Welcome to my third and final suggestion brainstorm article for Phasmophobia. Well, at least final for now. In my first two articles, I respectively talked about changing the predictability of the game and improving some difficulty and general gameplay elements. This time, we’ll talk about game modes. Grab your coffee! I’ve already have a cold one in front of me and I’m ready to go!
(No, not a beer and not a cold brew. Just regular coffee that’s cold since I prepared when I started editing the second article…)
Phasmophobia currently offers a single way of playing. You go into a room with people (public or private game), you select one of the contracts that the game randomly offers. Your account has money and an inventory, you choose what you want to bring in before the mission starts.
You earn money and experience in the game. The different items, difficulties and map sizes unlock as you level up, everything being unlocked about level 10. Oh, there are also a few character models that you can change in the lobby. They are available to everyone.
That’s pretty much all and that’s fine for a fresh Early Access game but I know I’m not the only one who thinks there should be different ways to play. I have two ideas in mind. Campaign Mode (which can evolve into a Season Mode) and PvP mode. The latter would definitely be an optional mode while the campaign mode, especially in the season form, could be the de facto “main mode” of the game. I say de facto because I think the current way of a “quick game” should stay. Alright then, let me elaborate:
Right now each game you play is completely apart from each other and there is no persistency except the money you make. You also always have the same garage and van despite potentially making thousands of dollars. So what if we placed all of this in a context?
In this mode, you start a character at level one. Your reputation is low and you have little money. You actually have less stuff than the current “quick game” mode in your van and garage. You can only find amateur jobs. You host regular private/public games and they count as missions that you complete.
As you can guess, the more missions you complete successfully, the higher your reputation gets. The less you take on and fail to complete, the worse. Remember that I imagine this with the difficulty tweaks I mentioned, meaning Amateur is low pressure since you just have to find the entity type; while in higher difficulties, you need to actually take on the side objectives. As you gain more reputation and money; you not only buy items for your inventory as usual but also upgrade your garage and van.
For example, you don’t have the four panels in the van right away, you upgrade to have them. Initially, you need to check your PC for the map and you don’t see the location of the breaker, even. You start with video cameras with low resolution that can lose power through fluctuations in the house. Your PC can be upgraded to hold some pictures from the camera, allowing it to be used more than 5 times.
As for your garage (ie lobby), you start with a small room that you can upgrade, buy a hoop (sorry, you don’t start with it) and other cosmetics. You have a gallery of pictures that you choose from your previous pictures. You buy clothes that help you resist the sanity drain from the cold (I hope you read my previous articles.) Overall, it should be less about making things easy and more about making them less hard, especially as you move up.
Because when you reach a certain level of reputation and you buy certain equipment, you are deemed an intermediate and later, a professional investigator. Lower difficulty missions either don’t appear to you or don’t really increase your reputation. In fact, if you take on such mission and fail, you lose even more reputation than a mission on your level.
At the highest difficulty, maybe you can take on some really challenging missions. The special catch missions can reward you rare or even unique items (probably best if they are to show off) but they come with unique difficulties as well: Multiple entities, entities immune to Crucifix, a house with no power at all, a ghost that gets really aggravated from flashlights etc.
Another possibility would be to have some sort of characteristics or “perks” for the characters. For example, a “Faithful” character might have more resistant Crucifixes and lower passive sanity drain (thanks to the confidence of their faith). Perks could be “balanced” with downsides too. Like that Faithful character may suffer worse sanity drains when actually targeted by an attack, losing the confidence. A Perceptive character might have longer ranges for tools but might also lose sanity faster as they see and hear more creepy things than the rest. Some perks might be gained through the campaign and/or through items. Maybe a single perk-item can be brought per person, granting a perk. A special Crucifix could grant the Faithful perk while something like a Loupe could grant the Perceptive perk.
Overall, it might be fun to progress and of course, there would also be a bunch of more cosmetics ranging from clothing to branded tools to van/house items to actual new vans and houses.
Questions and Considerations
There are some points to consider such as the speed of reaching the top; if the special missions should be considered endgame and/or should only exist for professionals. It’s possible that everyone’s expected to rise the ranks and play at the top, or maybe loss is so easy that people will constantly fluctuate between ranks (which to me sounds more interesting.)
Season Mode. One approach could be to have “seasons” and if you play a “season” character, you start a new campaign at every new season. Depending on where you land each season, you could unlock cosmetics and stuff for your account, usable in regular games and also future seasons. This could simply be a new playthrough each time, a battle pass that you can purchase for extra rewards or, my favourite, a Fallout 76esque approach with daily, weekly and seasonal challenges. Some of these could be completed in only season mode (Gain x reputation points) or any mode (find a bone.)
Some other questions would be if the game host should be the only one who gets the reputation or a higher percentage (as if they are the actual contractor) or if everyone is treated as the contractor and gets the equal amount of reputation. Similarly, the money gained could be the split equally or split by the host (GTA Online style-the split being decided at the start.) An overhead cost could also be billed to the host or everyone (fuel, starter items etc.)
Raise your hand if you played Left4Dead2 Versus mode. I did! And I think it’s a blast and I know many people would love to play the entities in this game. But how can that work?
I think the entity should have some sort of “power system” that allows it to do things. Energy would regenerate constantly at a speed where it maximizes in 30 seconds or so. Its maximum energy could increase according to the ratio of current to max sanity of the investigators in the house, increasing as the investigators lose sanity. Simple actions such as moving objects or even opening doors would require little energy. But something like hunting would take a considerable amount of energy, not being possible earlier in the game where the max energy is low.
Possibly, the entity can have an “interaction aura” and a “spook” action that creates a creaking sound originated in a random location in the aura’s area or plays with a random doorknob. These would mostly confuse the investigators and, well, spook them without affecting sanity much, but it would also leave no fingerprints.
Moving inside the haunted room could be free while moving outside could cost energy. Opening a door or turning on a sink, requiring direct interaction, would cost more energy than the spook. The advantage would be that it could draw the attention of the investigators and cost them sanity. Similarly, responding to a spirit box or writing on the book would cost them sanity, which increases the entities maximum energy. It has to be careful of course, as letting them find evidence too soon could let them leave before reaching low sanity levels.
Of course, the entity player could choose to just wander around or hide in a corner. That should also be forbidden. I believe the best would be to have an anger point. It would increase with things like the entity name being called out. Also, once the energy is at maximum, the anger point would start increasing at an accelerating rate. The only way to drop the anger would be to spend energy at a faster rate. If it reaches a certain point, the ghost could simply lose, it could start giving away clues (by appearing, books automatically being written etc) to prevent AFKing. There are other questions, such as the Ouija board. Do they have to respond? If not, how it is determined? Or does it simply work automatically?
Another question would be the type of entity. That could be selected or random and it could affect gameplay. For example, a demon could have higher maximum energy or lower energy requirement for an attack, making it possible to attack faster. A mare could have a higher requirement to target a player for a hunt when in the light and lower when in the dark. Alternatively, the versus entities could work differently or be a generic type.
I almost forgot mods! Now, this is an interesting topic. With the kind of enthusiasm for the game and the uncharted territory Phasmaphobia is sailing in, I’m sure there will a host of modders interested in the game. This could be literally opening the game to mods, implementing Steam Workshop, allowing private server rental etc. There is little to say here as the content would be created by modders. What matters is the technical difficulties of implementing it and the developer’s vision for the game. I’m sure some sort of mods will appear regardless.
Some kind of game mode and progress is more or less expected from all games nowadays and Phasmophobia, if it wants to survive on the long term rather than being a play-and-forget game, will need that too and a Season/Campaign mode can help with that longevity. Both regular “immersive” players and “gamer” players alike can enjoy a versus mode, playing it in a variety of ways. Finally, Steam Workshop or otherwise modding options could open the game to a variety of experiences.
With that, my 6-article Phasmophobia spree ends. I may post an index or create a publication, but for now, this is all the content. I hope you enjoyed them and if you did, I’d appreciate a few claps, a follow and more than any of that, some comments below! I’m curious to hear what you think about my ideas and what ideas you have!
I’d like to finish the series with the unforgettable words of one perished soul: