After weeks of trudging through waves of deadly armed humanoid militia LEGO blocks, I bring forth to you my verdict on the current 5.5.1v build of Roblox’s Phantom Forces.
For those who missed out on my last venture into this bizarre gaming world, (seriously go read the last article), Phantom Forces is a First Person Shooter competitive multiplayer game made by a mere six-person developer group, StyLis Studios. Using the widely popular Roblox game engine, Phantom Forces brings to its audience fast-paced action, modern-day weaponry, and the ability to relive stepping on LEGO pieces over and over again (just kidding, you get shot by them instead!).
This game is as straightforward as they come. As previously mentioned, this is your standard FPS affair of two opposing teams (Phantoms vs. Ghosts) competing to outshoot and out kill one another in one of several types of game modes.
If you played any Call of Duty or Battlefield title from the last 13 years, you basically understand 99% of the Phantom Forces’ gameplay. Players assume the control of a generic soldier in either an assault, recon, scout, or support class role. No special abilities or perks are given to any one class, just different firearms to choose from. Controls feature sprinting, crouching, dolphin diving/sliding, vaulting, and of course aiming down sights.
You have seven types of game modes to choose from.
Team Deathmatch is the bread and butter of any multiplayer shooter, where one side becomes the victor through the most total kills.
Capture the Flag involves two teams fighting to take a flag on the opposing side and bringing it back in one piece to their spawn point.
King of the Hill is kind of like that game you used to play with your neighborhood friends where you all would fight over one central spot and that one fat kid always won because absolutely no one could shove him off… except you know— this time with guns.
Taken straight from the Counter Strike 1.6 modding days, the Gun Game mode forces players to be well versed in all manners of weaponry. Each player starts with a randomly generated firearm with random attachments. For every kill made with the primary weapon, the player is given a new gun. If a player is killed by a melee weapon, they are demoted one tier. The objective is to complete the gauntlet of guns until the very last tier.
Infection is yet another supremely popular game variant, originating from Halo 2 (god those were the days). All players begin the game as their normal class load out except for one who becomes a zombie or in this case a Reaper armed with only a melee weapon. The Reaper class has infinite respawns but if he manages to kill one player they will become a Reaper as well. This continues on and on until there is only one player left.
Kill Confirmed takes directly from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 using the same rules of a standard Team Deathmatch, but players have to “confirm” their kills by obtaining the floating dog tag icon after they kill an enemy. If this tag is not collected in time or is taken by the opposing team, the full points for that kill are not awarded.
Finally, Flare Domination is an objective-based game mode where opposing teams fight for control over three marked positions. When a player is at each marker, they will slowly gain points as long as they are within the radius of the marker.
Weaponry variety is quite abundant, as the game attempts to incorporate almost every modern firearm you can probably think of. Assault rifles, carbines, battle rifles, PDWs, submachine guns, pistols, shotguns, grenades, etc. are all here.
Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broken… I Guess?
Now if everything I just said sounds way too familiar and probably something you’ve experienced about a thousand times… well… yeah you are not far off. I have yet to encounter a single original idea in this entire game that I had not seen done before in other games but much better. The controls are a copy and paste amalgamation of Call of Duty and Battlefield as I stated before. The game modes are every single game variant you’ve played since you were in diapers back in the Counter Strike and Unreal days. Now by themselves, these are not a recipe for a bad game but it does mean I find it very hard to play for any more than a few hours at most.
The game does have accessibility and technical performance going for it. The upside of having played the same game franchise for the past decade is that you definitely will not have to relearn the controls or the basic mechanics of the game. On top of that, Phantom Forces runs very smoothly and will rarely ever have input lag or frame rate drops. After a few dozen sessions, the player movement remains fluid, shooting mechanics are instantaneous, and none of the game modes are difficult to understand.
A Blocky, Clunky Shooter
That being said, the actual feel of the game is incredibly, even cartoonishly fast-paced. In your usual COD game, you of course see tons of players going into a full sprint to reach their objectives. However, for whatever reason, this game feels like it takes that and slaps some Five Hour Energy in it.
No matter what kind of weapon you happen to be wielding, there appears to be no weight penalty to player movement. At least from what I could tell, someone running around with an M60 is able to run just as fast as someone armed with an MP5K. Which then begs the question, why would I even bother choosing a smaller, less powerful gun if I gain nothing from its maneuverability? Why shouldn’t everyone be Stallone at the end of Rambo First Blood: Part II?
The game does incorporate its own ballistic calculations depending on the firearm and caliber. However, chances are you’re not going to notice this difference when you’re running dick first into the nearest corridor only to get blasted at point-blank range. Speaking of running wild, I encountered no less than 3 hackers super sprinting across the map and wiping out an entire team like they’re a psychopathic version of the Flash… in the same round.
Map design also does not help with the already stale gameplay. Aesthetically speaking there seem to be no more than 4 colors used per level, which probably has more to do with the limitations of the game engine itself than a design decision. Structurally, most of the maps I played in either contained repetitive corridor layouts or were supremely spaced out city blocks where you would be sniped within 20 seconds of spawning by a 14-year-old across the map.
As if you needed another reminder this was another COD clone, players regularly incorporate “drop shot” tactics where a player instantly dives into a prone position to level change for a few seconds in order to get the upper hand in a one-on-one engagement. All in all, the more I played, the more I was reminded I might as well be popping back my old copy of Black Ops II instead.
I am well aware of the kind of game Phantom Forces is. For one, it is still very much in its early stages of development and it is using a free-to-play model within a lower-tier game engine to appeal to a much wider demographic. So I honestly cannot fault the game too much in the sheer amount of gameplay mechanics it borrows from already established shooters out there. I mean what, we’re going to expect six indie developers to fundamentally reinvent the wheel here?
However, a dull gaming session is still a dull gaming session.
If I got bored of a free mobile game on my iPhone within a week or so, I’d probably delete it and use that memory space for something else. Way too much of Phantom Forces feels repetitive and derivative of shooters that perfected this formula quite literally two console generations ago.
On top of that, seeing the use of loot boxes, a mechanic I already despise with a passion, incorporated in a game that barely has enough content as it is, feels a tad bit insulting and unwarranted. Overall, would not recommend if you have anything ending with “Duty” lying around your living room.
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