It’s been a while since we first busted ghosts in VR, but this time around veteran VR studio nDreams and Sony Pictures Virtual Reality are serving up an at-home co-op game for Quest and PSVR 2 that will finally let you strap on a proton pack and go head-to-floating-head with a good variety of belligerent specters. Check out our review below to see if it’s worth getting the whole squad involved.

Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord Details:

Available On: QuestPSVR 2
Release Date: October 26th, 2023
Price: $35 (Standard), $55 (Full Containment Edition)
Developer: nDreams
PublisherSony Pictures Virtual Reality (SPVR)
Reviewed onQuest 2

Gameplay

Here’s the breakdown: you’re busting ghosts in San Francisco (as you do) and the Ghost Lord shows up to wreak havoc on the city. Work your way through a bunch of random missions and periodically report back to HQ for a few drips of the game’s narrative, presented via a TV screen where you’ll learn what happened to some obviously evil billionaire type who totally isn’t an evil Ghoul King, Specter Sovereign, Poltergeist Potentate, or anything of the sort. Ok, so it’s pretty clear the narrative isn’t the star of the show here, as it really only sets the scene for casual drop-in, drop-out co-op matches, which last anywhere from 10-15 minutes each.

Of course, you can go it alone in offline mode with the help of the game’s admittedly competent AI, or team up with friends or strangers for more fun and firepower. That said, you really should consider banding together with a few buddies (from two to four players) and tackling it all the way through together.

Image captured by Road to VR

It feels very much in the same vein as After the Fall (2021)which we called “VR’s best stab at Left 4 Dead,” although I think there’s an argument to be made for keeping pace with your friends in the game as you all earn successive upgrades, letting you form a real team that makes the most of each upgrade path. That feels more like Ghostbuster’s intended sweet spot, as opposed to randomly dropping in with whoever’s online, quietly grinding missions for money and maxing all upgrade paths indiscriminately, and then beating the titular Ghost Lord a bunch of times. There is some competition in there to get more points, but in the end it’s really a team effort.

Image captured by Road to VR

Although I compare it to After the Fall, this isn’t really the same sort of horde-based shooter, because frankly the proton pack isn’t really a gun. There’s also no ammo pickups and no loot to pick up besides some random ecto goo that gives you the ability to upgrade stuff later, such as unique weapon attachments for things like single-use shotguns blasts and short-lived turrets. You can fire your proton stream continuously if you want, and then lasso the poor ghosties forever too—provided you learn how to properly operate the thing. More on that below.

The game also doesn’t really expect you to fail that much either since anyone in your party can always revive you once you’re down with a simple high five. Instead, your main focus is earning cash by completing missions which are placed across seven massive and circuitous maps, each of which allow you to play a random mix of four mission styles: Exorcism, On the Clock, Giga Trap Retrieval, and Harvester. In order, it’s basically a wave mode with the same mini-boss, a timed wave mode, a bomb escort mission, and a wave mode with light puzzle elements.

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The big question I always ask myself in these sorts of random mission-driven games is whether both the action and upgrades will be enough to bring me back for more on a consistent basis. I felt the game doled out an okay assortment of both, although it all feels like it’s missing an overall structural direction to keep me engaged in the long-term. You only get three missions to choose from at a time, which are then shuffled randomly again once you’re back at HQ, making it difficult to get a sense of how you’re progressing, save a computer screen that really doesn’t do a great job of making you feel like you’re moving toward an actual goal besides “DONE”.

Image captured by Road to VR

Despite the increasing mix of standard baddies as you move through to 100 percent completion, which means you’ve beaten 42 missions, about halfway through things start to feel a little samey. There just aren’t enough mini-bosses, and it just isn’t clear how long it will take to get to the main boss; you just have to keep playing random missions until the game decides you’ve had enough and can actually move forward.

That said, I generally liked the assortment of regular enemies, although I wish there were a greater variety of mini-bosses to provide a bump in difficulty beyond just having ‘more of everything all at once’. Normal enemies include a conventional assortment of ranged and melee types, with smaller types usually zapped into oblivion with a few seconds of the standard blast from the proton pack. The larger, more often ranged types require not only a constant blast from your proton pack, but also need to be lassoed into your handy dandy trap.

 

Melee types are typically smaller and weaker, and are mostly just annoying to deal with as you go in for the real ghosts worth nabbing in any given level.

Here’s how lassoing works, which is key to dispatching larger, more deadly ghosts: a shield bar on the right of ghosts depletes with a standard blast, while the health bar on the left indicates how much the enemy needs to be jerked around with your proton-lasso in order beat it unconscious and then drag it into your trap, which gobbles it up automatically. Wear out the specter, shoot out your trap nearby, and let the wonders of technology do the rest. This is actually pretty satisfying as a VR specific thing, as you wildly follow the ghost as he helplessly flails around looking for a hiding place to recover health. Springing the trap with your left hand and shooting the proton pack with the right is about as Ghosbusters as you can get.

Image captured by Road to VR

About an hour into playing, I also figured out I could just point my proton stream at the floor to spam the game’s most important tool: the boson dart,which is basically just a big blast that keeps your proton pack from overheating and being inoperable for a bit. Activating the boson dart didn’t feel intuitive at first—something I chalk up to some pretty aggressive pop-up messages in the early game that made it personally difficult for me to concentrate on the task at hand. I ended up just jogging through whatever was asked of me in the tutorial so I could figure it out later in my own time. Really. Pop-ups are so big and offputting.

I digress. Using the boson dart is actually pretty simple, although easy to ignore at the beginning since you don’t really need it until you meet the game’s main mini-boss, the Bruiser. Simply mash a button right before your proton stream overheats to activate a powerful blast that knocks ghosts down a bar or two on their health meter.

Once you get a handle on each enemy type, you start to see colored variants that have slightly different powers. Whatever the case, I found that strategy really only boiled down to constantly strafing around the map, keeping the trigger down, and blasting boson darts until everything—regardless of ability—was toast. Avoid shit flying at you and don’t stand in one spot too long. Everything else is gravy.

Image captured by Road to VR

Protip: If you like playing random missions every once in a while, and aren’t really concerned about getting to the final boss, you can probably just invest your cash in all of the upgrade pathways just to see what’s out there. If you’re looking for more focused playsessions though, it’s probably better to pick one specific upgrade style and max it out from the onset.

Once all is said and done in a mission, and all of the ghosts are trapped or otherwise zapped to dust, your only choice is to keep playing random missions, or maybe the single-player mixed reality mini-game, Mini-Puft Mayhem, which is a fun little boss battle against a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s worth a few minutes of your time, if anything just to see a giant marshmallow rip the ceiling off your house, but not integral to the rest of the game.

Again, if there were any such game, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord would definitely be the one you and a few other friends would buy and exclusively play together—not because you really need a bunch of active communication to play, but that the game is pretty random enough without having a good buddy by your side to give you a reason to drop back in, and keep grinding until you get to the massive Ghost Lord battle.

Image courtesy nDreams, SPVR

Immersion

Is Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord perfect? No. It has enough variety and fun, provided you’re with a good group of people. Playing alone is the worst-case scenario though, and probably isn’t advisable if you don’t want to hit a wall halfway through when missions start to be a little bit a trudge. Still, it’s actually a pretty solid basis for what could be some interesting DLC, which I hope will help minimize some of the weaker points I mentioned above. So don’t get me wrong: Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord is basically a fun and well-made game that just lacks a little bit of scaffolding and boss variety to be a real winner.

One thing it definitely has out of the gate though is looks. Even with the humble Quest 2, the game is pretty dang awesome looking. It has a swath of dense and richly decorated set pieces, and character animations are expressive, feeling straight out of a cartoon. Ok, so there’s no Slimer, but there are Slimer-adjacent characters that mostly do the job.

Image courtesy nDreams, SPVR

It’s more than looks though. You’d be surprised how many VR multiplayer games there are out there that really don’t understand that players instinctually want to interact with other people naturally, like, say, handing something to someone without having to throw it on the ground first, or being able to give them a high five for a job well done. That’s all here and then some. Playing in co-op mode, Road to VR’s Ben Lang stepped into something of a mine in the form of a Stay Pufft mini-marshmallow bag that explodes the little buggers everywhere when you get close, rendering your equipment inoperable until you pluck away the pests.

 

He still had three on his proton pack still jumping around and squeaking about. My first instinct was right. Just grab the little suckers and toss them away like picking lice from a fellow chimp! Or crush him with an iron fist and hear revel in their tiny, diabetic lamentations.

A small-ish sore spot is the games avatars, each of which only have three unlockable looks a piece, with no individual customization as such. I would have also liked to see a more customizable HQ, which would make hosting a game much more immersive since you could show off trophies or decorations to your friends when you invite them for matches.

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Comfort

As a veteran VR studio, nDreams knows the score. Offer everything, including snap-turn, quick turn, smooth turn, teleportation. The list is below. It has it all. The only advisory I’d give is the game naturally makes you strafe a good deal, so if you’re particularly susceptible to motion sickness, experiment with the game’s variable blinders to make this less jarring.

‘Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord’ Comfort Settings – October 6th, 2023

Turning
Artificial turning ✔
Snap-turn ✔
Quick-turn ✔
Smooth-turn ✔
Movement
Artificial movement ✔
Teleport-move ✔
Dash-move ✖
Smooth-move ✔
Blinders ✔
Head-based ✔
Controller-based ✖
Swappable movement hand ✖
Posture
Standing mode ✔
Seated mode ✔
Artificial crouch ✖
Real crouch ✔
Accessibility
Subtitles ✔
Languages English, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional) French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish
Dialogue audio ✔
Languages English,
Adjustable difficulty ✖
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height ✖
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
7.5
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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • ViRGiN

    No controller based movement? Wtf?
    That’s surprising. Lack of PCVR port is not.

  • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Why do people making these games think everyone is a 12-year old communist and has to do everything as a group. I’m a full grown man, and I don’t have friends who have VR, they all have jobs – we all have jobs, and we all work at different times. I just want to pick up my VR headset and play a flushed out single player campaign. Instead they want you to be part of a middle school clique and have to deal with a bunch of online drama.

    Hard pass.

    That and it will probably make me motion sick anyways.

    • dextrovix

      Agreed, I want a single player Ghostbusters game in VR. Meta have bought into their metaverse and are compelled to shove the social, co-op, crap at us at every opportunity so I’m sure this is considered an investment in the future.

      • kool

        Sony made this game.

    • kool

      So everyone should miss out on a CO op ghost busters game because you have no friends…

      • Andrew Jakobs

        No they should nit, but a good story campaign can be fully enjoyed in co-op. But Co-op only games make it less interesting for people with little free time to buy it as playing it with a stranger is mostly not fun or especially when there are no other players online when you’ve got the time. At least make it available so people can also have the other player(s) being a bot. Already have too much games in my library that aren’t playable anymore due to servers being empty or worse, not available anymore.

        • kool

          Doesn’t this game allow bots? This game was never going to have the budget to be the single player game you wanted. They are doing the best they can with the budget allowed. If the game sucks it sucks but I will judge it for what it is not what it isn’t.

      • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        I care as much about you as you care about me. So correct, you should miss out on literally everything if it inconvenients me – which is simply mirroring your own statement.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Yep, I agree, I don’t need multiplayer VR games, I want single player campaigns.

      • kool

        This type of thinking is why vr is stalling out. You guys do know that multiplayer is what pushed gaming into the mainstream stream.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          You’re funny. I come from gaming on an Philips Odysee 2001, videopac and arcade gaming and gaming was already highly mainstream before online multiplayer existed. Except for 2-player one one screen ofcourse, but that doesn’t count as multiplayer in my book.
          VR isn’t stalling out because of lack of multiplayer, more DUE to the fact there aren’t that much great singleplayer games anymore, except the “horror” run around the woods trying to survive type of games. Sadly way too few games like Obduction, I like the adventure type of games.

        • Terendir

          It didn’t The most favored Games of old were mostly Singleplayer Games. Zelda, Banjo Kazzooie, Super Mario, Tetris, Secret of Mana, Terranigma, Lufia, Harvest Moon, and so on. Great Games pushed Gaming, nothing else.

          • kool

            None of those games besides Zelda is even in the mainstream. It was cod that brought gaming into the mainstream and helped industry move past Hollywood in terms of profit.

    • MeowMix

      Just bizarre that you’d think a Ghostbusters game would be aimed at adults. It obviously would be aimed at kids.

      Also, spoiler alert, Legos will also be aimed at kids.

      But hey, we get 2 Mature rated, singleplayer games later in the coming weeks – Assassin’s Creed Nexus and Asgards Wrath 2

      • philingreat

        I don’t think it’s obvious that a Ghostbusters game is aimed at kids. The main target audience is 30+ years old, those are the nostalgic fanboys. The kids nowadays don’t know about Ghostbusters. So expected they aimed it at a mature audience.

      • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Ghostbusters came out in 1984. The people who were kids at the time are now like 50. Also, go check the average age of people buying VR headsets – hint, they’re not 9 year olds.

    • Terendir

      And this is why we are different. I play regularly with 2 to 3 Friends together Walkabout Minigolf, Demeo oder Dungeons of Eternity. We wished there were more Multiplayer Games to enjoy together, so this is a welcome direction.

      Dont thing, that alle people are like you. That is rather narrow minded…

      • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Stupid, that’s the point I was making with you. Wow, clueless.

    • Zantetsu

      From the review: “Of course, you can go it alone in offline mode with the help of the game’s admittedly competent AI”

      • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        A dedicated multiplayer game with a bad offline mode, is not a single player game, kiddo.

  • Andrey

    As a huge Ghostbuster’s fan I remember how hyped I was about the Ghostbuster’s game from, if I am not mistaken, 2009. Damn, it looked so cool on all those gameplay trailers and tech demo videos with destruction of almost everything, with advanced physics and so on. Then I played it… And it was pretty good! I don’t remember the story much, but original crew and some humor here and there were pretty enjoyable for my taste. And gameplay was nice too, though it surely wasn’t the best game I played.
    And so I was interested in this game too. I really love stylized games (as a stylized 3D artist myself), but this looked… well, questionable, so I hoped for at least good and somewhat deep gameplay loop based on catching ghosts, maybe with some nice story on the background. With optional COOP too!
    And then I saw some real gameplay…
    Imo, it’s bad, just bad. Not the Ghostbuster’s game in VR I was thinking or even dreaming about. Really looks like just some weird GB-themed shooter – and in a damn bad style too.
    Anyway, shame I won’t be able to “enjoy” it for the foreseeable future, because my Q3 was stolen during delivery (thanks Amazon for being very “supportive”!). Or maybe it was a blessing from my guarding angel who was trying to protect me from this game?… Who knows.

  • shadow9d9

    Every other review says it is underbaked. But good on you guys for finally reviewing something.

  • Denny Unger

    Yeah, lets play a bunch of games not built for the medium and puke on our shoes all afternoon. That sounds like a great time! Or lets shovel a bunch of Enthusiast level “iron gut” injector spew at newbies so that they run screaming the first time they put on a headset because they are laid out on the couch. That will really drive retention.

  • Denny Unger

    Haha. It must be Troll Tuesday. Look at that, it IS Troll Tuesday ;)