The first Payday: The Heist game was a unique and unapologetic experience in the first person shooter genre. At E3, we got a behind the scenes look at the upcoming Payday 2 from the team at Overkill Software. Payday 2 builds up on the overall solid experience of the first game and adds all those small details critics of Payday: The Heist wanted to see like customizations, improved A.I. and mission variety. From what it looks like, Payday 2 is shaping up to be a massive upgrade of their opening shot.
Players will once again dawn the menacing clown masks of Dallas, Wolf, Hoxton, and Chains as they look to unleash an epic crime spree all over our nations capital, Washington D.C. However this time around players don’t just start out as master bank robbers, a real sense of progression has been added to the game. Gamers begin as dime store thieves and as the game progresses they unlock new skills, weapons, accessories and masks, eventually becoming notorious master criminals.
One of the first things players will notice is the new robust weapon and character customization system. As you complete jobs and heists, players will earn new modifications for their weapons. Some of these are functional and really alter the way weapons behave; adding the right stock to the butt of an assault rifle changes how fluid your character moves while firing. Other customizations are purely cosmetic and allow players the option of assembling self-esteem building weapons comparable to Castor Troy’s shiny custom Springfield M1911 from the film Face/Off. Even character gear and masks can be customized with different color and material variations in order for gamers to feel like they’ve really left their mark on a crime scene. No longer will we see four bank robbers with the same set of skills. Payday 2 sports four character classes known as “professions,” which go by Mastermind, Enforcer, Ghost, and Technician. Each of them also features their own customization tree for upgrading those specific skills.
The new CRIMENET database lets gamers pick and choose from available jobs by connecting with local contacts such as Vlad the Ukrainian, shady politician “The Elephant” and Mexican drug trafficker Hector, all with their own agenda and best interests in mind. This is an exciting feature with tons of future DLC or community potential for the developer, which hopefully will be leveraged to its full potential in the future.
Perhaps the sweetest augments Payday 2 has this time around are in the gameplay itself. Enemy A.I. has been amped up to be more responsive to the players’ tactics, it feels as if enemy NPCs don’t just run at you with the same set battle plan twice. Enemies will even devise strategies in response to player action like flash banging, breaching tactics, freeing hostages and even recovering loot bags. Every scenario in the game is made to be dynamic and more random, Overkill Software want players to get different experiences every time they replay missions, adding to the overall replay value of the game. Payday 2 also boasts a more polished and smooth look, it’s obvious the team is hitting their stride using the Diesel game engine. Rather than just set pieces, levels feel more compiled with assets like pushing paper off a desk as you duck behind it for cover. The physics of the engine really shine in this game. Bullets hitting their targets have a meatier feel to them, and different classes of ammunition affect targets in different ways. A Beretta doesn’t blow enemies in the game away in the same way a shotgun shell hits them.
Ultimately it feels as though Overkill Software really listened to gamer’s feedback when building their sequel. Payday 2 takes the series from fun romp to serious competition against the big budget shooters out there.