With the release of Ghostbuster World just around the corner, you may be wondering what game you should devote your time to Pokémon Go or Ghostbusters World, after all, there is only so much outdoor video gaming you can do in a day isn’t there? Having played an early build of Ghostbusters at Comic-Con this week we thought we would take the time to lay out the similarities and differences in the games to help you choose what’s right for you.
Pokémon Go is a real-world based mobile game where you walk the world collecting Pokémon, battling in raids, collecting stuff from Pokestops, small digital signposts based on real-world landmarks, and trading and sharing with friends as you play. There is obviously a lot more to the game which will get into in moment but that is the gist of it. Its popularity stems from the nostalgia of the Pokémon franchise, as well as the health benefits of walking around to hatch eggs.
Ghostbusters is a real-world mobile game but this time you get to battle ghosts from the original movie franchise as well as the games, cartoons and comic books that make up the lore. While feeling very similar to Pokémon Go in some ways, essentially they are both “Catch a thing in AR” games, they are some very clear differences that may make people who didn’t enjoy Pokémon Go think about playing Ghostbusters.
The Game Map
Ghostbusters has a world map that is plugged directly into Google Maps new Gaming APIs giving the game a very high degree of accuracy, so high in fact it can use the 3D models from Google Maps to show the buildings around you. This adds quite a lot of immersion to the game as well, making you physically move around buildings to find the ghosts that inhabit the world before you can engage them.
Pokémon Go, on the other hand, uses a flat map that, although it does show you the streets and outlines of buildings, does let the Pokémon spawn anywhere on that map, including in lakes and rivers. The flatness does help with seeing large areas however and it is nice to see to see Pokestops and Gyms off in the distance, giving you a goal to reach. Pokémon Go also has the added bonus of weather effects which mirror the real world, so if it is raining in your town, it’s raining in Pokémon Go too. Not only does this add bonuses to your Pokémon but it adds a really immersive touch to an otherwise fairly mundane map.
The use of augmented reality is sometimes considered a gimmick but with games that are based out in the real world, they make you feel a part of the game in such a unique way. In Pokémon Go, the AR allows you to see the Pokémon you are trying to catch in the world around you but without any true interaction. Pokémon Go has been around for a while now, before the release of ARCore so the Pokémon seem to float in space as opposed to being connected to their surroundings. This may change however as Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, have recently been working on some awesome occlusion technology that will incorporate real-world objects into AR with more realism than ever before.
Ghostbusters World is built from the ground up with Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit in mind. Before you start any battle with a ghost you scan the world with a PKE meter. This is just a fancy way of allowing the camera to detect the floor, but it fits so perfectly within the framework of the game it made me chuckle each time I did it. Because of the more advanced AR technology, the ghosts feel, ironically, more tethered to the real world. When you the ghosts fly around they never sink under the floor and they cast a glow on it as they fly over. Even the trap, when you roll it out runs along the floor in a convincing way adding depth to the game. When you play the games side by side you can really see the advancements using ARcore and ARkit have brought to these types of games.
Real-World games need something visible in the real world for a player to go to and interact with. In Pokémon Go, they use Pokestops and gyms that have been created using Niantics other game, Ingress, portal data. These portals were added by players when the game first came out and was used to populate both games with that physical link the Land of the Real. The Pokestop and gym system works very well in my eyes, especially as they give me points to walk to, creating a healthy goal as I play. I use the Pokestops to map out my walks through my town to maximize both my walking and my Pokemoning.
Ghostbusters World offers portals as well though I’m unsure where they are going to get the data to have them widespread around the physical world, after all, they don’t access to Niantics data. I wonder if the Google Maps API offer information on local landmarks that might be used to create the portals. Dimension Portals will be even more important in GBW as the missions actually involve moving to the doors to complete them. With no step tracking, it feels less likely that I will walk between stops for missions, after all, I can drive around and complete more missions quicker right? I think I will exercise less with Ghostbusters.
Let’s face it, combat in Pokémon Go is pretty stale. You spin a ball and throw it at a Pokémon and hope to catch it. Even the gyms are the barest minimum of combat compared to the game it is based on. I’m sure I’m not the only person who had hoped for a more well-rounded combat system but we got what we got and we put up with it.
Combat in Ghostbusters World is a little more in depth, you actually get to choose weapons that are best suited to the ghost you fight as well as being able to counter there attacks and use special attacks to reduce their stamina. This makes capturing a ghost feel a lot more satisfying, even sliding the trap out and pulling the ghost in, takes timing and a little work to accomplish. Then there is PvP. Though I didn’t get a chance to play with the PvP in my hands-on the developer did say that we would be fighting each other using ghosts we have caught in the game, which sounds like a whole heap of fun to be had in a group while waiting for the Raids.
Ghostbusters Worlds raids are going to be a lot of fun. While Pokémon Go raids are enjoyable to meet a group of like-minded people to take down a big bad there is little in the way of actual teamwork needed, a quick chat about what Pokémon types to use and you are good to go. The actual Raid itself is no different to the normal gym battle, it just has more people.
Ghostbusters raid, on the other hand, feels more like a boss fight in a video game —There are separate attack phases and little marshmallow people attack you! —and communication will be key. By actually talking to the people you raid with you can coordinate attack and defense to take down whichever terrible ghosts they use to terrorize your neighborhood, and they actually do terrorize your neighborhood, you have to chase them around to fight them.
So which should you play?
Now remember I have been playing Pokémon Go from day ne and have only spent an hour on Ghostbusters World but for my money, I think Pokémon Go may become relegated to special event days and signing in to get my streaks once a day when Ghostbusters World hits the Play store. I really enjoyed my time with it and it just feels more like a full game rather than a step counter with some game mechanics.
Maybe the nostalgia of Ghostbusters is stronger for me than the nostalgia of Pokémon but I think I want to be the one you’re gonna call, rather than be the one who catches them all.