The deity that presides over the game industry has decided to enkindle within me the hope that one of my gaming wishes will come true. The last wish that was answered involved the return of Killer Instinct. Double Helix didn't have the best pedigree, so this wish could've turned out bad, but the studio stuck the landing. Score one for me.
So once again, Microsoft is looking to revisit one of my old favorites: the 2004 Xbox title Phantom Dust. In a look at what games are coming to the Xbox One in the future, Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer told Kotaku that Phantom Dust is being talked about for a possible reboot. It's not a sure thing yet, but at least the idea is being batted around. The original game was directed by Yukio Futatsugi, who recently directed the Xbox One-exclusive Crimson Dragon.
"Futatsugi just finished Crimson Dragon, and I'm proud of what he was able to do. We're talking to him about what we might want to do next with him. There's some interest out there in some older [intellectual property]," Spencer told Kotaku.
"Phantom Dust has come up around whether we would want to reboot that franchise. It's a discussion right now; there's nothing's signed. But we're talking. It does seem like there's a lot of interest around that. And we have a good long relationship with him and I think that would be good."
If you've never played Phantom Dust, it's difficult to explain because there's not much out there like it. There's no easy simile available to describe Phantom Dust. It sits somewhere in between a deck-building card game and a third-person action game. Players plan out decks of attack, defense and support abilities, collected through gameplay, player trade, or purchased using points gained from winning online battles.
While on the playing field, you can grab randomly spawning orbs in a few different colors: red for attacks, blue for defense, and white for increasing your Aura. Each ability uses a certain amount of Aura and the abilities you get from grabbing an orb are chosen randomly from your deck depending on the color of the orb. Any abilities you have are mapped to your face buttons and are generally single-use. Phantom Dust's strategy comes not only from being able to move around the highly-destructible environment - did I mention that you can literally level the playing field? - but also building the right deck, making the right decision between grabbing an Aura or ability orb, and a bit of luck.
The best part of Phantom Dust is the sense of pacing. It's faster than a card-battle game because you actually have to move around the environment and you have a chance to dodge attacks if you're quick enough. Cover is an important element; you have to be cognizant of your position in addition to whatever special abilities are available in your current 'hand'. Standing on a bridge at the wrong moment can see the structure brought down around you just when you were ready to attack. But Phantom Dust doesn't move as fast as a first-person shooter either" you have more time to decide what to do and the players move at a speed that could comfortably be called a 'saunter'.
Microsoft has sat on the franchise for years, but if there's one game that fits well in an industry that's used to free-to-play online games like Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Warframe, it's Phantom Dust. Free-to-play isn't great for everything, but it would fit well with a new Phantom Dust. Allowing players to unlock a wide variety of abilities through gameplay or microtransaction purchase, the addition of player avatar customization, brand-new destructible levels, and constant updates since the game wouldn't be a single, boxed product; I can imagine a new Phantom Dust pretty easily.
So let's make this happen Microsoft. Do it for me. Do it for that sweet, free-to-play money. And please don't screw it up.