VR Corner – Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord

Posted on November 30, 2023

Ghostbusters as an IP has had a bit of a resurgence in recent years, with new movies and video games in particular leading the charge for the super popular 80s comedy. With advances in VR-at-home technology, we’re seeing bigger and more known franchises make their jump to the platform, and Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord is a natural fit. This cooperative multiplayer experience will have you and your mates busting ghosts with the best of ’em, although some repetition in mission design holds it back from being as iconic as the series it is capturing.

The Premise

The introduction to the experience is strong; showing you the ropes, you’ll learn how to find ghosts with your PKE meter, weaken them with your proton wand and then trap them. You’re led through some creepy areas with doors opening and objects moving on their own, which sets the tone that is certainly not horrifying, but a fun haunted-house style of setup.

You’ll encounter the titular Ghost Lord himself, and then find yourself in San Francisco Ghostbusters HQ, which acts as your lobby and home base. This is where you’ll be able to take on missions, along with checking progress, upgrading your gear and practising at the shooting range. With the ability to take on a rotating set of missions in 4-player co-op, the possibility for spooky shenanigans is endless.

The Feeling

Most importantly, the act of busting ghosts and capturing them feels incredibly good. Veteran studio nDreams (creators of Phantom: Covert Ops and Zero Latency’s Far Cry VR experience, among others) are experts at what they do, and that is shown throughout Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord.

Using your proton wand to shoot colourful beams, in particular, feels good. You’ll use it to lock onto ghosts, zapping their energy down until you can quite literally drag them toward traps you throw on the ground. When you have your teammates all zeroed in on the one specter, it’s very satisfying when you’re able to work together to defeat them. Smaller ghosts are able to simply be shot and instantly destroyed, but the larger ones will take some effort.

“…it’s very satisfying when you’re able to work together to defeat ghosts.”

The PKE meter attached to your hip is used to track ghost locations, although not all missions take advantage of this tool, with linear pathways and ghosts in obvious locations. The floating creatures will of course attack you as well, and when you’re ‘slimed’, you’ll just need to high-five a teammate to get brought back to life, which is a nice touch. If you all go down, the mission fails, but either way you’ll be rewarded with currency to upgrade your equipment back at the base.

The process of working together to take down ghosts is always fun, but it does feel slightly repetitive at times. You can upgrade your gear to make it more effective, but essentially the gear doesn’t change in terms of tactics; aim at the ghosts, wear them down, and trap them. Missions rotate, and completing a certain number of them triggers new story updates, and there is at least a little bit of variety in objectives.

Harvester missions require you to repair a large machine on the map and then use it to fill canisters with ghosts, for example, while Giga Trap Retrieval has you locating a Giga Trap and then carrying it across the map for extraction while fighting against ghosts, which is where teamwork is crucial. Another mode has you capturing as many ghosts as possible within 10 minutes, which is particularly repetitive, and another has you locating objects in the environment to close a ghostly portal.

Two more missions have already been added in a recent Heist and Seek update, including one where you have to stop bank robber ghosts from stealing gold. This bodes well for the future of Rise of the Ghost Lord, but I do hope that as more missions get added, they’ll also think about adding different weapons or trap types. What’s there is solid and enjoyable, but after three or four missions back-to-back of the same ghost-busting antics, we needed a break, as it’s physically a little tiring, particularly when there are multiple large ghosts in one area at once, hiding in walls, running away, and making them difficult to take down.

The Style

San Francisco makes for a decent setting, with familiar locations like the Golden Gate Bridge making for some fun showdowns, although only seven maps (for now) can add to the repetitive feeling. The environments look pretty impressive on the Quest 3 I reviewed this on, though the screenshots included here from the PSVR2 version understandably look a little better. Still, it runs at a good frame rate throughout, and the colourful ghosts capture the visual aesthetic from the movies, looking crazy, silly and glowing bright, like a wacky cartoon come to life. Nice touches like having the little marshmallow men appear on your gun and arms, requiring you to physically grab them with your hand and fling them to the side, adds to the charm.

There’s even a mini-game where a giant marshmallow man breaks open your ceiling in mixed reality, only available on the Quest. It’s a simple tech-demo feeling addition that shows the power and potential of mixed reality; a fun one to show your friends and family in a party setting, but likely not something you’ll come back to more than a couple of times yourself.

The Verdict

Living out your 80’s ghost-busting fantasy in VR is a dream come to life in Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord. Zapping paranormal fiends with your mates by your side as you progress through missions and acquire unlockables is inherently entertaining. That said, some repetition in the mission structure and the act of catching ghosts not having a lot of variety in and of itself makes this better for short burst plays rather than marathon sessions. Regardless, the game gets a lot of mileage on its charm and concept which should still inspire you to bust with the best of ’em.

Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord is available now for Meta Quest and PSVR2