Online asymmetric multiplayer games tend to lean on the horror genre more than anything else, and although we don’t typically see many games of this type hit the Xbox One, we still have a few pop up every once in a while. They can be pretty hit and miss, and due to the online nature of play, the success of an asymmetric multiplayer game all depends on community engagement. Evolve is a prime example of a solid concept that lacked good execution, and as a result, that game flopped harder than a flounder on the beach.
On the flip side, we’ve had some iterations of the formula since then that have proven to keep players engaged. Dead by Daylight still manages to house a bulky player base, as does the bug-ridden Friday the 13th the Game. Which leads us to White Noise 2, a 4vs1 asymmetric horror experience from Milkstone Studios that serves as a sequel to the successful White Noise Online. The question is, does White Noise 2 bring the staying power?
Post launch support is imperative for an asymmetric multiplayer game to succeed in the long run, and a good indication that White Noise 2 will receive this comes via two pieces of DLC that released alongside launch of the game, one being the “Supporters Pack” DLC which includes a new flashlight and a new Idol for the creature, and the “Astaroth, the Duke of Hell” DLC, which offers up a new creature with new abilities. Each of these content pieces cost just $1.99 / £1.59 a pop, so the pricing is spot on if you ask me. Hopefully we see more maps and like-minded content in the long run to give this game an edge over its competition.
As the title suggests, White Noise 2 allows you to play as one of four paranormal investigators, or a creature that’s set out to devour them. There’s over ten investigators to select from and four creatures, each of which come with varying perks and powers respectively. Playing as an investigator, the aim of the game is to hunt down as many clues as you can which come in the form of tape recordings. If you can collectively locate all of the clues before the creature gets to each of you, you’ll win the game. Just don’t expect an easy ride, because this is very much a game that relies on risk vs reward for each and every chance you take.
Investigators do have specialisations and skills which are pre-set, so it’s up to you to find and unlock whichever investigator you feel suited to the most. Obviously there’s pros and cons here, depending on who you gravitate towards. We have stealthy characters that wont make much noise but will move slower when confronted, and we have speedy characters that make heaps of noise but run like Usain Bolt. You also have a few tools that can aid you if the creature tracks you down, such as a unlockable flashlights, flash-bangs, flares, and so on and so forth. These come in handy as you’ll be able to stun the creature if it corners you or gives you a chase. The stun doesn’t last overly long, but it does give you more than enough time to bolt it and get to safety.
If however you get caught and killed, all is not over. You get to come back from the grave and aid the remaining survivors with enhanced exploration skills. This allows you to locate more clues for those that are still of the living, and in this state, you cant be harmed by the creature. I really enjoyed this feature, and it’s this very mechanic that I believe gives this game an edge over the likes of Friday the 13th the Game. One of the biggest issues with any asymmetric multiplayer game is that once a survivor dies, the player tends to leave the game due to not wanting to stick around and spectate the fate of the remaining survivors. When you die in White Noise 2, you’re still in the game and can still play a pivotal role. It’s a fantastic design choice and one that I’m sure fans of the formula will appreciate.
When playing as the creature, your only task is to hunt and kill every one of the four investigators. You’ll need to be quite tactical in how you achieve this and do all that you can to try and separate your victims to make confrontations somewhat easier. It’s also helpful seeing as investigators will often shout out to one another by default, when they’re not in close proximity to one another. Using your powers and summoning totems that will alert you of their presence is key, even fooling them and manipulating their surroundings will see you through to victory. White Noise 2 gets a lot right, but I was more impressed with the balance between investigator and creature than anything else.
The middle ground is well met and regardless as to who or what you’re playing as, each side has more than enough tools to fend off the opponent. At the conclusion of each match you’ll get points to go towards your progression, these points will solely depend on how you played the match and what you did during it. You’ll also get some insight via neat feature that allows you to see where everyone went on the map, where the monster attacked, and what everyone did. It’s not a game changer by any means, but it’s a cool addition nevertheless. Again, this is a feature that other asymmetric multiplayer games lack, and when you look at the massively generous price tag for White Noise 2, it’s hard not to appreciate the added touch.
White Noise 2 hardly has the best visuals, but they’re detailed well enough to hold the experience up. The same can be said about the character models, which do at times have some funky looking animations. There’s a wide selection of environments that you can choose from, most of which have excellent level design and give off some truly spooky vibes. Footsteps will pitter-patter in the distance, floor boards will creak, eerie echoes will sound off, and although this doesn’t mean much when you’re playing as the creature, it has you questioning every single noise when you’re playing as a survivor, heightening the levels of tension even more. One chief concern for me is the lack of server population. It took me a number of attempts to find a match, and several more once that game had disbanded. Cross play for this game would help to remedy this issue. It would be a huge shame if players that are stuck to Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th the Game, because White Noise 2 is much cheaper, and (in places) does a much better job.
Those of you that enjoy asymmetric multiplayer games will absolutely love White Noise 2. The generous price tag is outstanding in return for the content you’re getting, and when you take into account that this game excels in places that Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th the Game doesn’t, there’s a great deal of appreciation you’ll feel as a result. My main concern sits with the player base, which seems to be dwindling at the minute. Maybe cross play functionality would help that, but as it stands, it’s quite hard to find a match. It would be a shame if this doesn’t get populated because it really is a solid experience. There’s a good balance between creature and investigator, and the fact that you can come back as a spook if you die as the latter, helps to prevent people from leaving games upon death. Group this with decent level design, well implemented mechanics and the diverse content, and you have every reason to invest, and trust me, you wont regret it.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.