Developed by Overkill Software and published by 505 Games, Payday 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter and the sequel to Payday: The Heist. Payday 2 is a stark improvement over the original Payday: The Heist with more mission variety and improved mechanics.
Much of Payday 2’s gameplay will seem familiar to veterans of the original Payday. Players can team with up to 3 other players or 2 AI companions to rob banks and perform a variety of different heists. With four different classes to choose from, players can create a team to deal with any situation the game throws at them.
While it all sounds vaguely similar to Payday: The Heist, it is anything but. Overkill Software has since improved on the mechanics and fleshed out the issues of the original Payday and included a plethora of customization in Payday 2.
Payday 2 has drastically changed the class system of Payday: The Heist. Players are now given a more RPG-like skill tree which offers the freedom of choice to build their ideal character. Each class has a unique piece of equipment which can be deployed during missions and as you level up, you gain access to ever more powerful skills which can alter your play-style. With a level cap of 100, players are offered more freedom than ever to freely customize their character.
It is common knowledge that you cannot rob a bank without weapons, and Payday 2 has that in spades. Instead of tying weapons to individual classes, weapons are now unlocked as you level up. On top of that, Payday 2 even has weapon customization. After every heist, players stand a chance to obtain a random weapon mod for weapons they have already unlocked. As you become a seasoned criminal, your arsenal grows to reflect your reputation. With more menacing weapons, the cops will shudder to even think about going against you; probably.
Not only can you customize your weapons, you can also customize your masks. Like weapon mods, mask parts are only obtained after a successful heist. Players can randomly obtain a mask, a mask material, color or design. After you have collected enough parts, you can then assemble your very own unique mask. It is definitely like collecting hats in Team Fortress 2. While it does nothing to improve your game experience, it is certainly addictive to collect more masks.
In the absence of a story to drive gameplay, Payday 2 instead has missions for players to choose from. However, this is not the same list of missions which Payday: The Heist offered. Dubbed the Crime.net, it offers players a selection of available heists which are randomly generated with varying length, difficulty, payout and objectives. Familiar jobs never pan out the exactly the same way as the game will constantly reshuffle a series of variables which players have to take note off. As such, this creates an almost infinite number of different heists. On top of that, heists only appear on the Crime.net for a short period of time, after which they disappear and are replaced with something else entirely.
There are many approaches players can take to complete the many heists found in Payday 2. You can certainly go in guns blazing and tackle your objectives head on. Another alternative is to use stealth. While this method consumes much more time and requires coordination between players, it is very exciting and should your team pull it off, it is much more satisfying than shooting your way through a level.
However things don’t always go your way. Somehow, a team member will trip up and send your best laid plans into utter chaos. Sooner or later, you will find yourself and your team holed up in a small room, running low on ammo and desperately trying to fend back the waves of SWAT teams while you await your drill to eventually break through the bank vault. But that is the allure that Payday 2 offers, the fact that you can pull off the perfect heist, and while you know you will fail, you can’t help but keep going back and trying it over and over again.
It is not every day you get to rob a bank with 3 other friends. Compared to other FPS multiplayer titles that are available, the ideas behind Payday 2 are certainly more intriguing. It is a great game to pick up with some friends and just go crazy with it. After seeing how far Overkill Software has come from the original Payday, I’m definitely looking forward to what they will be producing in the future.
A copy of the game was purchased for review purposes.