 created a unique experience that has snowballed into horror themed games and similar asymmetrical games all over the market. With popular titles like Dead by Daylight, Video Horror Society, Predator: Hunting Grounds, and Evil Dead: The Game currently in the gaming space now, along with Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre coming in the near future, this genre is gaining a very popular audience.
Typically, these games revolve around the idea of uneven teams or abilities being pit against each other with separate objectives to winning. In F13, one player is Jason, and seven campers are pitted against each other with the motive being a simple concept to understand for any horror fan. Dead by Daylight has similar motives in its 1v4 gameplay, as well as the others. Currently on Twitch, Dead by Daylight boasts 32.5k viewers, and this is for a game that came out in 2016.
With this genre drawing more and more horror IP’s, or even normal IP’s done in the same vein as successful asymmetrical games like the new Dragon Ball: The Breakers, many are trying to create their own space in these niche style of games. As someone who typically plays these titles the most, I firmly believe asymmetrical games need to change or they risk tasting like the same title you played before it.
These games on the market are often different in unique ways from one another. For example, Dead by Daylight survivors have no way to combat the killer besides stalling for time and completing the objective to escape, whereas Video Horror Society is built around a dynamic style of gameplay that threatens the monster role in that survivors can very well destroy them, and vice versa. The asymmetrical gaming space is full unique takes on gameplay and often find their niches, but many lose a large portion of their audience. A good example of this is Home Sweet Home: Survive. Many took to social media to promote and market the title, and, like many before it, it lost a majority of its audience. The important question is: why?
If you look through the comments of many of these games’ social media accounts, you will see many complaints loosely based on balance, bugs, or a lack of content. In my opinion these problems often iron themselves out, and many developers are becoming more and more inclusive in terms of criticism and transparency in allowing the hardcore fan base to give constructive feedback improving upon these titles. The issue, I think, is that the games grow stale with the same game modes and situations. I find that the current asymmetrical market grows very old but will consistently add new characters, and even maps, but that only increases the grind of the same game you have been playing.
What drew me to asymmetrical games is the break of the monotony of FPS games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. These games give you different experiences while providing a good multiplayer experience, but what happens when you level up all of the characters or progress to the point where you have nothing left to unlock? Many will keep playing the game they have already invested thousands of hours into because they long for the euphoria they felt when they first started playing something so different than what was popular on the market.
Ironically, I think the solution to stale gameplay and grind can be found in a mobile title called Identity V. The game started much like Dead by Daylight with the roles of a killer and four survivors, and as these games have grown, Identity V grew in other ways. It has a slew of new content and characters, but it is structured differently in that it offers many different game modes that shake up your experience. Since it is such a niche game, it found ways to overcome long matchmaking waits with these experiences, too. Identity V, at its base, is 1v4, but, during a certain time of day, you can play a mode that is built around 2v7, with a slew of other modes to shake your experience up, from Mario Kart-like races to party modes.
In-game events aren’t a new thing, by any means, but I find that I would welcome a break to the monotony in these games that I desperately love and enjoy. I could also see this improving matchmaking times as asymmetrical games suffer heavily from having to wait in a lobby. People often want to play with their friends, so you can imagine for games like Dead by Daylight or Evil Dead: The Game, it is hard to balance a completely positive experience while incentivizing players to play the other role.
With this in mind, I am strongly looking forward to Killer Klowns from Outerspace and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as they are shaking up the design of their games in comparison to other asymmetrical titles. Both will allow multiple players to play on opposing sides while staying within tropes strongly set up in their films. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for example, will have a 3v4 base mode, with 3 players playing as the Slaughter Family and 4 players trying to escape. This is so drastically different from the 1v4 or 1v? common basis of asymmetrical games since many will play more roles because they can play both roles with friends. I find these concepts and ideals that change up the current formula to be very promising. If current successful games, like Dead by Daylight, adopted ideals or new modes for their games, I believe that it would only improve upon their success.